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Tag: homeowners associations

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.

Colorado bill would prohibit discriminating against dogs because of their size

Pet-Property-Rules-SignApartment complexes have them. Homeowners associations have them. Motels have them, too — rules that allow dogs to be banned because of their size.

Now, a Colorado state representative wants to correct that long-running injustice, the Denver Post reports. He has introduced a bill that would stop HOA’s or landlords from blanket bans on dogs that exceed a specified weight.

It’s high time. Size restrictions, like breed restrictions, are ridiculous, imposed and enforced by people who just don’t know any better.

And, while not to diminish all the more serious examples of it in our history, they are a form of discrimination.

HB-1126, if passed, would stop HOA’s or landlords from banning large dogs.

“It doesn’t matter the breed or the size. In a lot of ways, it’s just: ‘is this a behaved dog?'” said Rep. Paul Rosenthal (D-Denver) in introducing the legislation. “I think this is a fairness issue and right now people with big dogs are being treated unequally.”

The bill, even if it passes, would not override bans against certain breeds that some cities, like Denver, have imposed, and it would not stop landlords from banning dogs altogether.

Rosenthal said he proposed the legislation after hearing from a constituent in Englewood whose two German shepherds kept her from being able to find a housing situation she could afford.

Christy Wooten said she searched for six months for properties that would allow her two dogs, but ran into size restrictions at every turn.

“No one would accept them, and they’re not mean dogs. They’re the sweetest things. I rescued them. It broke my heart,” she said.

As a result, she gave the dogs to her ex, who now resides out of state.

“I’m surprised. With how dog-friendly Colorado seems to be, it’s a disappointment,” said Wooten. “They think they’re aggressive and they’re not.”

The bill apparently would not apply to motels and hotels, probably the worst when it comes to discriminating against large dogs. Yes, they’ll promote how “dog friendly” they are to reel in customers, but the small print often will specify “no dogs over 25, 45, 50 pounds.”

That’s ruling out a lot of dogs (and customers) — all under the false belief that a large dog is likely to cause more damage. Worse yet, it’s the kind of mindless discrimination, based on misplaced fears, that some Americans have practiced throughout history, to everyone’s detriment.

Consider how this would look in the human realm: “No customers over 225 pounds.” “We apologize, but due to liability concerns, we cannot accept NFL or NBA players.” “Sorry, fatty, there’s no room for you.”

Colorado should pass this law, and so should every other state.