Fun with Zoning Laws


A longtime feud in a lakeside community ended in March with one neighbor forcing another to move—three feet to the left.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stacey Ford had to shell out $40,000 to have some giant cranes move her Stanwood, Washington, house just three feet after the next-door neighbor alerted authorities that the 20-year-old structure violated local zoning laws. According to those rules, buildings in Snohomish County have to be at least five feet away from property lines; Ford's house was only two and a quarter. She applied for a variance, but, $15,000 in legal fees later, her request was denied.

For the neighbor, it was the perfect victory in a nearly decade-long feud that started with a tree and a wrecked tool shed. But Ford wasn't even party to the original hostility. The neighbor's true nemesis was Ford's uncle, Dennis Davis, who died just weeks before the zoning imbroglio began. Ford was the lucky heir to the property, the feud, and the $80,000 mortgage.