Usually encroachment requests are fairly simple: there's little controversy to stand in the way of approval by Columbia County officials.
This time, an encroachment request became one of the more convoluted issues to come before commissioners in recent months.
Simply put, the issue is this: The deck on Christian Wahl's Avrett Way home is 5 feet inside a drainage easement, and just 5 feet from Kim Sams' horse pasture fence. And that's too close, she said.
To leave the deck where it is, Wahl needed commission approval of his encroachment request.
"I'm sorry that I went in your easement, but I really don't see why my deck can't be there," said Wahl, a local builder.
Approving the request, Sams said, would leave her neighbors vulnerable to similar development dilemmas.
"I think it is opening a can of worms that each of my neighbors will face," she said.
In the end commissioners approved the request 4-1. In the middle, the discussion bounced from the intricacies of encroachment rules, to the definition of permanent structures, to Sams' fence - which Wahl said is actually on his property.
Commissioner Jim Whitehead cast the lone vote against the request, saying he thought it set a precedent.
"I'm not going to offer something to one person I can't offer to everyone," he said.
Commissioners said they'd rather have not voted on the issue at all.
"It's a shame neighbors can't get along," commissioner Tommy Mercer said.
"I'd like to think people can work this out better than we can," Whitehead added.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.