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Thread: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

  1. #1
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    Exclamation NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    Hello All,

    I am in a bit of a dispute with my neighbor over my xmas light show. A brief history..... We have been doing this show since 2012. 153k lights this year, musically driven, Xlights. My neighbor across the street has been complaining since day 1. And today is legally trying to shut us down over the volume of the music. We DO use a FM transmitter, but we have santa and hot chocolate along with other events so that ppl HAVE to get out of their cars. I have explained that we have raised thousands for charity each year but doesn't care. She states it shakes her windows, and the class she teaches it offends her students of a different religion when they hear it in their headsets, therefore she wants it off. The show shuts down @ 10 on weekends and 930 on weekdays. We DO NOT have a noise ordinance, but I had a sound study done last year just in case she tried to sue, the speaker points away from her house. All the other neighbors love it. At the front of her property the DB reached approx 64db, literally louder from cars....
    She is just a miserable human being. Does anyone know of any case law? Or does she have any claim? I really have tried my best to appease her but will not shut down the show because she hates Christmas.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    Don't tell her anything. Just do what you are doing and if you aren't breaking any local regulations or HOA rules you are safe. If she throws up the offended by Christ in Christmas issue, use the freedom of religon ammendment of the constitution. This is still America, founded on freedom of religon.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    Unless your breaking noise ordinance laws, she has no recourse. Went through this 2 years ago. Neighbor wanted my show shut down. Tried the noise thing, didnt work.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    I agree that it doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong. With that said, it does sound like she may go to extremes and possible make false claims to get you shut down. I'd recommend watching your back and walking the fine line, very, very carefully. While she may not have any grounds to stand on from a noise perspective, things like traffic increases, possible trespassing on her property from visitors, and so forth can be a little more troublesome.

    If she genuinely is only concerned about the music, there are probably some simplier things you can do to put forth good faith and effort to keep the neighborhood friendly. For example, and this may sound contradictory, but see if you can move the speakers closer to the street/where people gather (and thus probably closer to her house). This will allow you to have the volume lower coming from the speaker, while still having it at the same db level at your visitors ears. Through the magic of acoustic attenuation, this should actually make it quieter at the front of her house. You can also look at adding an equalizer and turning down just the lower frequency (bass) as it travels farther and through walls easier. You get the idea.

    In this hobby I think it can be said that we generally try to stay on good terms with the neighbors (which can lead to amazing things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziXYL6sXVm8), but sometimes you just can't win over scrooge and have to focus on those who do appreciate what you do.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    We DO NOT have an HOA....
    I Do plan on moving the speaker this year. I have trimmed hours off show times, turned it down, moved the pavilion to the other side of the property and she is just miserable and grasping at straws.... It is on the website NOT to turnaround in her driveway.... I am limiting the show and other public enjoyment for her. Does anyone know of any case Law?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    I’m certain you won’t like this idea, but would a possible compromise be to exclude the Santa/hot cocoa (and thus all need for public speakers), and only limit the audio to the cars/FM tuner?

    I could see how some people might be uncomfortable with people standing around outside their vehicles at night in front of their home (aka, loitering, from her perspective).

    Of course, there goes the fundraising. But perhaps someone from the recipient of the fundraising activities could maybe also speak with her. Maybe having someone else (other than you) talk with her—especially coming from a group that would miss the benefit of the fundraiser.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    Quote Originally Posted by Bwinter View Post
    I’m certain you won’t like this idea, but would a possible compromise be to exclude the Santa/hot cocoa (and thus all need for public speakers), and only limit the audio to the cars/FM tuner?

    I could see how some people might be uncomfortable with people standing around outside their vehicles at night in front of their home (aka, loitering, from her perspective).

    Of course, there goes the fundraising. But perhaps someone from the recipient of the fundraising activities could maybe also speak with her. Maybe having someone else (other than you) talk with her—especially coming from a group that would miss the benefit of the fundraiser.
    This is a very good suggestion and it won't necessarily curtail all of your fundraising. You could create a voiceover to play between songs periodicaly that would announce you collecting for your charity, and then use a drop box.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    WWCLWD?!? You just found someone with a heart 10 sizes too small. What would Cindy Lou Who do? Show that grinch what xmas is all about.

    j/k


    Why do her students have their headsets tuned to your station? Makes no sense. Why are they even wearing headsets, what class is she teaching? Anyways....

    You can try to be nice. Let her know all of the accommodations you've made for her, and ask if she has any solutions of her own. ...Yeah, she'll probably say she wants it all down, but that's not logical. You can't complain about 1 thing, then expect EVERYTHING to go away.

    In general, I'd say avoid any other contact with her. If she doesn't want a legit solution then any interaction isn't going to go well and she may try to use it against you. Good job with the noise survey. I'd say that you need to continue to document any future incidents.
    2012 - 12 Channels and an Arduino

  9. #9
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    "And today is legally trying to shut us down over the volume of the music"

    Is the music coming from the cars or do you also have speakers outside blaring the music?

    if it's from the cars I would post a sign asking viewers to keep sound in their cars to a minimum so it doesn't bother other neighbors. I posted a sign with some rules of etiquette in my yard. I know it looks tacky but I try to minimize any trouble from the beginning.

    If it's from speakers I would say turn them down or remove them completely. I don't have speakers in my yard nor have I ever. I have a Tune To sign in my yard with the radio station they can tune their stereos to. On many occasions I have heard the car stereos from inside the house. Usually they stay for 5 or 10 minutes and drive off. Since my transmitter only has a range of about 100 feet, they're pretty much limited to parking in front of my house where most of the noise would go.

    So far (knock on wood) my neighbors have been really good to me and only one had a negative comment, but they didn't cause any problems.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNv4__V1LA8

    or type Christmas lights in st charles in the youtube search bar.
    Leglamp

  10. #10
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    Default Re: NEED ADVICE Xmas Light Legal Battle

    This is good to hear.
    While you may be within your 'rights', outside music, that is repetitive, can be annoying. So, anything you can do to help with that would be a nice thing to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by belvinj View Post
    We DO NOT have an HOA....
    I Do plan on moving the speaker this year. I have trimmed hours off show times, turned it down, moved the pavilion to the other side of the property and she is just miserable and grasping at straws.... It is on the website NOT to turnaround in her driveway.... I am limiting the show and other public enjoyment for her. Does anyone know of any case Law?

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