Deborah Vollmer appears to be a nightmare neighbor in this story from the Washington Post (via Maggie's Farm). She is absolutely hell-bent on preventing her neighbor from doing anything to their house that she would not do to it. If her neighbor's aesthetics don't match hers, she takes them to court.
“Some people may question my motives,” Vollmer said. “But what’s happening in this town, these developers, tearing down old homes. I’m standing up for my rights. . . . And then this whole thing just kind of evolved” from that...
What could possibly be driving this woman? Friend and Chevy Chase resident John Fitzgerald said that her stubborn streak has roots deep in her past. Vollmer forged her career defending the rights of those without means. And that, he said, inculcated in her a desire to protect principles until the bitter end.
What right or principle is she fighting for? The right to micro-manage her neighbor's property. Read the article, this woman seems to be a total nightmare, all because she wants everyone else's house to look exactly like hers.
She should move to California. She would fit right in. She would be a perfect candidate to sit on the California Coastal Commission, for example.
We have a sort-of similar fight brewing here in Phoenix where a few local residents were trying to prevent another resident from tearing down and rebuilding his tired old house, which happened to have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's studios. I appreciate Mr. Wright's work, but also know he designed some unlivable crap. He was an artist, experimenting, and sometimes the experiments were not great. He was also a businessman, always short of money, and sometimes his projects did not get his full artistic attention. In my view, this was such a house.
I have the same answer for Ms. Vollmer that I do for those Wright house enthusiasts -- if you want to control a piece of property, buy it. If you don't have the money, encourage other people to chip in. But if you can't get enough people who similarly value your vision for the property to fund its acquisition, don't take the shortcut of using your influence with the government to impose the cost on taxpayers, or worse, on the individual property holder.