Satellite Dishes
and other Communication Devices in Planned Developments
By Jan Bergemann

Since the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION established new rules in the mid nineties, it seemed that the permanent fights between homeowners, living in Planned Developments, and developers and boards should have been settled. Actually, we're talking about Federal Laws?
The New Satellite Dish Law and the Fact Sheet (Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule) pretty clearly spell out the rights of property owners to set up satellite dishes on their property.
But, as we have seen in many cases before, boards and developers are unwilling to give up their little kingdoms they established with the help of unenforceable Statutes.
In July of 2001 a DC Court of Appeals Ruling underlined these rights!

The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) represents the interests of ham radio operators. At their last meeting they called as well for legislative actions to protect their members' rights in Homeowners' Associations.

There are various reasons why the developers and boards don't want to comply. It can be used as harassment of 'disgruntled' homeowners or as additional income by giving business to a 'friendly' dealer. This has resulted in selective enforcement.

 Selective Enforcement or Punishing 'disgruntled' homeowners?
I live in a HOA community called Oakbrook in St.Augustine, still under the dictatorship of a developer. More than 60 ( out of 110 at that time ) of the homeowners dared in 1996 to sue the developer for breach of contract and other issues, like misuse of association funds. By the way, the law-suit is still in progress! 

When some other ways - like intimidation - were utilized to get rid of these 'disgruntled' homeowners failed, suddenly quite a few received "violation" letters from the developer's attorney, not the association's attorney! 

One of the homeowners, who was "politely" asked to remove the satellite dish violating the deed restrictions, actually used cable TV and didn't even have a satellite dish. 

Sending copies of FCC regulations didn't stop the attorney from sending harassing letters. Neither did mentioning the fact that the developer, his family members and even the chairman of the Architectural Review Committee used satellite dishes.

This went on for more than nine months and was stopped by the threat of a federal harassment law-suit. And, as you may have guessed, the developer's attorney was paid from association funds for all the useless paperwork.

Another example of Selective Enforcement is Spruce Creek South in Marion County. There it seems like the developer dissolved the homeowners' association, because no documentation can be found in official Florida records. 

According to information from Spruce Creek South homeowners the developer dissolved the association because homeowners dared to complain about the developer's actions and his unwillingness to provide a yearly financial report of the receipts and expenditures of amenity fees, pursuant to Florida Statute. 

In addition, residents did not want to serve on the board of directors because the HOA was incorporated by the developer as a social entity with no inherent powers to manage the community; enforce the deed restrictions nor collect the amenity fees. 

The apparent dissolution of the HOA enables the developer to conduct business as a for profit corporation while circumventing the statutory mandate to conduct HOA meetings, pursuant to Florida Statute. 

One homeowner, who dared to speak up against the parking of tour-busses in front of his home, received a violation letter regarding his satellite dish. Being curious, he inquired with more than 20 of his neighbors, who are using satellite dishes. None of them received a violation-letter! Selective Enforcement? 

He filed a petition with the FCC to resolve this problem once and for all.
Please read the FCC response!
We will keep you informed about the outcome of this case.

Satellite Guidelines in the Village
Another place of permanent arguments regarding satellite dishes is one of Gary Moyer's little kingdoms, THE VILLAGES ( See Orlando Sentinel article : "Playing by their own Rules" ).
Please read their guide-lines and compare with the FCC regulations. 

Especially amazing is the statement : Nor more than one dish per lot shall be allowed. Now, where do you find this in the FCC rules?

Does that mean that somebody who likes ethnic TV, has to make the choice between getting his favorite American TV-station or his favorite TV Station in his ethnic language?

Why don't these people, who come up with this kind of guide-lines, and are definitely getting well paid for their job, check before having these things mass-printed, wasting more of the homeowners' money and confusing the issue?
The 1-meter size regulation was specifically established in order to allow these ethnic satellite dishes, not to confuse the homeowners.

According to my information, the management of THE VILLAGES hired a satellite installation service to check the validity of dishes installed in front-yards by a reputable satellite dish company. It seems, this was an attempt to intimidate the residents and diminish installations. 

At first they tried to charge the homeowners directly for this 'inspection', but after various complaints they were reimbursed. But, who do you think is now paying these extra-charges? The employees of the management company coming up with these kind of guide-lines and enforcement?

Gee, I guess they are just charged to the association, the homeowners are being charged for everything anyway, why not throw in a few more useless charges?
These self-appointed kings and dictators should be required to read all the regulations, especially the ones over-riding their self-serving deed-restrictions, and follow them, without being able to play their little games at the expense of the homeowners.
But as long as this industry, one of the biggest in Florida, is left without real enforceable regulations and government oversight, the homeowners will be asked to pay for it!

Not even Federal Regulations seem to be able to stop these kind of people!
And all under the claim of protecting "Property Values"! When do homeowners and legislators finally wake up?

Please read :