Christmas lights bring lawsuit threat

Article and Video Courtesy of Fox News

By Chris CHmura

Published December 18, 2009

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PALM HARBOR - Christmas is still a week away, and yet hundreds of twinkling little lights could going dim in the Alderman Ridge subdivision.

The homeowner's association in this small 52-home enclave is ordering residents to remove decorations from the community entrance.

"I think they look beautiful," said Georgia Brooker, a volunteer who helped install the modest display using some association-owned lights. "We can't keep them up? I think it's ridiculous."

Residents were warned by certified letter, sent from an attorney hired by the association, that they have until Saturday to take down the lights or they could get sued.

"Threatening us to remove the Christmas lights just before Christmas was kinda a shock to me," said resident John Cocca, who received one of the letters.


Association President Don Lichniak said there is nothing wrong with the lights. After serving as president for the past seven years, and pins the decoration dispute on a violation of protocol.

"They didn't ask to put up the lights," he said. "If they would have asked me, there wouldn't be a problem. I would have said, 'Yeah we'll join in with you.'"

Lichniak insists the lights must come down.

"We have to do it the right way," he said.

Brooker and Cocca say they will comply because they don't want to go to court.

What happens after that?

"There will be lights put back up," said Lichniak, the association president.

So, after all the hand wringing and letter writing, the entrance will be decorated for Christmas.

Many Alderman Ridge residents are puzzled.

"I don't see the point," said Cocca. "I really don't."

Volunteers vow to install lights again next year. But they don't think they'll face the same challenge, since they predict a change in leadership when the association holds a community election in January.