Photo credit-Bob Reck
In a story out of North Carolina that will sound familiar to all who have lived in suburban America, a local homeowner's association has forbidden an owner to put up a 6 foot fence (which is prohibited under their covenant).
What's unusual (probably not to most reading this list, but in general) is that the reason the homeowners wanted to put up a higher than allowed fence was to keep their young autistic son from eloping from their yard.
This is one of those common problems that we often have to face. In our family, we decided to put dead bolt locks on all of our outside doors (as well as our mudroom door) in order to keep Buddy Boy from eloping when he was younger. This is against our local building code, and if the city catches us, we'll likely be forced to remove them (our local code says that there must be a latch on the inside that can release the lock). While we appreciate that we put ourselves at slightly increased risk of not being able to get out of the house if there is a fire, for us the overwhelming problem was of having our son run out of the house, which unfortunately sits on a relatively busy street. We compensate for the fire scenario by having keys placed up high near the doors.
In the incident in the article:
...Michele and Rene Guyader hoped to build a 6-foot fence to keep their fast-growing boy from falling into a sewage drain hole at the back of their steeply sloping lot. The homeowners association of their Clayton subdivision turned them down. ...
One would think that your neighbors would execute some common sense and sensibility, but unfortunately this is usually in short supply in these local situations. Some of the biggest tyrants are to be found in positions of power in these local homeowners associations.
The homeowners association was asked by a reporter to respond:
Bailey, the architectural review committee member in the Guyaders' neighborhood, said he was not fully aware of the son's condition until contacted by a reporter. He would consider a 4-foot-tall fence, topped with a see-through lattice.
The Guyaders aren't sure yet that will work. They argue an exception to the covenant is warranted because they didn't know of their son's condition before moving into Cobblestone subdivision about a year ago.
I know Buddy Boy would make short work of a "see through lattice" if he really wanted to get over a fence.
"A man's home is his castle" is the old saying. Nowadays, that holds true only if the government doesn't have a tax lien on the house, you've complied with all local building codes, and the increasingly ominous homeowners covenants, which can dictate all sorts of things which you can and can't do to your house, including what color you can paint it. I've never lived in a place where I had to sign one of these things, and I hope to never have to.
I also hope that there will come a time when common sense prevails, and people can make common sense modifications to their own house when they need to for the safety of one of the occoupants.