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CCOC Decision Summary

#553-O, Flores v. Highlands of Olney Condominium (June 23, 2003) (Panel: Hitchens, Leeds)

The homeowner (HO) in a condominium association (CA) disputed a decision of the CA ordering him to remove an outdoor hot tub, outdoor lighting, lattice, deck, and canvas dog shelter.He argued the CA approved the deck, that the hot tub was necessary for medical reasons, and that the dog shelter was required by County animal welfare laws. The CA subsequently conceded that it had given approval for the deck.

At the hearing, the HO showed he had suffered a leg injury and produced letters from his doctors to the effect that the hot tub would significantly benefit him.An animal control officer testified that the canvas shelter was required to protect dogs that were housed out of doors.There was a factual dispute over whether the lights and lattice were still on the property at the time of the hearing.

The hearing panel ruled that the CA acted reasonably to interpret its rules as prohibiting hot tubs and that the CA was consistent in enforcing that rule.Moreover, the evidence was insufficient to show that the hot tub was medically necessary, as opposed to merely beneficial, and that the HO failed to show that he could not obtain the same benefits some other way, or by using an indoor hot tub.The panel also found the outdoor lights and lattice to be a violation of the architectural rules.

The hearing panel further ruled that the canvas dog shelter was a violation of the rules, even if it was required by county law. The panel said, "[The HO] contends that the Highland's authority to order him to remove the canvas is subordinate to MontgomeryCounty law requiring him to provide shelter for his dogs.[He] is incorrect in his understanding of the relationship between County law and the Highlands governing documents.He must comply with both, and County law does not relieve [him] from his obligation to obtain written approval prior to making a structural addition or/and exterior alteration."

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