VALE, N.C. -- The Bekemeier family in Lincoln County family is out in the cold, so to speak, as they are quite literally locked in a power struggle with their neighbor.
Danielle and Stephen Bekemeier emailed the I-Team for help, but oddly enough, help can only come from their neighbor in what has become one of the stranger stories we’ve investigated.
“It’s mine, I worked hard for it,” Stephen says as he gets emotional and walks out.
It’s tough to talk about since they’re so close, yet so far away from moving in to their home. If it were up to them, they’d be living there, enjoying their first home, but oddly, it’s not up to them.
Danielle says, “We are unable to get power because the transformer is on the neighbor’s property and she will not let us have power.”
Danielle is 100-percent right about that fact; she and her husband have two acres of their family’s 16, but the transformer to power anything electrical on their property has to come from that green box on the neighbor’s property.
“And the pole is just over the line?” NBC Charlotte asked.
“Yes, just over the line-- 12 feet over,” explained Danielle.
And without power to their house, the bank won’t let them close. It’s been empty and locked since August.
The I-Team asked, “Did you ever think not having electricity would ever be an issue?”
Danielle replied, “We-- never in our wildest dreams; we always thought it would be simple. We didn’t realize our power could be in someone else’s hands.”
Here’s the issue: the Bekemeier property is landlocked, just off of Sain Milling Road, just outside the town of Vale in rural Lincoln County. The views here are breathtaking and space is ample, but to get to their two acres of land, they needed and received a county easement through the property of their neighbor to the front, the same neighbor holding the power.
John Lafferty is the attorney for the other neighbor and says, “It’s not that she doesn’t want to give them power, but they are angry because they came in and plowed out a 45 ft right of way when there was only a [need for] 20 foot, they took out some beautiful old trees that won’t grow back in this lifetime and can’t be replaced. They just got off on the wrong foot when all that happened.”
The Bekemeier’s say the road was indeed a mistake. And their builder, Clayton Homes, re-landscaped the driveway back to what it was supposed to be: 20 feet. They also planted grass to try to make up for what was torn up. While the county can grant access, they can’t grant power, and Duke Energy confirmed that they need permission to run power from the adjacent property owner.
Clayton Homes, which built the house, and for the moment is stuck with it, says assumptions about getting power were made by everyone, including them.
The I-Team asked Lafferty, “Is there any sliver of daylight this could get settled and maybe everyone could get what they want and be happy?”
The reply was, “Probably not right now.”
Danielle says as she is fights back tears, “It’s frustrating, ‘cause our whole fate lies in one person’s hands.”
Stephen adds, “All of our hard work feels like it’s just being thrown away.”
John Lafferty, the attorney representing the other side, said this isn’t the first time he’s run into a situation like this. He urges people to get a title search done when you buy property to make sure you can get access, power, as well as water and sewer.
So what are they going to do, what are their options? The Bekemeiers say they can sell their land move the house if they buy another slice of land, or they can try to resolve the issue to keep that land. And, they tell NBC Charlotte, that’s their first choice. Clayton Homes says that they, too, will do whatever they can to get this fixed.