Rob Athey, 65, begins his day at sunrise by feeding the ducks and geese near the lake outside his Woodbridge home.
But the future of the fowl at Woodbridge has been a touchy topic at property owners committee meetings.
"My wife and I moved to Woodbridge seven years ago because of the beautiful wildlife here," said Mr. Athey - who retired as director of the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Columbia, S.C., seven years ago. "We like the wildlife and the nice wooded area here."
Last year, Mr. Athey began feeding bread and grain to the ducks, where his property touches the lake. In May, Dianne Athey, 64, attended a property owners' meeting and the committee said that they had received a complaint about how Mr. Athey feeds the ducks.
"They wouldn't tell me who the complaint was from and wouldn't allow me to speak at the meeting," she said. "They were very discourteous to me."
The covenants review committee of the Woodbridge Property Owners Association sent the Atheys an unsigned letter dated June 12. The letter stated that a complaint had been received in regard to their "feeding of the geese and ducks that reside on the Woodbridge pond," and "the frequency and quantity of food that is provided for these fowl."
The letter stated "This type of feeding has increased the goose and duck populations and causes them to roam neighboring lots, becoming a nuisance to neighbors" and "the fowl are causing damage to neighboring property by digging in flower beds, damaging porch and door screens and fouling the yard to the point that it is not fit for use."
The letter also stated that the Atheys were in violation of a code, having an unkempt yard. The Athey's attorney has sent a letter back to the POA stating that calling their yard unkempt "was a stretch."
Frank Plumley, president of the Woodbridge POA refused to comment on the matter. Committee vice-president Jim Counts said that no final decisions have been made about the birds.
"We've been having problems with the amount of geese for about three years now," Counts said. "I've been on the board for about five years and it seems like every year we have some people complaining about it. ... We try to represent the 182 families out here (and) weigh all of these things."
Mr. Athey used to put out five or six packages of dinner rolls. Now he has cut back to just one package of dinner rolls. The letter from the POA instructed the couple to "please discontinue feeding of the geese and ducks in this manner.
"This may be something that we resolve at the next meeting or we may just wait until we get more complaints," Counts said. "There have been some discussions but no decisions have been made."
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