Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Good Fences Make Good Neighbors," But How About Gates?

We live in a rural development, and we are in all practicality the furtherest house in the development from the gate to its highway. It is a mile drive on a gravel road, mostly uphill, from the gate to our house.

Our property line, however, runs parallel to the state highway that eventually runs past the gate. With a little bit of investigation and three consultations with the regional office of the state highway department, we obtained a permit to access the highway directly from a point north of our garage. Three thousand and some odd dollars worth of earth-moving and gravel-purchase later, we have a private drive. That means we no longer need to drive a mile past our house on the highway, enter the development, and then drive a mile on the gravel road back up the hill to reach our driveway. Once completed, we also gave permission to the fire department, emergency response crews, and the post office to use the gate.

There are about twelve other dwellings in the development located at the top of the hill, located in fact where it would be easier for them to use our private drive. That, of course, results in what my wife calls "sneakers" -- people who grant themselves permission to use the more convenient access.

I am slightly more relaxed about the trespassing than my wife. Since my home office has several large windows, I see most of them, and they are almost invariably appear to be visitors rather than residents. Apparently they drive past our driveway, enter the development at the public gate, and decide it will be more convenient to avail themselves of our hilltop exit.

Since southern Missouri is presently coping with the after-effects of a blizzard, which was especially heavy in this area, we are dealing with something different. Three neighbors have called and asked permission to use the drive rather than attempt the snow-covered hill road. We've denied no one.

Others, however, have taken to driving through our gate -- and across our lawn since our connecting driveway is invisible under the snow! -- without asking, without acknowledgment, and without thanks. We now have tracks within thirty feet of our front door.

My wife, her dislike of "sneakers" aggravated, is intent on installing a gate.

"Hmm, I know people that use the driveway without asking are taking advantage, but it's difficult to say No in this kind of weather, even if they don't ask," I told her.

"What did they do before we worked to get the permit and invested in building the driveway?" she responds.

"I suppose most of them parked at the bottom of the hill and walked to their residences," I tell her.

I want to be a good neighbor, and I begrudge no one use of our gate under the present circumstances, but I'm also aware of human nature. Just this one time  can be rationalized into They don't mind, or they would have said something. 

My wife may be right, human nature being what it is. A gate may be the only way of saying something.

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