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How do I Fight this Situation - Neighbors Burning Garbage

 
pioneer
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Hello,

I've dealt with neighbors burning garbage and filling my house with toxic smoke for several years and neither the town nor the state seems to care much about.  I'm wondering if anyone here has dealt with this issue and has any answers.  How can I prove it's actually garbage he is burning and not just a "camp fire"?

I'm at the point where I'd go so far as sueing someone, just to get them to do their job.  I have two sons and I don't want them breathing toxic smoke.  There's no reason anyone should need to live like this.

 
master steward
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I'm assuming you've talked to the neighbor about it?  

Another option would be to check the burning restrictions for your area to see if they're actually allowed to burn when they are burning and then call the fire department about their "wildfire"...
 
gardener
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Hey Mark;
Your right, nobody should have to breath garbage burning in a residential area.
You have been living with this for several years. How often is he burning?  Every day, once a week?
Like Mike said , we will assume talking to the neighbor was not working.
I'll also assume that if the town and state think its OK then there is not a lot of legal options.
Do your due diligence and check the law yourself. If they are not enforcing a law then suing might be a good lever to use, to "convince" them to do their job.
Selling and moving is another ... but not a very good one.
Are there other people downwind also bothered ?  Could a group approach the town council or even the neighbor?

Next question, does the wind always blow  towards your home?  Is it possible it might blow towards the offending neighbors house???


 
steward
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I've had some less than desirable neighbors in the past and in my experience, getting someone else to change and live like I want them to live has been a dismal failure. I have learned through observing others that filing suit against a neighbor never resolves a situation and appears to make relations and situations worse. In the past, I have packed up and moved away from churls, realizing that I can only make decisions for myself and I am in control of only my life. Moving didn't mean I caved and they won, but exactly the opposite- I was the victor. Is moving to a new location an option for you?
 
pollinator
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Problem: Trash that needs to be removed

Sub-Optimal Solution: Burn the trash, wasting precious time and manual labor, while releasing fumes

Your Optimal Solution: Offer to remove it free of charge, maybe take manure too, weed trees, and run your goats thru his land to maintain it.


Basically he doesn't care about you personally, just his problem. So help him solve his problem while helping yourself too.

Maybe he just likes playing with fire and is too lazy to get firewood so he burns plastic, offer to cut his firewood and you will take an equal share yourself. I wish someone would offer to cut my lawn because I create too much noise/fumes pollution.
 
Mark Huntington
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James Freyr wrote:I've had some less than desirable neighbors in the past and in my experience, getting someone else to change and live like I want them to live has been a dismal failure. I have learned through observing others that filing suit against a neighbor never resolves a situation and appears to make relations and situations worse. In the past, I have packed up and moved away from churls, realizing that I can only make decisions for myself and I am in control of only my life. Moving didn't mean I caved and they won, but exactly the opposite- I was the victor. Is moving to a new location an option for you?



I'm two rooms away from a complete remodel of the home we bought 15 years ago, the plan is to sell next spring.  It's more than just the burning.  Central VT has gone to hell over the past 20 or 30 years.  I grew up next door to the home we live in now, it's been sad to see the undesirables move in with their loud mud trucks, 4-wheelers, razors and dirt bikes everywhere, loud muffler on roughly every third car that goes by our house (we live on main street in a single paved road town).

Sorry to unload, I'm just not in a good place these days.

Anyway, thank you everyone.
 
S Bengi
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Sell now, dont wait to remodel it. If anything give them the cash or price discount to remodel it themselves
 
steward & bricolagier
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Mark Huntington wrote:

I'm two rooms away from a complete remodel of the home we bought 15 years ago, the plan is to sell next spring.  It's more than just the burning.  Central VT has gone to hell over the past 20 or 30 years.  I grew up next door to the home we live in now, it's been sad to see the undesirables move in with their loud mud trucks, 4-wheelers, razors and dirt bikes everywhere, loud muffler on roughly every third car that goes by our house (we live on main street in a single paved road town).

Sorry to unload, I'm just not in a good place these days.


We all need to unload sometimes... :D

My thought, if you are a year out from moving, every time you see or smell something you don't like say to yourself "HA! Soon won't have to deal with this!!" That's how I got through a move that dragged out slow, and the crap got DEEP there as I was trying to get moved out. You have tolerated it to one extent or another for 15 years, one more can be done. Ignore the idiots, put your energy into finishing it (or as S Bengi said, don't finish it) and moving on. Look ahead, not behind. And yeah, the neighborhood my slow move was out of was where I had grown up, and one of my sisters was now calling it Gang Central, and 911 knew my voice, I didn't have to ID myself when I called them (in a town of 125,000 people.) Most of the neighbors would not call, even if they wanted to, as they were in too iffy a legal situation themselves, they thanked me for doing it... It sucked to see the area go so bad. I feel for you...

When I moved I knew that if the problem people knew I was moving out and not living there at that point, the place would get burglarized, and I was not done getting out the things I wanted. The helpers I had helped me get stuff sorted and boxed, but they wouldn't help with moving it, because I was going there there at 4 AM, loading the truck with what was done, then had it out of there by dawn, so it wasn't noticed. That's a hard way to cope. But that crack dealer over the wall would have been VERY interested if he had noticed...

Hold your head up, look ahead, and it's one more summer, one fall and winter. You can do this :) The effort you would put into fighting it is better used getting out.  
HUGS! It sucks, but not for much longer. :D
 
gardener
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Hang in there. We had to move to get away from our neighbor in the city who burned trash Every. Single. Day. in his backyard. Among several other absolutely disgusting qualities. Was not worth talking to, moving was our solution. Hope you can either sell early or GTFO as early as possible.
 
gardener
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I don't really know enough of the exact situation to make totally educated suggestions, but if you can predict at all when the "fire is likely to be lit", two things that might help re-direct the smoke away from you are: 1) one of those honking big fans used to move huge amounts of air set up to redirect the smoke 45 to 90 degrees - don't try to blow it back at the guy - just try to blow it skyward or at an angle away from your house like a sailboat's sail.
2) if water's not an issue, a homemade sprinkler designed to spray a lot of fine mist straight up between where the fire is and where the smoke tends to infiltrate your house, might help in warm weather - the water movement and droplets would both redirect and attach to the smoke particles.

And one possible alternative is: Do you feel you can speak to the neighbor at all positively? You won't get him to stop, but educating him about rocket stoves in the "have you watched videos about this totally cool way to make a *really* hot fire?" way, might actually solve some of the smoke/pollution issue. If you can't get him to stop burning garbage, but can get him burning it better, that might be as good as it gets until you sell!
 
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I wish I had a peaceful  solution!!

I have had such neighbors. I out lasted themn!!

I know no fun at all.

Is just rude.

If possible mayhe the barrel  'rolls away'

Very strong drone??

Best  of luck
 
pollinator
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Fan sounds worth a try. But they cost at least $50 used (that I know of).

Stick it out. Try not to fuss because you don't want to make incidents that can be easily dug out to reduce the house value. Cutting a deal for trash removal depends on a lot of things. So, maybe, maybe not. My brother ion law just likes burning stuff. Not something you can reason about. But if it really is just trash removal, maybe.

If it's starting to take over your thoughts, that's not so good, so maybe find someplace to go to involve with something else, preferably including people.  Disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of social distancing from a mental health perspective. Happily Chicagoans seem to be sensible. On a nice day, the beach is full of small groups 10'+ distant, dozens of people strolling the paths at polite intervals, masks maybe 50%. Cops come by once or twice a day and rain on everybody's parade through the PA because they're told to, but anyplace that doesn't have vehicle access, even if it's only 100' or so away, nobody even bothers to twitch.  Strangers chatting from a bit of distance. Tennis players talking to the folks on the next court. There needs to be some balance.

Long way of saying it'll likely be a lot easier to take with a level head when there are other people-type distractions made part of life.

Best luck.
Rufus
 
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I live in the woods, but I do burn almost all the burnables. Mostly paper products. I've been to the landfill many times, I don't like what I see there. I'd rather burn what I can and let the earth filter it out than to bury it all for thousands of years. Our local recycler (a single stream place) closed because the press found out they were working the mentally disabled, sorting. Now they are out of a job and nobody in our county is recycling anymore.

I've had problem neighbors in the past, my view on property is this: they can do what they want it's theirs. Pig farm, junk yard, etc.

Here lately the bad neighbors moved out and I've started semi-fresh, I learned from my mistakes and now I am neutral and they all know it. I'm honest with them, but I don't tell my neighbors everything I know. And I try and get along as well as can be.

The Bible says a soft answer turns away wrath, and I believe it.

I hope it works out for you, not being so close helps a lot. Move to the country?
 
S Bengi
pollinator
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Rufus,  I hear what you are saying, the extra stress from covid, and then the fumes burning neighbor could just be the incident that broke the camel back. Not quite cabin fever but close enough.

And yes Mark, it's perfectly fine to come here and vent, we all need to vent from time to time and esp with our usual social circle being reduced due to COVID, causing more stress.
 
Mark Huntington
pioneer
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Thanks everyone, this has helped. I get very stressed about this sort of thing these days. I don't believe that anyone who pumps toxic fumes into the air (or Earth in general) deserves to live on this planet. A bit harsh but that's how I feel, very little respct for people like that.
 
pollinator
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Here in the UK that would come under various nuisance and public health laws.

To act the police and public health officers need evidence of a pattern of antisocial behaviour. Keep a diary with your observations - time of day, amount of smoke, location, wind direction, duration of fire etc...

There is one guy a few miles from us who is notorious for antisocial bonfires. Every time he mows the grass he throws it in a heap and attempts to set fire to it. It smoulders for days and fills the valley with lingering smoke.

On the other hand, when we have bonfires it is for making biochar. I make a big effort to minimise smoke and always check wind direction is away from the nearby houses.
 
pollinator
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Guessing you may have already explored this avenue but...
https://dec.vermont.gov/enforcement/reporting
 
pollinator
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My aunt and uncle dealt with a similar situation, and like others their ultimate solution was to take a big loss on their house and move.


They tried talking to the guy, but that didn't work. The tried complaining to the county/city/village/etc. amount the trash burning, but nothing ever came of it. It certainly didn't help that the trash burner's family had been living in the area for generations and the county had a strong Good Old Boy network. Till they finally unloaded their house, my relatives basically kept the windows closed, continuously ran air filters, and avoided spending much time outside which was really unfortunately since it was an otherwise beautiful area right on the water.

Hopefully you find a better solution than my relatives did.
 
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Sorry to hear you're dealing with this. I know how upsetting it is, especially when the people whose job it is to help are unwilling to step up.

My neighbor burns trash outside in a barrel frequently and I often notice that bits of partially burned trash often drift over into our yard along with the awful fumes and smoke. I don't know if your neighbor is close enough that this may be happening in your situation. But if so, maybe it'd be worth looking for evidence of that? Law enforcement may not care about our right to breathe clean air, but I bet they might care about the fire hazard created by burning trash floating around.

I hope you find a peaceful resolution to this so you can breathe free and easy!
 
pollinator
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Ben House wrote:my view on property is this: they can do what they want it's theirs. Pig farm, junk yard, etc.



I feel the same way.  Some of the things make me angry, some make me sad, some make me frustrated.  It doesn't change the fact that I'm not king of the world and I don't get to decide how people should live.  That doesn't mean I don't feel for you Mark, because truly, I do.  I have a neighbor that poisons his fields and the wind blows it 15 or 20 feet onto my property.  I'm going to have to confront him with it this year after I put in a new fence.  I don't like it.  At all.  It's still his place.  My neighbors probably hate that I stopped mowing my lawn three years ago.  They think I'm trash, that I don't care about my place, that I am bringing down property values.  Sorry for their luck, it's my place.
 
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