Terri Johnson installed a pool slide that barely exceeds the top of her backyard fence — and was fined $100.
Josh Goldsmith cannot place an antenna in his back yard that he said might be necessary for communication during a major disaster.
Danielle D’Angelo received a warning letter because one of her eight front porch flower pots had no foliage.
Other Seville Golf and Country Club residents in southeast Gilbert also are struggling to abide by what they see as inconsistent —and sometimes abusive — enforcement of the upscale development’s covenants, conditions and restrictions. The CC&Rs, as they commonly are known, mandate the color schemes of gazebos and dictate when one can build a side driveway, have a double gate or park on the street.
Some homeowners moving into the new master-planned community near Riggs and Higley roads are clashing with an homeowners association board still under the control of builder Shea Homes and their choice as property manager, Associated Asset Management. Seville is expected to have about 3,000 homes when completed.
"They need to go volunteer at the Red Cross and do some good and leave us homeowners alone," said resident Reed Myers, who received a warning letter because visiting relatives were parking their cars overnight on the street during the Christmas season. "We’re just trying to live."
Property manager Jeanne Peterson said fines and violations are issued in accordance with the CC&Rs.
"It is the responsibility of the management company to provide consistent, reasonable and prudent enforcement of the governing documents," said Peterson, who encouraged homeowners to contact her office for CC &R interpretation assistance or to answer questions regarding "their obligations as a member of the Seville homeowners association."
Johnson said her $50,000 pool was well under construction when she received a March 5 warning notice that states her slide, which includes a rock that is roughly 6 inches taller than her fence, needs approval from the architectural committee.
Johnson argued that the slide is part of the pool, not a separate structure, and therefore does not need approval.
"I was completely shocked; actually I was annoyed and then angry," Johnson said of the warning notice. "I felt I followed what they said."
Two weeks later, Johnson received a second warning notice. On March 25, she received a third notice and was fined $100.
A May 3 notice, which mentions a complaint from another homeowners association member, told Johnson she has until Sunday to "remove or lower the pool slide structure" or face further violations and fines.
Instead, Johnson appealed the decision and attached a petition signed by supportive residents.
"I’m not putting in a junky thing," Johnson said. "They need to work with us."
Goldsmith said he wants to install two 33-foot-high masts in his back yard — each less than 2 inches wide — and run a nearly invisible antenna from the top of the two-story house to these masts to operate his amateur radio.
Goldsmith said before he moved in that a Shea Homes sales representative explained to him his antenna would be allowed. He has since inquired, as a prospective buyer, and was told his amateur radio antenna cannot be visible from neighboring property or common areas, and the homeowners association is under no legal obligation to grant a variance.
"I am confident that I’ll be told to take it down or be threatened with a fine," said Goldsmith, who has not yet installed the antenna or sought a variance.
A Federal Communications Commission policy "requires state and local regulations be crafted to reasonably accommodate amateur station antenna structures."
FCC spokesman Jeffrey Steinberg said that same accommodation does not apply to homeowners associations.
Goldsmith said this puts Gilbert residents "in no man’s land" because the town, which must abide by the FCC policy, requires developers to establish homeowners associations, which typically ban the antennas.
Gilbert attorneys are researching the issue at the request of Town Councilman Dave Crozier, manager of the Palo Verde nuclear plant emergency program. He said amateur radio operators are used during the plant’s emergency drills.
"To me, it seems public health and safety is more important than an HOA rule," Crozier said.
D’Angelo said she complied with her warning letter to either plant something in her flowerpot or remove it from her porch. She’s also frustrated with a board decision that prevents her from installing a double gate to her back yard to store a trailer.
"This HOA has shown me nothing but a power trip," D’Angelo said. "This is out of hand. This is out of control."