Between a Rock and a Hard Place

It is said in academe that the intensity of political infighting varies inversely with the unimportance of the issues involved.

Something similar happens in small towns where the larger political issues are often pretty well handled by Town meetings and Selectpersons, but the smaller issues like property line disputes and view blockages fester generally out of public view sometimes for years. Neighbors come to despise one another and find all kinds of devious ways to punish ‘the offender.’ That often leads to tit for tat and sometimes ends up before a town authority–to everyone’s dissatisfaction.

This happened to me years ago and we have managed around our punishment for well over a decade when our neighbor asserted ownership of a piece of land that most likely has been Town land for over a century. She also asserted that to access our driveway we were illegally crossing about 18 inches of her precious land.

To drive her point home she bought and had placed on the alleged property line a large ROCK, which made it really difficult to get in and out of our driveway. She claimed she had rights to the land ‘from the Indians’. My investigation of her alleged property rights convinced me that she had no rights, but that it would take $10,000 and 5 years to really get an answer. And even then, who knows? Local courts can be fickle.

I then took another track. I found that under Town law no one could put a ‘structure’ within 15 feet of a town road. This now famous ROCK was about 2 feet from the road, but Town Appeals board found that a rock is not a structure even though it was placed by man where it sits. The stupid argument they advanced was that to be a structure it had to be something ‘built’ by man. We had very convincing arguments that a structure was simply anything managed and placed by man. Go figure how they came to their conclusion!

So we gave up and 2 or 3 scraped car doors later, have managed, with consistent annoyance, to live with the bloody ROCK.

Until this spring we remained stuck with the rock, when we were thrilled to learn that the ROCK parcel had been taken over by the Town for non-payment of taxes.

From that we learned that the definition of spite is when you drink the poison and wait for the other person to die.

I do not know what motivated that neighbor to be so hostile. She drank the poison when she placed the rock. While she is still living, she is not aware of what is going on. She surely put the rock there to drive us crazy. But we managed NOT to go crazy and survived.

Now, her heirs let the ‘rock parcel’ go to auction for want of $600 or 3 years unpaid taxes. We bought it, with our other neighbor, from the Town for something more than the unpaid taxes.

The rock is going overboard to support the shore bank and our driveway will expanded again.

My wife will not allow me to put the rock on the steps to her house with a note “Thanks for the loan!” which is where I think it really belongs.

The only thing that is disappointing to us now is that she is unaware of how it all played out.

Despite her spite, her heirs could have quite easily collected the value of the parcel rather than ‘giving’ it to the town. So all is right in Tunerville again.

So much for the rhyme and reason of small town politics!


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