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Tempest in pink teapot blows over

Posted: October 20, 2012 - 11:01pm

The tempest in the pink teapot involving the pink playhouse in the Millshaven neighborhood blew over abruptly when the property owners association capitulated.

They were suing Becky Rogers-Peck for violating neighborhood covenants by placing a pink-and-purple playhouse for her granddaughter in her backyard. The color scheme wasn’t appropriate, they said.

Rogers-Peck appealed to the court of public opinion where everyone loves grandchildren and pink-and-purple playhouses. In the interim, the association elected a new board of directors who decided they were tired of being portrayed as meanies. They dropped the case and agreed to have a tea party with the granddaughter.

So what do they do when the dad down the street decides to build a garishly neon green playhouse for his son, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan? The property owners association said it was OK for Rogers-Peck to ignore the neighborhood rules, so why not him?

That’s the problem with the easy solution. Many in the general public, swayed by emotion and unfettered by the contractual obligation spelled out to property owners in a neighborhood, find it easy to side with the homeowner against the rule-stickler busybodies: “She’s just a little girl!” they plead. “Let her have her pink-and -purple playhouse!”

And the chartreuse playhouse? And the metallic silver treehouse made from recycled aluminum cans? And the sweat lodge made of piled-up logs?

Why these issues are even debates is beyond me. If you sign a contract specifying what you can and can’t do – in a community, in employment, in a club – then you should follow those rules. If you’re a free spirit who doesn’t want to be tangled up in details, then don’t engage in activities requiring such an agreement.

Perhaps it’s because I have a sunburn-level of exposure to the media that I’m jaded about these sob stories where people appeal to emotion to try to circumvent a contractual agreement. The media just eats it up.

My favorite is the occasional heart-wrenching story of the grizzled veteran hounded by his neighborhood association just because he wants to fly an American flag in front of his house. We reflexively jump to the veteran’s defense. “He earned the right to fly that flag!” we yell indignantly.

Did he earn the right to fly the flag on a pole that’s 10 feet taller than allowed in the contract he signed when he bought his house? Does past military service negate civil contracts? Would we be so quick to defend him if he decided to fly, say, an Iranian flag?

It would be nice if we’d stow the emotion sometimes and just follow the law. While we’re at it, let’s do that when we’re voting, too. Maybe then we wouldn’t be in such a mess that we’re worried about losing our jobs and needing to find a pink playhouse to live in.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/
barrypaschal.)

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Comments (3)

soapy_725

Excelllent take on the emotion.

Not to mention the shift from the "violation" to the innocent intent". Neither the child nor the grandmother were the responsible adult. Ms. Rogers-Peck should have been. Are we a civilized society of laws or misdirected emotions. Heaven knows we do not want to be ruled by emotion. Or do we? How we feel on a certain day determines right and wrong. It is a book on human psychology. It is called "Situation Morality". An interesting read, since your children are being taught this in public school. It has many names, but the outcome basis is the same. There are no "absolutes". There are no rules "set in stone" by which humans can know their boundaries. Lawlessness is not a mark of a civilized soiety. "Children" will always test the boundaries of their restrictions. Responsible adults welcome the rules that define their freedom and the freedom of others.

Riverman1

Should All Toys Be Camouflaged?

I consider a playhouse a toy of sorts. I believe you can actually buy plastic ones almost that size and they are probably in all sorts of colors. Slides of various kinds, plastic wading pools and other contraptions for kids are in bright colors. We don’t have to have everything camouflaged. The HOA made a good decision.

Little Lamb

Lawsuit

It is far from a slam dunk that the HOA would have won their lawsuit. Sure the covenants said the Arch. Control committee is supposed to approve outbuildings before construction. But the grandmother's contention that the playhouse is not what that covenant intended. It was for utility sheds, workshops, and garages. They might have prevailed on intent.

It appears the lawsuit was a bullying bluff all along. Just as soon as she got a pro bono lawyer, the HOA folded like a house of cards (or is it a cheap suit? I cannot remember my similes). They were just trying to intimidate her.

That brings up a question. Does anyone know whether the Millshaven HOA (or POA, whatever it is) enforces mandatory dues, or are dues voluntary? It makes a difference in how you can enforce covenants, I was told by a real estate agent.

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