Homeowners' associations face scrutiny - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Homeowners' associations face scrutiny

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Lou Balestrieri in front of his home.  He has received warning letters from his homeowners' association. Lou Balestrieri in front of his home. He has received warning letters from his homeowners' association.
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

A state task force is looking into homeowners' associations and whether they're too restrictive.  One Montgomery resident says he knows the issues firsthand. 

Some associations require homeowners to sign covenants that restrict everything from landscaping to paint colors to mail boxes.  The aim is to maintain property values.

Lou Balestrieri said he understands that concern, but he's still not happy about is the covenants enforced by the Towne Lake Homeowners Association.  His family moved to East Montgomery from New York last year.  He said he was forced to sell a small trailer he kept behind his house, because it didn't comply with the covenant.  That's even though his immediate neighbors had no complaints.

The association later sent another warning letter about reflectors Balestrieri placed in his front yard to help guide traffic at night.  He said he wasn't told until the closing date on his house that Towne Lake has a covenant.

"By agreeing to these covenants I'm not here to give up my rights," Balestrieri said. "I'm not here to give my rights of privacy or my rights to be peaceful."

The associations have the power to fine homeowners for violations, or even remove property that is violating the covenant. 

State lawmakers have received various complaints about this type of homeowners' association, so much so that a task force is currently studying the issue.   One frequent complaint is home buyers not being told about covenants until it's too late in the buying process.

"When they begin to look at that development, and they look at the possibility of buying a home in that development, what are the rules, what are the covenants, how much are the dues, those kinds of things," said Rep. Mac McCutcheon, of Madison County, who is chairman of the Task Force.

Rep. McCutcheon said the task force, which is made up of a diverse group of interests, is set to meet again next month.  It hopes to have a set of recommendations in place sometime in the next year.

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