Pam Freson looks toward a fence towering along the property line with neighbors she and her husband are at odds with in rural Warren County. Next door, Rachel and Scott Walker operate a concrete business on their property. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
Photo: Lawrence Budd
Photo: Lawrence Budd

Warren County neighbor dispute about business: ‘We were friends’

Pam and Tim Freson and Rachel and John Walkers are neighbors on Roachester-Cozzaddale Road, in a rural area near the Warren-Clermont county line.

“The sad thing about this situation, we were friends,” Rachel Walker said during a phone interview earlier this year.

On Friday, Pam Freson looked up at a towering fence erected by the Walkers along the shared property line.

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“If I go to sell my property, they’re going to think I live next to a junk yard,” Freson said.

The fence was erected in part in response to complaints from the Fresons to the county commissioners about problems related to the Walkers’ concrete business. The fence also blocks a surveillance camera pointed off the Fresons’ home toward the Walker property.

The Fresons compiled a 362-page book detailing her allegations about how the business next door has expanded to the detriment of the neighborhood and is filling a creekbed with concrete debris.

Like other neighbors who have appealed to the county in recent years, the Fresons claim the Walkers have violated the conditions under which they were granted permission to operate their business in a residential area.

“They have gone way beyond what they were granted,” Pam Freson said.

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So far, the county has prevailed in challenges to the permits and regulations, including one taken all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Unlike at least one neighbor, the Fresons did not contest the Walkers’ conditional permit granted in 2012.

The Walkers were granted permission to operate their business from their home, as long as they met conditions set in the permit.

Noting they live in a rural area, Rachel Walker questioned the Fresons’ complaints.

“For someone to tell me I can’t do something on my own property, that’s just ridiculous,” she said.

In addition, Walker said the business was seasonal and had not expanded.

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The Fresons sought help from the commissioners at a series of meetings earlier this year.

In April, Tim Freson said his wife’s terminal cancer condition exacerbated the problem.

“She ain’t got a lot of time left. I ain’t got time for this business,” Freson said.

The commissioners directed Chief Zoning Inspector Mike Yetter to cite the Walkers.

“I wouldn’t like it in my neighborhood,” said Commissioner Tom Grossmann.

Grossmann, an assistant Hamilton County prosecutor, suggested the Fresons file a lawsuit over the “spite fence.”

At the commissioners’ s direction, Yetter issued violation letters ordering the Walkers to stop storing construction materials outside and operating heavy, noisy trucks on the property, among other things.

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Yetter said the Walkers have corrected some violations and were in the process of correcting others. Assuming they do, and no other violations are found, the county has no authority to take further steps, according to Yetter.

“As far as I’m concerned, they’ve met their conditions to operate,” Yetter said.

Yetter said the county doesn’t regulate fences, such as the one separating the Walker and Fresons. The creekbed claims should be taken to the state or federal authorities, he added.

On June 11, the Fresons appealed to the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals in a three-hour hearing.

The county board is expected to rule on July 10.

The Fresons said they were unsure if they would continue the appeal by taking the issue to the Warren County Common Pleas Court, due to distrust of the local government.

“They are in it together. That’s my feeling,” Pam Freson said.

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