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Is it art or the one-finger salute?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

RIVERTON - Maybe it's a hand flipping the bird - or it could be a cactus.

For three families, it's just another dispute in a yearlong battle over a house being built along Reeves Lane in this southwest Salt Lake Valley community.

Owner Darren Wood described the vent covering placed Monday as decorative "abstract art" and a "cactus." But his neighbors uphill say it's a hand flipping them off.

"This kind of shows the attitude that we've been dealing with all along," said Stan Torgersen, who added that the gesture is visible from every window on the back of his house.

Words among the neighbors were first exchanged around September when the Wood family began work on their new home. Their lot was actually a small hill with an underground sewer pipe. To make room for the house and avoid the pipe, the hill was carved out - to within inches of the Torgersens' fence.

Worried that the excavation would disrupt his foundation, Stan Torgersen said he and his neighbors, the Eastons, asked the city to intervene. Riverton City then required the Woods to test the soil - something Darren Wood said had been done by the previous owner. And this new test would set back his building schedule four months and cost him an extra $3,000.

The next confrontation came about a month and a half ago when the house frames were erected.

While the Torgersens and Eastons normally see the rooftops of the other houses along Reeves Lane below them, this house extends more than 5 feet above the line of the hill.

"We used to have a view of the mountains," Janet Torgersen lamented. "He didn't have to take everyone's view."

The Torgersens and Eastons said they contacted the city because they thought the home's height was against code.

Wood conceded that it might be - by a little more than a foot. But once the house is completed and the soil and landscaping laid out, he believes it will be within regulations. Plus, he added, Riverton City was given the plan to the house and approved it.

"I think the bottom line is harassment," Wood said of his neighbors' grievances to the city. "They will find another issue to complain about."

The Torgersens and Eastons have again turned to Riverton's government to resolve the vent covering they interpret as an obscene hand gesture.

Janet Torgersen said she spoke with - and showed photos to - Riverton City Manager Lance Blackwood and others at City Hall.

"They said they're looking into what they can do because the city of Riverton does not want that," she said.

Wood said he might be willing to change the vent covering. "If it's offensive to them - as they have been to me - I'm not above an apology [from them]."

mvillasenor@sltrib.com

Vent covering latest chapter in feud between neighbors
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