THERE ARE TWO SIDES to every story. In this case—two households and two versions. On a summer evening last June in North Portland, Laurel Wilson and her partner Brittany Clarke threw a backyard party. Next door, William and Denise Zinter twice called the police to report a noise disturbance, kicking off a battle between neighbors that's brought both sides to court, and has Wilson and Clarke planning to move.
Shortly after the party, Wilson and Clarke claim they were kept awake at night for almost a week as shop lights and sirens blasted through their bedroom windows. On the Fourth of July, they were startled as lit fireworks were thrown into their yard.
The situation escalated on July 9. Clarke and William Zinter left their Arbor Lodge homes at the same time, but Clarke says she became concerned when she realized he was taking the same route as her. Clarke claims she attempted to lose Zinter by cutting across "two lanes of traffic to get on the highway," as she changed course to head to Wilson's work in busy Montgomery Park, located in the NW Industrial District. Wilson waited for Clarke outside the office complex. Wilson attempted to confront Zinter, but he "peeled out close enough for me to touch his car," Wilson says.
Confused, angered, and frightened, the women called the police to report the incident and appeared in court the following day with a lawyer to ask for a temporary stalking order against William Zinter. A temporary order was granted and a court date was set for one month later.
The court date arrived and both parties presented their sides. Zinter claimed he was headed to Montgomery Park to visit the administrative offices for his bank, Onpoint Credit Union. Though the judge pointed out that this was a "whale of a coincidence," according to Wilson, a permanent stalking order wasn't granted.
On October 5, the Zinters caught Wilson and Clarke off guard by filing a civil suit in the small claims department asking for $5,117. Court documents explained it was payment for a fence, a security system, and loss of time and job position at William Zinter's work.
The Zinters built the fence to keep the neighbors out of their yard, claiming Wilson had trespassed by entering their yard to retrieve her cat after the temporary stalking order was granted. Police later contacted Wilson to tell her she had trespassed, and the Zinter household was concerned that she had been planting bombs in their bushes.
The two sides also tried mediation led by North Precinct Police Officer Phillip Harper. Harper says he ultimately ended the meeting, saying it was "obvious [Denise Zinter] didn't want a peace session."
Now, with the small claims suit dropped and the stalking order no longer valid, Wilson and Clarke say they're looking forward to selling their house this year and moving elsewhere.