Consumer Watch: Good fences make good neighbors


by Andy Treinen

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 5:21 PM

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- In Southern Indiana, good neighbors for 18 years have now become now arch enemies - and it's all because of a front yard fence between their houses.

Everyone from the chief of police to the building commissioner is weighing in.

"I want the fence gone. The fence is a safety hazard," Glenn Schneider said.

Schneider called our consumer line to complain about a fence, but he also clearly has issues with the person living on the other side of it, Sandy Johnson.

Johnson slammed the door when we tried to talk to her about Schneider saying only “he's a crazy old man.”

Sixty-eight-year-old Schneider responded: “I’m old, I don't know about crazy, but I’m old." 

Schneider and Johnson have lived next door to each in Clarksville for nearly two decades.  Schneider said for most of that time their relationship is what he calls “friendly,” but over the last few months that neighborly nature has crumbled.

“She is the most inconsiderate person that you ever met in your entire life. She does not care about nobody but herself," Schneider said.

Schneider said he's the fence running between the two properties concerns him because there are kids in the neighborhood and he cannot see them when he backs out of his driveway.

We did an experiment and we crouched at child level on the sidewalk and asked Schneider to honk when he first sees us. His truck was well beyond the driveway and into the street before he honked.

"If I go backing out of here, or pulling out there's no way I can see," Schneider said.

He said front yard fences have long been illegal in Clarksville, but last April an ordinance was passed, allowing them under certain conditions. Fences have to be no higher than 48 inches and they cannot obstruct vision.

Glenn measured Johnson’s fence at 56 inches in one area and 50 inches in another.

We have made several calls to the Clarksville building commissioner trying to find out how this fence was up to code. He has not returned our calls.

Police Chief Mark Palmer tells me he was hoping the two once friendly neighbors could again find common ground.

"It's not just a fight with a neighbor. It amounts to a bunch of other things," Schneider said.

Although officers have been called to the homes several times - until recently it was only a civil matter.

After our visit Johnson put up no trespassing signs on Schneider’s side of the fence and installed security cameras outside of her home. On them she captured Schneider ripping down the sign and tossing it into her yard. She called police, he was cited for criminal mischief, and now he's fighting it in court.

It's a dispute with no conclusion in sight and a story that flies in the face of the old saying “good fences make good neighbors.”