Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
More warm, fuzzy neighborly behavior in a homeowners association (HOA), this time in Pocono Lakes’ gated Arrowhead section.
There are several negative social dynamics at play here, and it all begins with the HOA’s power to fine one’s neighbor. Add in a lack of communication – no one bothered to personally talk to the homeowner about the supposed parking violation – and you create instant animosity.
The policy of blocking access of the resident through the gate, forcing the “rogue offender” to get out of their vehicle and obtain a guest pass each time they enter Arrowhead Lake, until they pay the fine, is essentially an impolite form of extortion, is it not?
Turns out the homeowner has arthritis and has had a handicap parking placard for years. Her husband provided proof on her behalf at a hearing he attended. Still the HOA board stood firm on their intent to fine and block access through the gate.
After the Pocono Record reported the story, Arrowhead Lakes HOA backed down.
But the homeowner wants to continue to “expose” the HOA and perpetuate the shaming. Is that wise, or is that just asking for more trouble in the future?
There’s an old Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler, with the following lyrics:
“You got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.”
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the homeowner’s frustration and anger. Clearly, the HOA was in the wrong when they insisted on going ahead with the fine after being presented with proof of her handicap placard.
But now that the HOA has backed down, what is to be gained by continuing the conflict?
Why not channel that energy toward getting Arrowhead Lakes’ HOA to repeal their policy of blocking unencumbered entry to one’s own property?
This is nothing more than a shame game. The HOA seeks to embarrass and shame the owner into compliance and paying the fine. And now the owner, angry over the entire months-long ordeal, seeks to shame the HOA for their outrageous behavior.
Blocking gate access and diverting to the guest lane is a fairly common but draconian penalty. It should probably be illegal.
Think about it. Can your City block access to your street or your driveway if you have failed to pay a parking ticket, or any other municipal fine, for that matter?
So why should your HOA, condo association, co-op association, or planned community be able to get away with blocking access to your own property?
And to take it one step further, why should state law enable HOAs to unilaterally fine or otherwise penalize owners and residents, under the guise of fake “due process” by way of an internally administered Kangaroo Court hearing?
Whatever happened to mutual respect and understanding for one’s neighbor? The impersonal and anonymous tattle-tale, photograph, and fine process breeds conflict and animosity. It doesn’t build pleasant communities.
I’m particularly interested in reader thoughts on this one.
Arrowhead Lake homeowner challenges handicap parking fine
By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer
Georgia Gilfeather’s arthritis makes it challenging for her to walk even just a short distance.
The Queens, N.Y., resident has had both hips replaced and now needs both knees replaced. She makes sure her handicap placard is in a visible location in her car whenever she parks in a handicap space.
Gilfeather has owned a part-time home in the gated Arrowhead Lake community in Pocono Lake for 10 years, paying nearly $2,000 in community association dues each year.
In August, Gilfeather parked in a handicap spot at the Arrowhead Lake community pool. As far as she recalls, she had her handicap placard in a visible location in her car.
Days later, Gilfeather was notified via mail that she was being fined $75 for illegally parking in the handicap spot at the pool and that she could appear before the community association board in September if she wanted to challenge the fine.