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Angry neighbor builds enormous eyesore for privacy

A Vermont woman wasn’t too happy with having neighbors and decided to take matters into her own hands. Did she go too far?

What would you do if you wanted extra privacy from your neighbors?

Some might invest in blinds or window treatments, but not Ruth Dwyer. WCVB-5 Boston reports the Vermont farm owner has lived on her property for over 40 years and enjoys a quiet life with her livestock — that includes 150 animals. With over 200 acres to call her own, the former gubernatorial candidate was less than excited with a newly built home across the street.

“Everything that goes on over there is taking place in a way that it distracts the livestock because of the location of all the activity, and it’s very close,” says Dwyer.

Claiming not to have bitter feelings toward her neighbor, Ruth has tried to resolve the problem by planting a series of cedar trees along her property line. Unfortunately they won’t grow tall enough anytime soon, so she thought of another plan that’s costing her dearly.

“I had a friend who’s a contractor, and he said, ‘You know, I could put up a piece of fabric between some telephone poles, and we’ll brace it, and that’s it,'” said Ruth.

The 60 x 24-foot screen is more of an eyesore that, for now, gives Dwyer the privacy she desires. It does, however, come with a hefty cost, as town zoning officials believe it’s in violation with their law that states any wall or fence higher than 10 feet needs a building permit. Zoning director Mary Ellen Parkman claims she notified Ruth several months ago about applying for a permit (she never obtained). As a result, Dwyer has received daily $200 fines that have quickly accumulated to more than $15,000.

“It’s not a wall. It’s not a fence. It’s a screen for livestock control,” clarifies Ruth.

Even with the fines, Dwyer is unwilling to take down her “temporary structure.” When asked about other alternatives to her screen installation, she considered building a barn but thought it would be too expensive.

Unless my neighbors were purposely trying to disturb the peace, I don’t think such a drastic measure would be necessary — especially one that’s turning out to be so expensive. Ruth admits neighbor Patrick Perry doesn’t do anything out of the norm. Perhaps with time she and her animals will become accustomed to having others nearby and won’t require a screen. It might’ve been more cost-effective to purchase neighboring land so no one could build so close to her farm.

What would you do?

More on neighbors

How to be a good neighbor
Neighbor’s anonymous note to new mom goes too far
Keeping peace on the block

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