Nope, it's not even the same neighbor as last time. Let me see if I can break this latest episode of Rural Soap Opera down for you. We own 5 acres. The property is basically rectangular, plus a long driveway from our main, fenced lot to the public street. It looks like this:
The large rectangle on the bottom represents our fenceline. We have a 6' chain-link around that entire perimeter. Our property line actually lies outside the fenceline, anywhere from several inches to a foot and a half. The upper, smaller rectangle in the picture indicates our driveway, which is part of our deeded property. The houses on both sides of the drive have access from the public road, and the driveway leads ONLY to our house. Seems simple, no?
Just to the right of the lower portion of that upper rectangle, there is a double-wide mobile home. It's a nice one, and well-kept, and we understand that it belongs to the property-owners' son (the property owners' house is up closer to the street), who lives there with his wife or girlfriend, and has custody of his kids every other weekend or so. We knew when we moved in that there might be some confusion over just whose driveway that is, because the previous owners of our house had allowed the neighborhood kids to ride skateboards down the driveway, and generally just include it in their play area. The skateboard thing scared me to death, because I didn't want a child cracking his skull open on my property if I could help it. We began keeping the large drive-gate close, which kept stray kids and dogs out of the fenced area, but they kept using our driveway. But, no harm, no foul, and we want to be good neighbors, so for two years we haven't said anything.
Cut to this past Saturday, noon, and a knock on our door, which reveals Angry Neighbor Dude, demanding to speak to Alex. When Alex went outside, he was greeted with the guy feeling the hood of Alex's truck, and saying, "THIS THING IS STILL WARM!" Alex had been out in the wee, WEE hours of the morning to check his game cameras before the opening of turkey season, but his truck had been parked for a couple of hours at that point--in fact, he'd been sound asleep for all that time, happily napping. In response to Alex's blank stare, Angry Neighbor Dude essentially accused Alex of running over and killing his small dog.
Have I ever mentioned that we are, literally, the ONLY people on this entire street who do NOT let our dogs run loose, ever? I'm sure I have. And sadly, there's not even a leash law out here, so we can't even call the county animal control officer unless we caught a dog doing some sort of damage on our property. This particular family has had a succession of small Jack-Rat looking dogs, who charge us, barking, whenever we drive or walk up and down our own driveway every single day. As a matter of fact, this same guy suspected us of having SHOT one of his little dogs soon after we moved in. Shooting a pet dog--dead! Us! Can you imagine? We can't. We told him at the time that we are dog lovers, and would never, ever do something like that. I don't know if he ever really believed it, but it made me sick that anyone would even think such a thing.
As near as we can figure, Angry Neighbor Dude came outside around noon that day to find one of his little dogs lying dead next to his porch, and the first place he came was down to our house to FEEL OUR TRUCK. Which, by virtue of us not owning a garage, sits out in the sun all the time, so doesn't really have a lot of opportunity to feel COOL. That "warm" truck was all the evidence he needed, and he laid into Alex. In the ensuing discussion, Angry Neighbor Dude talked about how his dogs chase cars all the time, and revealed that, just days before, his OTHER dog had been run over (but survived) when it "ran up under the school bus." I don't know about you, but at some point in this process, I'd have to start questioning my animal husbandry techniques.
But no, he wasn't taking any responsibility for his unfenced, unleashed, car-chasing dogs, he was looking for someone to be ticked off at. And he never did believe anything that Alex said, but eventually went away saying that Alex had probably hit his dog without realizing it, because he was probably driving too fast and not paying attention. It was during this diatribe that Alex noticed him referring to our driveway as "that easement." Alex could tell that there was no use arguing or nit-picking with the guy at the time, so just told him he was sorry about his dog, but had not seen the animal at all that morning (though he HAD seen the bus-runner, who is apparently a really slow learner).
The talk of the "easement" really got to bothering us, because our driveway just isn't an "easement." It's our driveway. Yes, it's been convenient for these people to use our driveway as their own, and we hadn't really minded, but we thought everyone understood that it IS ours. The two houses on either side of our drive have their OWN driveways with access to the public street, in front. There are no drives or paths of any kind leading off our driveway. Our driveway leads ONLY to our house. The only potential I see for confusion is that our driveway is asphalt, like the main public road, so might, to a casual observer, look like another road. Except for the fact that there is no street sign on it, just our mailbox. And, starting now, a "PRIVATE DRIVE" sign. It's certainly never been an issue for UPS, Fed-Ex, or the US Postal Service.
So Alex wrote Angry Neighbor Dude a nice, polite note, explaining to him that as "dog people," with 6 dogs of our own living here, we have extreme compassion for our pets and those of others, which is why we KEEP OUR DOGS AT HOME, and that if we HAD hit his dog as it ran up under our truck as it did every single day, we'd have certainly had the decency to knock on his door and inform him of the fact, and make sure to shield his children from the incident if they happened to be there at the time. He also explained, in what I thought were non-confrontational terms, that our driveway is not, in fact, an "easement" of any kind, but our own personal, private property, and attached copies of our deed, legal description, and survey to illustrate the fact. I hope that will resolve some confusion and not add fuel to any grudge.
So now, that's neighbors on TWO sides of us who dispute what actually belongs to us and what doesn't (the people on the other side of us think that OUR fence is "shared property," when in fact it is a good foot to a foot and a half WITHIN our property line). And the sad thing is, they're all wrong, and we have the paperwork, all publicly recorded, to prove it. Hopefully that will be enough, and we won't have to build a moat.