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Your Freedom Stops Where the HOA Begins October 13, 2009

Posted by Dindy in Current Events, Memories, Personal.
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Not content to go after junk cars and unmown lawns, Homeowner’s Associations have decided that wind-powered drying devices are unsightly and not to be allowed. Yes, the Homeowners Associations of the world are going after clotheslines. Apparently the sight of clothes blowing on the breeze is so unsightly that it needs to be regulated. According to Richard Jacques, president of a condominium board in Concord, New Hampshire, “Those rules are why when I look out my window I now see birds, trees and flowers, not laundry.”

One wonders why Jacques didn’t move out into the country if he wanted to be assured of a view of birds, trees and flowers.Maybe he should have moved to Santa Fe where he could look at roses planted by Jeffrey DeMarco. Or at least he could have if DeMarco’s homeowner’s association hadn’t taken him to court over a gardening violation for planting 10,000 roses on his 4-acre plot. DeMarco eventually lost his home to the bank after being ordered to pay the homeowner’s association $70,000 legal bill.

Homeowners Associations seem to often be spearheaded by people who are not content to run their own households but want to run their neighbors’ households as well. For many of them, the main guideline seems to be conformity– they want all the homes to look like theirs. Want solar panels on your roof? Be prepared to be turned down as John Wood, a homeowner in Woodbury, Massachusetts found last year.  Want to fly a flag in your front yard? Homeowner Jimmie Watkins of Clement, Florida is not the first homeowner to face a lawsuit from his HOA over flying the flag.

The many seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations of the homeowner’s associations appear to fly in the face of the rights of homeowners to be secure in their own property and to decide what they can and cannot do with their own homes. I understand all about the desire to maintain property values , but that is what zoning and city codes are for. I refuse to move into a community where my neighbor has the right to tell me what color I can paint my house or how high I can fly my flag– or where I can park my pick-up truck– or whether or not I can use a solar powered clothes dryer, for that matter.

When I was growing up in Lafayette, Indiana, we lived down the street from the junior high school. I could look out the window of my classroom and see my house and my back yard, including the two clotheslines on which my mother hung all of our laundry. One very cold winter day Mr. Lane, my 8th Grade Science Teacher looked out the window and said, “Look, there’s that crazy lady hanging out the laundry even though it’s twenty degrees outside.” I shrank down in my seat as everyone turned to watch my mother standing out there in her heavy winter coat attaching the linens to the line. Come to think of it, I actually would have welcomed an HOA dropping a cease and desist order on her at about that point in time. Preferably before she pulled out the next laundry basket and hung my underwear out to dry.

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