Article Courtesy of Palm
By Mike Diamond
Published August 20, 2020
For more than three years, the Equus HOA in suburban Boynton Beach has been
trying to get Barry Rosenthal to remove the diamond because it is ‘not a good
fit’ for Equus.
Realtors describe the
280-unit Equus development west of Boynton Beach as “a
magnificent enclave of luxury estate homes with an
equestrian flair.” Sixty-five hundred square foot residences
often sell for more than $1 million.
But the “idyllic, gated sanctuary” is not so idyllic these
days as the tony community has been embroiled in a bitter
lawsuit with one of its residents that shows no signs of
ending. At issue at Equus is just how far a homeowner can go
to change the way his property looks. For Barry Rosenthal,
it is not very far.
He liked the idea of a large red-shaped diamond on his
driveway entrance. The homeowner association board: Not so
The issue of property and an individual’s right to privacy
or home aesthetics routinely pops up in South Florida
communities. For some, a heightened sense of scrutiny -
whether it is driveways, back porches, security cameras or
Christmas decorations - often becomes a heated and legal
issue between boards and residents.
In this case, HOA has been trying to get
Rosenthal, a former member of the HOA, to remove the diamond
for three years because it is not a good fit for Equus. The
HOA claims “it was not in conformity with other approved
driveway designs throughout the community.”
Rosenthal put in the red diamond in June
2017 without obtaining HOA approval. He was cited by the HOA
in August. He has been fined $1,000. He no longer is allowed
to use the amenities at Equus, which include tennis courts
and a fitness center. The HOA sued Rosenthal in June 2018.
There have been two separate efforts at mediation. The most
recent effort was in March.
For more than three years, the Equus HOA has been
trying to get Barry Rosenthal to remove a red diamond on his
driveway because it is not a good fit for Equus. The HOA claims 'it
was not in conformity with other approved driveway designs
throughout the community.'
On March 20, the mediator reported: “The parties did not reach an agreement
as to any matter as a result of the mediation.”
“You could say we are at an impasse,” said Peter Sosin of Boca Raton, the
attorney who represents the HOA. “Rosenthal could have repaved his entire
driveway three times over with the amount of money he has paid his attorney
in legal fees.”
Meanwhile, Rosenthal said this is “all about selective enforcement.”
He claims another resident has almost his entire driveway paved over with
bigger diamonds than he has and the HOA has done nothing to that homeowner.
“There are a lot of cliques here and if you are in the right clique, you get
a free pass,” Rosenthal said. “An arbitrator told us at mediation that he
never saw such selective enforcement.”
Rosenthal questioned how the board can deny him the use of the facilities
when he has been paying his $6,000-a-year dues for the past three years. And
the HOA will not allow him to vote, he said.
“This is wrong,” he said. “We have not yet had a trial. I can’t wait to get
Efforts to obtain comment from the Equus HOA were unsuccessful.
But sources say that friction between Rosenthal and some residents have
become so tense that PBSO officers have responded to calls alleging that
Rosenthal harassed them.
Rosenthal confirmed that he had to answer to police responses but said he
has been charged with anything.
“I took pictures of cars blocking driveways and cars parked on the wrong
side of the street,” he said. “Some people did not like it. They called the
police. I did nothing wrong.”
Meanwhile, Sosin said Rosenthal knew what the rules and regulations were. He
needed to get HOA approval before he put his red-shaped diamond in. He chose
not do it and he won’t remove it, Sosin noted.
If the case is not settled, the HOA and Rosenthal had better brace
themselves. Whoever prevails at trial will most likely recover their legal
fees, which could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.