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Subject: Yard Ornaments and Fountains.
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11/03/2008 12:24 PM  

Seeing it's a slow posting day, I thought that I would bring up a subject that was hotly discussed in my old Florida association.

The developement has 565 stand alone homes on large, very lush landscaped lots. Homes are 500 to 850 thousand dollars in value. All of the landscape was included in the original build.

The CC&Rs specifically state--"No yard ornaments, birdbaths , Fountains or any type of decorative accessories may be placed within the front zones A and B". (zones A and B are the entire front and side yards up to the rear most part of the house structure) In otherwords, only in the back yard can you put any of these items.

At turnover time from the developer, there might have been 100 fountains, hundreds of statutes and lots of birdbaths and gazing balls. The newly elected Master Board (5) decided that they were going to enforce the covenants about yard stuff. They ordered that P.M. to start sending out letters to have them all removed within 30 days.

I was on a sub section Board and representing my section, I gave them a message from our 197 members. Either they send a vote out to the membership to change the covenant, allowing the statuary or start fining all 197 of the members because the precedent had been set by the developer to allow them. It was quite contentuous for a while but common sense took over. They cancelled the fine order to the P.M. and added this to the list of CC&Rs that needed amending. Pickup trucks was one of the other proposed changes and that one failed to pass. Oh yeah, limit of 2 dogs with total weight of 120 pounds was changed to 2 dogs, no weight restriction. (imagine that one being enforced. geezz)



11/03/2008 1:43 PM  
I think you have hit on an interesting point. It is the developer, not the homeowners, who draft the covenants. In effect, the covenants are written a party interested in maximizing profits, and then completely exits the scene, leaving the homeowners to sort things out. Given the difficulty in amending covenants as well as restrictions regarding time frames in which covenants are not to be amended, it creates problems.

Having a contract written by a party that is no longer involved in the community is quite problematic from my perspective. The developer makes decisions that others must live with for the next century or longer.

Not all, but I suspect many developers are loathe to enforce covenants during the development period for fear of getting a bad reputation.

I just came from a meeting of architects in which one of the topics of discussion was the near universal prohibition of solar panels written in the 1970s when they were, indeed, unattractive. But now that technology has progressed, solar panels can be incorporated nearly invisibly into a roof, yet covenants still stand, based on outdated technology. Amending them is a monumental task. But people object to "selective enforcement." Something is wrong with this picture.

Maybe there should be a new approach to this entire issue. While the developer has control he gets to write the covenants. But during the turnover process to the association, perhaps the residents should have the opportunity to amend or rewrite the covenants as part and parcel of the process without a super majority vote required.

Yard ornaments and fountains can be attractive, and enhance property values.



11/03/2008 2:07 PM  

Exacatly true how the Developers work or basically work not in the best interest of the homeowners. This story has a little twist to it. The Developer still sits on the Master Board because he has 25 lots that are not buildable but are intertwined within the Golf Course, giving him ownership, therefore still a member.

After turnover when the Master Board decided to enforce the no ornament/ fountain cov, he voted FOR enforcement. That was the time when we all wanted to give him a swift kick but we didn't.

Yes, he did offer each sub association the chance to amend any items that we wanted to and if it was agreeable to him but new Boards are sometimes overwhelmed with everything and when I got appointed the following year, it was too late. Thanks for the input too.


11/03/2008 3:19 PM  
Clearly, the Developer did not enforce this covenant when he had the control.

Why would he think the Board could do it?

The Board should not have even considered this "historical unenforceable" CCR.

Something about the horse already being out of the barn . . .


11/03/2008 3:34 PM  

They had an over zealous President who wanted to flex her expertise muscles and the developer, who had done a fairly decent job up until then just voted along with the others. But the membership spoke loud and clear.

The moral of this story might be that what we always say to posters is that there is power in numbers. Take control of those documents if you find them unlivable to yourself and your neighbors.
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