Even Castles Have Rules
"A man’s home is his castle" is an adage that has become increasingly cited in situations where a property owner has actual or perceived problems with an entity that has control over the use of his or her property (we will use ‘his’ to simplify from here on). In the days of chivalry, the lord would call out his knights to defend against the siege.
Today he picks up the phone and dials his attorney.
What can "muddy" the moat is when the problem is related to the recorded Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CCR’s) that govern a subdivision, if the property is located in a restricted development. This is simple contract law. When the owner signed the closing papers he agreed to the terms of the contract, which include abiding by the CCR’s. (Even in unrestricted areas he must observe the zoning codes or other city, county, state or federal regulations – and it is pertinent to note that all CCR’s contain clauses that require the observation of such government regulations).
In most restricted subdivisions, particularly those that have been around for some years, the Boards work with reason, fairness (to ALL residents) and for the mutual benefit to the property owner and his neighbors. Property owners are made aware of amendments to the CCR’s – if possible, but not in our case -- or of waivers that might be granted. Almost always, when the proper procedures are followed, the problems are solved amicably.
The moat becomes really muddy when the owner decides to initiate changes to the exterior of his property without following the approval process.
It is then incumbent upon the Board to take action, sometimes through their attorney.
To be fair, there are some newer subdivisions where over-zealous neophyte boards have made unreasonable demands upon the residents of the subdivisions they govern. Such presumed infractions of the rules as flying the American flag on a pole have been ‘taken to the mat’ – even after 9-11. Because we are a voluntary organization, we have been more judicious in the cases we pursue. There have been times when we had a case that did not go entirely in our favor and we have had to forego an appeal due to lack of funds. But most of the time we are able to sort out the problems and, with the cooperation of the property-owner, manage to solve them without resorting to litigation.
This year, Flecha Caida has turned a record five cases over to our attorney. Of these, one was settled with the defendant paying our legal fees as well as their own (as is mandated in the first "PROVIDED FURTHER" clause of the CCR’s).
Two are going
through the court system, and the other two are in various stages of
pre-trial preparation. All of these involve people who did not choose to
go through the approval process.
Unlike many homeowners associations, we have not only histories of all 557 lots, but have most of the house or addition plans (with notations by owners, architects and neighbors, where appropriate) to show that either variances have been approved or that compliance has been reached after a notice of violation has been initiated.
If you plan to add onto your home or make any changes to the exterior or lot (including changing roof materials or paint colors), read your CCR’s to see what you should do. We’re happy to help. Just contact us via one of our methods to get your project approved. You can also get a legible copy of the CCR’s via our website – simply find the link and download the proper one for your section.
As the ‘guardians of the castle’ in Flecha Caida, our aim is to keep our subdivision’s property values as high as they have been over our long history. Statistics show that trying to bypass the contract you signed will most probably cost you a lot of money that could be better spent on the improvement you wish to make or a trip to the British Isles to see some real castles.
Protecting Our Neighborhoods
By Kris Thompson (FCHOA Board Member)
Crimes in the Catalina foothills made headlines this fall when 17 homes were burglarized while the residents were home. What we didn’t read in the papers or hear about on the 10 o’clock news were some of the other crimes: frauds, larceny from motor vehicles, motorcycle thefts, assaults, arson, drug possession, mail theft, and the ones no one bothered to report.
We hope you are taking precautions to keep your family and home safe, and are keeping a watch over your neighbors’ homes as well. Because of the geographic makeup of our community, it is important that report ANY suspicious activity to the Sheriff’s Department. There are only four deputies on duty in the foothills at any given time, and it is impossible for them to cover such a large territory. They have asked us to be their eyes and ears and to contact them if anything seems unusual or out of place in our neighborhoods. Repeatedly, they have told us not to feel that we are ‘bothering them’ and have encouraged us to call them even if we just have an inkling that something is right. Information you have may be the link needed for the deputies and detectivesto solve a crime.
If you do observe something unusual, write it down with as much detail as possible. However, DO NOT place yourself in harm’s way. For emergencies, always dial 911. For non-emergencies, call the Rincon Substation at 295-4500 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday. At all other times, call the Benson Highway Station at 741-4900.
Neighborhood Watch programs are effective. Many groups have reported a 70% decrease in crime. The program started in 2002 in one area of Flecha Caida has seen a significant drop in burglaries during this first year, and has done a great job of providing deputies with valuable information on other crimes. In addition, the group has a large number of residents on "listserve" and has been able to quickly share information after a crime has been reported. In some cases, residents have located stolen property in a matter of hours.
If you are interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch program in your area, contact Richard Jarvis, Director of Crime Prevention with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department at 741-4685. If you would like information on the program that started last year (that covers approximately 80 homes), contact Kris Thompson at 529-5825. Your support of this program is appreciated and has really made a difference!
From the Desk of the President:
The end of the year is often a time to reflect on the year passing, and to look ahead to the New Year. While we are in the middle of the Flecha year, it’s still a good opportunity for reflection on what the Board has done thus far, and our plans for the remainder of the year.
mentioned both in the Arrow and at the Annual Meeting in April, the Board
has had to resort to legal action to enforce the CCRs more frequently in the
past year than they would like. One of those cases was resolved by the court
in favor of the Association; the others are still pending. While the Board
is pleased to have been successful in enforcing of the CCRs, we would all
prefer to avoid legal process which is costly, not only in monetary terms
but also in the sense of community. To that end, the Board established the
Resident Relations subcommittee to help acquaint new homeowners with not
only the CCRs but also provide them with other useful information for those
new to our area. The committee will also serve as a resource to current
homeowners who may have questions or concerns about the CCRs.
The Board thanks you for your support thus far, and looks forward to continuing to serve in 2004. Happy Holidays!
Darlene Millar-Espinosa, President
Statistics have shown a marked increase in crimes against property in the foothills in every recent year. Apart from our usual mailbox bashing and the recently reported mail thefts, we have had such dramatic incidents as raids on a drug house (we have had several of these – keep your eyes open) and other crimes.
We tried an NW program in the early 1980’s, but with the then-low crime statistics people drifted away. Things are much more critical now. Each of you should talk with your neighbors about making Neighborhood Watch Flecha-wide. Among other advantages, as crime reports decrease, so do your insurance premiums. We could then alert everyone on our E-mail list and each area leader could phone others with any new information. Think about it.
Becky and Rod Dockins, (Becky planned our great dinner at this year’s annual meeting) have moved out of the Flechas – we’ll miss Becky on the Board and wish them well.
Tina Gingras, a recent arrival in Flecha No. 6, was elected to the Board at its December meeting, to serve until the April Annual Meeting.
The Board also wishes to thank our many neighbors who have called or written to keep us informed of what is happening in the Flechas during this banner year.