Restrictions common for homeowner groups

Dispute offers lesson

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The dispute between the Knob Hill Property Owners Association and the group prepared to build a home for a disabled veteran should serve as a warning: "buyer beware."

Covenants are restrictions most neighborhood developers set, attorney Brian Bush said. The document, filed in the county's real estate records, lays out restrictions on property and what the homeowners association's powers and obligations are.

It's a buyer's responsibility to learn all the rules, Bush said. By taking title to a home in such a neighborhood, the buyer is accepting the rules. It is not a contract, but it is just as binding, Bush explained.

A HOA usually has an architectural-type committee to determine whether building and renovation plans meet the covenant's specifications, attorney Freddie Sanders said.

A HOA can run into trouble if it stops enforcing some rules or lets some homeowners break the rules but not others, Sanders said. The rules must be enforced consistently and applied the same to everyone or covenants can be struck down by a court.

The HOA's perspective can change. West Lake in Columbia County used to have a rule that residents could not park a pickup at a house, Sanders said. But after so many people began driving pickups, the rule was abandoned.

Sanders questioned the legality of the Knob Hill committee's unlimited power.

Attorney Randolph Frails pointed to Section 4 of Knob Hill's Architectural and Covenants document, which specifically gives the committee total discretion. In the case of Homes for Our Troops, which wants to build a home for paralyzed Afghanistan veteran Sean Gittens and his family, if the organization didn't have prior approval from the committee, the committee could turn the plans down for any reason, Frails said.

However, if Homes for Our Troops has an e-mail from the HOA stating the plans were approved -- as founder John Gonsalves said they have but hasn't released -- that should end the matter in the organization's favor, he said.

Attorney John "Jack" Long said in an e-mail that from reading the rules, it appears the Knob Hill committee has broad discretion, and generally a court upholds that discretion.

"However, from a realistic point of view, I don't see any individual standing up and stating to our community and to the press that a disabled veteran cannot have a home built for him in any subdivision or area in our community," Long said.

Property covenants

Property covenants were used in the past to prevent blacks from living in certain neighborhoods.

In 1948, the Supreme Court reversed an earlier ruling from 1926, finding such covenants unconstitutional.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 extended constitutional protection to disabled and elderly Americans and families with children. Covenants cannot prohibit buying or selling property to these protected classes.

More information about the covenants of local communities can be found on their Web sites.

KNOB HILL: knobhill.org

CHASTAIN PLACE: chastainplace.net

JONES CREEK: jcoanews.com

SHENANDOAH WOODS: swpoa.org

WEXFORD: wexfordpoa.com

SUMMERVILLE: summervilleaugusta.org

Comments (59) Add comment
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insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/26/11 - 07:42 am
0
0
Finally a reasonable take on

Finally a reasonable take on the situation.

Brad Owens
4429
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Brad Owens 06/26/11 - 08:04 am
0
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insamniac, You mean one that

insamniac, You mean one that supports your position that the HOA was right and that the HFOT builders were wrong while ignoring the harm done to the mans family and the way he has been disrespected and humiliated. Got it.

Despicable,

Brad

Brad Owens
4429
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Brad Owens 06/26/11 - 08:06 am
0
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Here is the key, "Sanders

Here is the key,

"Sanders questioned the legality of the Knob Hill committee's unlimited power.."

I also question their actions against this disabled vet based on changing the rules at the last moment.

The President and Secretary of the HOA told the truth in thier first comments, "We don't want out property values to drop.."

I guess having families in their 'hood' like these folks would have done that.

You all know how disabled vets in 2780 sq ft homes built to code bring down property values right?

This article is to help the AC keep their subscriptions out there in Sunshine Patriot land.

Brad

justthefacts
21833
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justthefacts 06/26/11 - 08:37 am
0
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Here's the key: "It's a

Here's the key: "It's a buyer's responsibility to learn all the rules, Bush said. By taking title to a home in such a neighborhood, the buyer is accepting the rules."

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 06/26/11 - 08:40 am
0
0
You are exactly right Brad,

You are exactly right Brad, this has sold papers, with every update the AC changes position on the matter so they can be politically correct on the matter. The first release was about the wronged retired vet and it has been around and aroud from there.

insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/26/11 - 09:12 am
0
0
How exactly were they

How exactly were they disrespected or humiliated? The family hasn't even been involved except as a tool for swaying public opinion. HFOT appeared to want preferential treatment in getting approval, and foolishly scheduled a build date without said approval in place.

"However, if Homes for Our Troops has an e-mail from the HOA stating the plans were approved -- as founder John Gonsalves said they have but hasn't released -- that should end the matter in the organization's favor, he said."

It's possible that an email exists, but if so, someone hypothesize as to why they won't release it. I don't doubt the possibility that the HOA Committee screwed up, but attacking them with claims about greed and snobbery are completely unjustified. If they had concerns about property value, they are completely legitimate because that's the whole purpose of the covenants and part of the reason we all pay to have an HOA! They are obligated to look out for the interests of members, and not just approve any project due to political pressure.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 06/26/11 - 09:32 am
0
0
If the home meets the

If the home meets the requirements of the HOA architectural committee then it can be built. What is wrong with that. The fact that the man is a disabled vet or his race has nothing to do with why the project was stopped. Why put anything else into the mix. I have customers in Knob Hill of all races and they are very nice and certainly not snobs. And several are retired military and I thank them all for their service. Brad, HOA rules are for the benifit of all who inevest and build in those areas because they want to keep all the properties similar. Just look at where you lived in Goshen. All kinds and sizes of homes, apartments, town homes and newer ones on the right as you enter off 56 that haven't been finished. Nice middle class area but no control.

MReardon
0
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MReardon 06/26/11 - 09:48 am
0
0
HOAs are a joke. They are

HOAs are a joke. They are designed to put the money in your pocket and the equity in your home into the lawyers and prop. managers pockets.
Read about how my HOA ripped off my 92 year old neighbor!
http://falmouthairparkhoa.blogspot.com/

MReardon
0
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MReardon 06/26/11 - 09:50 am
0
0
This article could have been

This article could have been written by someone on the payroll of the HOA scam industry.
People under 50 want NOTHING TO DO WITH HOAS...good luck selling your home in these tin pot tyrannys.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 06/26/11 - 09:50 am
0
0
I think the HOA is correct in
Unpublished

I think the HOA is correct in protecting their investment and I do not
buy this race card crap that people, especially blacks used every time something does not go their way. If you can't accept the covenants
then go somewhere different.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/26/11 - 10:01 am
0
0
WW1949, Their plans did meet

WW1949, Their plans did meet the requirements before all of this began. The committee tried to change and interpret the requirements to suit their discriminating motives. It feels like "government housing" to them because the veteran will not have a JUMBO mortgage like they do.

They are requiring this veteran and his family to go beyond what has been required of other homeowners.

It really isn't a very good investment for them in first place. HFOT paid way too much for the lot and HOA is not keeping the covenants enforced.
Boats, trailers, unkept yards and overgrown lots. There are so many much nicer neighborhoods. Tudor's Branch, Bartram Trail, and Riverwood Plantation to name only a few.

I am all about maintaining the property standards, but these folks were using them to block them from the subdivision.

If they have any more trouble, they should see Freddie Sanders. Jack Long could tear them up as well.

seenitB4
87180
Points
seenitB4 06/26/11 - 09:59 am
0
0
I'll vote for Freddie!!

I'll vote for Freddie!!

WW1949
19
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WW1949 06/26/11 - 10:04 am
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Willow, As I read above it

Willow, As I read above it says that the association will not send a copy of the email approving the construction. I have no horse in this fight but I wonder why they will not confirm the email and end the fight. If they did approve original plans, did the builder change the plans? All the other areas you mentioned are very nice and probably have HOA's also. Maybe they should sell the lot and move on. Riverwood sounds good to me.

avidreader
3215
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avidreader 06/26/11 - 10:16 am
0
0
I noticed the reference tothe

I noticed the reference tothe 1948 Supreme Court decision. I recently read Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun". Very interesting!

insamniac
35
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insamniac 06/26/11 - 10:21 am
0
0
WW1949, Willow hasn't budged

WW1949, Willow hasn't budged on her stance throughout the reporting. She has strong negative opinions about Knob Hill and/or the HOA and seemingly takes everything HFOT says as gospel.

She also continually states that the HOA has something against the family itself, though they don't even own the property yet and likely have little or nothing to do with the construction planning.

So Willow, what's your theory as to why HFOT won't release their supposed approval letter?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/26/11 - 10:22 am
0
0
WW1949, I had supposed

WW1949, I had supposed earlier on that it had to do with confidentiality for the Gittens or possible future litigation. I am going to contact them and ask for myself.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/26/11 - 10:27 am
0
0
WW1949, if you look at the

WW1949, if you look at the HOA's own comments, they tried to make the Gittens have requirements that others were not held to.

Requirements that are not in the covenants, I should add.
Some of the residents don't want them in the subdivision and HFOT knows it. They won't admit it, but it feels too much like welfare to them.

insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/26/11 - 10:32 am
0
0
I am impressed by your

I am impressed by your ability to read the minds of the Knob Hill residents. This talent makes you a formidable debater indeed, and more than a match for someone who only has the supplied facts to go off of.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/26/11 - 10:36 am
0
0
Knob Hill residents can relax

Knob Hill residents can relax for now, the project has been cancelled.

Project Updates!
Dear Supporters,
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that the Build Brigade scheduled for June24th at Knob Hill for SFC Sean Gittens and his family has been cancelled. Despite initial approval from the Knob Hill Home Owners Association and the requisite permits, HOA President Rick Trump has informed us the Knob Hill Board of Directors initiated the issuance of a cease and desist order on our plans and decided they do not want HFOT to build our home for the Gittens family in their community. The reason cited was they feel the home will decrease homeowner property values. You should know that our home meets the size criteria in their property guidelines. Over the past few months, we have worked very closely to modify our home plan to meet requirements the HOA requested, and we hoped they would act in good faith once we met their conditions. This is the first time throughout the entire United States that a community has not welcomed a Homes for Our Troops home for a severely injured veteran. However shocking this is, I can assure you that the Knob Hill Home Owners Association is not representative of the way most Americans feel about wounded veterans. It appears that we must now move ahead to find another location, and a community who will be supportive and welcome this military family into their neighborhood. We ask all of our supporters to remain committed to this family as we move forward to making their dream come true.
Thank you,

John Gonsalves
President and Founder
For more information please see www.homesforourtroops.org/knobhillseangittens

insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/26/11 - 10:40 am
0
0
Seems pretty libelous to

Seems pretty libelous to me.

"Over the past few months, we have worked very closely to modify our home plan to meet requirements the HOA requested, and we hoped they would act in good faith once we met their conditions."

To me that could also read, "We thought we could get away with starting construction before we had written approval, but they decided to go by the rules and stop us."

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/26/11 - 10:51 am
0
0
"Seems pretty libelous to

"Seems pretty libelous to me." posted by insamniac.

Yes, I would say so. So start saving your money.

Riverman1
83907
Points
Riverman1 06/26/11 - 11:00 am
0
0
There's enough righteous

There's enough righteous indignation here that a group should be formed to solicit donations in order to take legal action against Knob Hill. I'll leave it up to the attorneys whether it is only against the HOA or includes all residents since the HOA represents them.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/26/11 - 11:11 am
0
0
Riverman1, I have never seen

Riverman1, I have never seen anything like this and am completely sickened by it all. I plan to contact the family.

Sentinel
1
Points
Sentinel 06/26/11 - 11:13 am
0
0
Seems to me that if the HFOT

Seems to me that if the HFOT has met the requirements the HOA set forth, having the cease and desist order removed should be no problem.

I don't understand why they would even suggest that the project be moved to another neighborhood. Why back down when you know you're right?

insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/26/11 - 11:15 am
0
0
Nervous? About what? I

Nervous? About what? I corrected a grammatical error a few posts back.

I can't believe you folks think that there could be a legal basis for anyone to sue the HOA. And.. an evil entity? Geez, take a few deep breaths.

As for how to find who owns properties in Knob Hill:

http://68.216.79.105/columbia/default.htm

Click on Parcel Search... I think the site is having issues at the moment, though.

Riverman1
83907
Points
Riverman1 06/26/11 - 11:15 am
0
0
Willow, I'm commenting in the

Willow, I'm commenting in the Columbia County News Times where the editorial is on this subject. You would be interested in what they say.

insamniac
35
Points
insamniac 06/26/11 - 11:23 am
0
0
Good to see another logical

Good to see another logical mind here, Sentinel.

The cease and desist notice could have easily been overturned if they had any grounds to do so. Instead they just made a bunch of defamatory comments and left.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 06/26/11 - 11:43 am
0
0
I suspect HFOT has spent

I suspect HFOT has spent enough time and money on this site and with all their experience, realized that this would just drag on and on and they are NOT welcome by the HOA/Knob Hill.
I do hope HFOT and the solders family take legal action if they do not recoup project costs/losses and damages from the HOA.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/26/11 - 12:30 pm
0
0
Man is ruled by fear and it

Man is ruled by fear and it is what/who he fears that shows his true character.

purmkinhed
27
Points
purmkinhed 06/26/11 - 12:21 pm
0
0
You know, why on earth would

You know, why on earth would anyone want to spend $200,000 to $500,000 for a house and live with stupid little rules like: No flags, pickup trucks, boats/trailers, your grass has to be 2 inches not 3 inches, etc, etc... If I'm spending that kind of money on property, I'll be damned if anyone is going to tell me what I can and cannot do on that property. So, y'all can keep your Knob Snob or any other HOA's for I'll be purchasing property not associated with any kind of snobbish, self opinionated neighborhoods.

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