For nearly two years now, Joanne and Jeff Bouquio say they have been at odds with their neighbors. The couple moved into their Somerville, New Jersey home in 2007 and almost immediately began to clash with their neighbors Dianne Josifovich and her mother Freda.
“Every time I go home,” said Jeff Bouquio, “I always feel like what's going to happen next, what's going to happen next. I shouldn’t have to feel that way at home. I should feel relaxed.”
The Bouquios say they have called the police nearly a dozen times this year to report alleged harassment. One time, the Bouquio’s home security cameras caught one of their neighbors, shining a red laser at their home. And then there’s the name calling.
“I was outside with my dogs and my daughter and the Josifoviches were outside,” said Joanne Bouquio, “And they said something like why can't that monkey get those darn dogs to stop from barking?”
Joanne believes they were talking about her. The feud has gotten so out of hand that both Somerville’s mayor and police chief met with each of the families to try and see if they can come to an agreement. But even that didn’t work.
“I don't know what else to do besides move,” said Jeff Bouquio. “And it seems like it's going to come down to that.”
We tried to contact the Josifoviches on several occasions to hear their side of the story, but they declined to speak. In a phone conversation with their attorney, Steve Lieberman, he told News 4 New York that they feel harassed by the Bouquio's security cameras which are pointed in their direction.
“That’s why they pointed the laser in the first place,” said Lieberman. “They were unhappy they were being recorded.”
Lieberman said the two parties are headed for court and issued a statement saying, “My clients would like to be left alone and live in peace.”
“You put people in border situations and that brings out the worst in people,” said Dr. Rob Reiner, executive director of Behavioral Associates in Manhattan.
Dr. Reiner has acted as a mediator in divorces, family disputes, and yes, even neighbor fights, which can be the most difficult to work out.
He suggests neighbors first go to mediation and if that doesn’t work seek out political figures to help resolve the conflict -- both options that the Bouquios have tried. If that fails then, Dr. Reiner says to ignore.
“If somebody is baiting you don't rise to the bait that's the predictable response. That’s what they want you to do.”