Article Courtesy of The NW Florida
By Kelly Humphrey
Published September 12, 2016
NICEVILLE — During his career as an Army Ranger, retired Sgt.
First Class Shane Jernigan learned a lot about combat.
He also suffered serious injuries, having broken his back in four places during
a parachute jump mishap, and later injuring his ankle during two other training
exercises. Due to his injuries, a medical board determined that he had
service-related disabilities and medically retired him in 2005.
|While those experiences may have made him
a tougher soldier, they didn’t prepare him for his current
battle with his community’s homeowners association.
Jernigan and his wife realized a dream of living on the water
when they rented a townhome in Water Oaks, a small community on
Boggy Bayou, three years ago. He said he loves the quiet
neighborhood dotted with Spanish moss-covered live oaks.
“In the winter, the sunsets here are beautiful,” he said.
“They’re this amazing pink.”
Almost since the day he moved in, however, Jernigan said he has
run afoul of the community’s HOA.
put LED lighting under my dock to light the area and attract
fish,” said Jernigan, who owns an electronic sign company. The
HOA didn’t like it.
Even though he believes he didn’t violate
any rules, he took the lighting down rather than “starting a
war” with them, Jernigan said.
Disabled Army Ranger veteran Shane Jernigan is at odds
with the home owners' association of his Niceville neighborhood over a
small utility trailer that he had parked in his driveway.
While he may not have wanted to go to war with the HOA then, Jernigan’s current
situation could easily be described as a protracted battle. Following the
conflict over the lighting, he said he was later threatened with fines over
issues related to his garbage cans, a ladder, and a satellite dish — all matters
he maintains were not in violation of the community’s covenants, and that other
residents have not been penalized for.
His landlord, Kris Wilson, shares Jernigan’s belief that he is being singled out
for “overzealous” enforcement of covenants. The situation recently reached a
boiling point when the HOA accused Jernigan of violating their covenants by
parking an 8-foot trailer he uses in his business in the driveway of the unit
next door, which is owned by Wilson’s cousin.
The HOA threatened to levy a $1,000 fine.
Wilson and Jernigan balked at the assessment, mainly because Jernigan claimed
the trailer only was parked in the spot overnight.
“The covenants say that you can’t park there for more than five consecutive
nights,” Jernigan said, adding that he can prove the trailer was elsewhere
during the time period.
According to a statement from Becker & Poliakoff, the HOA’s law firm, the
association isn’t singling Jernigan out for harassment.
“The association board enforces the rules fairly and in a non-discriminatory
fashion, and treats all persons charged with rule violations equally and with
respect,” the statement said. “It is currently working with this owner and
tenant to resolve all pending issues, and hopes to soon reach an amicable and
According to Wilson, any resolution should take into consideration the fact that
Jernigan is a disabled veteran.
Although he maintains that Jernigan didn’t violate the covenants in the first
place, he believes that under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other
federal fair housing laws, the HOA should make “reasonable accommodations” to
allow Jernigan to load and unload his trailer in the driveway.
“I’m trying to force them to be human,” Wilson said of his fight with the HOA.
“The neighbors in this community don’t turn on other neighbors. This is just a
couple of overzealous people on the HOA board who are pursuing this.”