Fence is now barrier between couple, homeowners group
Article Courtesy of The Plain Dealer

Rosa Maria Santana  -  Plain Dealer Reporter
- All Jan and Tony Kurnick wanted was a safe place for their disabled son to play. 
The Kurnicks didn't intend to rally their neighborhood and challenge their homeowners association. But they've done just that. 

This week, Strongsville City Council voted unanimously to allow the Kurnicks to build a 6-foot-tall backyard fence so that their 10-year-old son, Michael, can play and get some sun. 

Before City Council approved the permit, it had a public hearing on the matter because the Green Meadows homeowners association objected to the Kurnicks' fence. Tony Kurnick said association bylaws prohibit fences. 

Phil Fehr, president of the homeowners association, did not return phone calls yesterday. He told council that its action could result in a legal challenge. 

A half-dozen neighbors went to the council meeting to support the Kurnicks. Laura Green, who has lived next door to the Kurnicks for eight years, circulated a neighborhood petition. In two hours, she said, she got about 70 signatures supporting the couple's wish for the fence. 

"It's absurd," Green said. 

Tony Kurnick said the fence could cost more than $5,000 to build. He also said the Cuyahoga County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities has offered to pay part of the cost. 

Tony Kurnick said he went to the homeowners association in February to get approval to build a backyard fence. He said he offered letters from professionals who explained Michael's behavioral and medical needs and who supported the fence. Those professionals said Michael cannot play without supervision. 

After that, the Kurnicks said they got a release agreement in the mail from the association's board of directors. The Kurnicks said they did not sign it because they were uncomfortable with it. 

The couple said they did not agree with a part that stated: "In the event that any litigation is brought by another resident of Green Meadows Association for granting this variance, the Kurnicks agree to hold the association harmless and indemnify them from any losses, including all attorney fees, to defend this matter." 

"I don't have 'Stupid' written on my head," Kurnick said. 

So the Kurnicks took the matter to council. The city issued a building permit to Tony Kurnick on Tuesday.