Who owns the view?

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A new yacht docked along the St. Croix River in Stillwater is causing a brouhaha with a neighboring restaurant, whose owners say it not only doesn’t fit the character of the St. Croix, it blocks the view of the river.

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“There can be no disagreement that a 180-degree river view of the St. Croix River is an extremely valuable property right. Diminishment of the view will decrease its property values and the experience it can offer customers,” Mike McGuire, owner of the Dock Cafe said in a letter to the Stillwater City Council.

He told the St. Paul Pioneer Press the owner of the St Croix Boat and Packet Co., also is supposed to be mooring only two boats, although officials are giving him a break because he’s trying to sell some of his other boats.

But the flap brings up an old question: Where does your right to a view end and my right to block it begin?

This fence at the Dock Cafe, for example, blocks my view of the river from the walkway. Do I have a right to the view?

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These sorts of debates aren’t limited to Stillwater, of course. In my city of Woodbury, people can’t park an RV in their driveway because it ruins the aesthetics of other people looking out their windows down the street of homes that all look pretty much alike.

Some people get carried away with the issue. On Cape Cod, a few years ago, a man chopped down the trees on a neighbor’s property because they’d grown tall enough to block his view of the ocean.

What’s your… ahem… view?

  • Heather

    Bob, none of us can comment here without running the risk of ticking off our neighbors, or letting our neighbors know how ticked off we are!