Legally, can my neighbor do this?

Old 10-29-19, 07:41 AM
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Legally, can my neighbor do this?

Good morning,

I live in northern NJ and after returning home from a trip I saw that my next door neighbor installed a small concrete walkway next to his house and extended the gutter spouts over this walkway in the direction of my driveway. I know they have water issues in their basement but I don't want their water issues to become my water issues. Also, winter is around the corner and I am worries this will lead to tons of ice on my driveway once the temps dip. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

PS I included a picture from front of house but there is a same spout in back of the house as well.
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Old 10-29-19, 09:02 AM
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While I don't know much about this issue, I can't see how that would be allowed, in fact I'm sure it isn't. I would also think they need a permit to add a walkway and this idea would have been nixed from the start by an inspector.
I'd probably talk to them first if possible. If you can't or they give you a hard time, I'd call your township city hall to find out where to start a complaint, to get the ball rolling.
Old 10-29-19, 09:10 AM
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First discuss your concerns with your neighbor. It looks like the potential problem may be solved by changing the discharge location or direction. Talk to your town's building officials. Rules may vary from town to town.

I had a similar problem and the town's response was that you cannot solve a problem on your property by causing a problem on your neighbor's.
Old 10-29-19, 09:16 AM
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Generally, you cannot alter the flow of water off your or their property. If the ground previously sloped towards your house then it's OK for them to continue having the same water going in the same direction. If their property used to slope away from yours and they brought in dirt and built their yard up so water now flowed onto your property, opposite of how it used to, then you have a case.
Old 10-29-19, 09:51 AM
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The disclaimer is that every city, township, county is different so you need to verify.

I have never known a simple walkway or sidewalk to require a permit in my semi rural township.

If the downspout was in the same location and was just extended and still dumping on his property then it really has not being changed.

This is where the good neighbor communications need to start!
Old 10-29-19, 12:49 PM
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Yes, they probably can.

You'd have to check whether your municipality has a stormwater / groundwater recharge ordinance with language about keeping the first inch of rainfall on the property.
You might be able to mitigate the problem with a pair of rain barrels, sometimes they are available for free from the local watershed organization / Riverkeeper organization. Some municipalities will also make rain barrels available for cheap or free.

Big picture answer,
"uphill neighbors" have historically had rights for rainfall to flow off their property and onto the property of "downhill neighbors", who have a right over THEIR downhill neighbors and so on; the term is "common enemy rule". The ultimate example of this approach is the "Los Angeles River", which has been entirely confined in a giant concrete sluice, which is often used in Sci-Fi movies e.g. Terminator 2.

However, over the last 30 years, many municipalities have scrapped the "common enemy" rule and replaced it with stormwater retention rules, which generally seek to achieve "rainwater recharge" into the ground.

A BIG part of this interest is the Federal Clean Water Act, which deals with "point source" water pollution (e.g. a pipe) and "non point source" water pollution e.g. sheet flow.

Since many municipalities have stormwater drains on their roads, and stormwater systems, they can be held responsible for flooding. Same goes for the municipal sewer system.

So, it's cheaper and easier for the municipality to get homeowners to keep rainwater on their property, rather than have everyone dump it into the street, and then into the municipal stormwater system.
Old 10-29-19, 02:14 PM
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I would think an elbow installed at the end of the downspout would go a long ways toward alleviating your concerns.
Old 10-29-19, 03:50 PM
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The ground level on his side hasn't changed (grass is still where it always was) so I don't know what the problem is unless his downspout is longer than before. Your pavement goes right up to the fence so... I sure hope your water doesn't go onto his property or your complaint might open a can of worms regarding the slope of the paving on your side.

If you were to ask him to do something it would be pretty easy to elbow that downspout the other direction... Instead of heading toward your driveway it could easily be parallel to your driveway.
Old 10-29-19, 03:57 PM
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Maybe he should be charged with Murphys new rain tax.. More cement means more taxes..

Why dont you wait to see what happens with the run off... Looks like your drive is higher. I dont see an issue.

Plus looks like a hole in cement for where that leader will eventually go.. Possibly has a pop up in the yard.. Dont jump the gun..

North jersey neighbors??? It can get ugly.. Fogetaboutit!!!!!
Old 10-29-19, 05:27 PM
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Good eye Mike. I didn't see the blue tape over the corrugated pipe.
Old 10-30-19, 06:56 AM
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I'd agree with those who say you don't have a case or a problem. I also don't see what the concrete pad is doing. What's the point?
Old 10-30-19, 07:10 AM
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Yeah I don't know why people think concrete keeps things dry. Apparently they have never torn up concrete and found the mud and muck below it.
Old 10-30-19, 07:30 AM
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Yes, they extended the downspout by at least 2 feet. They had a regular sized one before.
Old 10-30-19, 08:08 AM
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Don't do anything for now. Observe to see whether water accumulates on your driveway that did not accumulate in years past.

It does not make sense to run a pipe or downspout across a walkway except as a temporary removable item, but I would not tell this to your neighbor at this time.

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