• Other side of the story
    August 17,2013

    Other side of the story

    Well, it’s amazing some of the issues that get front page isn’t it?

    There are always two sides to every story. Here is the other side for you.

    My wife and I did purchase a house that abuts the backyard of the Cook residence in Barre City late fall last year. The house we purchased was empty and in need of being updated — new windows, new roof, updated wiring, new kitchen, all new finishes throughout.

    We recognized that the house had great potential and needed someone to invest some time and money in it to bring it up to today’s standards and turn it back into a nice home for a family to live in. We knocked on the door of the neighbor to the back of the lot, Mrs. Cook, a charming women in her late 80s who kept her property spotless —perfectly manicured lawn, flower beds, shrubs etc. Unfortunately, this past spring, Mrs. Cook passed and the house was left to her son, who immediately moved in and turned the place into a dump —trailers, campers, and junk all over the place, with grass that wasn’t cut for weeks at a time.

    After looking at all of the junk in Mr. Cook’s yard, it was obvious that we weren’t going to sell our house with his messy yard abutting ours. We simply decided to put a fence up.

    We didn’t know the city had an ordinance that required the neighbor with the unsightly yard gets to look at the beautiful side of the fence. Get this: A neighbor that’s unwilling to take care of his yard gets to look at the nicest side of the fence that we pay for. The folks that take pride in their property are forced to look at the unfinished side of the fencing while the neighbor with the dumpy yard gets the nicest side. Yes, I would agree the city ordinance needs adjustment in language.

    One last point: Our fence was put up and within six weeks we got a notice of violation from the city about our fence. Look around the city, there are many fences in the city that have been installed exactly the same way that ours was with the unfinished side facing the neighbors, or even in some instances the street, yet no enforcement action taken against them.

    Some might wonder if my position as a elected official in the town has brought us enforcement action while leaving other instances of violation to exist for much longer periods of time with no action taken.

    The article in the paper states that I threatened the city employee. I didn’t threaten her, but I did indicate that I expected anyone else that has the same violation as us to receive the same treatment as us. Drive around the south end of Barre and you will see that others with the same violation have not received violation letters or notice of violation notices, while the violations clearly still exist.

    We have enjoyed buying houses in the city and spending thousands of dollars improving them and making neighborhoods nicer (increased tax valuation). After this experience, we most likely will look to another community to rehab houses.

    Jeff Blow

    Barre Town

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