Dispute between neighbors leads to angry signs in front yard

A dispute between neighbors is testing free speech rights in a Murrells Inlet subdivision.

A woman in the Hamilton Estates community has put up several signs in front of her home, complaining about harassment by her neighbors. Now they're complaining that the signs are trashing the neighborhood.

"It's been a neighbor vendetta battle with about five neighbors since May," June Marcolini told NewsChannel 15.

Dogs are at the center of the firestorm. Marcolini said a neighbor allowed his big dogs to run loose, and they went on her property, threatening her chihuahua. That's the argument that eventually led to Marcolini placing the signs in her front yard.

Marcolini's signs don't name names, but in big block letters they do accuse those who live around her of being "EVIL, VENOMOUS, VENGEFUL, LYING, GOSSIPING" neighbors. One sign implores the "SELF IMPORTANT IDIOTS" to "STAY OFF MY PROPERTY." That sign also accuses Marcolini's neighbors of "LYING ABOUT ME WITHOUT ANY FACTS".

The signs say neighbors vandalized Marcolini's mailbox, threw rancid meat into her back yard that made her dog sick, and broke into her garage.

Marcolini said she has no idea why her neighbors are harassing her, but she had no choice but to put up the signs to get her message across.

"All I have ever asked of all these people is leave me alone. They start a fight with me, I'm gonna fight back," she said.

Marcolini said the blow-up started last May, when she accused neighbor Vince Collins of not keeping his dogs leashed.

She claims the dogs got onto her property and others, and then someone - not her, she says - called the police.

"He accused me and started a big war between himself, me and the five or six neighbors. They all accused me of being the one that called the dog officer, which I did not do," Marcolini said.

"Your dog gets out every once in awhile, things happen," Collins said. "My dogs crossed her property one time. It turned into a giant storm."

Marcolini says Collins threatened her. Collins denies it, but accuses her of speeding her car down the residential street, while children were playing nearby.

"Whether she was trying to intimidate them, scare them or whatever, using a vehicle to intimidate a child, I mean where do you think it's gonna go?" Collins said.

Marcolini said the police have told her it's not a police matter. The Hamilton Estates Homeowners Association isn't taking sides, either and HOA president Doug Jones said there's not much the association can do about the signs. It is her constitutional right.

Jones was asked where he thought the dispute would end up. "I would hope it would go away in a peaceful manner. I'm afraid I don't know the answer to what you're asking," Jones said.

Marcolini said she plans to remove the signs in about a month, after she's made her point.

The HOA used to have a covenant prohibiting signs. They did away with that about a year ago.

Police records show Horry County police have been called to the Stone Throw Drive neighborhood 20 times over the past 6 months. So far, no one's been charged with anything.