By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Memorial Day is all about honoring those who sacrificed their lives for our American freedoms. So Jane Buck, 12-year resident of Cascades at Azalea Lakes decorated her front yard with some small flags and a sign that reads “God Bless America.”
But this year the condo association’s board decided to cite Buck for having an unauthorized sign. They say that signs can only be displayed from inside the window of each home.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW)- The Board of Directors at Cascades at Azalea Lakes sent resident, Jane Buck, a letter on May 20, 2016 that a sign posted on her front yard was in violation of the association’s rules.
Jane Buck says she’s lived in Cascades for 12 years now and puts up her “God Bless America” sign and display every Memorial Day. She told News13 her corner lot is a popular spot for people to stop by.
“Just positive reaction from all my neighbors and other developments have come by to tell us how beautiful our yard looks,” Buck said.
Buck says she put up the sign about a week ago and received the letter from her HOA shortly after.
The letter stated the sign needed to be removed from her lawn immediately because they are only permitted to be displayed from an inside window on the property.
Read more here: http://wbtw.com/2016/05/27/myrtle-beach-woman-refuses-to-move-god-bless-america-sign-hoa-issues-fine/
As you can see, Jane Buck says she has been displaying the sign for years, and none of her neighbors have ever complained. But this year, she has been slapped with a violation citation and a fine for $25.
What’s different? This year, the condo association has a management company, Gold Crown Communities.
Board president Carla Murphy and two other board members were tired of spending countless hours volunteering their time. They had been unable to convince others to serve on the board, which is supposed to have five members. So they decided to hire Gold Crown Communities to manage their association.
The story is typical of association-governed housing developments everywhere. Few want to volunteer to serve on the board, so they look to a management company to do the dirty work of collecting assessments and enforcing the rules.
Now the fines for violations begin! The management company is taking the strict stance that, because Buck and other residents do not own their yards, the association can restrict signs and other decor placed outside their condo units.
Apparently, long-time residents were never aware of this distinction when volunteers were on the board. And it appears from the TV coverage that most of the neighbors actually approve of Buck’s sign.
So Buck has opted to pay the fine and keep her sign right where it is. Good for her!
She also says her sister-in-law just resigned from the board over the handling of this issue. Of course, this only empowers the management company and authoritarian members of the board even more.
History of disagreement at Azalea Lakes
To put this into context, the reader should know that Azalea Lakes condo association has a history of conflict, as you can see from the following article published several months ago. That was before board members decided to hire a management company.
HOA life | Group of six is raising numerous issues at Azalea Lakes
Carla Murphy saw what Jean Cavanaugh was complaining about when she looked at the financial reports sent to Cavanaugh by the accountant for Azalea Lakes.
Murphy, president of the homeowners association for the condominium complex near the U.S. 17 Bypass entrance to Market Common, was used to hearing something was wrong from Cavanaugh, one of six residents Murphy said inundate the board of directors with constant complaints.
Managers, both professional and volunteers like Murphy, said the same thing is true at every development and subdivision where there is a homeowners association. A small number of residents seem constantly upset about one thing or another.
“We have certain individuals who want to complain about the same things over and over and over,” she said.
Cavanaugh and Jan Benton, another resident Murphy identified as a member of the group, said they ask so many questions because they either get no answers or the wrong answer.
“(The Azalea Lakes board) has always done it that way,” she said.
Benton and Cavanaugh said the association holds a hammer over the heads of people who press for information and answers to their questions with a non-harassment rule, which says that any resident who continuously annoys board members can be fined $50 each time.
Nice. Don’t want to answer questions? Just accuse the members of harassing the board and fine them $50 a pop. And that was before the management company was hired!
Management Fees for access to documents
But now owners must go through the Gold Crown to gain access to document, and must even purchase resale documents. Note the “Buy Community Documents” tab on the website.
Hmmm. Do you really think Azalea Lakes is better off with professional management?