On Monday, my husband got this email. You know, because he’s the MAN of the family…
“The Board has received a formal complaint concerning the
project ongoing in your backyard. Consequently, the board requests
that you temporarily stop any further work and provide the board with
an explaination of the project.”
It only took 2 hours to craft this greatness. Some of my finest work. (and my mother worried I would never put my law degree to any use)
[Insert name of Guy Crazy Enough to Run for HOA President],
This is about the platform in the trees? I was confused because the subject line of your email was “Yard Work.” I’m wasn’t sure if the problem is that we are taking down trees or that the boys put a platform in them. We’ve worked really hard this summer to maintain our yard to the standards of a planned adult golf community that our neighbors would prefer to live in than the heavily wooded lots we actually purchased 5 years ago. If you have been running interference for us all summer and I didn’t know it, I apologize for taking my frustration out on you. But the vagueness of your initial email did not reflect the actual complaint that we haven’t seen. The anonymity in the formal complaint process allows for the complainant to freely air his grievances without being held responsible for his own violations of the covenants if no one complains. It is the foundation of the American system of justice that one be allowed to face his accusers, to know what (s)he is being accused of and to know that rules are being applied consistently. This anonymity also violates the open records section of the bylaws. I realize that HOAs are above this concept, but give a girl a second to just long for a little justice.
But I really hate this, [HOA President]. Instead of someone just being a good neighbor, rolling down the window and asking “what’s up?” while exposed to my yard for the 3 whole seconds anyone can see it as they drive by (because our lots are so big and we have no neighbors who can directly see it from their house), everyone heads right to combat mode. We have always complied with the bylaws requirements (plans for the shed–twice) and accommodated the board’s requests for the maintenance of our yard which far exceeds the bylaws requirements (seasonally-appropriate tarp colors). Our neighbors do not but we don’t complain about it because we don’t care. We’ve happily supported variances for alpacas and scandalous lot divisions. Because we don’t care.
There’s no need for a cease-and-desist on construction because there’s nothing else being “constructed.” It was “built” by Derek and the boys 1) as a Boy Scout project involving recycling and using our resources responsibly and 2) it would give them something to do outside as Derek diligently works to clear the trees that have been identified by (electric company) for being at risk in a storm to power lines supplying our neighbors with electricity (but electric company won’t remove them). This tree removal is a service primarily to our neighbors on [insert road name full of neighbors super pissed off when they lose power] because [electric company] indicated that if any of those trees go down, it wouldn’t affect our service personally. While it is no one’s business, we’re happy to share that we are planting fruit and evergreen trees in the place of the precarious oak trees. Derek has been outside working on clearing out the trees five days a week for the last two weeks. Apparently that isn’t fast enough for whomever has issued the complaint. He will now work every single day after his real job so our neighbors are not inconvenienced by his inability to make the tree limbs magically disappear after he cuts them down.
But now we are in that awkward situation where we feel defensive and feel compelled to identify to the board that a structure in a tree is not regulated as a “building” in any rural [county] laws or regulations and that platforms or tree houses are not mentioned in the bylaws. If the board feels that the neighborhood would be a safer place by the board determining what goes on in trees, it may be in their best interest to propose a modification of the bylaws to include “structures in trees in which children play.” Were we to construct a tree house for our children, please know that we would take into account the unique sensitivities of our neighbors around us, even though we would not be legally required to do so.
The platform was never intended to stay for very long and is constructed from only ropes, trees that have just been cut down and a few pieces of recycled plywood. Had someone just asked us about it and explained their particular aversion to it (nicely), we would have taken it down immediately. Suddenly, we want to keep it forever. (Ir)Regardless, we’ll take it down now, even though we’d prefer to wait until after the boys stop crying about how some people hate recycling and about how some people hate seeing small children playing for 6 whole seconds (round trip) in their own 3 acre yard.