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OF THE 1940'S & 50'S






I am not a curmudgeon nor cynical; far from it.  I just want to share with you, in tongue-in-cheek style, situations I feel that are less than satisfactory in our present day life, both locally and globally.  The following editorials, and the opinions contained therein, are mine alone and I hope you take them in the light they are given...light!

Beware the HOA!
The Wit and Tenets of Brad P. Scobey

For anyone that has read more of my pages, you know that we, and especially Paul, are true nature lovers.  If you don't know what I am talking about, just visit TropicRiverWoods to see the botanical garden we are designing and building in Panama.

This past week has taught us a lot about living in a community that is ruled by a Home Owner's Association.  You see, Paul has lived in this home since the day it was built in 1992.  He was the first owner to move into our subdivision of 80+ homes that is within the SilverLakes Home Owner's Association comprising over 5,200 homes.  I moved here in 1996.  Being the avid gardener he is, ever since the first day Paul moved in, he has designed and nurtured a landscape that defies the limestone rock pit that lies just below the surface.


As you can see in the picture above, we have quite a haven for birds, butterflies and other assorted wildlife not to mention the back yard.  Our home has even been designated a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.  But as you can also see in the picture above, the decorative vent above the garage door has a beautiful shade of aqua to complement the color scheme.  And there, folks, was the beginning of the end for individuality.

After 14 years of the association keeping out scofflaws and generally keeping up the community to a degree of respectability, while not trouncing on personal creativity, it appears that a new regime has taken over.  We are not talking about the the management company but the actual Board of Directors.

It all started a couple of months ago when we received our first Notice of Violation from Elaine W. (not her real name), our community over-seer.  It was for that terrible air vent.  All of our homes have a certain color scheme and even though the house and trim conforms to the original color scheme, that vent violated it.  Not to mention that the vent had been that color for several years.  Okay folks, Paul called Elaine and asked why other subdivisions have that color on their trim and vents and was acceptable.  She told him that each subdivision has their separate rules.  So Paul climbed the ladder and painted it to match the trim.  He then sent off a picture showing that the offending violation had been taken care of.  By the way, when you go to repaint your house, make sure you have the Architectural Modification Committee's approval; even if you are repainting the house the SAME ORIGINAL APPROVED COLORS!

Shortly thereafter, we received another Letter of Violation saying that the "point plants", better known as agaves, around the mailbox (to the left) had to be removed.  Fine, even though they were there nearly eight years and the Mail Carrier said they were not a problem, Paul once again complied and did his magic, removing the offending "point plants" and replacing them with soft grasses, miniature Crown of Thorns and Desert Rose (on right).  Paul then sent a picture of the new and improved mailbox planting.

All was quiet for about two months when we received the next two Notice of Violations.  One was for "design around mailbox not allowed" and the other stated "overgrown plants".  Mind you that all of these violations come on standard forms with a blank line for the violation so if you aren't sure what they are specifically talking about, you have to call the community manager issuing the violation.  In this case, she did not return our calls and we had to guess exactly what landscaping was overgrown.

We also looked at our homeowner's documents and could not find anything about a "design around mailbox" or anything about plantings around the mailbox.  And as far as overgrown plants, we spent a day trimming, lifting trees, removing ferns etc. since we had to guess what she was writing about.

Paul then sent her a letter, with pictures once again, that we had taken care of the violations.  We heard nothing about them until the day before going on vacation that, since the violations were not remedied ??? that we were being fined $50.00 per day for each violation and that the violations had to be immediately taken care of or appear before the Homeowner's Code Enforcement Board.  Needless to say, the vacation was full of angst since nothing could be done until we returned; we even thought about staying here to take care of the "situation".

Paul chose, correctly, to plead his case about the difference between overgrown (not being tended) and lush.  Paul spends at least 3 hours and day, sometimes more, before and after his job.  The yard is very well tended.  An added benefit to having such lush landscaping is not having to look at the neighbor's homes.  As with most people living here, we are unfortunate enough to have living next door to us folks who just don't want to do any gardening, or anything else with their homes for that matter.

This is our neighbors house to the left.  They have since painted the house, but not a drop of landscaping!


This is our neighbors house to the right.  They also have loose tiles on the roof (you can see some on the ground in the above picture) from Hurricane Wilma almost 3 years ago!

Well, we had to remove EVERYTHING from around the mailbox.  In addition, we had to remove any plants that were within three feet of either side of our property lines.  When the Board of Director member came by, we pointed out the houses on either side (see pictures above) and also gave her letters from all of our neighbors saying they enjoyed the landscaping as it was.

She inferred that not only did we coerce the letters and besides, she didn't care what our neighbors had to say; that we should only worry about our home; not what our neighbors homes looked like!  We spent nearly four thousand ($4,000.00) making "improvements" by removing plants, cutting things back, re-sodding the one neighbors lawn at our expense (even though their sprinkler system doesn't work) and on and on.

Long story short, it appears that maybe someone didn't get all of the authority they needed to pursue our situation.  We were told to keep our yard tidy, manageable and in compliance with current regulations and we would be left alone.

So, my friends, the regulated homeowner's association is not for everyone; especially those who want to be more creative than three matching palm trees in the yard.  Beware stepping out of the box and plant lots of grass to use more water.

By the way, thank you to Chad B. and others who came to our rescue and can appreciate a homeowner trying to make a difference.



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