My neighbor is blowing snow onto my yard
January 31, 2004 10:25 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to solve a problem with a neighbor? [more inside]

My neighbor, usually as of late, never breaks the law when it comes to trespassing or respecting our privacy. Now I have a situation in which the law does not pertain .. he's blowing all of his snow, from his driveway, into my yard and driveway. His yard is practically empty of snow compared to ours. The difference between the two yards is dramatic, from a foot of snow in his yard to almost five feet of snow in ours, making it almost impossible, sometimes, to open our front door, which even has steps as a buffer from the sidewalk. He has the option of blowing the snow into his backyard or lawn, but does not.

Now I have no idea where to put my snow and with the wind, his snow ends up on the sidewalk, where I could be fined or sued if someone injures themselves. I can blow snow into my backyard, but there's barely enough room, whereas his backyard is almost as void of snow as his front.

Does anyone have experience with dealing a situation like this? Do you suggest a mediation during a village board meeting? I should also mention that I have already tried politely talking to this person in private, hence to now prevail.
posted by jasonspaceman to Human Relations (20 answers total)
What does he say when you complain? Are you specifically asking him to stop blowing snow in your yard, or are you just pointing out the differential in snow levels and "hoping he gets the message"? If you've made specific demands orally, and he has ignored them, then send him a registered letter outlining your complaint and requesting a specific remedy on his part. State in the letter that if you two cannot come to an amicable resolution, you will have no choice but to refer the matter to whatever your town mechanism is for resolving these disputes. (because he's obstructing your sidewalk, a public way).

If I were you I would go the extra mile (or two)l on the "speaking directly" part, as it's no fun to get in a Hatfield/McCoy situation with your next-door neighbor, which is what happens when you start bringing in third parties.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:36 AM on January 31, 2004

Yes, I have directly asked him not to blow all of his snow into our yard. He doesn't say anything back to me, and turns away, which is what he always does. I never say any veiled threats ... I just ask him politely to not do whatever he is doing without seeming like a pushover.

One of the reasons why I wouldn't mind getting a third party involved is because of his history:

1. Threatening to shoot our chained dogs. His kids would come over and try to get them barking. They would stand just our of reach of our dogs.
2. Threatening to skin our cat if he ever escapes.
3. Harassing hired contractors who have been doing updated on our house.
4. Trespassing.
5. Shooting fire crackers into our lawn; of which we could smell in our house. And no, it was no where near the fourth of July.

On number's four and five, police have been involved but have never done anything. They just gave him a warning.
posted by jasonspaceman at 11:06 AM on January 31, 2004

I wonder, does it change the law if you have something in your yard that could get damaged by having snow piled on it? It's one thing for an act of God to make it snow, but quite another for him to willfully damage your property.

That may be a dumb idea, but I bet you could get the law, or at least a lawyer, involved somehow. His activity is making you liable to get sued by someone if they slip on it. There has to be some protection from that, and even the threat of legal action is probably enough.

I would not worry about the guy, though. He sounds incredibly passive-aggressive. Really seems kind of pathetic to me. If he was going to actually make good on his threats he wouldn't be just ignoring you when you talk to him.
posted by Hildago at 11:41 AM on January 31, 2004

One of the reasons why I wouldn't mind getting a third party involved is because of his history:
Third party, what proof do you have??? Set up a video camera, which you can then show the third party. Your neighbor's actions show he has no guilt. Bet he is has a knack at talking his way out of tickets. Until you have him "red handed" not much you can do.
Honestly, if you could work a system out clearing the snow together, you will live in a better harmony.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:44 AM on January 31, 2004

i'd save the lawyer money and put it towards moving somewhere else.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:04 PM on January 31, 2004

Honestly, if you could work a system out clearing the snow together, you will live in a better harmony

thomcatspike, did you read the list of things this guy has done? He doesn't sound like a good candidate for working out a harmonious system of joint action. I have to agree with andrew cooke: this sounds like a bad situation, and unless you're very attached to the house and neighborhood I'd make plans to move. Next time, the firecrackers will be closer to the house, or he will shoot your dog. Not good.
posted by languagehat at 12:27 PM on January 31, 2004

I would prefer not to get a lawyer involved because going that route isn't my style. I have used a camera before to get his cohort charged with trespassing, after he was caught trying to peep in on my wife, who was in our bathroom. The only reason 'snow blower' wasn't charged is that I didn't get to my camera in time to get him in the picture.

Andrew: our house is on the market, but we cannot put a sign up because he has blown all of his snow in our yard. Not a big deal for us, I am just more concerned about being liable if someone injures themselves, as well as where I am going to put any future snow that falls.

thomcatspike: I would work out a system with him if I could trust his willingness to make something work. But based on my previous experiences with him, I cannot trust him.

Admittingly, whenever something comes up with this guy, I get terribly pissed off, but in the privacy of my own home. I just want to find a solution to this snow problem and not use this as an area to bitch about his history.
posted by jasonspaceman at 12:35 PM on January 31, 2004

You say it's "not your style" to involve a lawyer, but this is a legal dispute and you need one. If he's been charged with trespassing previously (even if he was only given a warning) then you should be able to get a court order preventing him from entering upon or littering your land.

What you can do without a lawyer is document his actions. Do you have "No Trespassing" signs posted? Add "No Dumping" or "No Littering" signs. Make sure the police know they're posted, and about his threats against your dog.

Or, build a tall fence and forget him.
posted by nicwolff at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2004

Picutres and/or video. Then walk out and catch him red-handed. If he walks away, ring his doorbell until he comes back out to talk to you.
posted by scarabic at 2:21 PM on January 31, 2004

I don't know the layout of your adjoining yards but is there anything you can park or put between his yard and yours to make it hard /difficult for him to do this- and to really make him look bad if he does it anyway?

I'd call the police and ask their advice. Making it difficult to come out of your own door ought to be illegal.
posted by konolia at 3:22 PM on January 31, 2004

You need a lawyer just to ask your initial question.
posted by mischief at 4:09 PM on January 31, 2004

lets us all come round his house and give him a good stiff kicking.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:12 PM on January 31, 2004

You've got a bad neighbour, there's no amicable way this is going to be resolved. I know, I've been there. First, document him doing it. Second, when he does it call the police and the fire department. Why the fire department? The fire marshal tends to get very upset and pass out large fines when people maliciously block the exits of a building. It's that whole fire code thing. One of you will end up moving most likely at some point. You need to make sure that if it's you that he's going to keep his mouth shut and not harass potential home buyers. That's why the police need to be involved. If he keeps being a nuisance, especially one with a history of lewd conduct, you can get a restraining order.

If he peeps on your wife you can bet that he'll be peeping on your kids as they grow up if any of them are female.
posted by substrate at 5:16 PM on January 31, 2004

Hire a few guys to shovel the snow right the fuck back onto his yard. Cheaper than a lawyer, and it's apparently a lexicon with which he's familiar.
posted by stonerose at 7:31 PM on January 31, 2004 [1 favorite]

What makes you think the law does not pertain? It's not unlikely that city codes forbid shovelling snow onto the property of others. It's the sort of situation in which you should involve a lawyer, if for no other reason than to ask that question.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:18 PM on January 31, 2004

He's putting something on your property. Even if it's "just snow", it's affecting your abililty to use your property, so if nothing else, it's likely to come under a nuisance category.

I'm with stonerose. Can you use a snowblower to put it back? If you don't sell for a while, a tall fence is a good idea. Taking videos and talking to a lawyer are good ideas as well

BTW, my neighbor frequently blows his snow onto my freshly shoveled sidewalk. It is really rude. Havng a jerk for a neighbor can make life miserable. I hope my neighbors aren't saying that about me.
posted by theora55 at 8:26 PM on January 31, 2004

Hm... what's the "quit shovelling your snow onto my property" equivalent of a dead canary in the mailbox...?

Maybe just write "QUIT IT" in yellow snow.
posted by scarabic at 10:20 PM on January 31, 2004

Moving is the best option. But - towards that end - if necessary, spook him. He understands force, so that will not work unless you can somehow convince him that you are connected to political powers and/or extralegal powers which could crush him like a bug.

That would be a theatrical production.

You could, along the same lines, start worshipping (quite conspicuously) Santeria. Slaughter a chicken in your backyard, to loud ritualistic chanting (apologies to Santeria for stereotyping).

It's a mind game.

Or - if you believe in such things - chant for a peaceable end to the conflict. Do this several times a day, for at least twenty minutes per session. Write a simple goal, a sentence about the end you desire, then fix that desire in your mind and repeat it over and over and over and over again. I have heard, on much testimony from a number of sources, that this method can very quite effective - but one caution : as with Santeria (above) it it advisable to only seek good, peaceful ends. Wishing for a meteorite to crush your neighbor in his house will tend to backfire backfire, sooner or later, in a nasty way.

But a bit of sly stagecraft or real magic....these are two options that lie beyond the realm of lawyers, guns, and money.
posted by troutfishing at 2:41 AM on February 1, 2004

obviously he's getting something out of pissing you off so dont let him know he's pissing you off , make something nice out of the snow , like snowmen or something and demand he give you more , then he'll stop.
give him something nice , theres something he needs that you know he needs , give him it , take him some food , invite him for a dinner , be really nice to him , then he'll stop.
once he realises he isnt pissing you off , he'll stop.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:42 AM on February 1, 2004

make something nice out of the snow

Use the snow to build a wall between your yards.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:41 AM on February 1, 2004

« Older How Does Kottke Put His Sidebar Links Inline With...   |   Jewish Law Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.