A grieving widow in Port Orange, Fla., has a statue of an angel in her front yard, a token of the happy years she spent with her husband before she lost him. But her neighborhood homeowners association says the statue violates community covenants, and if she doesn't remove it, she'll pay a fine, Orlando TV station WESH reported.
Norma Freiji (pictured at left) was one of the first residents of the 13-year-old Ashton Lakes subdivision, and she said that she has always had yard art displayed. But now the HOA is asking all residents to remove statues in front and side yards. That means that cute figurines dotting many yards in the subdivision -- pelicans, egrets, gnomes and even a basketball hoop affixed to a garage -- must go. Homeowners received a letter recently from the HOA outlining the demands.
"I have her lit up at night with a solar light. She looks so beautiful," Freiji told WESH of her angel statue. She began to weep as she explained its significance to her and her deceased husband. "I just have it because I lost my husband, and it's just sentimental, that's all."
Most Ridiculous HOA Disputes
Port Orange HOA Tells Residents Yard Statues Aren't Allowed
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.
Jim Clapprood is the resident who was asked to remove a basketball hoop from his garage or pay a $100-a-month fine. He said that he understands HOAs must have rules to protect home values, but this is going a little too far. "A basketball hoop for children to play at the end of a cul-de-sac -- I don't see how that affects values," Clapprood said.
The HOA has declined to comment on the requested statue removal in the neighborhood. The HOA president didn't comment either, but WESH went to his house. The station discovered a decorative fountain in his front yard and a cat statue near his door.
Fights between residents and their neighborhood HOAs are a dime a dozen. Recently, a soldier living in a condominium fought back against the condominium association when it demanded that he remove American flags from the front of his home. But HOAs do have broad rights to ban certain objects from being displayed on homes -- including political yard signs.