A 79-year-old Korean War veteran could land himself behind bars for up to 30 days if he doesn't clean up the junk in his yard.
John Ramsey of Clover, S.C., was fined $500 by the town for collecting everything from washing machines, decorative horses and building materials, and keeping them on his lawn. In Clover, it is illegal to keep junk in your yard. But Ramsey has vowed not to pay the fine, saying that he uses the items for resale so he can pay his bills, reports The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C.
Most Ridiculous HOA Disputes
Korean War Veteran John Ramsey of Clover, S.C., Faces Jail Time for Junk in His Yard
Location: Stapleton, Colo.
What the homeowner did: Sarah Cohen's 3-year-old daughter, Emerson, drew on the sidewalk using chalk.
The HOA's response: Chalk art potentially offends, disturbs or interferes with "the peaceful enjoyment" of the community and is not allowed. "The association is trying to go down a path of 'do no harm,' " an attorney representing the HOA said.
Outcome: The issue will be brought to a vote at a future HOA meeting. In the meantime, Cohen plans on continuing to let her daughter draw on the sidewalks. "It's summertime, and God forbid my daughter is drawing flowers, her name and hearts," said Cohen.
What the homeowner did: Nick and Jeni Dreis took home a 6-month-old red kangaroo as a vocational training animal for their 16-year-old daughter, Kala, who has Down’s Syndrome.
The HOA's response: The family should “immediately remove the kangaroo from the property, as it is not a household pet nor can it be maintained for any business purposes.”
Outcome: In the wake of widespread public support for the Dreises, the HOA reversed its position. “The letter should never have been sent,” said Jeff Crilley of the Estates of Legend Ranch Homeowners Association. “[HOA officials] were unaware that the kangaroo was being used for therapy purposes.”
What the homeowner did: Planted perennial flowers in her yard. Kimberly Bois claimed she had the plants in her yard before the condo board even existed and had permission from the developer to plant them.
The HOA's response: Sent the homeowner 13 certified letters demanding she remove the plants, starting with a cease-and-desist order and escalating to thousands of dollars in fines and penalties. "It's not about do you like these flowers or don't you," said the condo association’s attorney, Sandy Roberts. "It's a question of was it authorized and is it permanent."
Outcome: Condo association filed a lawsuit against Bois to pay $4,500 in back fines and $8,000 in attorney’s fees.
What the homeowner did: Barbara Cadranel put a mezuzah on the doorframe of her apartment.
The HOA's response: Threatened to impose a $50-a-day fine until the religious door fixture is removed.
Outcome: The condo association agreed that Cadranel could hang her mezuzah and rescinded all penalties and fees against her. It also said it will allow residents to place mezuzahs and other religious symbols on doorframes without requiring advance approval.
What the homeowner did: Tiffany Veloudis built a playhouse for her 3-year-old son, Cooper, who has cerebral palsy, on the instructions of the toddler’s therapist. It cost the family $5,000 to construct.
The HOA's response: Demanded that the playhouse be removed and ordered the Veloudis family to pay $50 for every day the playhouse remains in their yard.
Outcome: After the story garnered national attention, the association decided the playhouse could stay until a solution could be worked out. State representative Richard Henderson has submitted a bill to enable homeowners to build small structures for therapy purposes with doctor approval, regardless of HOA rules.
What the homeowner did: Jodi and Timothy Burr put up a front yard banner supporting their son, Corey, a lance corporal in the Marines who was serving in Afghanistan at the time.
The HOA's response: Told the family it was breaking the HOA's rule prohibiting all signs from public display.
Outcome: The HOA sued the Burrs when they refused to remove the sign. The Burrs argue that other homeowners have signs in their yards, and that the enforcement of the rule is “selective.” They also are trying to meet with the HOA to discuss possible revisions to the rule.
"I'm not paying them $500 because I don't have it," Ramsey told local station WCNC. "I don't mind 30 days, I'm not giving them any money. If I had $20,000, I wouldn't give them $500, honest to God."
Ramsey said that he needs the junk in his yard to survive because Social Security and veterans benefits don't provide him with enough money to pay his bills and afford medication for his disabled wife, Patty.
Town officials said that they've been asking Ramsey to stop storing junk in his yard for more than a year.
If Ramsey doesn't pay the fine, he'll likely serve jail time -- but it wouldn't be his first time in the slammer. A former Ku Klux Klan member, Ramsey was convicted of burning a cross on the front lawn of a former police chief and served time behind bars before the conviction was overturned on appeal. But Ramsey told The Herald that he is reformed, adding that his Mexican neighbors are "the nicest people in the world."
Ramsey said that he has attempted to comply with some of his town's regulations by building a fence around his yard, shielding the junk from view. His next court date is set for Oct. 4, and that's when a judge will decide whether Ramsey will go to jail.
If he does, Ramsey wouldn't be the first person to see the inside of a cell recently because of a property dispute: