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‘They have no authority,’ fumes homeowner over new $500 fine for junk in their backyard – & neighbors will police it

HOMEOWNERS have been seething over a new ordinance that could leave them with a hefty fine for having junk in their yard.

Residents have slammed their community after it was announced that anyone who doesn’t upkeep both their front and backyard, will receive a $500 fine.

KPNX

Chris Lindahl admitted that he felt like it gave the town too much power over his property.[/caption]

KPNX

The new ordinance could give a fine to anybody with a messy backyard[/caption]

The new Community Preservation Ordinance has many homeowners living in Gilbert, Arizona up in arms.

Starting on July 18, those living in the town can expect to pay a hefty fee if a neighbor reports that they see issues like dead grass, piled-up debris, or cars that don’t work on someone’s property.

One neighbor admitted that he felt like it gave the town too much power over his property.

“I see this as being a form of violation of the Fourth Amendment,” Chris Lindahl said in a community meeting, per local NBC affiliate KPNX.

“My HOA currently has no authority to police what goes on in my backyard.”

However, the town planning manager, Eva Cutro, believes this could be a positive change for the town.

“It’s really just keeping Gilbert as it is today and preserving that for into the future,” said Cutro.

She clarified that while this ordinance does rely on neighbors notifying the city, residents will not get citations right away.

Instead, the city hopes to work with homeowners to get everything resolved.

The town’s leaders also only plan to report to the council every three months to avoid the system getting abused.


The U.S. Sun has reached out to Eva Cutro for comment.

ORDINANCE DRAMA

Other towns have been adopting ordinances that have steep financial consequences as well.

Fred Wintrich, who lives in Dunwoody, Georgia, was shocked when he was fined $1,500 for parking his RV in front of his home, according to  Rough Draft Atlanta.

Dunwoody City Code violations state that residents cannot park their RVs in front of their houses.

What is an HOA?

One in five Americans live in an area with a Homeowners’ Association – or HOA. But what exactly is it that they do?

  • An HOA is a homeowner’s association – an organization that aims to maintain a clean and cohesive place to live for its residents.
  • Entire neighborhoods, subdivisions, condominiums, family homes, or townhouses within “a planned development” will often make up an HOA.
  • They also act as a governing body for tenants, who run and fund the HOA through monthly fees.
  • Their principal aims are to keep the community functioning and visually appealing and to maintain property values.
  • They primarily focus on common areas of a neighborhood, such as roads, parks, and pools – but may also stipulate what residents can do with their properties, such as yards and driveways.
  • Often these restrictions enforce uniformity on properties, for example, ensuring most houses look the same and all driveways are clear of weeds.
  • An HOA rulebook of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) is distributed to all residents, and an elected volunteer board of directors enforces these regulations.
  • Breaking these rules can result in penalties such as fines and even litigation – as most HOAs are incorporated and subject to state law.
  • HOAs are often the subject of controversy, with some members feeling that the rules are too punitive and restricting, or that the leadership has too much power.
  • But others like that HOAs give communities the power of self-governance, and can ensure a degree of harmony between residents.

Violating the rule can result in up to a $1,000 fine per citation or up to six months in jail.

“A disabled veteran with not so much as a parking ticket in the state of Georgia for the last 15 years gets sent to jail?” Wintrich said.

“For an RV in my driveway?”

The ordinance has been in effect since 2008, according to City Councilmember John Heneghan who spoke to Rough Draft Atlanta.

Wintrich said the rule was unclear because it didn’t provide a clear definition for the word, “Street yard,” that was used in the ordinance.

“The city ordinance said you can’t park in the street yard,” Wintrich said.

“It didn’t say anything about the driveway. So in my non-legally-trained brain, having your RV in your driveway wasn’t against the ordinances.”

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