Problems with neighbors - should we respond to letter?
We bought an empty lot last summer and are now building on it. It's a 100' lot on a sandy beach along Lake Michigan. Our neighbors to our south were VERY upset that nearly all the trees on our lot were cleared (by necessity) when our basement was dug, including many blue spruces they planted twenty years ago. Yes, these were trees they planted not on their lot but on our lot, and they were livid that we had the audacity to remove them. We were baffled but whatever. We moved on.
There is no HOA, nor are there ordinances about tree removal.
We received a nasty letter today from the neighbor, claiming that by removing those trees, we've caused enormous problems for them this winter due to heavy, unprecedented snow drifting they haven't experienced since moving there 42 years ago. They also say our house construction has devalued their home. The woman (whose husband is quite ill with cancer which we feel terrible about) demands that my husband comes up with a solution to their problems since he is ... an engineer. (?????)
The question is: do we even bother responding? Say something I hadn't considered? Just ignore? Bake them a cake?
We have always becomes great friends with our neighbors, and this makes me so sad.
Hi xxx. We received your letter today. It is certainly unfortunate that our entire region is receiving more snow and drifting than we've had for nearly 40 years. I'm sure you realize the unusually high volume of snow and drifting is definitely not unique to xxx Drive nor to your house. We do appreciate that the snow removal is frustrating for you to tackle, especially with xxx being so sick.
xxx, we understand you are angry with us. We and our contractors have endured yelling, swearing, rude hand gestures, being called "the xxxx" and so on since our house construction began. However, we've done nothing wrong. We have simply built a house within our legal parameters. We disagree 100% that we are to blame for the various negative things you suggest.
As an engineer, xxx has no special knowledge of how to curb snow accumulation. If you feel that trees would protect your home better, we can only recommend that you plant as many trees as you'd like on your lot once the weather warms up. It's rather unfortunate that when xxx planted all those blue spruces 20 years ago, he didn't plant them on your lot but instead on the empty lot next to you that we eventually bought. If you like blue spruces, by all means, you should plant blue spruces on your own property. We personally are not fans of pine trees in that environment, so we won't be planting anything in the coniferous family.
We will continue to root for xxx to make a complete recovery. And we will continue to hope that somehow we can reconcile and be on friendly terms with our new neighbors, just as we have always been with all our neighbors.
All our best,
xxx and xxx