PHILADELPHIA – A Superior Court panel recently upheld injunctive relief granted to an East Nottingham Township couple who filed a lawsuit claiming a neighbor operated a car repair shop in their residential area.
In the June 25 opinion written by Judge Victor Stabile with judges Mary Murray and Kate Ford Elliott concurring, the appeals panel said the Chester County Court of Common Pleas properly exercised its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting the neighbors from running the repair business in a residential area.
Douglas and Shiu Matenkoski, who said they moved to East Nottingham Township in 1990, filed a lawsuit in 2016 in Chester County against Joseph and Victoria Greer alleging nuisance, intentional infliction of emotional distress and trespass. The lawsuit said the Greers, who moved next door in 2011, built a second two-car garage one foot from the property line and started a weeknight and weekend automobile repair and restoration business.
The Greers filed several counterclaims.
After the trial court granted a preliminary injunction in August prohibiting the Greers from running the business in a residential district, the Greers appealed to the Superior Court.
In their appeal, the Greers said the business complies with zoning ordinances, the injunction was too broad and repeated their claim taht the Matenoskis violated the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act, which the Greers said entitled them to their own injunctive relief.
The appeals panel quashed the Greers’ counterclaim for an injunction, saying it doesn’t fit within court rules. In reviewing the remainder of the Greers' claims, the panel determined the record supports the trial court’s findings the business was obviously commercial, noisy and malodorous and in violation of township ordinances.
“Freedom does not give (Greer) an excuse to trample on his neighbors’ rights and brush aside their objections with his middle finger,” Stabile wrote. “Such conduct is an insult to the flag that he uses to block (the Matenkoskis’) view of his driveway.”
The panel further said a restriction on using specific tools on cars the Greers did not own between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. is not too broad because it allows use of the tools in the other 10 hours and on their personal vehicles. It also said the allegation the Matenkoskis violated wiretapping laws is unmerited because the Greers didn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in communications that the Matenkoskis had recorded.