Neighbor vs. Neighbor


Are Working Landscapes Desirable?

Natural Resources

Economic Development

Government Presence

Neighbor vs. Neighbor

Public vs. Private

Urban Sprawl


Property lines determine where our land ends and our neighbor's land begins. In nature, plants and animals do not acknowledge these boundaries. Really, you and your neighbor own the same land—or ecosystems—just different locations. This means what you and your neighbor do to your land affects the ecosystems in your area.

Bad Neighbors
What types of land uses might affect your neighbor? What you do on your property might affect the scenery. Do you have the right to put up a giant billboard if it affects your neighbor’s view? What about smells? Some neighbors might complain about feedlot air pollution, including unpleasant and sometimes dangerous gases that come from large animal operations. Erosion is another problem. Would you like to have dirt constantly blowing on your property and in through your windows on a warm day? Some people feel that their neighbors do not have a say in how a landowner uses private land. Others expect consideration from their neighbors and use the golden rule when it comes to land use. And some people want the protection of a law to guarantee certain land use standards.

Ownership Rights
This brings up ownership rights. What do you own when you own land? The law can be interpreted in many different ways. Most of the time the law dictates ownership rights with the use of zoning. Some land doesn't have zoning laws or has limited zoning. In these areas, some ownership rights are simply decided by the owner. Depending on his or her decisions, this may cause some neighbors to wish for even more legislation to protect their rights. Other neighbors may feel that owners have a right to do whatever they want with their land.

So, the law can draw the line on some ownership rights issues, but who draws the line when the law doesn’t exist? The landowners? The neighbors? Both?

Neighbors United
If a working landscape is going to be successful, humans need to find a way to work with their environment and their neighbors. Compromises and communication may provide the answers to questions about neighbors' rights and responsibilities.

What do think?
What rights and responsibilities should people have over their private property? Who gets to make these decisions?


Explore More: Working Landscapes
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.




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PBS NewsHour Online Links

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Web Site Links
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
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