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Neighborhood diversity is the spice of community living.
Several of my neighbors, for example, regularly park assorted vehicles in and around their driveways.
Another one is apparently operating a boat yard and dry dock out of his house.
And lately, within earshot somewhere off U.S. 17 near beautiful downtown, unincorporated Little River, S.C., every morning I can hear the crow of a rooster greeting dawn.
It might—and I say might—be useful to have a regulatory agency in place to properly address these and other issues.
I’m talking POA and HOA—Property Owners and/or Homeowners Associations. Obviously, my neighborhood has neither. (See aforementioned item in previous, introductory paragraph about neighbors running amok with too many modes of transportation.)
For the most part, I’ve been coasting along just fine without a POA, thank you very much. I mind my business, and my neighbors—even the ones with more than two cars and more than two chickens and boats in their yards, not that I’m a nosy Mrs. Kravitz—mind theirs.
We don’t need no stinkin’ POA to send us a nasty letter, one that might find fault or even fine someone for painting their front door a different color without permission or setting out yard art that doesn’t match their hoity-toity deed or covenant or taste restrictions—or isn’t allowed at all.
I feel that, in America, it’s our patriotic right and freedom to proudly display the Stars and Stripes—or a pretty pink flamingo—on our own turf if we wish. And if you don’t like it, then just go ahead and move to a POA place and see how you like that. Maybe you will and maybe you won’t.
Lots of communities have POAs, and they’re doing just fine. They love their matching mailboxes and garbage cans, along with a lack of ugly parked traffic clogging their pristine driveways. They pay their annual dues, and they get fewer eye- and ear-sores, maybe. And residents who don’t pay those dues just might get a lien on their immaculate abodes instead.
Residents under Carolina Shores POA domain, for example, are prohibited from displaying outdoor clothes, clothes poles and clotheslines, which pretty much puts a hamper on yard sales and “green” clothes drying. Another restrictive covenant states:
“No oil or natural gas drilling, refining, quarrying or mining operations of any kind shall be permitted upon or in any lot, and no derrick or other structure designed for use in boring oil or natural gas shall be erected, maintained or permitted on any lot.”
I can see regulating unsightly underwear hanging out on the line, but telling a homeowner he/she can’t drill for oil or install a derrick on their own property is just plain un-American, particularly as turmoil persists in the Middle East and gas prices continue to rise.
Pay your POA dues, and you get a whole new regulatory board convening in what I consider less-than-democratic fashion. For one thing, since it’s not a public entity, a POA board can and does immediately exclude the watchdog media from its arena. I know, because I’ve personally been ejected from a POA meeting and it hurt. (Reporters have feelings, too.)
This system may work fine for members, up until someone gets ticked off about too many rules and restrictions being made behind closed doors and board members heady with POA power.
That’s when dissatisfied residents start sounding off and pushing for POA reform in the state legislature, something that’s happening now in Raleigh.
That’s when some may admit they didn’t really know what they were buying into or read the fine print when they signed on the dotted line into that pristine POA neighborhood.
On the other hand, POAs can work just fine if they’re regulating themselves. That’s something they apparently need to do with more regularity.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.