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CCOC Decision Summary

#249-G, Seneca Forest Community Association, Inc. v. Meiselman (September 30, 1994) (Panel: Alper, Auvil, Sullivan) 

The homeowner association (HOA) complained that the homeowner (HO) had constructed a hot tub, shed and deck without approval from the HOA and asked for an order to remove them. 

The evidence at the hearing showed that the HOA's Declaration prohibited homeowners from modifying the exteriors of their homes and from constructing anything in their yards without prior approval from the HOA.  Afterwards, in 1987 the HOA adopted general architectural standards that did not specifically refer to hot tubs or sheds; and in 1993 the HOA adopted standards for hot tubs, decks, and sheds.  In 1989 and 1990 the HO constructed a tool shed, hot tub and steps along his deck which extended past the building line of the house.  The HOA notified the HO of the possible violation and 10 months after completing the work the HO applied for permission to do the work.  The HOA denied approval for the hot tub, shed and deck steps, but offered the HO to reapply for the shed because it was considering revising its policy on sheds.  After the 1993 rules were adopted the HOA approved the application for another tool shed in the area, which had been built without approval by a prior owner of the unit; and the HOA advised the HO several times to submit a new application under the new rules for the hot tub, deck, and shed but the HO did not comply.  The HO argued that his changes were more aesthetically pleasing than the previous conditions, that no one had complained about them, and that resubmitting the application was futile because the HOA would reject it.

The hearing panel ruled that the deck stairs violated the 1987 rules by extending past the building line of the house; that the hot tub violated the 1987 rules as well; and that the shed violated the Declaration.  The panel further found that the HOA acted reasonably and consistently in rejecting the HO's tool shed while it permitted the neighbor's shed.  As to the defenses raised by the HO, the panel wrote that "[a]lthough the product of [the HO's] work may rightfully be satisfactory to themselves and to other individuals in the community.  Nevertheless they have not complied with the architectural controls and procedures of the [HOA] to which they submitted when they purchased a unit within the Association Community."  The panel ordered the HO to remove the deck stairs or apply for permission to relocated them within 30 days; to apply for permission for the hot tub within 30 days; and to remove the shed or modify it to meet the community standards within 45 days.

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