A World War II veteran came to the Collegedale Commission meeting Monday night for the second time appealing for help with a neighbor who he says has steadily encroached upon his property.
Vernon Herod said he originally gave Tammy Crabtree Davis permission to come closer to his property line than is specified by city codes. This was done as a favor and for her convenience, to allow for a driveway turn-around with the understanding that would be the only exception to the code, which specifies a 10-foot setback from property lines, he said. When it was poured, the drive came closer to his property than had been agreed upon. Next came a storage shed and then a garage, all extending onto Mr. Herod’s land, it was stated. In the last two weeks, a privacy fence has been added to the list of structures on the area in dispute.
Building Inspector Andrew Morkert said he did not know if the fence had been built yet or by whom because he has heard so many different stories. Talking to the commissioners Monday night, Ms. Davis said she just wants this to be over, and that is why she put up the privacy fence. Yet members of the VFW headed by Steve Hullander were planning to build the fence once the property line was established to both parties' satisfaction.
The contentious situation has escalated in the past two weeks with Mr. Hullander saying he witnessed Ms. Davis tearing down both a fence post and a sign, which resulted in a call to and visit from the Collegedale Police that termed those actions as vandalism. She claimed that when she was preparing for the surveyor and fence company, Mr. Hullander was taking pictures and taunting her. She told the commission that she feels harassed and said, “I’ve lost my job because I’ve been stressed out.”
As a background for those who are not familiar with the issue, Commissioner Larry Hanson told the audience that problems started when the shed was built without obtaining a permit from Collegedale. After it was constructed, Ms. Davis requested and was granted a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals. The same process was repeated after she had a carport built overlapping the property line, again built without applying for a permit. In both cases, the planning commission had recommended against giving a variance. The city has taken measures so that will not happen again by doing away with the Board of Zoning Appeals and returning the responsibility of granting variances to the planning commission.
Commissioner Debbie Baker said that actions recommended at the Nov. 4 commission meeting seemed fair. It was suggested for both parties to agree upon and hire an independent surveyor. Ms. Davis was also urged to take an offer made by Mr. Herod to buy the land in question for $5,000.
Instead, Ms. Davis made the decision to hire Dave Matthews Surveying to mark the property line. When Mayor John Turner went to see the disputed land he watched two surveyors put the orange markings on the line. It differs slightly from Mr. Herod’s two surveys that had been done when he bought the house in 1954, but he said, “It’s clear as the nose on your face” that the discrepancy is 18-20 inches in favor of Mr. Herod. “The carport she put up in front of the shed is clearly on Mr. Herod’s property,” he said, adding, “I think Mr. Herod’s being bullied.”
City Attorney Sam Elliott advised the commissioners and involved parties that this dispute is a civil matter that must be resolved in a court of law where a judge can make the decision. He said that the city commission is not a fact-finding body.
In regular business, City Manager Ted Rogers said that financial news should be uneventful. His report to the commissioners for the month showed nothing out of the ordinary. He said that with one-third of the fiscal year completed, revenues are coming in as anticipated and expenditures are all in line. The city maintains adequate cash reserves and investments are doing well.