Woman fined by HOA for yard decorations

Article and Video Courtesy of 

10 CONNECTS -- Tampa Bay

By Beau Zimmer

Published February 25, 2010

 Watch VIDEO

LAKEWOOD RANCH, Florida-- Joani Ellis would like to think she has one of the nicest yards on the block.

"I think it's very tailored. I'm a tailored person. I like to keep things nice and neat," said Ellis, admiring her perfectly manicured grass.

That's why it's hard to figure out why her homeowners association in the Lakewood Ranch neighborhood of Summerfield Glenn is fining her thousands of dollars because, they say, she has a too many yard decorations.

"I have more than three decorative items," Ellis admits, counting two metal poodles and a collection of small shells connected on a metal grate.

Joani has had the same decorations in her front yard since 1999 but, several years ago, she got a letter saying she was in violation of HOA rules, and that her yard was cluttered with 26 items. 

"It's hard to understand, especially when I've seen some other yards," said Ellis of the fine she's received for not having the decorations removed.

Neighbors seem to agree.

"It is well kept and very nicely maintained. I think there are much bigger issues," said neighbor Lori Halpin.

Joani says she could just remove the extra items, but there are plenty of other people throughout the neighborhood with more than three decorations. In fact, at an HOA compliance committee meeting

last week, Joani had a power point presentation showing the yards of many others in violation, including board members. 

The HOA's president and vice president both declined our invitation for an on camera interview, but told 10 Connects over the phone that changing the rule could be considered. The revision would, however, require the approval of neighborhood residents and a vote for approval.

Ellis says her only goal is to have the rule changed, so she and others can keep their lawns just the way they are.

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Lakewood Ranch woman fined $1,600 for yard 

Summerfield resident challenges HOA rules