HOA wins suit to remove red diamond from homeowner's driveway west of Boynton

Article Courtesy of  The Palm Beach Post

By Mike Diamond

Published October 18, 2022


BOYNTON BEACH — The battle over a homeowner's claim that he has the right to mark his driveway with a large red diamond at the Equus community west of Boynton Beach shows no signs of letting up despite a recent court ruling that favored the HOA.


Scott Weires, the lawyer for the homeowner, said his client, Barry Rosenthal, will appeal the recent decision of County Court Judge Reginald Corlew. At issue is just who owns the driveway — the homeowners association or the homeowner.

Corlew sided with the HOA, noting that it maintains the pavers that are common property. Weires told The Palm Beach Post that the technical legal issue is far from settled and has far-reaching legal implications for HOA boards and their homeowners.

The issue has ripped apart the community for the past four years as Rosenthal claims he is the victim of selective enforcement. For a period of time, he was denied access to amenities at Equus that include tennis courts and a fitness center.

Homeowners at Equus are responsible for that part of the driveway that stretches from the garage to the sidewalk. At the heart of the lawsuit is the apron that goes from the outer part of the sidewalk to the road. The HOA maintains aprons throughout the community, spending about $10,000 a year. It wants the aprons to be uniform.

When Rosenthal removed apron pavers to replace damaged pavers in the front of his driveway, the homeowners association essentially accused him of theft and also objected to Rosenthal's placement of a large red diamond in the apron.

Pavers are the blocks, stones or bricks used to cover an outdoor area, such as a driveway or a patio and are popular in upscale South Florida communities.

Under the supervision of a sheriff's deputy, an HOA contractor removed Rosenthal's pavers from the driveway apron, claiming he altered its shape and design without approval.

The red diamond and the pavers on the driveway apron at a home in Equus were removed earlier this year by an HOA contractor under the supervision of a Sheriff's deputy. A judge recently ruled that the HOA was within its rights to remove the pavers as it maintained they are common property owned by the HOA. The homeowner plans to appeal the decision.

Corlew ruled that Rosenthal must reimburse the HOA the $3,000 it spent to remove the pavers and install new ones. Rosenthal also may have to pay its legal expenses, which could be several thousand dollars, according to Gregory Weiss, the attorney for the HOA.

Rosenthal claims the new pavers installed by the homeowners association are much different from the pavers in the front part of his driveway. "They say they want everything to be uniform, but I have a driveway now that looks awful."

Weiss said the HOA has an obligation to enforce its rules, noting: "They cannot just ignore someone who has violated the rules."

The homeowners association essentially accused Rosenthal of theft for taking the pavers. But Weires said it is the HOA that is guilty of theft, not Rosenthal.

"Here, the Rosenthals (or their builder) initially purchased and obtained permission from the association (or developer of the community) to install driveway pavers onto the apron in front of their home, which is common area. The issue on appeal is who owns those items because one cannot be liable for conversion if they own the item allegedly converted."

Weires said that should Rosenthal prevail on appeal, the Equus HOA could be held responsible for replacing his entire driveway, a cost that could exceed $60,000.

Realtors describe the 250-unit Equus development, off Lyons Road north of Boynton Beach Boulevard, as “a magnificent enclave of luxury estate homes with an equestrian flair.” Residences of 6,500 square feet often sell for more than $1 million.

As for Rosenthal’s claim that he was the victim of selective enforcement, Weiss noted that the judge found that Rosenthal's testimony alleging that issue was not “credible.”