Over the winter we received a letter from our Home Owners association telling us that all our worries with the crazy neighbor behind us were over since someone had bought the property.
This turned out to be partially true.
It was true that our neighbor of the past 15 years was gone. He was in his late forties and "didn't have all his oars in the water". We never ever saw him, just evidence that he had been out during the night. The trash would be out, there would be something new in the yard, something like that.
It's been a rough 15 years watching the property go from a well kept home to Quigley Mansion. He inherited the property from his parents in about 1994 and then proceeded to do nothing. Actually he did do something. Something mysterious in the basement. Something with a lot of banging. It was like silence of the lambs. I thought he was digging a pit to hid the bodies in.
In 1998 he stopped cutting the lawn. Actually, he never cut the lawn since he never came out. I guess he stopped paying the people that were cutting the lawn. It was so bad I had to take pictures.
Here is Oldest Son, 10 years ago in front of the property.
This was just the beginning. There was also a pool on the property. A pool filled with algae, mosquitoes and frogs. By the end I was convinced there were elk over there by the sounds that would come out of the yard on a summer's night. If we had people over they would look over the fence in horror and say "what was that?
It was a duck and swan habitat. It just needed a name. The Hannibal Lecter game reserve.
Just watching over the years, you knew this was going to end badly. My greatest fear was the fence. It was old. It was poorly maintained. It blew down during any stiff breeze. However, this was the one area where our home owners association actually provided some value. They would make him fix the fence. Actually, I think they just fixed the fence and sent him a bill. Whatever, the fence got fixed. Still, I was convinced I would come home to find Action News out front. "He was a quiet man.... until...".
Well, that until happened last fall when he took a knife out to the Home Owners Association management folks. I guess he was feed up paying for fences and groundskeeping. The police took him away. By winter he lost the place to taxes.
It was stupid. The man should have never been living on his own, let alone in a house that he was incapable of maintaining. I'm just glad no little kids ever fell into the pool.
Through the spring we were excited to watch any sign of the great fix up over there. Nothing happened. Finally by Summer, workers descended onto the place.
They emptied the pool, put up siding, put on a new roof, got rid of over grown shrubs, emptied the house every stick of furniture and put all in giant refuse container. They filled several tractor trailer sized dumpsters. It was exciting.
Until the new fence.
This week they put up a six foot picket fence. Now you would think that we would be excited by this since it would give us a little separation from what ever is going on over there. But it was a six foot picket fence. Just like the kind we wanted to put up around our pool in 2003.
Our home owners association Architectural review board (ARB) denied our request. There were strict guidelines about fences and a six foot picket fence was "illegal". Their reasoning was priceless.
It went something like this. "since the home owners association was making rules about fences and if some one impaled themselves on the pointy pickets, the home owners association would be liable". Or: Since we are making rules someone can sue us over the rules. I thought of a rather simple solution: STOP MAKING RULES. Anyway, I had to settle for 5 foot rounded top fence so that criminals climbing my fence would hurt themselves. Except for the buckshot in their ass when I caught them going over my fence ILLEGALLY. Details, details.
I don't like the Architectural review board. I think they are silly. But I went along with it.
And now I'm looking over my safe, rounded, 5 foot fence at a foot of highly sharpened and obviously dangerous picket fence. The same with my other neighbor. When he was tired of looking at the raggedy old fence that Hannibal Lecter had, he asked the ARB for a new fence too. He wanted a six foot picket fence. He was denied too. He put up a safe, 5 foot fence.
Now we have a problem. Do we say something to the dreaded ARB and complain? Do we approach the new neighbor and warn him of the dreaded ARB? Do we just keep quiet?
The ARB is little crazy when it comes to fences. Yet another neighbor, the widow across the street, put up a fence that was not straight across the top like the ARB "guidelines" dictate. It was arched and that was cause for alarm. They made her hire someone to make the fence straight at the top.
So now I think that the new owner of Hannibal's House is going to meet a very formidable foe. The ARB.
It's a blessing that Hannibal is gone but be careful what you ask for.