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Definitely not a food question

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
There has to be a Lawyer out there that can help us with this.

As ya'll can see from our location in my posts.....we live in Virginia. Our home borders on the line between the Independent City in which we reside and the County. Also, on the City county platte....there is 100ft of abandoned Railroad ROW that was abandoned to the City in 1968 as well as a 35ft "paper" street that was abandoned on 1966 between her property and ours. Yet, in all actuality, because the County residents house is not directly behind ours........there is probably more like 200ft of ROW and 60ft of "Paper street" between their property and our property

When we first moved in, we asked permission of the City Manager, City Engineering Dept and Codes if we could clean the area that the "paper street" occupied. I was given verbal permission from all those I asked. They agreed that the property had no immediate or even distant future plans and that as long as it was behind our property, and since they did not maintain it, we ccould do such. I later received a sort of verbal scolding for the work but was given full use and access to the property as well as the right to maintain the trees to promote their health.

3 months after we spent several thousand dollars to remove dead tress, scrub trees and undesirable undergrowth we started getting harassed by a County resident.

During the last 3 years we have stuck to the agreement with the city that we would maintain the property and make no permanent structural additions to the area. We work with-in City codes regarding tree removal in that nothing is removed that will be 6" in diameter when measured at a height of 4 and one half feet above the ground. We have transplanted over 100 azalea bushes, 17 boxwoods, 2 rhododendrons, 100 day lilies and Iris', 6 Nandinas and countless other plants as well as provided irrigation and grass to the area.

On countless occasions this County resident has called the City Managers office and when the City Manager has told her to.....she contacts a friend on the City Council. That friend then contacts the City Manager and has to send out the City Engineers. Every time a call is made we are accused of cutting down trees or destroying City property.

The County resident has also taken it upon themselves to take pictures of our home, the workers that we have employed to do the tree work and what changes we have made to our personal property. This person has even contacted the City when people a block away or even our neighbors have done work.

I have tried to communicate with the husband that these actions as well as this behavior is going to lead nowhere good and fast and asked that he please try to bring some common sense to their half of the issue. This has fallen on deal ears.

The big issue is that there is no public access to the area. She has to cross the very over grown debris field of the abandoned 100ft of railway bed and 35ft of the same condition city and and private property. The city property is also marked "No trespassing" at the only point there would be public access...........3 blocks south where the grade crossing once was. The main reason we asked for permission to begin with.

I really need to know what we can do to stop this person from harassing us, taking photographs when she has been repeatedly told not to do so and...... what we can do to the City Council person that is acting in an official capacity on behalf of a non constituent and against a tax paying constituent and resident of the City the Council person was elected to represent. I can't tell you enough the amount of City and our personal resources she has wasted with this over the last 3 years

Please don't reply with the typical sarcastic, humorous or realistically unacceptable advice. I have certainly been able to come up with some very creative stuff on my own as well as through discussion elsewhere. I really need to know who or whom I need to contact and/or if I should just dial 911 the next time she makes her way over to the area and starts snapping pictures of us working on private property or property we have been designated as the caretakers of by city officials. I mean....I really have no idea what a person should be taking pictures of us or our property for. Are they Casing the area to rob us, are they stalking me or my family, do they pose a clear and eminent threat to my family??????:rolleyes: I know for sure they don't have anyone's permission to do this and are not licensed as Private investigators.:look:

If there is no one here that is a Lawyer is able to help with a reply to the post...... please PM me with info regarding the person or site I can visit (like this) to get that help.

I understand that this question is more like a "Hail Mary" pass and........well.....I just hope someone will take the time to help.

Thanks in advance to any that do.
post #2 of 12
oldschool -

okay, IANAL (I am not a lawyer) - but I have a daughter who is - admitted to the MD and DC bar, but not VA <sigh>

you can not stop them from taking pictures.
if they are on your property - taking pictures or not - you can press trespassing charges.

"their" opinion of what you are doing,
in concert with whatever 'arrangements' you have made/agreed upon with local authorities - and heaven hopes there is some written documentation to that...
is unrelated.

that you have not been "charged" with destruction of city property actually works in your favor. in fact the more often they register a 'complaint' and the more often 'no action' is deemed by officials to be warranted builds (eventual) strength that you are living up to your end of the bargain.

you mentioned "verbal agreement" - you should giver some thought to getting that in writing - people who make verbal agreements die and/or otherwise go away. signed agreements do not so easily disappear.

but, you cannot stop the cretins from registering a complaint. and the local officials may be bound, by law, to 'investigate' any 'complaint' - not their fault. there is the possibility that given a written/signed/on file agreement local official-dom could summarily dismiss such a (repeated) complaint without any further investigation.

you could pursue a civil actions on a stalking or harassment basis - but that's a really long shot. the cretins are private citizens registering "their" concept of a complaint, and the local law is (probably) required to investigate - time and time again.

of course, if the city has portions posted NO TRESPASSING, you could take some pictures of the cretins and request prosecution. that's a 2% bet.

unless you can "prove" significant/serious harm is caused by the continued complaints, even a civil action is unlikely to "stop the nonsense" - and having a city official show up at the door (regularly) and ask "whadda doing over there" is not most probably not a 'harm'
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

I have, in the form of emails and written letters, permission to use and maintain the property. The written letter also contained the scolding for adding the irrigation encroachment but we are actually backtracking to file for an encroachment variance that the City will consider. Found the form on-line. The City seems happy we have done this...welll all except the one Council person that has taken the issue unto their own.

Anyhow, the biggest part of my issue is not that someone comes knocking on our door when ever any of us fart in the wrong direction over here....
It is the County/Independent City residents thing.

As is in several areas of the country we have lived, the city is typically located with-in a County. Under Virginia Law, we have no County jurisdiction over us as residents of an Independent City. It is also fair to say that the City has none over the County residents. We have to break a County Law with-in the County for them to have any involvement. This really goes without saying but as you can see by the situation.....thre ARE those that don't understand these things.

The fact that this cretin is pulling strings and using our City Council against us when the cretin does not pay taxes in any form to the City. (We pay none to the County either) That is the main crux of the issue and the one I was hoping we would be able to use.

We will pursuer the trespassing thing quite vigorously I can assure you since we have posted our property since the end of the first year. Plus Souther states Laws regarding trespassing are very munch in favor of the property owner.

Several neighbors have joined in and now yesterday, one has a vested interest in the situation. They harassed for doing tree work in their yard.

I really hate confrontations....especially like this. It would seem to me this sort of how the Hatfield's and McCoy's got their start. Hehehe

Again we just cannot understand why something we do on our property bothers someone........ so much........ when that person doesn't even live in the same jurisdiction as we do.

Thanks for Chiming n. I had a thought to just delete the post this morning but decided that really wasn't necessary.
post #4 of 12
well, some people can't be explained <g>

localities often have strange laws - many times they are very old, useful perhaps in a different era - but still on the books. if these folks own adjoining property - or maybe even 'close' - the possibility of some legal standing of their complaint(s) may exist.

but even if such a basis did exist, since you've not been charged or warned or whatever is pretty strong evidence you're not violating <something>

the county cretin pushing on a county official to lean on a unrelated city official could be a fruitful path to pursue. the duties and obligations of public officials is usually defined somewhere - and they may be overstepping the bounds.

perhaps attending a city council meeting to raise the issue might precipitate some internal questions. especially if there's now a group of neighbors affected.

but it's still a civil matter - lacking a criminal offense the local law probably will not get involved - and leaves hiring a lawyer, etc.
post #5 of 12

I feel for you in your situation. Whilst the situation we had was nothing like yours, it constituted threats and stalking and intimidation.

We ended up starting a restraining order action (not sure what that's called there) against this person(ex-business "partner" - Ha!/ total con artist), in order to try and bring to a halt the constant phone/e-mail/ fax harassment and threats against us. That's apart from the constant drive by abuse. What the details were are too long and complex and irrelevent here.

We ended up having to change all phone numbers etc etc. But, although we never carried thru on the restraining order, we ended up with a mediator situation, where we agreed we would never contact them other than thru their lawyer for 12 months, and vice versa. It did cost a small fortune. But after 3 years of peace (touch wood, cross fingers...) it would seem to be resolved.

But the memory and the hassles and the constant being on edge - I can feel where you are at. I don't know if that's the kind of avenue you would pursue - I am indeed no lawyer. I just wanted to relate something of what our situation was like, and how we finally achieved some peace of mind.

Maybe this neighbour will wear themselves out. One can only hope. They should get a life.

Good Luck.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #6 of 12
Read through this and I am still trying to understand why the person(s) are putting up such a fuss.

Being the cynical old fart that I am, I figure that people only behave this way for two reasons: One is that there's money to be made in some way or form and two, that there's jealousy involved--You thought of it first, probably.

Check with any local farmers if they can "loan" you a farm dog for a few months. Dogs guard their turf jealously and are above the law.....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #7 of 12
even better, get a guard Emu. A dog has to be shot if it bites someone, the Emu would be considered livestock. So any harrasment of it would be in violation of livestock laws. also those things can be down right mean , 6 foot birds are not to be ignored.:)

ps. had similar experience with current neighbor, cost my family over 6K in county inspection time, even though they found no issues. Guy called and complained so much the county finally said they would press harrasment charges if he didn't shut up.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
post #8 of 12

About your camera happy neighbor. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you have a minor child at home. Is this idiot taking photos of your child in her own yard, with out your or her consent? In this day and age no official takes kindly to minor girls being photographed with out their permission. And quite frankly I’d be none too happy about my daughters being photographed like that. Thankfully harassment and stalking laws are getting stronger by the day.
You’re right we Southerners take our property rights VERY seriously. We also get pretty miffed when the people we elect represent someone that isn’t a constituent. I don’t know how your city government is set up (strong council or strong mayor) but if this kook is harassing other people in the city, a group (neighborhood coalition) approaching YOUR city gov’t would be the best start. Find out who has the upper hand and take them something from your kitchen. (The power of baked goods should never be underestimated.:))
If all the honey in the world doesn’t work try some vinegar.
The city should be thankful that you are absorbing the cost of maintaining land that they own. You should let your city gov’t know that if they can not protect you from a non-resident’s harassment over YOU maintaining THEIR property. You will cease doing them the favor and then demand that they begin upkeep of the property for the safety of the residents in the neighborhood.
Most cities have ordinances concerning the upkeep of property. You would be totally within your rights to demand that the city maintains their own property in accordance with their own ordinances at their own expense, including the entire three blocks and railroad debris field not just what is directly adjacent to your property. I can only imagine how many snakes an abandoned rail line is harboring, maybe even some disease ridden rodents or maybe a rabid raccoon. Sounds like a public nuisance to me. Point of legal fact there is something called an “attractive nuisance” Here is a cut and pasted definition from the net:

attractive nuisance

Something on a piece of property that attracts children but also endangers their safety. For example, unfenced swimming pools, open pits, farm equipment and abandoned refrigerators have all qualified as attractive nuisances.

Abandoned rail line ….. Wonder if children might be inclined to hunt for left over spikes? Wonder if they might get hurt while doing it? See where I’m going with this.
Then let them know that you will be watching the next city elections very closely to see who will be running against them.
post #9 of 12
I have a similar situation. The north side of my property is an undeveloped alley right of way with a field north of that. On the east side there is an undeveloped road right of way with the field east of that. The guy that farms the land keeps parking and running over plants in that right of way and I have permission in righting to plant it to a tree windbreak because it will never get used (been that way for 60 years). I maintain it and have been doing so for 20+ years. Its going to become a destruction of property issue most likely (trees are considered property and can't be destroyed without a cause).
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've not been ignoring the thread I started.........just waiting to see if we won the battle. Even though we haven't heard from the city, now being what....3 days later........It's entirely possiblt that something may happen Mon or Tiues so........I'll wait till then to report. Thanks for the support and a couple of the suggestions. Farmdog????? Emu???????Bwaaahahahahahahaha

Here's another....Ostrich....maybe even Geese. Well maybe not Geese. Not enough pond and too many trees.:D

Our city is a proclaimed "Bird Sanctuary". Sezzz it ritgh below the sign welcoming you to the city.:lol:
post #11 of 12
:lol::lol: Attack birds are the answer :D Seriously that sounds great.
post #12 of 12
Fingers crossed for you and some peace at home for you all, Oldschool.

I can't believe how much stress we had been under with our situation. You don't realise it till its gone....... (peeking thru the blinds and looking over my shoulder). I still jump every time the doorbell rings. It sucks. But it is a better thing now.

And hey, you know what? The only reason our problem person didn't wnt to accept the restraining order in the first place that they own a property with stock, and there are lots of feral cats, tasmanian devils and tiger quolls around ready to eat that stock. In this area if you are a farmer in that situation, and you have a restraining order set against you - you lose your gun licence.

Pretty mixed up hey? We were afraid for our lives and the lives of our children and animals, yet, because this person had livestock, and it was their living, so they needed a gun to protect that income, we had a major fight on our hands.

Yeah....we were petrified, they had a gun. The world is mad.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

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