Question: We have owned a 2-acre horse property in Gilbert for more than 30 years. Ten years ago, a large subdivision was built on the northern boundary of our property. One neighbor planted an oleander tree that is starting to hang over the block wall fence. Oleander leaves are poisonous and only six to 11 leaves can kill a horse within 24 hours. Our neighbor refuses to remove the oleander tree or cut the oleander tree down to the height of the block wall fence. In order to keep my horses safe, I now keep them in the barn and out of the pasture. What rights do I have as someone who has used the pasture for my horses for more than 30 years?
Answer: The evolution of a community from primarily farm land to primarily residential properties can require existing property owners to change the use of their property. For example, if the normal sound levels of the neighboring subdivision now cause your horses to “spook,” you might have to keep the horses in a barn. On the other hand, one homeowner on the subdivision who refuses to reasonably use his property to prevent injury or death of horses in the adjoining property can be required by a court injunction to use his property reasonably. This court injunction could require the complete removal of the oleander tree or at least cutting the oleander tree below the line of the block wall fence.
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