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Tag: condos

Should a cookie-cutter neighborhood be restricted to cookie-cutter dogs?

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The developer of a neighborhood of modern, look-alike, cookie-cutter homes in Lexington, Ky., apparently wants to also define the breeds of dogs that can live there — or at least stipulate what breeds cannot.

That’s not all that rare nowadays, but the company managing McConnell’s Trace is casting a pretty broad net when it calls for banning 11 breeds of dog it deems “dangerous.”

If you read this website, you already know who I think the dangerous ones are in this scenario.

It’s not the German Shepherds, or the Rottweilers, or the mastiffs, or the Doberman Pinschers, or the pit bulls, or the huskies, or the malamutes, or the chows, or the Great Danes, or the St. Bernards or the Akitas.

It’s the developers, property management companies, and/or homeowner’s associationsthat decide breed bans are necessary to maintain peace, sanctity and low insurance premiums — and then go about enforcing their ill-informed rules with dictatorial zeal.

They are the far bigger threat so society.

In a nation so concerned about everybody’s Constitutional rights, and protecting individual liberties, it’s amazing how much power such groups can exert over how we live, and that they get away with it.

Sometimes it is done by the developers who, rather than just build houses, want to impose a set of rules on the community that will last through perpetuity. They do this by establishing “deed restrictions,” stipulating what a homeowner can and cannot do on the property.

Sometimes it’s property management companies that, while collecting a monthly free from homeowners, also issue edicts. Seeing liability insurance premiums rise, for example, they might decide to ban a breed, or two, or 11, of dog. The latest correspondence I received from mine informed homeowners that any alterations to the way grounds crews have laid down pine needles around their houses (it’s a southern thing) “will not be tolerated.”

Sometimes it’s the homeowner’s association, which generally means its board of directors.

All can tend to become little fiefdoms, dispensing rule after rule, threat after threat, warning after warning. When pressed for answers, when asked for reasons, they get vague about who is responsible for what, and pass the buck.

In the Lexington situation, homeowners in McConnell’s Trace were sent letters by the neighborhood developer detailing a reported change in an existing dog restriction, which previously referred only to unspecified “aggressive breeds.”

At least that’s what Josh McCurn, president of the area’s neighborhood association, told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Developer Dennis Anderson said Monday that Anderson Communities has been prohibiting the 11 dog breeds since 2006. Deed restrictions signed since then have included the prohibited list of breeds, he said.

“We want a mother and her child to feel safe when walking to the mailbox or hiking on the Town Branch Trail,” Anderson said in an email. “We want McConnell’s Trace to be the safest place to raise a family.”

Anderson sent the Herald-Leader a copy of deed restrictions dated in 2006 that lists the 11 restricted breeds.

The letter sent out last week to homeowners, however, stated “restrictions are now amended to include a complete list of prohibited breeds.”

Some homeowners said they never were provided a copy of deed restrictions when they moved in. One said, though he bought his home just over a year ago, he received the 2001 list of deed restrictions.

So it’s entirely possible, given how these places operate, that the developer’s attorney was the only one who actually had a copy of these restrictions he says have been in place for more than 10 years.

The letter said homeowners who already have a dog that belongs to one of the listed breeds can keep their dog.

“Please note, however, that all future pets must meet the breed requirements.”

Residents in the neighborhood organized an emergency meeting for 6:30 p.m. Friday to discuss the restrictions. It will be held at Masterson Station Park shelter #3 and will be open to the public.

Given the meeting is being held outside the neighborhood, I’m assuming dogs of all breeds are welcome.

A big “Amen” for this amenity

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Mention the words “homeowner’s association” and my muscles, sphincters included, tighten right up.

Something bad is bound to follow, because such groups are generally pretty uptight, notoriously rigid with their rules, and they take matters like what breed your dog is, or what color your shutters are, way too seriously.

So I was pleased to hear that the one I’m now a part of (which shall go nameless) recently consented, informally at least, to letting people use the fenced in tennis courts as a dog park.

dsc05411It’s not the sort of thing your typical homeowner’s association does — showing that kind of flexibility — but it came just in time for my new dog Jinjja and me.

Jinjja can’t be let off the leash yet. (On top of the fact he might take off and never come back, it’s against association rules.)

He’s not good enough on the leash to jog alongside me, which isn’t going to happen anyway because I don’t jog.

Taking him to a dog park isn’t yet a possibility, because he refuses to get into my car.

That leaves him with no place to run.

Except for my hallway, which he has taken to using for those energy-filled sprints dogs generally burst into a few times a day. He zips back and forth between front bedroom and back bedroom for about 15 minutes, at least once a day.

So when a neighbor told me that the association had given an informal nod to allowing dogs to use the tennis courts, in a meeting just last week, Jinjja and I were there the next day.

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I brought along a tennis ball, and a big handful of training treats, so I’d be able to get him to come back to me. I checked the perimeter for openings, and then unleashed him.

For the next 30 minutes, he trotted around checking the perimeter for himself, determining it was pretty escape proof.

Though fenced, it was clearly the most freedom he — a dog rescued from a South Korean farm where dogs were being raised for their meat — has enjoyed of late, if not ever. And he seemed overwhelmed by it. He ignored me entirely, ignored the tennis ball entirely, even ignored the treats I held up as he trotted by.

He was either entirely focused or entirely unfocused, I’m not sure, but a good hour passed before he ceased running, slowed down and approached me.

Leashed back up for the walk back home, he jerked at the leash less and stayed at my side more than he ever has.

The tennis court surface may not be the most ideal one for a dog park, especially if multiple dogs are playing roughly, but for a quick run, especially a solo one, it works fine.

You might wonder if tennis players are up in arms about this.

Apparently not, and apparently dog owners this particular community far outnumber tennis players, if there even are any of those.

I’ve only seen the courts occupied once in the nearly five months since I moved in — and there is no reason they can’t be shared, assuming dog owners do a good job of cleaning up after their dogs.

As a fan of the game, though I rarely attempt to play it these days, I even support tennis players getting priority, and requiring dogs to exit in the event someone wants to play.

Around here, tennis players are few, and dogs are everywhere. Several residents on my block have multiple dogs. Two of them have five each.

Apparently, dog owners have been pushing the idea for a while — even though they would prefer an actual dog park with grass.

One thing I’m sure of, Jinjja is grateful for it.

Until I get him past his fear of jumping in the car, or he trusts me enough to let me pick him up, we’ll be regular users.