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CCOC Decision Summary

#21-06, Whetstone Homes Corp. v. Hight-Walker & Groff (November 28, 2006) (Panel: Stevens, Gannon, Vergagni)

The homeowner association (HOA) filed a complaint attempting to enforce its rule prohibiting the parking of pickup trucks in the community against the owner of the unit and his tenant, who owned and parked the truck involved.

The tenant and homeowner (HO) challenged the rule as unreasonable, citing an unreported decision of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in Montgomery Village Association v. Ellis (No. 1494, April 3, 2002).

The evidence at the hearing showed that the tenants were in the military and assigned to duty in the Washington, D.C. area from Texas.When they moved to this area they brought with them their pickup truck, and were not specifically informed by the HO or his broker of the rule prohibiting the parking of pickup trucks on the community streets.The HOA permits pickup trucks that are parked in the garages of the units, but the pickup here is too big to fit into the garage of its unit, and was parked on common property.However, the HOA permits the parking of SUV's in the community.

The panel upheld the rule.The panel noted that the rule was properly enacted and reasonable.The panel distinguished the holding of the courts in the Ellis case, because in Ellis, the pickup truck involved was capped, and was similar in appearance to the SUV's which were permitted by that association's rules.Because the two kinds of vehicles in Elli wereso similar in outline, the courts found that the rule was unreasonable as it was applied to capped pickup trucks.But in this case the truck involved was not capped and therefore visually different from SUV's.

The panel suspended enforcement of the rule for 30 days, and suggested that the tenant apply to the HOA within that 30 day period for permission to obtain a cap for his pickup truck and to park the capped truck in the community; it further ordered the HOA to consider seriously any such application from the tenant.Finally, it ordered the tenant to comply with any adverse ruling of the HOA within 30 days of the date of the HOA's decision on his application.

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