Town of Tonawanda neighborhood spat boils over

Posted at 11:08 PM, Oct 12, 2017

If you drive down Thorncliff Road in the Town of Tonawanda, you see kept-up homes, manicured lawns and a lot of fences separating yards...but you don't expect to see signs reading "butch" "linebacker" and "fatt azz."

"My husband passed away in February and I'm still having a hard time dealing, and now I still have to deal with this crap."

70-year-old Marion Goelz lives on Thorncliff. For the past ten years, she's been in a heated dispute with her neighbor who she says has been constantly harassing her verbally.

Goelz says it all started with a fence that her neighbor Karl Gibas wanted to put up. She says he wanted her to split the price with her and she said no. She says agter that, he started to retaliate with signs and vulgarities.

"I got out of the car and he was telling me my t*** were bigger than my stomach, my stomach was bigger than my fat a**, he said I was a linebacker I should go work for the Bills," Goelz said.

The neighbors have called the cops on each other multiple times. Coincidentally, Gibas is a retired Buffalo Police Officer. In a stack of police reports obtained by 7 Eyewitness News, every time, police tell both neighbors to mind their own business, but nothing has stopped.

"The best solution is to work it out, and one would think adults could work out their differences," said 7 Eyewitness News legal analyst Florina Altshiller. "Unfortunately not all matters of differences of opinion or disliking your neighbor rise to a criminal act punishable by arrest."

Since there's nothing in the law to stop this kind of behavior, both houses now have surveillance cameras looking on to each other.

7 Eyewitness News confronted Gibas' wife who told us he did not put up the signs. We tried to contact Karl himself, but he did not want to speak.

Gibas' wife did send 7 Eyewitness News an e-mail justifying her husband's actions. She says Goelz rakes leaves so they intentionally blow on their yard, and piles snow on their side of the lawn. She has a shovel mounted high to block surveillance and in a war of words, Goelz put up a sign too.

"I want him to leave me alone," Goelz said. 

Neighbors say this dispute is affecting the entire neighborhood.

"I know he's probably pulling the 'I can do what I want on my property' he's a cop he knows the rules. It's terrible."

7 Eyewitness News did speak to the Town of Tonawanda Police who say they are aware of this dispute and say they will always respond when called and do their best to resolve the issues each time.

Our legal analyst says police can't make the neighbors take down the signs because you can display whatever you want as long as it's on your own property. Police can not limit free speech.