Monday, December 25, 2017

Homeowners association demands 'Jesus' sign be taken down | WHP

Homeowners association demands 'Jesus' sign be taken down | WHP

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHP) - A homeowners association in Gettysburg is demanding that a sign that says "Jesus" be taken down. The homeowners association responded to the sign after a complaint was filed about the homemade display in the front yard of Lynn and Mark Wivell's home, saying it was "offensive." In an email to the Wivells, the homeowners association claimed the sign "wasn't in accordance with normal Christmas decorations" and asked them to remove it.


Cue the outrage. It may be Jesus this time, but it's the same issue all the time, and it unfolds basically the same way. People move into an HOA that has restrictions on signs and other outdoor displays and structures. Then they erect something in the yard or on the house that breaks the rules, claiming their home is their castle. Somebody complains and the association reacts by demanding compliance with the rules. Then the outraged owner calls the local media, and this story is the result. The ensuing debate is all about the merits of whatever was prohibited: Jesus, Christmas lights, political signs, flags, whatever.  The cry goes up, "What do you have against Jesus?"  Or the American flag. Or the anti-Trump sign. The HOA and their attorney explain that they are just enforcing the rules that apply to everybody.  Often the HOA backs down in the face of negative media portrayals. Sometimes they don't, and generally that means the HOA will prevail and the owner will end up liable for the association's attorney fees.

Behind all the surface outrage, the core issue is the legitimacy of private land use restrictions. Many people think they should be able to ignore them, and they don't think they should have to do what their HOA tells them to do.  And local media outlets have this basic story in a template that they can run by filling in the blanks. In the meantime, the most important issues facing most HOAs and condo associations are financial.