When Kathy Marshack moved into her home along the Columbia River in 1984 it was surrounded by farmland, but since then east Vancouver has grown and where once there was just rural land there are now houses and neighbors.

Marshack and her office manager Michelle

Marshack and her office manager Michelle

That development was never a problem for Marshack who was content in her mid-century rancher until 2004 when some new neighbors moved in.

Soon after the neighbors arrived, Marshack says they began to harass her. It didn’t take long for city agencies to become involved as police began taking repeated reports from both parties that included allegations of assault and trespassing.

The contention centered on the property rights associated with easements crossing nearby railroad tracks and leading to the river. Marshack claims her neighbors were upset by her use of the easement even though she possessed the proper entitlement deed. That disagreement ended up in court after the neighbors brought suit against Marshack. A judge later determined Marshack did have the legal rights to use the easement.

During this process, Marshack reached out to city officials for help in remedying the tense neighborhood situation but says she found little success.

It wasn’t until recently that Marshack says she learned the harassment and lack of help from the city was rooted in a desire to enact a Train Horn Quiet Zone on the nearby Burlington Northern railroad that must be crossed to access the riverfront properties. The passage is a private track crossing that does not require a signal system if a train horn quiet zone were to be enacted, but Marshack runs a psychology business out of her home which makes the crossing accessible to the public and thus in need of a signal system should a horn quiet zone be enacted.

Marshack says a signal system for the crossing would cost about a half-million dollars. But the system would not be needed if Marshack did not run her business out of her home and that’s why she says her neighbors turned to harassment. If Marshack abandoned the area, her neighbors would get their train horn restrictions without having to pay for improvements to the railroad track crossing. She said it was cheaper and easier to sell her house, and she did put it up for sale, thinking her neighbors would buy her out. That didn’t happen. Instead, Marshack claims the neighbors approached Realtors and their customers and spoke derogatorily about her thus disrupting the sales process.

Marshack says she was open to talking with the neighbors about all options, but communication problems resulted in multiple lawsuits.

Dr. Marshack and her Office Manager Michelle in an interview on Clark County Today

To learn more about Marshack’s journey read Access Denied: Psychologist fights neighbors, city for over disputed roadway.