He wasn’t sure what his next move should be. He didn’t like conflict but he knew he’d have to confront him. He had lived in this neighborhood for years and felt at peace. But now he came to put an end to his tranquility.
He had thought it over for a while now. He knew his decision could have consequences for not just him but for his neighborhood. What he decided to do would have all of his neighbors raising their eyebrows.
Oliver Lynch lived in Osceola County, Florida for more than 25 years and had never found himself in a dispute. He lived a quiet life without any complaints and never saw himself in the situation he now found himself in.
Osceola County isn’t a big city with tourists and lots of traffic coming and going. It was mostly a place for people who’d hung up their profession and retired, just like Oliver, who was 79-years-old. But even in the quietest town, there’s bound to be a disruption eventually.
Oliver owned a cabin in the country and decided to spend some time up there to relax. After enjoying nature he came home to something unexpected.
He felt a few years younger. He had taken the time to really destress and forget about the worries he had back home. But when he got to his driveway, he saw something that he hadn’t seen before. His heart sank in his chest.
Oliver’s driveway was a path of concrete that gave him enough space to drive up to it before it kinked towards his house. But the once clear path in front of him now had an obstruction – cinder blocks.
He just barely managed to drive in between the cinder blocks before reaching his house. Now that he was inside he’d figure would who did this to his property. They would have to answer his questions.
Oliver was a man of action, so he wanted to fix this problem himself. He went outside and tried to clear the obstruction on his own. After repeated attempts he knew it was no use, the cinder blocks weren’t going anywhere.
Had the block been cemented in place? Why would anyone have done this to him? Then a thought came to him that gave him a lump in his throat.
Next door to Oliver had always been a lot. It was empty for as long as he could remember and some people even said that it was haunted. Some people even said that someone was buried on the property.
Oliver didn’t care much for superstitious rumors and had assumed that someone finally bought the lot. Maybe he had put the blocks to separate the properties? But why were they right in the middle of his concrete path?
Oliver was oblivious as to who had purchased the lot. He had no idea how he would contact the owner. But then a revelation came to him.
The lot was being worked on and as time went on more construction men came in to build on the property. More heavy machinery appeared to and Oliver couldn’t help but wonder who the owner of the lot was. He needed to contact them and find out.
Someone working on the property must know who the owner is, right? He made his way over the cinder blocks and onto the property. He hoped that the men there could answer his questions.
After asking the man in charge about the owner, he finally had it – the owner’s phone number. But he didn’t know that this dispute was not going to be fixed so easily.
WFTV 9 ABCOliver walked back into his house and typed the number into his phone. Soon, the phone was ringing and the longer it rang for the more uncomfortable he felt. He didn’t like confrontations and had lived his life avoiding them.
The neighbor eventually answered and Oliver stammered out his complaint about the cinder blocks. But Oliver didn’t expect him to be so unreasonable. The neighbor told him that his property line was where the cinder blocks stood and he wouldn’t move them. Oliver felt anger inside him that he hadn’t felt for a long time.
Oliver was caught off guard by the man’s rudeness. What was he to say now? Oliver had built that driveway himself and had lived there peacefully for a quarter of a century.
The man hung up on him and the problem still hung in the air. Oliver knew he had to do something. He needed to find a way of getting evidence that it was his property. But he had to act fast.
Oliver searched extensively through his files to find the property records, which was not an easy task considering he’d bought the house more than two decades ago! Hundreds of boxes later, he stumbled across the one he had been looking for.
But, finally, he found them. Finally, he had proof. But was it too late?
As Oliver read through the files, he savored his victory: the records stated he was entitled to two adjacent 12-foot driveways!
He then drove to the Osceola County offices to corroborate the information and was told the records were accurate. But there was one more problem.
Osceola County told Oliver that, despite proof that he was entitled to that piece of land, they couldn’t force his neighbor to remove the cinder blocks.
He would have to hire a surveyor to settle the dispute or take his neighbor to court. Oliver didn’t want to do either of these, so he tried talking to his neighbor again. But the man wouldn’t even pick up his phone. So Oliver decided to catch his attention in a way he couldn’t avoid.
Oliver contacted his local TV station, WFTV, and told them of his ordeal. The station decided to air a story on the dispute and headed to his neighborhood to interview him.
As soon as the TV crew arrived at Oliver’s home ready for a tell-all story about his neighbor from hell, Oliver knew he was doing the right thing. He had to make his neighbor pay. After all, he was in the wrong. Right?
“I have little fight left in me, and I hate to see somebody bulldoze over me,” he told the TV show. “What’s he going to do with these extra few yards of concrete?”
His plight worked, at least with the public. As soon as the story aired, all the locals were on Oliver’s side. But would that help his case?
About a week after the story had aired on WFTV, Oliver was the talk of the town. Everybody had seen the story on television, but he still hadn’t heard from his neighbor.
But then one day, Oliver’s neighbor came to see him. Given his past interactions with the man, Oliver didn’t have high hopes for this encounter.
Oliver watched as his neighbor walked up to his drive to his front door. With each step his neighbor took, Oliver’s breath quickened.
He thought the neighbor had come to complain about Oliver airing their dirty laundry on TV, or perhaps even to threaten him. It didn’t matter though, because Oliver was ready to fight back.
To Oliver’s surprise though, the man just wanted to simply talk! He asked Oliver to show him the property records and explained to him that he had never intended to cause such a scene. He wasn’t that type of neighbor.
He genuinely thought that piece of land belonged to him. But that wasn’t all.
Though Oliver could have been spiteful given all that his neighbor had put him through, he was happy to have this civilized conversation. After all, they were neighbors. And Oliver didn’t want to have any bad blood.
He asked the man if he would remove the cinder blocks, and he agreed. But what made him change his mind?
In one of Oliver’s previous interactions with his neighbor, he had learned that the man was a minister. But that didn’t jive with his behavior towards him and their dispute, and Oliver said as much to WFTV.
“[A] God-fearing man. But I don’t think that’s very Christian-like.” Perhaps, after much prayer, the man saw the light and realized he wasn’t being fair to his neighbor. Whatever the reason, Oliver was relieved. But not all neighborhood disputes end so civilly.
A community in Washington was up in arms after a neighbor built a house on his property and painted it pastel purple.
They even started a petition against it, claiming the garish paint job would devalue their own homes. Nonetheless, the neighbor ignored them. But the man whose property was adjacent to the house decided to get revenge in an unusual way.
The neighbor’s home wasn’t adjacent to the purple house, but his field was. So he got on his lawnmower and decided to craft a secret message to his neighbor… that would only be visible by looking at the properties via satellite on Google Maps.
And though his revenge was more subtle than what many others would like, perhaps that’s the best way to resolve a conflict with a neighbor. Of course, you can always get the law involved.
Disputes between neighbors are a part of everyday life. After all, we don’t choose who we live next to and it’s unlikely that we’ll get along with all our neighbors.
Luckily, most states in the U.S. have laws in the books to deal with the most common neighbor issues — from trees to fences to boundaries and more. If you are curious, look up your state’s statutes or court decisions online or at your local government office.