Home Guru: What if We Don’t Like What Neighbors Put on Their Properties?

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

When I had the great pleasure of taking on this gig as The Home Guru, I suggested to the publisher that I make my columns personal in approach. After all, a column devoted to real estate and home maintenance could be quite dry and, honestly, unless we’re all HGTV addicts, exploring such subjects as keeping a shine on kitchen counters and unplugging clogged toilets can be deadly boring.

Regular readers know that my shtick happens to be more the diary of a realtor and homeowner who writes as a member of my town and neighborhood and about a fraternity of suppliers who know how to do the job of home maintenance much better than I do.

Last week, I experienced a personal neighborhood issue that involves neighbors’ objections to what other neighbors choose to place on their properties.

Sometimes it’s commercial equipment used for construction or a recreational vehicle. It might be a large boat or, as was the case on my street for some years, an 18-foot-high statue of an Indian chief (seriously) advertising the home practice of a taxidermist. It can be smaller matters, such as political signs or “For Sale” real estate signs that block the line of vision for drivers.

My personal distaste of what I see on other peoples’ properties are those huge tarps in that electric color of blue that cover wood piles and summer furniture during the winter. Why can’t they be manufactured in a more muted tone I wonder?

In my case, a few members of my community raised some concerns about a sign I placed on my property under special circumstances. Last week some editions of The Examiner ran an article about Westchester County recognizing Primavera Public Relations for having helped stimulate the economy by doubling the size of its operations with the help of the Hire Westchester program.

I was greatly honored, and a week prior to the visit of Westchester’s Director of Economic Development to my property, I wanted to gussy it up a bit. I decided it was time to replace my business sign that had “disappeared” from my corner some years ago. I called my buddy, Tim Beachak of Signs Ink, the best sign maker in the region, to quickly produce a replacement for me. Luckily the idea and its design had been on the drafting board for a while.

At the same time, I decided to finally incorporate into that sign a historical marker for my beloved Ebenezer White House, for which I’m scheduled to apply for landmark status with the Yorktown Historic Preservation Committee.

I ran down to the Building Department with my application for approval, explaining my predicament of wanting to have my property “look good” for the cameras and asked for special consideration under the circumstances since I had already shown the design to both the Advisory Board on Architecture and Community Appearance and the Landmarks Committee. I did everything right, I thought.

But no sooner was the sign up and ready for its close-up, complaints were registered with the town. I received an e-mail from a neighbor down the street, a nice woman actually, from whom I hadn’t heard in years, who asked me a barrage of questions about my right to have it there. I responded respectfully that I have had permission from the town to have a commercial sign there since 1972 and, to date, there is no code regulating historical markers in my town.

The hurtful part of her e-mail, however, was to critique my sign’s aesthetics with such words as “garish” and “plastic.” I responded simply by saying that taste cannot be argued, but could not resist, in turn, a playful assessment of her own property’s appearance from the street as a “charming touch of Appalachia.” I do hope that we can continue to be friendly neighbors, however.

My opinion about neighbors who choose to have frightening totem poles at their mailboxes or three gigantic SUVS in their driveways (and I say this as a member of a town committee that has the words “community appearance” in its title): they own “private” property, and we should allow them the sanctity of privacy. Besides, God gave us the ability to look at or avert our eyes from sites as we drive by.

If anyone out there should need signage for their business or a historic marker, or to mark the address of their home, contact Signs Ink at 914-739-7446 and ask for Tim.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (, specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is: and his blog is: To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.


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