Dispute among property owners and the town is for the birds

Property owners often disagree with their neighbors regarding a host of issues from land use to noisy flagpoles and everything in between. But when the town gets involved in a dispute and sides with one party and not the other, things can get rather complicated fast. Such is the case for a Hull couple that started with neighbors complaining the couple’s birdfeeder is causing a public nuisance. Now the town’s officials are saying the feeder has become a hazard to the public’s health.

A hearing was held in the Brockton Housing Court last week and after two hours of testimony the judge presiding over the case continued the hearing into this week. The hearing is to determine if a restraining order should be granted to stop the couple from using a bird feeder to feed the birds. Thus far three neighbors have testified that the number of birds around the property has increased because of the bird feeder. Testimony included statements of “frenzies of birds on the feeder, on the porch and on the ground,” according to reports.

The attorney for the couple claims the action taken by the town and the neighbors is tantamount to the couple being bullied and that it is not just about the birds. The attorney did not expand on why the town and the neighbors took issue with the couple. The attorney for the town stated the evidence will demonstrate that the bird feeder has indeed created a public health hazard and nuisance for the town, but did not expand on exactly what that evidence would be.

The case is scheduled to continue this week with the town expected to call at least seven more witnesses to testify. Neighborly disputes can escalate to include highly contentious court trials, in which case one property owner may feel his or her property rights are being violated by the actions of a neighbor.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to consult with a legal professional who understands the nuances of municipal regulations, including zoning and land use restrictions, in order to assert your property rights, whether you wish to build, renovate or develop a particular parcel, or simply feed the birds. A local attorney can be invaluable in helping you obtain the necessary permits to ensure your project or actions meet the municipality’s guidelines and comply with all state and local laws.

Source: The Patriot Ledger, “Court hearing continued in Hull bird feeder dispute,” Gillian Smith, Aug. 22, 2012

Our law firm handles a variety of real estate disputes, from property title issues to land use and zoning. Visit our Worcester land use and zoning page to learn more.