Beach neighbors in heated dispute over sign

Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 01, 2013

Virginia Beach, Va. - Everything seems picture perfect on Victor Road in the Hilltop Manor neighborhood of Virginia Beach, until you see the sign posted in Jeanine Wenger’s front yard that reads, “Parking reserved for the neighborhood A--hole only.”

“That's a matter of first amendment rights,” said Jeanine Wenger’s husband Rich.

“That's not freedom of speech. That's just hate speech,” said Joanne, who asked NewsChannel 3 not to use her last name. She contacted NewsChannel 3 about the sign. She believes Wenger put it up after a dispute over where Joanne and her husband park the couple’s truck.

“It makes me sick to my stomach,” Joanne said.

“It's not just about the truck, it's about everything. They’ve harassed all the neighbors,” said Jeanine Wenger, who said the sign is her way of sticking up for herself and other neighbors who say they've been dragged into court for neighborhood disputes with Joanne and her husband Thomas for years. “All the neighbors agree. They come by, they give me the thumbs up, and say go for it!”

Joanne said she has surveillance video from last year that shows someone from the Wenger's home walk across the street and tie balloons on Joanne and her husband’s truck. Joanne and her husband started to park the truck on the other side of the street in front of the Wenger's home.

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“To be able to see it, my husband moved the truck to park legally on the other side of the street so I could see that vehicle,” said Joanne. “No one has a right to touch my stuff."

The Wengers said the surveillance doesn't show anyone from their home tying balloons on the truck. They say they tied the balloons near the truck. They also said they are well aware that Joanne and Thomas have surveillance on their home and wouldn't touch their property.”

So, the Wenger's put up their first "Reserved for a--holes only" sign. Joanne asked Virginia Beach zoning to remove it, but officials said the sign's not considered obscene according to city code.

It reads “The word "obscene" where it appears in this article shall mean that which, considered as a whole, has as its dominant theme or purpose an appeal to the prurient interest in sex, that is, a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, excretory functions or products thereof or sadomasochistic abuse, and which goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in description or representation of such matters and which, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

Authorities only advised the Wengers to move it further back so it wouldn't be on city property. The Wengers replaced their original sign with a bigger sign.

“Some people that don't know any better would think it's really something crude,” said Wenger’s husband. “On the other hand, who do you know that does not have an anal orifice? Everybody that has one, it’s okay for them to park here.”

“I want them to feel how they would feel if they came home one day and saw that across from them at their house,” Joanne said.

After NewsChannel 3 began investigating, the Wengers added more to the sign. It now also reads “Definitely not a-hole in one. These golf balls are another form of harassment debris from our generous neighbors. Recommendation: Grow up or move away. Your history will always follow you".

“If I wanted to sell my house, how could I sell my house? That’s not even an option on the table? Who would come and look at a house and want to live across from that?" Joanne said.

A 237-page file from the Virginia Beach police department documents years of troubles between Joanne and her husband versus other neighbors.

The file discusses a meeting between police and neighbors who said Joanne and her husband "continually harass the neighbors, cursing them and disturbing their peace."

The file also shows the city's attempts to have mediation with Joanne and her husband and the neighbors, but the couple did not attend those meetings.

Court documents obtained by NewsChannel 3 show Randy Wenger (Jeanine’s son) and another neighbor took out disturbing the peace warrants against Joanne and her husband in 2008. The couple took out the same warrants against them. A judge dismissed everybody's charges.

One law enforcement officer wrote in an e-mail that he "saw a pattern of attempted misuse by [Joanne and her husband] of our police officers."

One letter in the file from Joanne’s husband Thomas to police alleges harassment by a neighbor for "placing and repositioning a troll/statue grotesque in nature” “on their property line” and yelled "I got my eyes on you."

Joanne says their calls to police alleging things like harassment and trespassing by her neighbors should be taken seriously.

“I shouldn't have to be bullied at my age,” said Joanne. “No one has that right to take away my peace.”

“I'm not harassing anyone. I’m protecting my property,” Joanne said.

“They’re bullies,” Jeanine Wenger said.

Wenger said she has no plans to remove her sign. Joanne and her husband have no plans to move.