When lake cabins grow into houses, neighbors feud

While on vacation a few weeks ago, I visited the island of my summer youth, a once working-class vacationland where the haphazard placement of shacks and cabins was a testament to the future value of planning and zoning.

Land by the water wasn’t the big deal then that it is today, but the visit revealed the extent to which we’ll go for a look at the ocean or lake. The new money rebuilt or replaced old cabins to go higher, the better to see over the barrier dune or the house in front of you.

On Plum Island in Massachusetts, neighbors try to leapfrog each other for a better view. Google

The neighbors behind you whose view is blocked? That concern is oh so ’60s.

What responsibility to share the view?

That’s what’s playing out along a lake west of St. Cloud, Minn., where a family rebuilt a cabin into a house and the neighbors sued.

A year ago, a judge had warned Kathleen Mimbach and her grandson, Matt Mimbach, that putting more money into construction could be a bad investment if the neighbors won their suit, but up it went, pushing the definition of “cabin.”

They’ve lost. A judge says the house on Grand Lake in Rockville, Minn., has to come down, the St. Cloud Times reports.


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“The laws and regulations on the lake are there to protect all of us and the value of our properties,” a lake resident not a party to the suit tells KSTP. “And if you are going to build on the lake you should respect those rules.”

This will be tied up in more court action since the Mimbachs plan to appeal. In the meantime, the house is suddenly worth nothing, the neighbors don’t talk to one another. But that view!