18 May 2006

Fences and the Law

Just when I thought I had complained about everything my neighbors do, something new pops up which led to 'interesting' discussions with the county. The one neighbor, which is a lady with two adult sons living at home, hasn't caused much problems at all, until 2 days ago.

Here's what happened. I went to get the mail and noticed 4 deep motorcycle tracks across my driveway and property. I tracked them (not difficult in sand) to the neighbors. Their grandmother, who was passing by, told me it was friends of the two boys who road across my land, but she would have a word with the mother to ask their friends not ride on my land. I don't know if this will do the trick or not.

So, I called the sheriff's office to ask what I can legally do or what I need to do to have these bikers arrested for trespassing. I need either still photos of them on my land or a video tape. Well, since this isn't a daily occurance, I don't know how I could get either. My eyewitness account won't be accepted. (Remember that if you as a pedestrian are involved in a hit-and-run -- you need photos!!!) The sheriff's clerk suggested I talk to code enforcement about increased patrols. (And what are the chances of a sheriff being around when they ride across my land? Besides, I haven't seen a patrol for at least 2 years!)

If the law won't help, then building a fence may be my only option. Okay, I toyed with the ideas of homemade spike strips or concealed barbed wire, but hubby said something about liability and prison. (I protect my property from trespassers and I go to jail -- why doesn't this make sense to me?!) So, a fence. A simple split rail fence will keep the bikers out and let the bunnies come and go. It's also cheap and something I can do myself.

Then I made a fatal error -- I called the county to ask how far from the road I had to place this theoretical fence. The first lady told me I could put it on my property line, which made sense for the north and south sides (there's other land parcels there), but since there are roads on the east and west side and I presume my property line is in the center of the road, well it didn't make sense. She then transferred me to her supervisor, who was rude, snippy, and "not nice". The final answer is, I can put a 4 foot high fence 44 feet from the east property line and a 6 foot high fence 33 feet from the north, west, and south property lines.

Now, let's think about this. There's a road on the east and west, so why is the east side shorter and further away? And what the is this 33' or 44' stuff? Are they planning on putting a boulevard with turn lanes in? I live in the desert, in the middle of nothing. (The home owners association here does a yard sale every six months so they can pay someone to grade our roads, since the county doesn't.) Besides, we are talking about a fence, not a house or permanent structure. If they widen the dirty road, I'll move the fence, as will most of the homes owners on this road.

And what about all those 6' high chain-link fences that are 6' from the road? And where their neighbor's fence ties into the fence post, so there's no 66' wide space between the fences? Aren't these illegal?

Well, I was told that I could apply for a variance if I wanted a fence closer to the property lines, but to do that I would need my property surveyed. So, since I was all upset already, I called a surveying office. To get my 5 acres surveyed, it would cost about $2000-3000.

The bottomline is this: I can either build a legal fence for about $3500, or I can do what everyone else does and build a fence on my property line for about $500. Right now, I'm hoping the grandmother solved the problem because I'm not in any mood to dig fence post holes when it's 100 degrees outside!!!

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