Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Help Me Howard: Fence In Road
It's not something you'd think would be that difficult, the ability to drive to and from your home, but one woman's ride in rural South Florida has hit a fork in the road, actually a fence put up by her neighbor. Let's see if Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser can break through.
WSVN -- Carmen Diaz: "I like to be away from the city."
Don't take it the wrong way, but Carmen Diaz doesn't want to live in your congested neighborhood.
Carmen Diaz: "A lot of people there and that's why I like to be here. It's quiet."
Carmen lives in the country in South Miami-Dade. Fields, farms, and to get to Carmen's house is a dirt road.
Carmen Diaz: "I have used this road for 10 years."
"Used" is the key word because the 310th Street she used now has a fence across it.
Carmen Diaz: "The guy that leases this property, he says he wants to close it because he doesn't want anybody to pass by."
For years Carmen took 310th around this tomato field, which is on private property, but now it's blocked, and she can't get to the main street.
Carmen Diaz: "I called the police and said, 'Is that OK?'"
The first time Carmen called the police about the fence across the street, they quickly understood her problem.
Carmen Diaz: "He called and said, 'I cannot get to your home, it is impossible to get to your home.' We said, 'That's why we are calling, we don't have access to go out.'"
Determined to get to her home, the officer eliminated the roadblock.
Carmen Diaz: "He came and cut the fence and said, 'OK, you need to go now.'"
The property owners put the fence back up, and when Team Metro came out to talk to Carmen, they sided with the property owner.
Carmen Diaz: "She saw what was happening, and she told me, 'Carmen, I'm sorry for you.'"
There is another option for Carmen, another dirt road that loops around the entire area. The problem there, half the year it looks like a lake.
Carmen Diaz: "When it's raining, I don't have access to come here, so all the water concentrates in the middle, so you cannot pass by because the water goes up deep."
With one flooded road and one blocked, Carmen feels landlocked.
Carmen Diaz: "To open the road, that's it. I don't need like a big road or anything like that or a nice one."
But if you live in South Florida, are you entitled to a road to get to your home, even if the road has to go through someone's property, Mr. Finkelstein?
Howard Finkelstein: "Clearly, Carmen has a right to get to and from her home, and this is where it gets tricky. The road that tends to flood is an option when it's dry, but when it's flooded, which it often is, Carmen has a right to cross the neighbor's property. However, legally, she may have to pay for that, and if the landowner won't agree on a price, she has to go to court to get a judge to set a price."
A public works spokesman told us and said, "It is private property, the law states the owner can fence it in. We are going by the law, and there is nothing we can do."
Then we called the property owners who live in Puerto Rico. They told us Carmen was trespassing and driving over the renter's crops, which Carmen denies. The property owners then added they would not take the fence down. Howard says Carmen now has one option.
Howard Finkelstein: "First, Carmen has to talk to the property owner to see if they can work out a price. If that fails, she has to go to court and get an order to access the property. If everything is as it appears, she will have to pay to drive through there, but she will probably win."
Carmen is going to talk to the property owner. If that fails, she says she will go to court, and she still has one more option, get Miami-Dade to fix the county road that's under water in the rainy season.
Carmen Diaz: "Last year, I paid $17,000 just to live in my house. Why I don't have the right to have access to the road if I'm paying that much money? Where does that money go?"
Patrick Fraser: "Now we have done stories on people who had a fence on a piece of their neighbor's property and, legally, in some cases, after seven years they have a right to keep the fence there. Legally, Carmen would have a right to the farm road but only after using it for 20 years. However, she has a right to the road, it will just cost her."
Roadblocks in life left you feeling fenced in? Need a way to plow through? Don't sell the farm, contact us. We're not outstanding in our field, but we are standing in the newsroom.
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