By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
The alliance between real estate developers and municipal (or county) government is strong, and status quo for the past 4 decades in Florida has been the privatization of public services by way of homeowners’ associations. Among those services: code enforcement.
Palm Coast is a diversely populated Atlantic Coast city, population nearly 83,000, located in Flagler County. According to Census data, nearly half of the City’s homes have been constructed between 2000-2009. The median home cost is $205,300.
Almost every home in Palm Coast is located in an association-governed community. You could say that Palm Coast is essentially city of HOAs.
So it’s not surprising that, according to a report on News 6, the City has stringent local ordinances that mirror HOA rules and design codes. That means residents of Palm Coast have not one, but two enforcers of architectural standards and what I would call “keeping up appearances” rules and standards.
But strict aesthetic rules and ordinances can become a problem for homeowners in Florida’s neighborhoods.
It’s a huge problem for owners in Hidden Lakes, a subdivision build adjacent to — practically on top of — a wetland preserve, the home of all sorts of critters that aren’t good neighbors in civilized, planned communities.
For example, every year, Florida’s native wild hogs go on a feeding frenzy, devouring and destroying dozens of pristine landscapes overnight.
Some homeowners have decided to put up temporary wire fences along their property lines, to prevent the wild animals from coming back for second helpings of plants and insects located in their front and back yards.
After all, the typical HOA-approved Florida landscape is expensive to establish and maintain, and even more costly to replace.
But both Hidden Lakes HOA and the City of Palm Coast say “NO” to fences in the front yard.
What’s a homeowner to do?
HOA faces fight as wild hogs run rampant, tear up neighborhood yards
Trappers capture 28 boars in Palm Coast subdivision
By Loren Korn – Reporter
Posted: 5:58 PM, July 25, 2018
Updated: 6:03 AM, July 26, 2018
PALM COAST, Fla. – Wild hogs are running rampant in the Hidden Lakes subdivision and some homeowners like Arnie Roma said it’s been a problem since June.
“We’ve taken six out of my backyard alone. The last one was 150 pounds,” Roma said.
Residents said trappers who volunteered to catch the hogs trapped 28 in the neighborhood. Donna Tredway moved into her home last month and her lawn is already destroyed.
“My backyard is all torn up. My front yard is partly torn up. It’s just devastating and very costly, I might add,” she said.
Roma said residents can install a fence in their backyard but the homeowner’s association told him it won’t allow fencing in the front yard.
“The dilemma is do I fix the lawn, take the fence down and just offer them to come back and eat it again,” he said.
The city of Palm Coast said the wild hogs issue is due to new development in the subdivision and rainy weather. The city does not allow fences in front yards as it’s part of the land development code.
However, officials will work with residents and won’t require them to fix their lawns until the hog issue gets under control.
Check out Palm Coast’s Ordinances here. It’s easy to see that the City and HOA developers have exchanged notes with regard to aesthetic rules and standards, while, at the same time, the city allows deep-pocketed developers to build thousands of cookie-cutter design, single family homes on virtually every possible square foot of land within its boundaries.
Here’s a satellite view of Palm Coast. You can see Hidden Lakes is under construction at the southeastern fringe of city limits.
The small conservation zones that still exist in Palm Coast simply don’t provide enough space or food for wildlife, leading to inevitable conflict with humans that live adjacent to nature preserve zones.
One common sense solution is to put up barrier fences to deter the wild hogs, but, unfortunately, in HOA-ville and cities made up of dozens of HOAs, common sense rarely rules.
So Palm Coast is now in the awkward position of playing referee between homeowners and their HOAs, allowing owners to live with their ravaged lawns until the bureaucracy figures out what to do about the wild pigs.
But will that stop HOA boards from enforcing covenants and restrictions? Will the City of Palm Coast prevent HOAs from imposing fines on owners with torn up, unattractive yards?
Let’s find out.