Neighbor's Junkyard

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Hollyl77, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. Hollyl77

    Hollyl77 Member

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    We moved to a development with 5-acre homesites last summer. We're thrilled with the neighboorhood and neighbors. Some houses are a little trashy looking, but mostly nice well-kept places. We do have convenants, but because we have no active HOA (and haven't since the 70s) they aren't enforced.

    A few weeks ago my DH and I noticed loud engine sounds and lights at the property that backs up to ours at odd hours - 2 or 3 am! I then noticed an ever-growing collection of junk vehicles, probably 3-4 campers/trailers, an airplane (or what's left of it), boats, and a pile of parts/misc. junk. We were upset, but just started clearing the back of our property so we can plant trees to screen the mess from our view.

    Over the weekend a neighbor came by, seems everyone (about 8 homes) is hopping mad about what this guy has hauled onto his property. The poor lady next to him had a deal fall through on her house after all this junk appeared in 3-4 days. Apparently he has a junk lot next to the highway and the county told him to move it, because it will eventually be next to a housing area--so he's moving most of it to this house that he just bought within the last 1-2 months. I called the local code enforcement this morning and was told that this guy has been made aware he's violating code & covenants, but doesn't care and doesn't see what the problem is. Another neighbor has sent him a certified "clean it up or else" letter--and hasn't gotten a reply. The code enforcement office told me the best way to handle the problem is to file with small claims court--he said that even though we have no HOA, the convenants still apply, and the court can force him to clean it up.

    So we're going to start gathering evidence, taking photos, and we're going to request that each one of the people affected by his junk pile give us a written statement. That way, we'll have 7 or 8 plantiffs when we file the claim--and plenty of evidence. However, I am a little afraid of retaliation by this guy. I'm also worried some of our neighbors won't want to give me statements because they're afraid of retaliation. Any advice? I hate to back down, because I can see the amount of junk he has already multiplying in the next few weeks. And the longer it stays the more difficult it will be to make him move it.
     
  2. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    Did you use a realtor for you transaction?
    The seller, if aware of this situation, was legally responsible to make you aware of it. (The courts have found that even sellers who know that the neighbor's kid has band or drum practice needs to disclose this information)
    Check into it - I'm no expert - but delay is costly$$$in matters like this.
    Good luck!
     

  3. NikiandAlex

    NikiandAlex Member

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    I know this isn't quite the same thing, but when we lived in a neighborhood and our neighbor adopted his sons pit bulls, they started causing all sorts of problems. My fiancee is in construction and we offered to build a fence for free if he bought the materials. So, is there a neighborly sort of way to solve this problem?
     
  4. Hollyl77

    Hollyl77 Member

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    Yeah, I had thought of that, which is why DH and I figured we'd just plant a 100-200' long row of quick-growing trees to at least make a visual screen so during the summer months we can't see the junk. Unfortunately, not all the affected neighbors can do that. I've thought about going to his house to ask him to remove the junk, but another neighbor already tried it and he said he didn't care, it was his 5 acres and he could do as he pleased with it. (Which is not true--there are covenants and zoning codes!)
     
  5. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    If I had a neighbor with a junkyard, I'd see if he'd give me advice about what kind of truck he's got parts for and see if I could get a good deal on a used truck for that model.

    Then I'd ask if I could help him out by shooting rats with my .22

    But that's just me...
     
  6. NikiandAlex

    NikiandAlex Member

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    We kind of felt like we were getting dupped because we offered to build a fence for no money, but in the long run we were helping ourselves more. I know he CAN'T legally and SHOULDN'T even do this type of thing, but maybe he has a weakness to something that you could barter with? Like if you mow his grass then he'd limit it to 5 cars or if you babysit his kids he'd stop waking you up at 2 am? That type of thing. I know it might feel like your bending over backwards, but, if the county isn't doing anything substantial, then what other choice to you have?
     
  7. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

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    our county zoning board would (and has) issued warnings to folks who have 'junk yards' - either they fence the area off so the junk isn't visable or they will condem the property. why is your county telling you that you have to sue this guy? isn't it their job to enforce the zoning regulations?
     
  8. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    Though a junkyard is universally ugly, neighbors need to see things from both sides of the fence. If you have livestock, it might be noisy, or might go exploring onto neighbors' property. They might be offended by barnyard sounds, or the occasional barnyard smell. That being said...

    My guess is that it probably wasn't this guy's first choice to bring all the junk to his residence, and since he just purchased the lot, he's probably short on cash and, like you, has to deal with it until he can afford to find another solution. Try playing nicey nice before taking it to court--this person might be your neighbor for a long time. Starting off with threats, accusations and litigation might cause you worse problems in the future.

    As much as I hate land-use restrictions and covenants, some of them do provide a bottom line for aestetics and pollution. At least you do have that covenant to fall back on, but use that ace in the hole as a last resort.
     
  9. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I have just returned from small claims court regarding an issue with overdue rent and a tenant that thinks (thought) that his lease agreement was for others. Sometimes one has to draw a line in the sand and stand firm. Sure you are intimidated but where is it going to end if you do not take a stand? If you let the offender knowingly continue to violate the rules you may find that the magistrate is not going to side with you. I can recall when an inspector let a homeowner build a non- complying building and waited until the building was finished to attempt to have it torn down. The judge asked if the inspector knew the building was in violation and "let" the builder finish without informing the builder he was in violation? When the inspector acknowledged he knew this, the judge threw the case out of court. You need to take immediate action. The offender will continue to try to bully the neighborhood otherwise. Inform the offender in writing that if he continues his trashing the place you are taking him to court. State in the letter that you are not looking for trouble but if trouble does surface that the authorities will be brought in. Send a copy of the letter to the sherriff's office. Ask for their support in handling the matter peacefully. Give them directions to your place. Provided the offender gives you a problem; call 911.
     
  10. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Generally a junk yard is regulated not because it is unsightly (which it may or may not be, depending on how badly you need a part for a 1998 Dodge..) but because of the risk of soil and water contamination. It would be highly unlikely that your state doesn't have some sort of codes for the disposal and storage of abandoned vehicles. Regardless of what the rules of the HOA say, the real stick here is the state or municipal regs which are in place to protect soils and ground water.

    I would, while it is downright unneighborly, contact your state environmental agency and have them direct your concerns to the appropriate office. Even though it seems like you're "telling tales out of school" the fact is that badly handling or poorly storing the gas, oil, and other chemicals associated with a junk yard can cause environmental damage which extends far beyond this man's property lines.

    He's got every right to do what he wants on his own property provided he's obeying the rules by which he agreed to live when purchasing the property... however, he does not have the right to endanger the health and welfare of his neighbors.

    I'm living, right now, with a visible reminder of what flows downhill. It is patently obvious that we are going to have to take measures to control run off this spring... the sheep pasture is too steep and the waste is, literally, flowing downhill. While I have every right to keep sheep, I don't have the right to send their by-products into my neighbor's back yard unless he's specifically asked for them. And who would think to ask for liquid fertilizer to be directed into their yard every thaw or rainstorm?

    Fortunately, there is a large chunk o' pasture through which this would have to pass before it becomes a real issue... but 10 more sheep and no plan... and we've got an issue!

    So the environmental issues alone might put a halt to the junk yard.
     
  11. NikiandAlex

    NikiandAlex Member

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    Although, as you aren't an inspector or landlord, and therefore don't have any ties to his land in that way, the legalities of this situation may be best served presently by trying to make neighborly solutions. The judge might look favorably upon you, civily, by trying to have made compromises with this person and then being at your wits end if/when it comes to that. Of course, I'm not a legal expert by any means. Most human beings, however, would like to be accepted and live amicably...don't assume he's any different just because of what you've heard. BUT, if in the small chance he ends up to be a total jerk, like agmantoo said, 911, just in case. Good luck and let us know what happens! This may be valuable for me too...my neighbor has a few cars now that don't bother us, but who knows....
     
  12. Hollyl77

    Hollyl77 Member

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    Wow, lots of good advice--thanks! The reason we're having to resort to small claims court is two reasons: #1, the county code enforcers can only do so much--the guy I talked to this morning said it could take 6-8 months, if ever, for code enforcement to resolve the issue. #2, We have no active HOA to enforce covenants, so we can't give him notice and fine him. I hate to take it to small claims court, but we wouldn't be doing it for any kind of monetary settlement, just an official order to clean the place up that can be enforced. The guy with the county said once the court sides with us the place will be cleaned up in 1-2 days.
     
  13. almostthere

    almostthere Well-Known Member

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    Is he starting a business, like a repair business or some kind of artistic type of thing where he builds things out of found parts? Is there a noise ordinance? If so at 3 am you can call the cops. If it is indeed a junk or salvage yard, beware of guard dogs. The trees might work, or even the fence, but he will still be there. If you have tried being nice, and tried helping him understand the big picture, and he isnt cooperative, you dont have many choices left.
     
  14. edcopp

    edcopp Well-Known Member

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    First off, it's not the Realtors fault if in fact a Realtor was used at all. It is the fault of the residents of this subdivision, plain and simple. The fact that there is no, or a defunct HOA proves that the people who live here would rather turn a blind eye than do the work of enforcing the rules. Restrictions are generally written on the deed, so everyone knows what they are going in.

    So one guy decides that the rules do not apply to him. Whats new? The preson or persons who present the loudest case usually win, regardless of the rules. This game is won with arrogance and intimidation. At this point the guy with the junk is winning. People FEAR retalitation...

    So what to do. Sure plant some trees, or offer ti give in to his intimidation and build him a fence for free. Small claims court, get real. This is not a small claim at all, and everybody knows it. If it was a crack den or a whore house, what would you do? Plant trees?

    This operation could cut your property value in half overnight, as well a stop your property from increasing in value from now on. This is a matter of being deprived of enjoyment of your property. So we don't want to rile this guy up. We could get a small claim judgement and then put that paper in the outhouse where it might eventually be useful for sometning, someday.

    This is a "big claim" situation. The matter might more realistically be addressed as a class action suit against the junk man, and the local authorities who are also afraid of him. 8 property owners involved so why not start with a suit for 8 million in damages to the owners in the subdivision. I mean this guy is reversing your property value while he makes any appriciation impossible, so let him pay the bill. Even if a settlement of 4 million was reached it might just be a bit more valuable than some new pine trees.
     
  15. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    A junk yard would flip me out.Time to talk to an attorney and get some advice.

    BooBoo
     
  16. tsdave

    tsdave Grand Marshal

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    Send the guy a letter, saying you want to keep good neighborly ties, but that his vechicles is making that difficult. Ask him if he plans to remove them, or if he is willing to sell them, and ask how much he wants. The last line may get you a reply at least.

    If that doesnt work, get a letter signed by everyone stating they feel that he is in violation of the codes.

    If that doesnt work collectively hire a lawyer to send him a letter stating how he will lose everything he owns if he doesnt comply. (wether or not he acutally would)

    Lastly sue him until he complies.

    Other options : Move, or deal with it.
     
  17. DrippingSprings

    DrippingSprings In Remembrance

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    as long as he doesnt pose a health hazard I dont think its anyones business what he does with HIS property.
     
  18. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    When he destroys your property value,yes,its your business

    BooBoo
     
  19. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Technically the same could be said about cows or roosters and property values of houses....

    I say put your trees up and screen your property. If you choose to enforce the HOA rules, I am sure he will retaliate with the same after he is busted, so make sure you are above reproach.

    Oh, also... keep in mind that for what ever reason, his property may not have the same restrictions. I have seen stranger things.
     
  20. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

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    Well I would normally agree with Dripping Springs EXCEPT in this case the person KNEW there were covenants in place and he is bound by them.

    We bought property in a 'development' where one of the few rules is no junkyards...pretty simple.

    Why should it matter if whether there is a POA or not,the rules are in place.