Trouble in the ‘hood

The Bible in Matthew 22:39 says: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Aside from its Biblical implications, there is common sense in this commandment. If ever emergency strikes in your home – someone has a heart attack or you walk in on a robber inside your house – the first to help you are your neighbors. At least that’s how it works here. Unlike in America, where the first thing Americans do during emergencies is to call 911, our neighbors are kinda our 911 in this part of the globe.

But loving your neighbor as yourself is easier said than done. Right now in our ‘hood, this is being put to the test.

The logistics in the neighborhood where I live in is a little complicated. It’s not exactly a subdivision but the area is arranged like one – a compound of houses lining an unpaved inner road. There are three entry and exit points, but only one of it – the main entry/exit point is wide enough for automobiles to access. The other two are just enough to accommodate motorcycles, bikes, and foot traffic.

About a month ago, the guy who lives right along the intersection where the highway and the main inner road meets decided to widen his lot. He claims to own a portion of the main inner road going to our neighborhood, saying that his family owned said land for years, that he has paid taxes for said land, and wants to “reclaim” a portion of it.

What he’s “reclaiming” eats up almost half of the width of the only road that has served as our main entry/exit point since time immemorial. When news of his “reclaiming” plans broke, many of the residents in our area immediately protested, especially those who own cars.

I’m one of those strongly opposing his plans. Should there be fire alarms in one of the houses here, where will the fire trucks pass? If someone has a health emergency in our home, how fast can the ambulance get here when the ambulance driver has to gingerly navigate what is now a narrow strip of rocky road?

But the guy and his family remain stubborn as our protests have fallen on apparently deaf ears. Since the City Engineer’s Office granted them a fencing permit, construction of their new concrete fence around the “reclaimed” portion started a few weeks back, much to our dismay.

Some of the residents have already brought the issue to the village chief where the guy’s 2 daughters showed up. But nothing good came out of that. Now, a couple of the residents are banding together to file a suit against the guy. But still, the construction didn’t stop.

A tree was even cut to widen what remains of the main access road so vehicles can still pass through. At a time when the world is most concerned about climate change and the importance of growing more trees, we had to have a tree cut because of one man’s greed.

I wonder how the guy can sleep at night knowing that the people living around him aren’t too happy with what he’s doing. It’s really sad because I like this guy’s wife. We’d smile and chat when we bump into each other on my way to and from work. I haven’t seen her since all these happened. I’m guessing that like the rest of her family, she’s  avoiding the neighbors and staying indoors more and more these days.

What good would a sliver of land do you if it’s the reason you’re the object of hate of your neighbors? Is that piece of land worth it? Would you rather have that over your and your neighbors’ peace of mind?

2 thoughts on “Trouble in the ‘hood

  1. What a shame. The “reclaimer’s” behavior seems inexcusable. One sees this sort of thing in neighborhoods sometimes. It creates a poisonous atmosphere, and leaves people feeling helpless. You’ve stated the case very well. Could the case possibly be appealed further, perhaps citing public safety concerns? I’m very sorry for your trouble, and I do hope some remedy can be found.

    1. Hello Mark! Thanks for the concern. Sadly, the neighbor in question refused to be deterred by a lawsuit and in fact, the expansion of his property is now completed. The paint on the new and spruced up (disturbing) fence may have dried by now but the issue continues to be a thorn on the side of the affected residents. Appeals have been made to the village chief, and concerned public officials in the city (public works and engineering offices) but nothing came out of it. I guess we’ll just have to bear it out until the issue is resolved in the court- and knowing how the wheels of justice grind so slow here, that could mean years.

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