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  #101  
Old 11-24-2011, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

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Originally Posted by brickie in oz View Post
Is there some sort of resolution to this story, what was the end out come?
I fired the oven a few times this spring/summer/fall...like two or three times total. She has basically harassed and intimidated me to the point that I don't use it too much...but I use it occasionally. It's very difficult to be in my own backyard with her yelling insults and names at me the whole time. One thing we want to try is putting up a fence so we don't have to see her the entire time we're in our yard, then try again. Fences are very expensive though, $30/ft, and we just don't want to drop $3000 on such a project right now.
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  #102  
Old 11-24-2011, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

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Originally Posted by kebwi View Post
It's very difficult to be in my own backyard with her yelling insults and names at me the whole time.
Its a pity seeing all the hard work you have put into the oven, isnt there some restraining order you can get to stop the harassment?
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  #103  
Old 11-25-2011, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

A web cam and YouTube...

Name:  innocent.gif
Views: 483
Size:  6.8 KB

Oh, wait - you're trying to make things better?!


Okay, serious answer:

Camcorder. She starts you point it at her, state the date, your request that she stop harassing you and that you are filming. Once the hysterics stop, she'll probably walk away. When done, save to your computer and to disc - DO NOT UPLOAD it! Do not threaten to upload it. In all likelihood, she'll quit - it's much easier to be a jerk when you don't think you're being recorded for posterity. If not, you have proof if the need arises.

I doubt there's a legal problem - as long as she knows you are filming and you only film what affects you and your family/guests you should be on firm footing (privacy laws aren't supposed to protect criminal behavior but there is a balance between the two). Still, your mileage may vary so I'd check with an attorney or the authorities before doing this.
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  #104  
Old 11-26-2011, 06:05 AM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

Yeah, I've had similar thoughts, something along the lines of quickly pulling out a camera and snapping a photo whenever she stands on the property line cursing at me.

I dunno, maybe. We want to try a fence, it's just kinda expensive. We want a fence anyway. She's so miserable, we just don't want to see her at all at this point. Most of the neighborhood is fenced, it's odd that this one property line never was, so it wouldn't be completely unusual to do.
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  #105  
Old 11-26-2011, 07:10 AM
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Thumbs up Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

A 'wind screen' in the right place wouldn't be that expensive....You could add to it a bit at a time as finances allowed, and it would break the line of sight at the most critical locations. The material to build the structure would not be that much.

The video camera thing is a good idea for behavior modification. Be sure to get good sound. The down side is you never know when someone will go 'Postal' on you.

I feel your pain at not enjoying your oven. Your oven is a piece of art, and the chronicle of its construction is Iconic here..
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  #106  
Old 11-26-2011, 07:35 AM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

How about a hedgerow? By the time you are ready to spend the money on the fence the hedge can be well grown. There are a number of types and a lot of fast growing trees that will work.
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  #107  
Old 11-26-2011, 08:01 AM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

What kind of fence costs $30/ft? You built an oven - I'm sure you can build a fence if labor is driving the cost.

Video camera is a great idea - a friend's neighbor kept letting her dog crap on his lawn during her morning walk until my friend's wife videotaped them walking by one day. Neither woman said anything and there was no pit stop that day or any other day after that.
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  #108  
Old 12-02-2011, 06:16 PM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

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Originally Posted by Archena View Post
How about a hedgerow? By the time you are ready to spend the money on the fence the hedge can be well grown. There are a number of types and a lot of fast growing trees that will work.
I recommend a nice hefty bamboo. Grows into a completely opaque dense hedge within about 3 years, and if contained by a rhizome barrier, even the most invasive species of running bamboo are manageable. Since bamboo spreads via lateral rhizomes which travel near the surface, a heavy HDPE barrier will prevent roots from spreading. Alternately, plant a clumping variety of bamboo in a strategic location, and it won't spread. It also won't fill in to give you a quick screen, though.

This site would be a good place to look into appropriate species for your climate. I know many people are scared to plant something potentially invasive; but there's nothing better for a fast-growing, attractive green barrier. Plus, many of the varieties, Phyllostachys species in particular, are quite tasty: harvest the new shoots when under a foot tall, split open, and roast or steam.

For what it's worth, I feel for you. When I first built the oven, A few days after my first cooking fire, I got a knock on the door from by a city inspector notifying me of a complaint. I never found out who it was who had called, but in the end they did me a favor: I had tried to get answers about codes from the help desk to no avail, and here I could get it from the horses mouth. When I told the inspector that I had built it freestanding, with a spark arrestor, obeying all setbacks and without any electricity or gas, he told me that he didn't even need to inspect it. It was fine by building codes; and per fire codes, since it was a cooking device rather than a recreational or heating implement, there was basically nothing to be inspected. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I can't say for sure, but I expect that the same will happen for you. If/when she finally gets the fire marshall out there, he will calmly glance over it, smile, and tell you to have a nice afternoon.

And, maybe or maybe not related, we also have a neighbor whose window looks almost directly into our back yard. Attached are pics showing 2 years growth of the bamboo I planted in a narrow strip in the alley... this is how I came to be a fan of the bamboo!
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Neighbor is complaining about soot damage-img_9709.jpg   Neighbor is complaining about soot damage-img_2558.jpg  
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  #109  
Old 12-30-2011, 07:38 AM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

Keith:

I did some research specifically on the legal issues, and here's what I found:

In Bradley v. American Smelting and Refining Co., 104 Wash.2d 677, 709 P.2d 782 (Wash. 1985) the Washington state Supreme Court answered several questions certified to it by the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington related to the civil claims available to a plaintiff when emissions from a smokestack cause microscopic particles to be deposited on the plaintiff's property.

The Washington Supreme Court determined that if the particles are transitory or dissipate quickly, the particles are merely a nuisance. If the particles do not dissipate (think, heavy metals), the plaintiff has a cause of action under a trespass theory, which is an intentional tort.

A "nuisance" under Washington law is "unlawfully doing an act, or omitting to perform an act, which act or omission either annoys, injures, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, or safety of others, offends decency, or unlawfully interferes with, obstructs, or tends to obstruct, or render dangerous for passage, any lake or navigable river, bay, stream, canal, or basin, or any public park, square, street, or highway; or in any way renders other persons insecure in life or in the use of property." RCW 7.48.120.

So the first thing the neighbor has to prove is that you are acting unlawfully, such as firing on a no-burn day or violating some other restriction.

Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals tossed a case last year involving one neighbor suing the other for smoking in his own back yard. The plaintiff complained that the smoke infiltrated into his ventilation system and then into his house. The plaintiff sued both under a nuisance theory and trespass. The Court of Appeals said that the plaintiff had not provided any legal authority that prohibits a person from smoking in his or her own back yard, and therefore the first element of a nuisance could not be satisfied. The Court of Appeals did not reach the question of trespass, because the plaintiff did not bring a claim under the relevant statute (or at least did not cite to it). Unfortunately, that case was not published, so it cannot be used as precedent. The name of the case, though, is Boffoli v. Orton (Christopher Boffoli was the plaintiff, Keith and Carmen Orton and Boaz and Jeni Hall the defendants). You may be able to find it under the "memorandum decisions" at the Court of Appeals.

Courts from other states have held that smoke from a furnace can be a nuisance, but the amount of smoke being produced must be unreasonable and noxious and malodorous. The same courts have also required proof of actual and substantial damages. Where health issues have been cited as the "damage," claims made by people who smoke (or who live with smokers) are not taken very seriously.

As for her sniping, that's an easy injunction against harassment.

You should consult a local attorney for proper legal advice on the issue. I'm not licensed in Washington.
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  #110  
Old 02-01-2012, 02:19 AM
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Default Re: Neighbor is complaining about soot damage

Another attorney's two cents...

First, make sure you really are legal. The fire department is not going to give you a stamp of approval. Either you are legal, or you are not. Go on line and research your local codes to see what the regs are. If you can't figure it out yourself go to the building department and inquire as to where you could find the regs on building "masonry BBQ's and that sort of thing". Do not volunteer that you have one..just ask for help determining what is allowed under the regs. It is written down somewhere...you just need to find it. If you can't get it done hire a lawyer, pay him for an hour of his time, and let him research and answer the question for you and print you a copy of the applicable regs.

Once you are sure you are legal, the strategy here is to ignore her...or at least pretend to ignore her. I know this sounds far easier than it really is, but (short of murder) it's the only way to deal with the situation. I have represented people who have been unfortunate enough to have neighbors who were lunatics. It really is a nightmare and can be all-consuming for some people. I have literally seen people (or their insurers when defending them) spend tens of thousands of dollars in litigation...for neighbor disputes over crap just like this.

The only thing that works is to make sure you are operating within the law, build a fence, and ignore her. If she cusses at you over the fence, turn on your tape recorder and call the police. They'll warn her the first time. The second or third time they'll cite her for disturbing the peace. If they won't then you tell them you'll place her under citizens arrest and cite and they'll release her.

Send her a letter (return receipt requested) asking that she stop annoying you, denying that you are damaging her house, and offering to pay the cost of having the "soot" analyzed to prove that it is actually mold. The fact that she has refused speaks volumes. Have a copy of the letter and the applicable fire code/regs handy which show that your oven is within code. When the police or fire marshal shows up remain calm, polite, speak in low tones, and explain that the poor woman next door is crazy and has been out of control for months. Explain how she yells at the neighbor kids for riding their bikes, and is a suspected cat hoarder. (I'm sort of joking about the cat thing.)

Show the policeman the nice polite letter you sent her offering to have the mold on her house tested. Explain to the policeman that you have done nothing wrong, wish that she would leave you alone, but be politely adamant that you intend to continue lawfully using your "Tuscan bar-b-que" unless he can show some law that says you aren't allowed to.. (I think calling it a BBQ makes it a lot more understandable to the avverage Joe...what kind of nut would complain about a BBQ). Throw a Tuscan Grill inside to complete the picture.

The fire dept is not going to roll up and hose down your oven unless it's in danger of burning up a structure. The fact that "someone is complaining" is not enough to cause you to be ordered to put it out. The system operates on laws. If you are truly legal here (and it sounds like you are), then nobody is going to order you to put your oven out unless it is about to catch something on fire. They may "suggest" that you do so because cops and firemen will sometimes take the path of least resistance in these situations. But if you are legal, rational, calm, and adamant, you will carry the day ninety-nine times out of a hundred.

After you get your ducks in a row as described above...have at it. Ignore her and use your oven frequently. Hell, warm it up at least once a week just to stretch the mortar joints. It will be uncomfortable the first few times, but she will quickly learn that she can't bully you. If she invades your space or starts disturbing your peace, call the police. Don't cuss at her. Don't drop to her level. Never raise your voice. Don't even respond to her. Just turn on your videorecorder to tape her b.s. and call the police when she breaks the law. (If she is doing that sort of thing leave your video recorder on a stand off to the side the first few times you fire your oven. Sticking a camera in someones face is bad form and aggressive...but no one can complain if there is a tripod sitting unobtrusively on the other side of the yard taking it all in.)

As was said above, if you can build an oven you can build a fence. Check your local building codes for the maximum height and build it one inch lower than the max.

Good luck and eat some pizza,

Bill

Last edited by WJW; 02-01-2012 at 02:29 AM.
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