A Homeowner’s Association (HOA) in Texas wasn’t playing when it told Bill Fry to remove the swing set and slide from his yard. Fry, an Army National Guard captain who recently returned from Afghanistan after serving a year overseas, claims the HOA is just trying to flex its muscles.
Before his departure to Afghanistan, Bill and Candi Fry decided to build a swing set as a way to help the kids cope. They claim they received verbal permission. “His response was, ‘Go ahead and build it. I’m chair of the architectural committee, and it should not be a problem,'” Candi Fry recalled.
But after neighbors complained, the HOA swung into action.
The HOA filed a lawsuit against the Fry family for failing to comply with neighborhood standards. “They’re in the wrong only because they declined to make the proper application and submit the drawings,” HOA chairman Harold Lemmon told KLTV.
The Frys claim that, although they were warned they might have to remove the swing set if neighbors complained, they were never told to submit drawings or documentation. Following the neighbors’ complaints and the HOA’s demand, the Frys submitted documentation. The HOA found the drawings unsatisfactory.
“I’m not immune to the emotions of this,” Lemmon said. “[But] if you break the rules, you broke the rules. You can’t break the rules for your own personal reasons.”
Evan McKenzie, political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of the book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government, commented: “The moral of the story on this is, the owners really have to know what’s in their (homeowners association) declaration. You cannot act like the rules and regulations are to be taken lightly. You have to read them, you have to understand them. If you don’t like it, then you don’t want to live in this type of housing.”