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Subject: Play Structures
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Author Messages
JudyP
(Arizona)

Posts:7


12/19/2005 8:55 AM  
My husband and I submitted a request to the design committee recently to erect our chilrens playstructure. We submitted the location and dimensions.

Our bylaws stipulate that the structure have a solid roof and be no more than eight feet tall. Clearly this is overlooked as the average playstructure is anywhere from 11 to 13 feet in height. Incidentally these structures are up all over the existing neighborhood. Including structures that have huge rainbow awnings instead of a solid roof.

Our structure has a solid roof, but is 14 feet in height. It was extrememly expensive and I am sick about this. Do I assume the homeowners around me that have them simply did not ask for permission? I feel like I am being singled out. What coarse of action should I take.

I am going to resubmit and ask what I need to do? If they would like me to move it? My denial stated excessive height and location? Coincidentally my next door neighbor submitted her's the same day and it was approved??? After hearing that mine was denied she has refused to give me the dimensions of her playset. I guess in fear that I will complain. I feel singled out and very fruststrated..please help.
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


12/19/2005 7:34 PM  
Judy, if similar play structures exist provide them a list and request reconsideration. With your request, state that if they can not approve to list the specific reason(s) why and request they list what is required to get approval. A reasonable committee should work with you to reach an acceptable compromise.

Good Luck,
Roger
JudyP
(Arizona)

Posts:7


12/20/2005 7:14 PM  
Roger,
I called today to touch base with the girl in the office and told her that I would be resubmitting and told her I would move it, if it were location and I would modify it if it were height. She said that the committee has said no more structures over eight feet high.
By definition all play structures start at about 10 feet and go to 13 feet. In any case can they just decide to "enforce" the rule that was softly written and has been overlooked for years? I am so upset, when the committee leader was told that I had already purchased my set for $3500 he said "well, I guess she should have read the bylaws". I have been in tears all day.
My only option at this point is to take the roof off, which then takes any shade away from my kids (we live in Arizona, where the sun is dangerous)and make the structure an eyesore. In reality this does not make the platform any shorter just takes away the protection for my kids.
The committee meet's again on the fifth and my neighbor has already hunted down the head of the committee and told him her views and how she doesnt it want it. I feel that no matter what they are gunning for me.
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


12/21/2005 9:34 AM  
Judy if it were me, I would either return the play structure if a refund is available or resubmit the request. If resubmitted, I would attach a letter listing the play structures which do not comply with the rules, i.e., over 8'high and/or no solid roof. In the letter I would say "If the committee choses to denigh my request I need a reply explaining:
(1)why the listed playstructures were allowed and mine was not;
(2)why your decision is not a violation of the federal non-discrimination act; (bluffing often works)
(3)the process to appeal this decision to the Board of Director
(may be required by your state's statutes)."

Neighbors should have the right to object to modifications and their objections should be taken into consideration by the Architectural Committee when making their decision. My standard Request Form requires discussing desired external modifications with neighbors prior to submittal of a Request to Modify Exterior of Property and listing adjacent neighbors names with their reason for being opposed.

While this problem may be extremely disturbing to you, please try to realize these neighbors are volunteers just trying to do the best they can. They apparently are trying to enforce a rule which previous committee members did not. And yes, you are responsible to know the rules.

If all else fails you could work to get the architectural standards on play structures amended.

Good Luck,
Roger

JudyP
(Arizona)

Posts:7


12/24/2005 11:26 AM  
Roger,
One of the comments or "answers" I seem to keep getting is that each lot is unique and what they allow for one lot does not mean they have to allow it for every other lot. They seem to be able to skirt most any request by quoting this statement from the bylaws. Stating that each and every lot is to be considered on an individual basis.

Thanks,
Judy
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


12/24/2005 3:22 PM  
JudyP, yes each lot is unique. The legal discription has a different lot number for each. But the association is a common interest ownership community which means that architectural standards absolutely must be the same for all lots. They obviously don't understand and need the management company should educate them and explain that their actions place them in serious jeopardy. They are not meeting the standard of "good business judgement".

Roger
LuciusD


Posts:0


12/28/2005 10:12 PM  
Judy,
In reading through the posts so far, what I hear is that you are talking to some individual. Probably someone who does not have the authority to tell you what they are telling you.
My opinion is that you need to start with the governing documents of the association. All of them. Study the Declaration of Covenants, the Bylaws, the Rules & Regulations, Architectural Guidelines.
Then find out who has the authority to make decisions and who has the authority to grant variances.
Make them give you your disapproval in writing and in detail. (Roger has probably already said this.)
I'll bet if you do your homework, you will find out someone is making up the rules as they go along and needs to be brought up short.
Lou Day - Colorado
JudyP
(Arizona)

Posts:7


01/02/2006 3:35 PM  
I want to thank everyone for their posts. I am hoping it's helped me to have my homework done for my resubmittal. The thing I keep finding in my research of the "HOA" is they do what they want with almost no reprocussion. I will let you know how it goes on the fifth when they meet again to reconsider my playstructure. My plan offers to move it and modify it if need be, so we will see what happens. Thanks again.

Judy Pryor
LisaS
(Illinois)

Posts:341


01/11/2006 8:04 PM  
I hate to be the bad guy...but approval should have been applied for PRIOR to spending $3500 for a playset and installing it. You need to accept responsibility for that.

Unfortunately, HOA's have a whole lot of power and not a whole lot of accountability at the end of the day.

I agree that they should try to wrok with you to come to an acceptable compromise. However, if the covenants state that maximum height is 8 feet, you may just need to comply.
JudyP
(Arizona)

Posts:7


01/12/2006 5:56 AM  
Lisa,
Some clarification here. I never installed before approval. We purchased this playset for our previous property and brought it with us. We read the bylaws and saw the 8 feet rule but the neighborhood is covered with them so we knew that they were allowing them. They denied my approval based on location and height? So I am resubmitting to change the location, but my point was...how can they deny me when there are no less than 100 of these in the subdivision? There was a typo in my original submission that said my structure was 14feet it's 13 feet and after some research, all playstructures are between 12-13 feet.

Thanks,
Judy Pryor
JudyP
(Arizona)

Posts:7


01/24/2006 9:12 AM  
Well the committee met and approved my playstructure finally, but said that mine will be the last one approved. They are now going to "enforce" the eight feet rule listed in the CC&R's. I am thrilled of coarse that mine is going up, however I feel badly about people who move in and are told no? Can they do this when they have allowed over 100 already? This is a huge development and it's full of family's with chidren.

Judy P in AZ
EdR
(Texas)

Posts:170


01/24/2006 9:51 AM  
Judy,
I'm glad they saw the discrimination factor and allowed you to install the play structure because I agree that if there are already several, that it is not fair to deny you, or really anyone after you. There is one thing I want to point out, having been chair of the architectural control committee before though, it isn't always about denying you, it's about the fairness and privacy of everyone. For instance, even though I didn't care at the time when my neighbors (before I was ACC chair) installed a play structure next door (I assumed they asked for approval even though I didn't agree with it being so close to our fence), it was closer than 5 feet (the easement) to the fence which is dangerous to both the children and to neighbors because of someone using it to climb over, the other problem was that the fence between us was 6 ft. and their play structure was taller. Until their children finally grew up and matured and stopped using their play structure, they would get in it and yell and carry on (apparently purposely)and throw things into our yard and all of this was in sight from our formerly quiet enjoyment of our patio which we use in summer for dinner almost every night. I have children, and I love them, but I used to enjoy the heck out of my patio and it was the reason I purchased my house. We planted lots of shrubs to block the noise and view and then they complained that we didn't have approval for that. My point is there are two sides (and reasons for approval) to every story, and your situation is an example of why people ask forgiveness instead of permission usually. You are to be commended for asking permission.
EdR
BradP
(Kansas)

Posts:2640


01/24/2006 9:54 AM  
Judy, I am no attorney by any means but I seriously doubt they can do that. The question is, who is going to spend the time and resources to challenge that, my guess is no one will. I am glad you got your structure approved, it sounds to me like they need to amend your covenants to allow for these instead of trying to play hardball.
JudyP
(Arizona)

Posts:7


01/24/2006 10:07 AM  
Ed and Brad,
Thankyou for both of your post's. We were so upset when initially denied that both my husband and I regreted the fact that we asked permission. Now that it's all said and done I am thankful that we did, but it was very stressful. I agree with you Ed that our backyards are our retreats and should be a pieceful and relaxing environment. I am not exactly thrilled that the structure will be right in the middle of our yard and facing our patio...but they are our kid's and if they are going to annoy someone then I guess it should be us ;-) I did offer my neighbor an apology for getting upset about the structure being on their side. I felt that it was a knee jerk reaction to get upset and everyone needed to step back and be objective, so that's what we did.
It's to bad that this committee thinks it's their job to govern each lot when clearly that's not what they are in place to do. I think you are right about it being so difficult to fight the HOA even if they are breaking the law is the most disheartening thing about belonging to an HOA. My husband and I are very consciencious about our lot and want it to be beautiful and we feel that the design committee should take the time to address our common grounds and playgrouds etc instead of focusing on playstructures that are erected properly and are in good condition and aestheticly pleasing.
I can assure you that as soon as my children are older and no longer using it...it will come down ;-)

Judy P in AZ
LisaS
(Illinois)

Posts:341


01/27/2006 6:19 PM  
I am glad you were able to get your playset. You are right- it sounds like if you skipped the request altogether, no one would have pursued it.

In most instances however, failure to enforce is not a waiver of the right to enforce. So theoretically, all of the play sets that went up without permission could be requested to be taken down (whether they are 8 feet or less or not).

It is not expensive for Associations to pursue vioaltions in our area. Fines can be followed by liens (don't even need an attorney). Worst case scenario is foreclosure on the liens or collection of all monies at a future sale of the property.

Don't get me wrong...we don't want to do that in our HOA. But you never know what might happen and when it might be the only answer.

Backyards should be a retreat. But in a society that is building big houses close together, Covenants and Restrictions were born to protect the enjoyment of the majority. It is a legal, binding document(s) not just a suggestion. All those who do not want to live under the rule of an HOA need to think twice before buying a home that is governed by one. It's not easy to change the rules after you move in.
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