Subdivision covenants, when good rules go bad.
If you are considering a move I've got four words for you: Read the Subdivision Covenants.
THE EARLY DAYS
When my friend Gail moved to Columbia, Maryland many years ago, I was living in a Massachusetts swampy woods (close to the NH border). I had about an acre and a half with a freight train chuffing in the back of the property.
I thought Gail was nuts. She moved to a planned community. All the houses had to be a certain few shades of baby poop brown. No clotheslines outside. No satellite dishes. (I believe the satellite dish is the Official Monument of New Hampshire, by the way)
No boats in the driveway. A bunch of other things I thought were fascist were listed in the rules.
"Live Free or Die!" I sent Gail on postcards.
I was young. I had a bumper sticker that said, "Question Authority."
SUBDIVISIONS AND NEW NEIGHBORHOODS
Subdivisions have rules. They have regulations. Some people's yards look like constant tag sales with the phony fuzzy sheep, the cardboard lady with the big butt bending over, and a dozen gazing balls on pedestals. Most of us wouldn't like to live on a street that had a mess of dead cars up on blocks. Even if the cars were blooming with English Ivy and called Found Art.
While the motto of New Hampshire reads: Live Free or Die, I can only assume those stoney folks from The Granite State would wind up dead on their backs like June bugs if they ran into the girdle of covenants that surround places named Forest Glen, Pine Top Estates, Magnolia Plantation, River Birch Creek, or Lake Loch Lago, here in Georgia.
Needless to say the developers cut all the trees down while they were building these warrens.
Yet, there are really strict sets of rules about what homeowners can and cannot do. Usually any kind of fencing is not allowed. Not in front. Not even if you just want a low tasteful picket variety to frame your day lilies. No sir.
You might could put a fence in your back yard, for a dog or a pool, but it can only start from the back corners of your house.
Now the local papers in Georgia are full of scofflaws who are getting in major trouble. They are being fined by their homeowner's associations and they are having liens put on their property.
What are these rebels up to? Did I hear someone ask? Thank you. Well. Just let me tell you.
One couple bought a pink flamingo at a flea market because they thought it was funny. They hung a wooden sign around its neck announcing who lived there. Suddenly they owed The Board over $1,500 after supposedly ignoring warning letters.
LAWN TOO GREEN
Another woman was fined for having too green a lawn. Yep. You read that right. See, the covenants in her development insist that everyone use Bermuda grass in the front. Bermuda grass is drought tolerant, but it goes beige in the winter like a big ole welcome mat. The felonious lady planted fescue grass, because she liked green better. It does not go dormant in the winter.
"We can't have that. Messes up the neighborhood vista to have that patch of green just sticking out like that. Things got to match around here. Looks better that way," said the head of their neighborhood association.
So. No basket ball hoops on separate poles. Got to hang it from the garage or not at all. No bathtub Jesus' grottos in front. No windmills that spin a wooden bird into a pecking motion. No gnomes sitting on ceramic mushrooms. Rent a place in another town, if you want to park your camper.
THE BIG ROCK AND ROLL
What I did was, I got the guy who built my deck to find me the biggest rock his dump truck could hold and deliver it to my front yard so I could plant stuff around it and create a nice little island with some definition. It's about three tons. It never occurred to anyone that a person would have a rock delivered. Apparently most people like them removed.
The day I had it plopped heavily into its new place, I swear, everyone on the street came out of their houses. People I hadn't seen in months. They all gathered around being polite but doubtful.
They asked if my husband, who was out of town, "knew what all I was up to."
Another neighbor said, "That looks like the perfect place for an old copperhead snake to nest." I think she was trying to scare me.
I don't scare easily. You come see my rock and tell me if you don't think it adds something to the neighborhood.
That case has just been settled. The fine for having two yardbirds (original cost $15) was a $25 dollar a day fine that reached $3,400. Their subdivision requred approval of lawn decorations. The owners will recoup all but $1,100.
I'm thinking that $1,100 could mean a nice few days in Florida to see flamingos in person.
Oh, well. Such is life in the suburbs.