By Andy Sheehan

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MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — From the front, all seems peaceful at Paul Schrieber’s house in Moon, but what’s happened out back has sparked a five-year war with the township.

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “They put a sewer line back here, right?”
Schrieber: “They put a sewer line the whole way across the backyard, yes.”
Sheehan: “And you filled it in?”
Schrieber: “I filled over top of it to level it out with the rest of my yard.”
Sheehan: “And that’s where all your trouble started?”
Schrieber: “That’s where it started, yes.”

Five years ago, the Township denied Schrieber a permit to level out the trench, but he went ahead anyway.

Since then, he’s been cited time and again. Police have come no less than 27 times, and twice, the township has squared off against Schrieber in common pleas court. Both times Schrieber prevailed.

“I’ve been to court twice and I’ve been found not guilty, so evidently I’m not in violation of the law,” Schrieber said.

Despite the defeats, the township hasn’t relented. They have now filed a civil suit against Schrieber, whose attorney calls it harassment.

“They’ve expended tremendous amounts of time, resources and money to prosecute my clients for what, in the end, would result in a $300 citation,” he said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

KDKA spoke with Moon Township Manager Dawn Lane.

Sheehan: “Isn’t this kind of overreach by the government?”
Lane: “I don’t believe it’s overreach because of what he’s doing.”

Lane says by fighting on, the township is responding to the complaints of neighbors who fear Schrieber is creating the potential for a landslide by continuing to bring fill onto his property.

“He has had tri-axle after tri-axle of dirt brought in over there even though he’s been told not to. We had an incident this past summer that one of the tri-axles actually lost its brakes and dumped whenever it was going to turn in to his property,” Lane said.

Meanwhile, the battle seems only to be escalating. Though the township denies it, Schrieber claims it’s employed drones and even helicopters to get photographic evidence of his backyard.

Schrieber: “One of them was probably 30 feet above my head when I was on the back deck and he opened the door and puts a camera out the window of the helicopter, out the door.”
Sheehan: “You’re not being paranoid here? You actually saw this?”
Schrieber: “Yeah, I could have hit the guy with a rock, he was that close.”

But at what point does government oversight become government overreach? Ultimately, that’s a question for the courts to decide, but both sides remain dug in and this legal battle has no end in sight.