The 4-bed room, reverse one-and-a-half story home in Olathe appeared like the right setup for Stuart and Marsha Holland.
Marsha’s father had simply undergone his fourth most cancers surgical procedure, and the couple determined it was time to maneuver her mother and father from Florida to Kansas so they might extra intently monitor their care.
“They might reside on the primary degree, and we’d stay on the decrease degree,” Stuart Holland stated. “And we’d heard some nice issues concerning the neighborhood.”
However 5 years later, as Ed Majewski prepares for extra rounds of remedy in his ongoing battle with most cancers, the Hollands are entangled in a battle on the house entrance — this one with their HOA.
The Avignon Villa Houses Group Affiliation has determined to not permit the Hollands to park a automotive in their very own driveway in a single day. The choice was made, the HOA says, as a result of the board has a duty to take care of “the integrity of the neighborhood.” The HOA’s parking coverage requires residents’ automobiles to be stored in garages always, besides for brief-time period actions.
And the Hollands have till Jan. 1 to conform.
The difficulty has pit neighbor towards neighbor in an HOA already embroiled in a excessive-stakes warfare with one other home-owner over a landscaping undertaking it deemed was “excessive.” That case resulted in a lawsuit that has slogged on for years, with authorized charges now within the a whole lot of hundreds of dollars.
“As a person of religion and a priest, I spend numerous time in prayer,” stated Stuart Holland, a deacon at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa. “In my reflection and my very own prayer on this example, the assaults on me personally don’t hassle me a bit. However when it impacts my neighbors, that’s when I’ve to talk out.
“No less than among the many board and amongst some neighbors, there seems to be no sense of compassion, no sense of empathy… I might say completely that this can be a bully board.”
The three-member Avignon HOA board declined to touch upon the Hollands’ case.
“The board needs to not contribute,” board member Michael Harrington stated in an e mail to The Star.
However different HOA residents have spoken out, posting feedback on the affiliation’s on-line bulletin board.
“I’m all the time amazed when neighbors complain about our deed restrictions years after they’ve moved in,” wrote Kevin Drake, a former board member. “I assume once they initially log off on all of the paperwork, they assume that a few of the guidelines gained’t apply to them or gained’t be enforced…Good luck together with your choice to conform or transfer.”
One yr after The Star revealed a collection on householders associations, the newspaper continues to often obtain calls about issues in HOAs. The Star discovered that houses associations wield much more energy than householders understand and that some truly torment the residents they’re presupposed to help.
The turmoil in Avignon isn’t the primary within the Johnson County neighborhood.
In 2013, when home-owner Jim Hildenbrand put in a landscaping undertaking that featured an extended, low accent wall operating the size of his home, the HOA stated he didn’t have approval and ordered him to halt the work. Hildenbrand contended that he did have approval. He sued, the HOA countersued, and the case went to trial in Johnson County District Courtroom.
Hildenbrand misplaced that spherical and appealed. The Kansas Courtroom of Appeals heard the case final yr and despatched it again to the district courtroom, and it’s scheduled to go to trial in October.
The Hollands, who reside subsequent door to Hildenbrand, stated they’d initially put a deposit on quite a bit in a unique neighborhood and deliberate to construct a house that would additionally accommodate Marsha’s mother and father. Then Marsha Holland got here throughout the Avignon Villas subdivision, which includes 153 houses close to 118th and Greenwood. It had every little thing they have been on the lookout for.
However simply because the Hollands have been about to shut on the home, the actual property agent advised them they couldn’t park a automotive within the driveway in a single day. The HOA’s parking coverage says residents want written approval to try this.
“Her suggestion was that we might get a variance to have the third automotive parked right here, and that we might in all probability renew it yearly, in order that shouldn’t be a problem,” Stuart Holland stated. “So we received the approval, and every part was nice.”
Till this yr.
When he utilized for the variance in January, Stuart Holland stated, he by no means acquired a response. Then this summer time, he stated, Harrington — the most recent board member — paid him a go to.
“He stated, ‘You might have the longest variance of any home-owner with a automotive right here. Both we’re going to only eliminate having to fret about you asking yearly, or we’re going to disclaim it.’ ”
Harrington requested what the Hollands would do if the board denied their allow.
“And I stated, ‘We’re in all probability going to should promote the home — transfer,’ ” Holland stated.
Inside a few weeks, the Hollands acquired a letter from the HOA’s property administration firm.
“The choice is that you’ll not be granted a parking exception and all automobiles parked at your residence have to be in compliance with the present parking coverage,” stated the July 14 letter. “Avignon Villa Houses board of administrators has an obligation to satisfy their duty of sustaining the integrity of the neighborhood.”
The Hollands have been perplexed.
“I wasn’t positive what that meant,” Stuart Holland stated. “As if having a automotive right here would one way or the other destroy property values.”
Holland stated he retains lengthy hours at work, and through the week his Toyota Highlander is often solely parked on the driveway from eight p.m. till 7:30 a.m. Majewski, eighty three, parks his automotive within the storage. He stated he makes use of the automotive virtually day by day, typically to drive to his medical appointments.
“What’s the hurt of parking within the driveway?” he stated. “I assume I’m too previous to know what being a great neighbor is.”
Mary Ann Majewski, eighty, stated when she noticed the HOA’s letter, “I simply needed out of right here.”
“Undoubtedly not compassionate,” she stated.
Holland spent two weeks writing a response, then posted it on the HOA’s website.
“The board is making it very troublesome for us to remain, in reality, they appear to be making an attempt to drive us out,” he wrote. “How did a gaggle of three develop into so highly effective and intimidating in our neighborhood?”
Holland wrote that he and his spouse felt an ethical obligation to care for his or her mother and father “and permit them to stay a full life, persevering with to drive so long as God allows them.”
“How unhappy that the ‘integrity’ of the neighborhood is extra necessary than individuals,” he wrote. “We understand that everybody within the neighborhood isn’t Christian, however we nonetheless ask the query: what would Jesus do?”
The letter prompted swift responses, some despatched on to the Hollands and others posted on the HOA’s on-line website.
“Automobiles parked in driveways/streets can shortly grow to be an eyesore and a humiliation,” wrote Jim and Fran McDonald on the HOA’s website. “I consider that the neighborhood and the Board has been variety and thoughtful to permit Stuart, for 5 years, to not comply with the principles all of us agreed to once we moved in. Going ahead, I’m wondering why it will be so troublesome for him to get by with two automobiles as an alternative of three, notably given the supply of Uber and Lyft.”
One resident wrote that “we do reside in a restrictive neighborhood” with guidelines that each one residents agreed to comply with.
“In the event you knew you had three automobiles it is best to have purchased a three automotive storage lot interval,” stated Di Garcia. “Not the Boards fault that you simply didn’t comply with the principles. Guidelines are there for a cause and they’re solely making an attempt to uphold what’s already in place. Everybody else lives by the By-Legal guidelines — what makes you totally different.”
Some residents tried to see each side.
“Sorry for the problem that you’re going through,” stated Janak and Linda Poojara. “I hope you shouldn’t have to maneuver. I consider that folks operating our HOA are truthful minded and try to accommodate on most requests — they’re devoting their very own time and making an attempt to comply with our bylaws as greatest as they might.” They added, nevertheless, that it is probably not a nasty concept to evaluation the parking coverage “to see if the hardship that residence house owners go through outweighs any perceived profit.”
The Hollands stated they acquired a handful of supportive responses.
“One woman stated, ‘I want I had area in my very own storage,’ ” Stuart Holland stated. “ ‘I’d allow you to park there.’ ”
What occurs subsequent?
“I’m unsure what we’re going to do,” Stuart Holland stated. “We don’t need to be pressured to inform my father-in-regulation that he can’t have his automotive anymore. And the stress of these items is actually taking a toll on him.”
Whereas they love their home and say that their instant neighbors have been fantastic, the Hollands stated they really feel others would simply as quickly they transfer.
“By no means in one million years,” Marsha Holland stated, “did we expect we’d be coping with one thing like this.”