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.
But the Millshaven Property Owners Association, which enforces covenants in the Evans subdivision, recently filed a lawsuit against Rogers-Peck because she wouldn’t repaint it.
Rogers-Peck 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. After applying for ACC approval, 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 outbuilding. 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 Rogers-Peck to conform to the neighborhood covenant by repainting the playhouse a color more appropriate to the home. The ACC agreed to retroactively approve the playhouse construction if it 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 principal of it. Why do they have the right to tell me what to do on the property that I pay for?”
The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 2 and 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, the board had no recourse except to sue.
“She’s give 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.”
But Rogers-Peck said her granddaughter Aubree, loves pink and doesn’t want her playhouse repainted.
Rogers-Peck has 30 days to file a response after being served with the suit on Sept. 5. She’s already 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.
“It never even once crossed my mind that it was ever going to be an issue,” Rogers-Peck said. “Once it became an issue, 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.”