6-foot wall near homeowner's driveway divides Winter Park neighbors

Homeowner agrees to move wall after News 6 story

By Erik von Ancken - Anchor/Reporter

WINTER PARK, Fla. - Winter Park homeowner Beth Lewis said one Saturday morning last month, workers showed up on the vacant lot next to her home on Oaks Boulevard and started building a 6-foot-tall block wall inches from the edge of her driveway.

"I can't open the car door 100 percent and if I do, it will nick my door," Lewis said. "It's shocking that a neighbor would build a concrete wall as close to my property and inhibit my space. And my daily living."

Lewis said her new neighbor, Dr. Maria Demori, an Orlando cardiologist, is planning to build a home next door three times the size of her's.

Lewis said Demori's contractors started by cutting down Lewis' 25-year-old palm tree and 40-year-old camphor tree.

"I called the doctor's office a couple times, left a message, and I also wrote a note, took photos showing I wanted to keep the trees and see if we could work out a negotiation with the space," Lewis said. "I wrapped it around a box of Girl Scout cookies and dropped it off at the doctor's office... because I figured that would get their attention and it was Girl Scout season."

Lewis said she called a third time, left a message, and got a call back from the doctor's office. Someone told her that if she called again, they would call security.

Sara Brady, spokesperson for Demori, said the trees were on Demori's property, not on Lewis'. 

Brady said Demori felt harassed by Lewis and even anxious and might have communicated with Lewis if Lewis hadn't called the police several times on Demori's workers.

Lewis said Demori didn't have to build the wall so close.

"It would have been nice if I had been communicated with and maybe had a say in what was being put, what the barrier was," Lewis said. "Maybe you put bushes and put the wall in the back of the property. But why would you put a wall up next to a neighbor's carport, that's lived here since 1993?"

Brady said Demori was legally entitled to build the wall at the edge of her property. The City of Winter Park confirmed the wall was legally placed, according to surveys they received from Demori.

Most municipalities allow fences or walls along a property line.

Lewis said she even offered to buy 2 feet of property from Demori but received no response.

"It's not neighborly, it's not the way I was raised, I kinda expected somebody to come over and say we're going to build a fence, it's going to be close, but a wall? A 6-foot wall?" Lewis said.

Tuesday afternoon, Brady said Demori wanted to make peace and agreed to move the wall away from Lewis' driveway and make it look nicer.

Brady said Demori is excited about building her home and moving in and hopes to enjoy a friendly relationship with Lewis. Lewis said she hopes for the same and that their children can play together.

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