Friday, August 18, 2006

Lake Bridgeport Bullies? A Developing Story

Although this story is a true story that has been thoroughly vetted, names have been withheld – at least for now. My intention of publicizing this story is twofold. (1) Property owners on Lake Bridgeport need to be aware that this kind of thing can happen to them, and (2), Big-time developers need to be reminded that they gave their word to be “good neighbors” to the surrounding developments, and we intend to hold them to their promises.

Imagine, if you will, that you are the proud owner of a lovely lakeside cottage on Lake Bridgeport. You live in the DFW metroplex but you get up to the lake fairly often. This little spot is your haven – your retreat - your sanctuary. You like your lake neighbors and you count on them to keep an eye on your property.

A little over a year ago you had a rude awakening. You next door neighbor called you to inform you that your dock was being used by a neighboring Big-development sales person to load groups of prospective buyers into boats for a tour of the lake. You neighbor had confronted the sales person and that person claimed to have obtained your permission to use your dock. Of course, that was false.

You were incensed. “How dare they use my dock without my permission? We aren’t even part of that big development! What if one of those perspective buyers had fallen off of my dock? ”

You are a reasonable person. You know that if the big-time developer had only sought your permission to use your dock for loading purposes, you might have given it. But that didn’t happen.

You go out and you purchase a “No Trespassing Private Property” sign and you chain off your driveway. You thought you could rest easily. Wrong!

You come home last night after a hard day’s work. It’s sweltering with temperatures still soaring well above 100 degrees. You long to be up at your peaceful private little lake place. You check your phone messages. It’s a long distance call from one of your lake neighbors.

“Hi, I just wanted to let you know that the big development next to us is using your driveway to go down and dredge our cove between your and your neighbor’s houses. It’s probably a good thing, but I didn’t know if you had given them your permission to use your driveway.”

You immediately call your lake neighbor back.

“What??? No, I didn’t give any permission to use my driveway! What happened to my chain and my ‘No Trespassing Private Property’ sign? We’ve got water irrigation lines down there. What if they break our lines? Who do these guys think they are? Do they think they own the entire lake?”

Your neighbor replies. “Well it turns out that your next door neighbor gave them his permission to go down and dredge, but they are actually using your driveway to get down there. And you know, that little pathway next to the fence that the big-time developers put in because the developer promised us that they wouldn’t put in a road on to our development (because we informed him that it would be a violation of our restrictions) – well that little pathway has turned into a worn down path the size of a road. That’s the path they are using to come into your driveway with their big trucks and take out all that dirt. It’s probably because all those big trucks have already torn up the entrance road to that Big-time development. Oh, your chain and sign are lying on the side of your driveway.”

Well, as you can see, this little incident was probably an honest mistake made by the Big-time developer who simply failed to obtain permission of both neighbors. Or perhaps, the truck drivers didn’t understand that the driveway they were using was actually the wrong one. Or perhaps, the neighbor who gave his permission just assumed that his neighbors wouldn’t mind their driveway being used. Maybe he conveyed that assumed permission to the big-time developers? It doesn’t really matter how it happened, but that it did happen. And it will happen again. In the world of big-time land development it’s always a matter of do it now and ask questions later.

Here are three good neighbor tips:

1. If you are a Big-time developer, take extra caution not to step on and crush you little neighbors. Keep the promises that you have given. Be sure to first obtain permission of all property owners who will be directly affected by your actions. And then convey to your subcontractors exactly what that that permission entails.

2. If you are a property owner who plans to cut a deal with anyone that might directly affect your surrounding neighbors, please be sure to contact your neighbors first and let them know your plans. Don’t assume that your neighbors will be OK with your plans, and don’t ever give permission to anyone for your neighbors.

3. If you are a land owner and you see unusual or suspicious activity on your neighbor’s property, call that neighbor immediately. Don’t assume that everything is OK.

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So why didn't you mention the name of the Big developer? Were you afraid of being bullied?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:41 AM  

Naming names wasn’t the point. It was not the intention of this article to punish the business interests of the developer for what appears to be an honest, if all too common, mistake made by many Big-time land developers.

This is a place to tell the stories of our residents and to give notice to all concerned to respect the property rights of their neighbors. If a pattern develops then all bets are off.

By Anonymous Editor, at 9:22 AM  

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