Becky Rogers-Peck built her 4-year-old granddaughter a pink playhouse for Christmas, complete with play kitchen, window boxes and a wreath on the door.
Now the Millshaven Property Owners Association, which enforces covenants in the Evans subdivision, has filed a lawsuit against Rogers-Peck because she wouldn’t repaint it.
She didn’t get permission from the association’s Architectural Control Committee before she built what the board of directors considers an out-building. The color is not “keeping in tradition with the neighborhood,” said attorney Wright McLeod, who represents the association.
Board members contacted Rogers-Peck in the spring and said other Millhaven residents complained about the playhouse. She found out it was two or three complaints. She applied for architectural approval, but the color was denied.
“I told them I was not going to repaint it,” said Rogers-Peck, who resigned from her position on the board when the playhouse issue was brought up at a monthly meeting. “It was foolish. It was not an out-building. It was a piece of play equipment.”
The playhouse is only slightly visible from the road, but is clearly visible to her immediate neighbors and a few homes across the pond behind her house.
McLeod said Rogers-Peck is bound by the covenant because she bought a home in the subdivision.
The board tried to get her to conform to the neighborhood covenant by repainting the playhouse a color more appropriate to the home. The architectural committee agreed to approve the playhouse construction retroactively if the structure is repainted.
“They never said, ‘If you paint it, we won’t sue you,’ ” Rogers-Peck said “They said, ‘If you don’t, we’re going to sue you.’ ... It was the principle of it. Why do they have the right to tell me what to do on the property that I pay for?”
The lawsuit filed Aug. 2 contends that Rogers-Peck “has acted in bad faith, has been stubbornly litigious, and has caused (the association) unnecessary trouble and expense.”
The association must enforce the covenant regulations, McLeod said. When Rogers-Peck refused to correct the violation, he said, the board had no recourse except to sue.
“She’s (given) the association no option,” McLeod said. “She’s left us no choice other than going through Superior Court or ignore the violation. ... We just need her to repaint.”
Rogers-Peck said her granddaughter loves pink, though, and doesn’t want her playhouse repainted.
Rogers-Peck has 30 days to file a response after being served with the suit Sept. 5. She already has checked with several attorneys, most of whom said she won’t win.
“It’s really disheartening,” Rogers-Peck said. “I feel like I live in Russia ... where I can’t do anything on my own property without (the association’s) permission.”
The expense of an attorney is a barrier to fighting the suit, she said.
“Once it became an issue,” she said, “I thought I’d stand up for myself and my rights. I had no idea a (homeowners association) had so much control in a neighborhood based on who was on the board of directors.”