View Full Version : I need some neighborly advice

Feb. 4, 2010, 09:51 AM
I've posted about my neighbors before. They are nice people, they just don't get horses.

Long story short, we all have long narrow properties-only 250 ft frontage. That means it's a bit hard to space things away from property lines due to this set up.

My neighbors do have a lot of horse scary things in their backyard that for some reason they put on my side of the property. They also are the type of people that believe it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Our township does have a decent amount of restrictions and they've gotten in trouble before because of it.

I don't mind the pool in the backyard. My horse was fine with the trampoline (well, until the wind blew it up against a tree and it stayed that way for weeks). The hot tub enclosure with the vinyl flapping roof we've also learned to deal with. In short, it's been a great education for me in learning to ride through spooks. And my horse will always be a bit spooky-he's just that way and I accept that.

They do have a homemade shed that used to be on the fathers property(next door to the neighbors)that they moved one day 10-15 feet from my property line. There is a restriction in my township that all buildings must be 50 feet from the property line. The shed has been an issue for me because 1.they tend to pile their junk on the side of the shed facing my property 2.people are going into and out of the shed making noise regardless of who may be riding and 3.now the door of the shed swings open and on windy days can be quite loud and scary.

He's also done bow and arrow(he's a hunter) target practice in his backyard while I was riding. Once again, I treated it as an opportunity to make my horse a bit more bombproof.

The last straw was yesterday. The kids (both high school) were walking down the driveway with a friend of theirs. I was leading my horse in the barn to tack up. Suddenly, the horses on their side of the barn started panicking. Not spooking, but the panicked sound of an animal trapped in a small area with no where to go and frightened for its life. My horse flew backward, got loose and ran out of the barn. I flew around the corner and yelled at the kids asking them what the h*** they were doing. The friend replied something about making noise for the horses. I heard a stone drop from the fence and realized that this &^%^ was throwing stones at the horses to make them spook!!:mad::mad::mad:

I'm at my wits end. I don't expect everyone to drop everything that they're doing just because I'm riding, but this is getting past ridiculous. We are posting signs today on that side of the fenceline. I don't want to start a war with my neighbors but I can't believe their lack of common sense.

I also want that shed moved-I do think that will help solve some of the backyard spookiness issue. It is there against township ordinances.

Any suggestions on how to handle this delicately? I want to be fair and a good neighbor but I also think what I've been doing in the past isn't quite enough.

Thank you for listening and thanks in advance for any ideas.
I'm just so upset....


Feb. 4, 2010, 10:07 AM
Honestly I didn't have a whole lot of sympathy for you until I got to the part where the kids were deliberately throwing rocks! That is beyond ridiculous. I think that your neighbors have every right to use their property as they see fit, including trampolines, scary stuff in the yard, heavy equipment moving, etc. They have as much right to do that as you have to have your horses. However, a little common courtesy would be nice. You won't get anywhere by being confrontational either. You can ask nicely for them to move the shed and to please have consideration for your safety while you are riding. If they refuse to move the shed you can explain about the ordinance and even show it to them. If that doesn't work then you can write a letter of complaint to your township. If all else fails an 8' solid fence might be exactly what you need. The old saying about good fences make better neighbors is true.

PS: I would definitely report to the parents the deliberate attempt to spook the horses...that could end up costing lots of money in vet bills should a horse injure himself.

Feb. 4, 2010, 10:13 AM
Other than the rock throwing, I don't think there is much going on with the neighbors that is that out of the ordinary. I would imagine that you and your horses do some things that annoy them on occasion too. I would be sure to talk to the parents about the teens throwing rocks and discuss just how expensive a vet visit can be....

Yes, the shed is annoying and maybe it is too close to the property line BUT before you complain you better make sure all of your ducks are in a row and you don't have anything may be in violation of code in some obscure way. The last thing you probably want is to be in a war with your neighbors. As PRS said a nice big solid fence along that side of the property can solve a lot of problems.

Feb. 4, 2010, 10:33 AM
Good luck.

You won't be able to do squat about any of the things you mentioned - like PRS said, they have as much right to have {stuff} on their property as you do to have horses on yours. I'd be surprised if anyone would be willing to enforce the 50-ft rule (shed/property line) out in the country. In town you'd have a good chance of that, but in the country.....I think you'll have trouble finding someone who gives a damn.

As far as catching them throwing rocks at the horses - yes, I'd be spitting nails over that too. Do you have any sort of a relationship with the property owners/parents? Is it friendly, amicable, tolerable.....or nonexistent? This will be tough to approach without causing more problems. I don't wish this type of thing on anyone. I cannot tolerate my beyond fruitbatting, certifiably insane neighbors to the NW, but we don't see much of them. And the Most Incredible Neighbors Ever to the NE make up for the crazy ones :)

Feb. 4, 2010, 10:49 AM
My neighbor kids are, I believe, shooting over a public road from their property, into my property, trying to kill squirrels in the trees. I hate my neighbors, let's call them LT, with a running passion. We all do. Their side-by-side neighbor, S caught those kids hunting on his land more than once. There was a serious come to Jesus over it to the extent that when LT's hunting dog got loose and wandered onto S's land, LT dared not set FOOT on S's land for fear of getting his butt peppered with buckshot. I stood on my hill and watched LT beg his dog to come back. We all hate LT and his clan. They are loud, rude, they work on street racers in their garage, VROOM VRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOM (which is not good for the engine BTW), I did call the law on them running those cars up the public road at 80+ MPH (speed limit 45)...they HONK HONK to get the kids to come get in the car, and they routinely trespass all over to hunt and shoot squirrels on neighbor's land. Did I mention I LOATHE these people?

I can handle the noise, the rudeness, the disregard for their neighbor's peace and quiet. I cannot handle trespassing and killing for sport on MY land by those little punks. I've not caught them yet. Emphasis YET.

I'll trade you them for some kids dropping rocks on the shed, 7 days a week.

Plant some thorny holly bushes all that fence line, fast growing stuff and block them from view. Turn up the radio when you ride, and get your horse's attention. The world doesn't stop around here b/c I'm riding- the more racket, the more chance to work of focus.

Feb. 4, 2010, 10:58 AM
How long is your property? You said 250' of road frontage, but how long is it overall? I would gladly sacrifice that extra 15' and plant tall shrubs, bushes, ANYTHING to offer a screen. If not for the physical screen it will offer, maybe it will also help get the point across to them.

Feb. 4, 2010, 11:04 AM
I feel your pain.

I HATE my neighbor. I don't care if my Mom said never to use that word. He is scum.

Screwed me out of the cost to survey the boudary line that he promised he would share in. Then, when the survey was done, went out and moved the stakes in the woods to his benefit because he wanted that bit of land to hunt deer.
I decided to be-friend the ECO (Eviron. Compliance Officer) who nailed him for baiting deer and he was banned from hunting on his own property in the area where he planted the apples. I fully anticipate that when I am riding this spring he will come up with ways to spook my horses too. His revenge.

Revenge on my side though is sweet and will be sweeter this Fall when he finds out I filed the survey and he has 5 less acres. Cost me thousands, but worth it.

As for your situation, I would go speak to the parents to start with. Tell them that the ramifications of rock throwing (maybe they will figure that out on their own) I also think the planting of prickley bushes sounds good as someone else mentioned. Ask what grows the fastest and use them as a perimeter.

Feb. 4, 2010, 11:27 AM
I had a very similar situation at my former home in Southern California. We lived in a neighborhood with one acre farmettes. About three years ago a blended family with 13 kids all under the age of 10 moved in...AND the woman did day care.
Well...up go two trampolines, three jungle gyms, a racing strip around the perimeter so the kids could race their ATVs.
It was a nighmare. Little kids shrieking ALL THE TIME...that high pitched, deafening shriek that makes you want to hit somebody. Their autistic son climbed our fence and let one of the horses out; the horse ran through a gate and tore up his side..also demolished the fence. The neighbors did nothing. No offer to pay anything. They came over and got their kid and walked away without saying a word.
The neighbors still seemed to think that the two horses on my property were theirs to pet, climb the fence and chase, etc. We asked them VERY nicely to keep the kids in their yard, which is all we could legally do. That was the end of a civil relationship. They were FURIOUS that we had criticized their "parenting" and from then on it was war.
They began calling the cops over the kind of music we played, the dust in our yard when the horses ran...even the glare from the roof of the horse shelter, which they said was blinding their childrens' eyes.
I guess what I'm saying...be prepared for a battle if you're going to go there, because people like your neighbors do not like being asked to compromise...and they won't. Be sure you have the law on your side, too...we didn't, because several cops in our town went to the same megachurch as these people.
We have since moved. Nothing is perfect, but neighbors like yours really can ruin your life. You wind up not wanting to do anything with your horses at all because you're afraid something will happen.

Feb. 4, 2010, 11:42 AM
Yes, most of your problems would be solved with a barrier. At the first, I was thinking a stockade fence, very opaque kinda thing, and a bit of a sound buffer. But after reading about the kids, I second something living, green and THORNY - fast growing. Until then, couple strands of hot wire will at least keep them off the fence. But pay the money and get a thorny hedge - wide and tall. That should just bout fix everything.

Oh, and as for the shed, just go let town hall know about it. You don't have to discuss it with your neighbor. Its a town issue, leave it at that. Even the best of neighbors deal with ordinance or town zoning issues through the town. Doesn't make you a bad neighbor. Legal issues are best dealt with in town, that's all. Let them deal with it, its not your place to confront the neighbors. you may for some reason give them mixed information, or incorrect informatino about the shed, so you really need to leave it up to the town.

Just get a hedge and wave when you can. The rest is yours to deal with until you or they move. Its where you decided to live. Even children don't last forever. Enjoy.

Feb. 4, 2010, 12:12 PM
Thanks for all the replies. Sorry if I sounded whiny, I'm just frustrated because I don't want a war with the neighbors. I'm really at a loss as to how to handle this.

Just to clarify, we live in suburbia and the township would care about the shed if it were brought up. I went through a major hassle and expense to get a variance to put up overhangs on my barn. I asked all the neighhbors first. I guess it's frustrating to try to do the polite and correct thing when it's not a two way street.

Yes, I agree about freedom to do whatever you want on your own property so I never said anything to them. It is their right to do as they like, and I didn't mean to sound like a jerk complaining about everything-it's kinda funny that whenever I think it can't get worse it does! It's when it's not within legal limits that I wonder if I should push the envelope. It's just bad luck on my part that my ring is there. Oh well, that's life.

My issue is the rock throwing (it was at the horses, not the shed). I'm undecided about the shed-it is maybe 30 ft from my ring so it does make things kinda tough. Is it worth the possible implications of a confrontation? I honestly don't know. On one hand, it probably doesn't hurt to ask. On the other hand, am I the b*#$%^ next door asking them to move their shed? I am within legal rights, but is it really worth it? Do I sound like an a$$ asking them to keep the door closed because it spooks poor poopsie?

Thanks for letting me vent. I just want to do the right thing without ruining a friendly (we wave to each other and sometimes the wife and I talk-I do like her) relationship.

Feb. 4, 2010, 12:23 PM
Well, since you like the wife I would probably just chalk the shed up to more spookproofing. Although, if she brings it up someday (yeah, I know sheds aren't a common topic of conversation :lol:) you could mention how the slamming door scares your horse.

However, since you get along you can definitely tell her about the teenagers throwing the stones. I would think she'd be happy to know if her kids were misbehaving like that. I know I would - so I could beat them!:winkgrin: Teenage boys are so stupid sometimes. But look on the bright side - they're in high school already so hopefully they will be leaving for college in a few years.

Feb. 4, 2010, 04:59 PM
Perhaps you could artfully ask the wife how she got the permits for the shed so fast since you went through quite a bit of trouble to get your for the overhangs? Or make a comment about how the town ordinance must've changed because you had to ask all your neighbors first? If she has a speck of social skills then she will say something about it being close to your property line and ask if it is a problem. You could always ask that they secure the door properly in exchage for you not turning their asses into the town.

The rock throwing is ridiculous. I teach teenagers. The complete and utter lack of awareness of another life in today's teenagers is appalling (yes there are of course many wonderful exceptions). Good luck.

Feb. 5, 2010, 09:38 AM
I'm undecided about the shed-it is maybe 30 ft from my ring so it does make things kinda tough. Is it worth the possible implications of a confrontation? I honestly don't know. On one hand, it probably doesn't hurt to ask. On the other hand, am I the b*#$%^ next door asking them to move their shed?

Again - YOU are not the one asking. You can report it to the appropriate authorities (city?) and they will handle it from there. I'd make the call.

And plant a thorny boundary :)

Feb. 5, 2010, 10:55 AM
Thanks for the replies. Can you tell I'm a big nonconfrontational passive aggressive weanie?!!

I believe in live and let live as much as possible as does my husband. I've overlooked the fireworks because I try to work around it as much as possible and explain and I think they've tried to be better about it. Luckily, the kids have outgrown the quads, go carts, trampolines, etc. I'm pretty sure the archery might not be ok (it's only about 60 ft from my property line). Every once in a while the husband does shotgun(?) target practice from his backyard into a huge dirt mound. I will talk to him about that- and honestly, anyone who lives in suburban NJ knows that is illegal.

The shed has been there a while(7-8 years) because I wasn't aware of the restrictions until I did the variance for the overhangs. I thought it was just something else I had to live with. To be honest, where it happens to be placed is just a really bad spot. As I turn the upper corner of the ring, the shed is there even with the end of the ring. If it's not a windy day, it's just an eyeful. On a windy day, you turn the corner and *boom* there's a door flying open and shut by itself with the corresponding noise.

Some of the decision to do retirement boarding on my property is because I'm afraid a less experienced rider could get hurt. I never know when they're going to rev up the Harleys or do something really noisy. I can deal with the spooks and yes, it makes me a better rider but it just gets kinda old after a while. When my instructor (an advanced level eventer) told me she wouldn't want to to school her horses on my property I realized that maybe I'm not as bad a rider as I thought! I do love my farm and I do like my neighbors. I'd like to find a resolution for some of the problems in a peaceful way.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this and for letting me whine. It's February, I'm frustrated and grumpy and I know it's time to put the big girl panties on.

I will talk to them about the rock throwing incident(even though it wasn't their kid) and the shotgun practice.
I can't plant bushes because my fence is too close to the property line but I can do electric fencing so maybe that will keep wandering partygoers from trying to pet the horses-as will signs on the fenceline.

Still deciding on the shed. Since we are in an ag/residential area, I don't want to open a can of worms that might affect more than just one person. Our township is pretty strict so it might impact more people than I realize and I don't want to do that.

Thanks again everyone.

Feb. 5, 2010, 11:06 AM
Throwing rocks is unacceptable- on several accounts. Out here in KS if your horses had become injured because of being hit/running from the rocks thrown by the youth, the neighbors parents would be liable for damages/vet bills.

Feb. 5, 2010, 03:03 PM
Is it possible that the shed was built under a different set of ordinances as it was so long ago.

I am sorry about your neighbors.

Feb. 5, 2010, 03:29 PM
The rock throwing thing, I'd be over there so fast their hair would curl...

And whilst they were apologizing for that incident, I'd hand them the latch I'd bought for their shed door and explain the problem to them.

Then I'd thank them profusely for their understanding, smile sweetly and head on my way.

Feb. 5, 2010, 03:37 PM
I agree with atr about the rock throwing and the door latch for the shed. I know the shed may be too close to the property line, but as you've said complaining about that may open pandora's box and rebound on you in ways you don't expect.

Ware Whip!
Feb. 5, 2010, 05:15 PM
I do not think you are being whiney, or out of line in anyway.

Teen age boys can be the bane to any animal, not all, but let's fact it, some are absolute monsters.

You are such a reasonable, and level headed person. Do you think a chat over a few latte's and bagels from a local shop would get anywhere with the Mom?

A lot can be solved just by talking with someone, that would be my first route.

I also agree with something prickly and fast growing. If it can be done,
how bout some high bush cranberry? It is deciduous, but grows 3 feet a year. You could keep it high and tight against the fence line. Abrovitae would be another good choice, and being non deciduous, great year round screening.

I am sorry you are having this issue, I know how helpless that lose/lose feeling can be, and how confronting a neighbor can be knee knocking werid.

I hope it all works out for you.

Feb. 5, 2010, 05:46 PM
I hate neighbors. If I can see them, then I hate them. I don't like anything about them. Been there done that with the terrible neighbors.

Good fences make good neighbors.

I would right away build a 6' or taller solid wood fence. That way you do not have to see them. Put the slick side on their side, that way they can not climb it. That is the way it is suppose to go.

How annoying your neighbors are. But, been there done that. We made sure when we moved to not have neighbors too close.

Sorry you have to deal with this. I know you don't want to be the nagging neighbor, but geez.

Build a fence. Then you do not have to see them. You can still hear them though. We did in one house we had. LOVED that fence. Loved it.

My DH and I wish we had 10' solid rock fences all the way around our property. Really!

Good luck.

Feb. 5, 2010, 06:13 PM
Thanks everyone-it's so nice to be able to "talk" to people here as my family just doesn't "get it" either.

I did just come back from talking to the wife. My heart is still pounding in my chest-gawwwwd I hate this!!!

Apparently the parents did talk to the friend who threw the stones. The kid told them that he wasn't throwing them *at* the horses, but at a bucket(?). Too bad the horses didn't know that! I understand he's a teenage kid who probably wasn't thinking, so I think that situation is resolved. If not, then the wrath of Hell will descend upon him pretty fast.

The signs we put up really upset the wife. She felt that it looked like we hated them as neighbors and was embarassing to her. I explained that I'd take them down and put up 1 sign with the legal signage for NJ and one that simply says "do not pet the horses" or something to that effect. She told me that people know not to pet the horses but sometimes with big parties I do see people wandering over to the fenceline. I think if I do a few strands of electric to keep the horses away from the people, that would work, too. I'm also thinking if the signs really upset her, bushes or a tall fence might really freak her out. We'll work something out that's not offensive to either party. I understand where she's coming from and I want it to work for both of us.

I mentioned the shotgun and asked if the husband could refrain from doing that on their property. Hopefully that's the end of that. If not, I'll have no problem calling the police. Our houses are all too close together to take a chance.

I did ask about the shed and if it were possible to move it, it would be great. I said I hadn't realized the township ordinance was 50 ft but I didn't want to get the township involved anyway. She said that they were planning on getting rid of it this summer. I tried to explain if they just didn't have large things right on the fenceline, it would make life easier. I asked that in the meantime could they just make sure to latch the door and she agreed.

Hopefully, all is resolved or at least closer to resolution.
Thank you all for the kind words and support-I was really worried about being flamed for this but I also needed to hear some good solid advice, too.

Thanks again. Time for a big glass of wine! (or two..)

Feb. 5, 2010, 06:31 PM
My DH and I wish we had 10' solid rock fences all the way around our property. Really!

Good luck.

I share the sentiment, and have the rocks to do it, I just won't live long enough.
Invite the wife over for coffee and chat about the kids and the door, and plant a nice screen of bushes and trees.
I love my ridges. If I need to I can get away from the street noise just by hiking halfway to the back, and I have plans for a nice dense tree line or tall fences if necessary.

Feb. 5, 2010, 08:37 PM
Nice to hear it seems to have worked out well. This earlier post

I'm pretty sure the archery might not be ok (it's only about 60 ft from my property line). Every once in a while the husband does shotgun(?) target practice from his backyard into a huge dirt mound. I will talk to him about that- and honestly, anyone who lives in suburban NJ knows that is illegal.

- made me want to go out and check to see if my neighbors are still there:lol:. What is it about guns, fireworks and bowhunting that makes people somehow forget they're living in a densely populated blue state?

Feb. 5, 2010, 08:44 PM
Sounds like hopefully things will work out. I would STILL plant a row of bushes or trees, even if inside the fence. I'd plant them then run a single strand of hotwire to keep your horses off of them. Nothing says that they HAVE to be on the outside of the fence, right? If you're worried about what she'll think, plant some more somewhere else. I wouldn't be worried anyway though. We just planted two loooong rows for the purpose of a windbreak and just plain privacy. It's your property... you're allowed privacy!

Hampton Bay
Feb. 5, 2010, 09:48 PM
Are you sure you're not talking about my neighbors? Except that you didn't mention lots of stolen vehicles, drug use, and unsupervised children wandering into your pastures. Oh, and the threats to shoot your animals, burn down buildings, and the near-constant stream of profanities.

Aren't neighbors a joy?

When hubby and I move, we are building everything in the center of the property, and planting thorny bushes all around the outsides. Actually, if I could find rooting powder, I would get started on the thorny bushes here.

Ware Whip!
Feb. 6, 2010, 09:15 AM
I am glad things worked out as well as they could..

rmh, I think our DH's are related

Feb. 6, 2010, 09:43 AM
Hampton Bay-your post made me laugh (and wince). People can be really scary, can't they? I think of all the horror stories out there and realize that I'm relatively lucky.

TB collector-I think your story wins the prize. With such limited space, it makes it all the more horrible. I can understand why you moved. Nothing worse than having someone destroy something that gives you joy through their rudeness.

I can't really plant inside the fenceline because I have 10 ft "chutes" that lead from paddocks into private pastures. It would narrow the chutes too much for the horses to be safe. That's how I set my farm up and it has worked pretty well for me. Obviously, now I see some flaws in my original thinking, lol!

rmh-the 10 ft stone walls sound lovely! Actually, we do have someone in the area whose property is set up exactly that way (although they don't have horses or neighbors close by). Funny, it must be a Jersey thing, but it makes me suspicious that they may be related to the Sopranos....

Feb. 6, 2010, 10:49 AM
Throwing rocks at your horses?

I would have immediately called the Police!!!!

Maybe not much could have been done, because it is your word against theirs, but just the Police presence might make them think twice before harassing the horses again.

Unfortunately, you can't do much about the rest of their yard except the shed that doesn't meet the set back requirements.