Upstate city spends thousands to defuse neighbor dispute - KCTV5

City of Spartanburg spends $5K to defuse racially charged neighbor dispute

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A fence now separates feuding neighbors on East Fremont Avenue. (May 19, 2014/FOX Carolina) A fence now separates feuding neighbors on East Fremont Avenue. (May 19, 2014/FOX Carolina)

Spartanburg city officials say it cost $5,000 to pour a driveway and build a fence between two feuding neighbors on East Fremont Avenue.

Neighbor Helen Owens, who is white, said the dispute with her neighbor Christina Whiteside , who is African-American, started over a shared driveway. Owens said Whiteside would often block the driveway and refuse to move her and her visitors' cars.

"She thinks she is a bully, she thinks she is above the law," Owens said.

Whiteside said Owens is the instigator of the fight and says the woman and her husband have called her racial slurs and threatened her children. Whiteside said the Owens family also calls the police on her frequently.

"All I want is peace," Whiteside said. "I want to be able to stand in my yard and play with my kids with no problems."

On Friday, the NAACP held a press conference claiming Whiteside was being harassed because of her race and called for action from city leaders.

But Owens said the racism is aimed against her.

"We've been told we are in the wrong part of town, we didn't need to be here, we weren't welcomed," Owens said.

City spokesman Will Rothchild said the city built a fence between Owen's and Whiteside's home and poured a new driveway for Whiteside so that the two would no longer share one. Rothchild said Whiteside's property is owned by the Upstate Housing Partnership, a nonprofit organization that partners with the city to provide affordable housing.

Rothchild said the move was unprecedented but necessary to de-escalate tensions.

On Monday, both neighbors said despite the city's measures, tensions were still high between them and neither saw a peaceful resolution to the problem in the near future.

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