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When Kalorama Triangle resident Jim Nash rolls over in the morning and looks out his window, his gaze falls on a severed car bumper adorned with stickers: “Jesus Loves You, Everyone Else Thinks You’re an Asshole,” proclaims one. Another is less artful and more direct: “PRICK.” The heartfelt thoughts come from Don Poling, Nash’s backyard neighbor and courtroom nemesis.
The bumper is flanked by tires and other detritus that Poling has piled up over the past year. Although the heap resembles a retaining wall built of junk, Poling calls it a “storage area,” and to protect his treasures from pilferage, he’s chained them in place. Poling has installed a tidy stockade fence between his house and the storage pile, leaving Nash with a proprietary view of the monstrosity.
“The problems began when I started a restoration of my house,” says Nash. Complaints from Poling about the length and legality of Nash’s restoration project somehow spiraled into a pissing match over their property line. At the time, a brick wall built by Poling on Nash’s property separated the two back yards. However, Nash discovered that the structure didn’t comply with city codes and sued to have it demolished. He prevailed.
Once the demolition was complete, Poling built a retaining wall and the stockade fence that stands guard behind. After the construction was finished, objects mysteriously began appearing on top of the new wall. Nash remembers, “First it was just the two tires, and my wife and I kind of laughed about it, but when the bumper with the obscene stickers appeared, I didn’t think it was funny.”
Poling claims he wasn’t trying to be humorous: “He’s not a nice neighbor,” he says of Nash.
Since ripping off the bumper stickers and rearranging Poling’s storage area would entail trespassing, Nash is pursuing a time-honored antidote: building a fence of his own. But erecting so much as a barbecue pit in Kalorama Triangle requires approval from the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), which held a hearing in February on Nash’s fence proposal.
“It was the worst neighbor spite case we’ve seen in a long time,” says an anonymous HPRB source. “We usually see hate cases like this only in Georgetown.” The board approved Nash’s proposal. Says Nash, “We’d just like to live in peace, put the dispute behind us, and get on with our lives.” CP