Civic association is sitting on fence about Christmas yard display


Article Courtesy of The Suncoast News


Published December 13, 2009

HUDSON - A civic association is acting like the Grinch trying to steal Christmas spirit, a Hudson-area resident complains.

But a civic association leader says the dispute is over a fence the resident put up along with Christmas yard decorations, not the decorations themselves.

Yves Dandurand recently put up holiday ornaments on his patio home and in his yard on Magnolia Grove Lane in the Beacon Woods subdivision.

Along a section of the front yard, he fashioned his own white picket fence about thigh-high. He then strung Christmas lights along the fence.

Then came a letter dated Nov. 19 on the Beacon Woods Civic Association letterhead with a "friendly reminder" that the picket fence violates deed restrictions. A copy of the specific passage from deed restrictions was included. The third sheet was a form to be filled out about what steps would be taken to correct the violation.

"Thanking you in advance for your cooperation in removing the fence," Gerry Seidel wrote to conclude the letter as manager of deed restrictions for the subdivision.

Incensed, Dandurand contacted The Suncoast News. He was irritated that nobody from the association talked to him before sending the letter. He has not responded to it.

"To me, this is discrimination against holiday spirit," Dandurand said. "To me, it's decoration, not a fence."

"If it is part of Christmas decorations, that's a whole different situation," Carl Spoeth said as vice president of the Beacon Woods Civic Association board. Spoeth also serves as the chairman of the deed restrictions committee.

The association has no restrictions against Christmas decorations, Spoeth said. Nor does the association specify any set number of days for holiday yard ornaments.

The fence appeared to Seidel as a more permanent structure, Spoeth explained. Seidel makes regular rounds in the community to spot potential problems. "We have normally the individual who takes care of our daily inspections writes things up," Spoeth elaborated.

The first letter is indeed a friendly reminder, Spoeth said, in case homeowners are unaware of restrictions.

"Our phone line is always open for people to call us and discuss things," Spoeth added. In addition, he said he left a phone message for Dandurand but Dandurand has not called back.

Beacon Woods has remained a "quality community for 35 years" because of the ability to enforce deed restrictions, Spoeth stated.

The nine-member board discusses every deed restriction violation case before the association would resort to legal action, Spoeth continued.

Dandurand said he now has received a second letter from the association threatening a fine of $25 a day by the end of this week. But Spoeth said that is a completely different matter concerning a stack of firewood in front of Dandurand's home.