Alleged racial slurs, issues with property lines at center of Bucks County neighbor dispute

Things began fine when a woman and her son moved into their new home. "We were told by someone that we integrated the block."

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Saturday, July 24, 2021

FAIRLESS HILLS, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Issues with water runoff, property lines, real estate, and alleged racial slurs are at the center of a long and distressing dispute between neighbors in a Bucks County community.

At first, things started fine when Shakima Landsmark and her son moved into their new home four years ago.

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"We were told by someone that we integrated the block," she said.

But she said not all of her neighbors welcomed her right away. Daniel Taylor, the neighbor next door, seemed fine for a while.

"The problems began when I started setting boundaries," she said.

Coincidentally, boundaries are one of the problems that Taylor had with the one foot of space that connects their property.

"It turned into them saying 'that's part of our property," said Landsmark who would often find Taylor in her backyard. "They're mowing, in my backyard, their strip of grass."

Even after calling out a surveyor, the issues continued to the point where Landsmark wanted to move, but she was unable to do that, she said, because of Taylor.

"That neighbor was coming outside to realtors and potential buyers and telling them that I was in litigation with the township for water damage," she said.

She found out about it through her realtor, who directed her to call the police since the alleged activity was illegal. Police came to Taylor's home to issue a warning to him.

According to a video and an arrest affidavit obtained by Action News, Taylor yelled at the responding police officer. The affidavit also said that, on another occasion, the neighbor across the street, Linda-Marie Ann Black, yelled racial slurs at Landsmark and her son.

Both Black and Taylor were charged with harassment. Landsmark said that Black was ordered to undergo diversity training. Taylor declined to comment on the issue to 6ABC, but he denied using the n-word against Landsmark and her son.

"Color means nothing to me," he said while briefly speaking with Action News.

A judge sided against Taylor over the property line dispute, but Landsmark thinks the issue is far from done.

It's the type of situation that Sue Wasserkrug has dealt with in her work with CORA Good Shepherd Mediation, a non-profit that operates on a sliding scale to help people settle issues including neighbor disputes.

"Neighbor disputes are a fact of life. Conflict itself is a fact of life," she said.

She recommends first trying to talk with your neighbor if you're having an issue. But says, if you're "going in circles" with them, it's likely time to seek out help from a mediator. She said it's wise to document incidents involving neighbor disputes, and anyone who feels threatened by their neighbor should weigh their options of getting the police involved. But, oftentimes, it doesn't need to go that far.

"There are so many neighbor disputes that can be worked out just by talking through it maybe with some assistance," she said.

Since talking wasn't a successful tactic for Landsmark, she still plans to sell her home and move.

"This is no way to live," she said.