He didn’t like confrontations, but he didn’t know what else to do. He had lived in peace for several years, and suddenly, another neighbor showed up and disrupted his tranquility. He thought carefully about what he wanted to do because he knew the wrong action could affect the whole neighborhood. Eventually, he came up with something. And what he did shocked everyone, including the neighbor he was feuding with.
Oliver Lynch never imagined he’d be dealing with this. For the past 25 years, he had lived in the same neighborhood in Osceola County, Florida without any issues. Osceola County is part of the Orlando metropolitan area in Central Florida, but it’s nowhere near as chaotic as the tourist area of the city. It’s mainly a place for retirees to live, like Oliver, who is 79 years old. But occasionally, the sleepy town gets shaken by drama.
Oliver drove home one day after being out of town. But as soon as he pulled in, he noticed that there was an issue. The wide concrete path that was his driveway and goes straight in and then bends towards the garage, was blocked by a series of cinder blocks. He was still able to drive the car in, but just barely. Once he got in, he decided to find out who was responsible for blocking his driveway.
Oliver went outside and tried moving the cinder blocks, but they wouldn’t budge. Whoever put them there, had cemented them on the ground. “Who could have done this?” he wondered. Then, the answer came to him. The adjacent property was an empty lot, which had been on the market for a long time. Oliver figured that someone must have used the blocks to create some sort of separation. But why would they use his driveway for that?
Oliver didn’t know who owned the property, so he wasn’t sure who to talk to at first. Then, construction on the lot continued, and more workers, materials, and machinery appeared, so he saw this as the perfect opportunity. He assumed, one of these workers would know how to contact the landlord. So, he walked on over to the lot and spoke with the workers. Now he had his neighbor’s number. But this situation wasn’t going to have a smooth resolution like Oliver had hoped for.
Oliver spoke with the neighbor and explained about the cinder blocks, but the man didn’t seem to care. He claimed that a portion of Oliver’s driveway belonged to him and Oliver was stunned by the claim. In fact, he was speechless. With no resolution in sight, the two hung up on each other. But Oliver wasn’t about to let his neighbor get away with it. In fact, he knew he would need proof that the land was his and not his neighbor’s.
Oliver went through his paperwork to find the property records, which was difficult since he bought his property more than twenty years ago. But eventually he found them and when he read them, he realized he had what he needed. The paperwork proved he owned two adjacent 12-foot driveways. Then he headed to the Osceola County offices to confirm that the records were accurate, but there was one other hurdle he had to jump through.
Osceola County informed Oliver that they didn’t have the power to force the neighbor to get rid of those cinder blocks, even though Oliver was entitled to that property. He would need a surveyor to settle this, or he’d have to take his case to court. But Oliver didn’t want to take things so far, so instead, he tried talking to his neighbor. But the man wouldn’t answer the phone. So, Oliver caught his attention in a way that couldn’t be ignored.
Oliver reached out to WFTV, the local TV station, to share his story. The station aired the story about the dispute and decided to pay him a visit at his home. “I have little fight left in me, and I hate to see somebody bulldoze over me,” he shared. “What’s he going to do with these extra few yards of concrete?” His plan won the public’s sympathy, and the locals were now fully on Oliver’s side. But how was this going to help him deal with this dispute?
A week after the story aired on WFTV, Oliver’s neighbor showed up on his doorstep. Given their previous conversations, Oliver didn’t think this conversation would end well. He assumed that the neighbor was here to rip him a new one for making him look bad on TV, or maybe he had come to confront him physically. Either way, Oliver was ready to face him.
It turns out that the man just wanted to talk. He told Oliver that he never wanted to cause a scene, and then asked him to show him the property records. The man was convinced that the piece of land was his. But he was open to talking now. Of course, Oliver was glad to have a civilized discussion with his neighbor. He even asked him if he could remove the cinder blocks now that he had shown him the records, and the man said yes. But what caused this change of heart?
Oliver got to know his neighbor a little better and he discovered that the man was a minister. But Oliver told WFTV that his attitude towards him suggested he wasn’t behaving like a man of the cloth. “[A] God-fearing man. But I don’t think that’s very Christian-like.” But perhaps, it was possible that God helped him to see the error of his ways. Regardless, Oliver was happy that everything was resolved peacefully. But most neighborhood disputes don’t end quite as peaceful as this story.
A Washington community was upset when a neighbor built a home on the lot he owned and then decided to coat the walls with pastel purple. The neighbors petitioned against the color, claiming the paint job would decrease the value of the neighborhood’s properties. But the neighbor ignored the claims, so the man living adjacent to the house decided to take action in an interesting way.
The neighbor’s home wasn’t directly adjacent to the purple home, but his field certainly was. So, he crafted a special message for his neighbor using his lawnmower. But the message was only visible through one of Google Maps’ satellites. But while his jab was spot on, many neighbors would have preferred more action. However, in this instance, this was the most peaceful way to handle things. Then again, they could have used the law.
Most states in the US have laws that deal with common neighborhood disputes related to things like trees, fences, and boundaries. After all, disputes between neighbors happen because we can only choose where we are going to live, not who our neighbors are. If you’re curious about which laws are available to you in your home state, check out your state’s statutes at your local government office or go online.