Wedding Woes

As always, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

My house sits outside a housing development on two acres. We have the only real trees since the developer cut all their old growth down and put up fragile little twigs that give no shade.
There are no parks nearby.

During the pandemic, we noticed that the local mothers would bring their children to the far side of our property and let them play in the shade. My husband and I put out a nice wooden picnic bench and a tire swing off a tree. Everything was fine for months until we noticed a lot of trash left there. We put out on the local social media page for our neighbors to be mindful this was private property and to please pick up after themselves. It still continued.

We had to take the tire swing down because children were using it dangerously (and even trying to climb our trees), and their mothers were not paying any attention. Then we started getting complaints from people. The straw that broke us was finding our picnic bench had been vandalized with profanity carved into it. My husband had made the bench himself. We dragged the bench back behind the house and posted again on social media that our generosity was at its limit, and for people to please stay off our property. We also got outside cameras based on advice from friends.

What happened then is that one of our neighbors decided to have a family party on our property and got miffed the picnic table was gone, so they went right behind our home and dragged it back to its original position. My husband came home to find the party in full swing. He went up and asked them what the hell they thought they were doing. There was a confrontation: No violence, but threats to call the police came from both sides. My husband told them we had cameras and to leave. They did, but on the video you can see them making obscene gestures and the license plates of their cars.

We ended up contacting the HOA of the development over everything, since social media and common courtesy has netted us nothing. They put in an official reprimand to all residents about leaving us alone, but they also want the video of the people from the party so they can make an example out of the trespassers. My husband has gotten very bitter about this entire affair and wants to give them the videos. I just want this over with. We tried to be good neighbors, only for it to blow up into this. What should we do?

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Re: As always, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

  • ...and this is why we can't have nice things.
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    charlotte989875
  • You should put up a fence
    banana468MyNameIsNotMesmrEweei34
  • Keep the cameras and the next time someone comes into the property send it to the HOA and let them deal with it. 
  • Keep the cameras, share the video and contact the HOA to see exactly why they aren't enforcing the rules of the HOA.  Consider seeking reimbursement for the damage done and now find out what their provisions are for installing a fence.  Then do it. 

    Something about big fences and good neighbors comes to mind. 
  • Also sounds like the HOA should take a hint, and maybe start fundraising for a community space in the development, if that's possible.
    short+sassyMesmrEwe
  • Not this type of situation, but I've been the victim of this kind of thing before.  Life has taught me I need to be extremely careful about not regularly going "above and beyond".  Because, the sad thing is, then it usually becomes an EXPECTATION.  Which leads to people getting upset when you choose to no longer keep doing whatever it is that you were doing.

    I'm not surprised this whole thing played out exactly the way it did.  I'm sorry the LW and their H learned this lesson the hard way, but they shouldn't have been surprised either.  I assume they have been to a public park and seen what inconsiderate AHs some people are.

    First off, they NEVER should have put a tire swing up.  The "lawyer" part of me (I'm not really) started screaming, "Noooooooo," inside my head when I read that, lol.

    As for whether or not to turn over the video, I don't know what "make an example of" means.  HOAs are pretty toothless.  Even if they levy fines, it's not like they would turn those over to the LW.  And, unfortunately, some of their members have already shown themselves to be retaliatory.  I wouldn't turn the videos over for those reasons.  

    I can tell the LW what they'll probably need to do to solve the problem, but it doesn't sound like they are ready for it yet.  I would put up "No Trespassing" signs.  Then I wouldn't waste even one more precious second of my time on an HOA.  They can't do anything, anyway.  For someone "new" on my property that I don't want, I would politely tell them once they need to leave and a brief explanation for the "why".  But I am only nice once.  I don't ask twice.  Which would already include people from that party.  For a second violation, that call goes directly to the police.

    Fences sound great in theory.  But especially with the price of lumber right now, even a small one can cost thousands.  I wouldn't waste money on that, unless I wanted one anyway.  They could try to hit up the HOA to pay for part of it, if the reasons are from continued violations from their residents.  But the reality is that is a lot of hassle and not much chance for success.
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    charlotte989875VarunaTTbanana468
  • geebee908 said:
    Also sounds like the HOA should take a hint, and maybe start fundraising for a community space in the development, if that's possible.
    I had the same thought, lol!

    But that's not surprising.  A park in a housing development is land that could have been used to put more houses on.  So real estate developers are loathe to "waste" it on an amenity, like a park.  Plus it will raise the monthly HOA fees, because a park needs to be maintained, though possibly not by much.

    It depends on how large a housing development is and if a park is the norm or "expected" for similarly sized developments. 
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  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Fence time - nothing more nothing less, nothing fancy, just a garden fence or posts with chain between them...  Also, private property signs posted on the property line..  
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  • downtondivadowntondiva member
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited July 16
    Don't hand over the videos, at least not this time. This has gone far enough. But do build a fence and put a "private property" sign up so it's clear that people are not welcome to hang out there anymore. There's no reason for you to let people take advantage of you or to run the liability risk of people getting hurt on your property. 

    In case problems continue, even after putting up a fence, etc., I recommend getting familiar with the premises liability laws in your state. 
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    MesmrEwe
  • Start with the private property signs, but fences are expensive. Especially ones that actually keep people from climbing over/ under them. We have 1.5 acres and fenced in less than 2/3 of that and it was like $6k. So yah I’d definitely do the signs and all the police before investing even more into this. 

    We’re dealing with something similar, our back property line runs to the center of a creek, there’s no public land along the bank so it’s all private, but it’s down a hill so out of direct sight from our deck and backyard. There is a small park less than a quarter mile up from our house that does have public access to the creek and a small path. Well over the years people have made a path running along all of the creek. Most of the time this is fine- people walk through and don’t cause any problems. Recently someone started clearing land, setting up fire pits, taking down trees, and camping out down there. Not just on our land but the three properties next to ours. It was a lot of land. H talked to the guy, told him to knock it off. He came back, we reported it to the police, we put up property sign, and took apart everything he constructed on our land. It’s sucks. We’re not building a fence down there but it sucks that people can’t respect boundaries. We’re meeting with a lawyer to see what our liability is if something happened to someone down there.
    short+sassyMesmrEwemrsconn23ei34
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