Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I have a problem that has gotten way out of hand and I don’t know what to do. We recently moved to another community where everyone has a driveway and the street in front of their home is also reserved for additional family cars. As it happens, both my husband and I have our own cars, as do our two sons who live at home. Our problem began as soon as we moved in. You see, our neighbor parks his van in front of our house almost every night. The only way my boys get that spot is if they come home before he does.

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We tried to be good neighbors and approached them calmly, asking that they not park in front of our home. Well, to say that the conversation got out of hand would be an understatement. Tempers flared, foul language ensued and we left bitter enemies.

If that wasn’t bad enough, we came out one morning to find garbage spilled out around my son’s car. We knew right away that this was the neighbor’s payback for our request to keep clear of our property. Not wanting to make anymore of an issue, I cleaned it up and hoped that would be the end of it. Of course, it was not. Soon after, we got a summons to answer a complaint that we were harassing and threatening this neighbor. We had to go to court.

Now we have to hire a lawyer, an expense we can ill afford, and if found guilty, possibly pay the neighbor a hefty sum of money for our troubles, along with paying his attorneys’ fee. My husband was so furious, he wanted to have it out with this fellow, but I managed to calm him down. Is there anything we can do to settle this thing in a gentlemanly fashion and possibly avert going through the court system?

Dear Friend,

I’m going to come right out and tell you the bad news first – both you and your husband are wrong! Anything from where your property (house) ends and the public sidewalk starts is public domain. You do not own the sidewalk or the curb at which your sons wish to park their cars. So, realistically, it is just an accepted courtesy that your neighbors would respect your frontage for your own use. Barring the fact that your neighbor didn’t have anywhere else to park his van, it is within his rights to park there.

I believe this can be resolved quickly and amicably. You and your husband go over and apologize, say that you were mistaken and under the misconception that the curb in front of your home belonged to you. A heartfelt “we’re sorry” will, hopefully, go a long way in turning bad neighbors into good ones. Then you won’t have to use a courthouse for your future social visits.

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