How to handle neighbour trouble?
My wife and I moved into a new house earlier this year in the countryside. We introduced ourselves to all our neighbours we moved in, with the intention of getting to know them as time went on. We're aware that we'll need to build good relationships with our neighbours..
So it's with great disappointment that a conflict has arisen with this neighbour. He has always lived in the area, and now here we are, the newcomers from out of town. He is quite handy, a hard worker, and is always out working in his yard. After speaking with him, I know he's ex-military, and he hinted that he has PTSD and that is why, he said, he is home all the time. He seems reliant on his machines (lawn-mowers, power tools, a 4 wheeler, hot tub, new swimming pool, etc) which hasn't been an issue for us, but he doe like to have his music turned on most of the time, including overnight to scare away raccoons.
Because we are in earshot of his music with our windows open at night (we don't have an air conditioner), I went over to speak with him a few weeks back, and he has since been more mindful of his music, and built a wooden enclosure about his swimming pool for privacy, and likely also as a sound barrier, which doesn't really help too much.
We said nothing more about his music, because if he did build his enclosure as a sound barrier, then he went to considerable time and expense to deal with the issue. So we decided we would build our hedge of trees and plants, and let one side of our property go wild to act as our own sound barrier.
He has another habit, which is to regularly burn his plastic garbage. Because he has other neighbours closer to him than us on the other sides, he waits until the wind is blowing roughly in our direction, and then starts his fire. When this happens we go around the house and close all the windows on our side before the house fills with his smoke.
Today when we were out working in the yard, which is between our house and his, he started burning plastic garbage again. I went over and suggested to him (calmly and politely) that we are breathing in the smoke from his plastic garbage. He sighed, and then started putting on more and more plastic to make even more smoke and ignored me. I walked away, continued working for a while under more of this smoke, and tried again after I had calmed down to talk to him again, but he said he didn't want to talk to me.
Now he has his music on full blast and there has been, for the past few hours since, lots of smoke billowing past our house.
I've been trying to put myself into his shoes. He has a small property, he is surrounded on all sides by other people, he has told me before in passing that he's 'landlocked', so now we've moved into the house on his one remaining open front. So he has certain behaviors that he is used to do doing, and here us newcomers are, complaining not long after moving in.
I am unsure how to deal with this. Maybe we complained too much? We didn't complain about anything other than his music, and now the smoke, and we tried a couple of times to talk to them about other things, just to somehow engage with them about other things.
I will look into bylaws, etc, but I'm aware that a neighbour conflict is the last we need, for numerous reasons so I'm reluctant to go down that route. And there is part of me that is also aware that people burning plastic is going to become more common as the long descent takes hold, and maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut.
Any advice would be most welcome!