Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Am A Huge Whiner!

My community Homeowner's Association (HOA) is all up in my grill for my rain barrel.

For a few months now, they have been requesting that I remove it. Somebody complained I guess.

I've been quiet about this but I'm getting to the point where my silence is my biggest liability.

In MD, the state enacted new stormwater regs for this year. They are on MDE's website. EPA has its NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) for point sources and even Anne Arundel County has new stormwater regs for this year (pasted below cuz I couldn't find a link quickly). Recycling, upcycling, LEED, Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development... It's all the rage right now...

So they object to it on some typical narrow-minded grounds that it doesn't 'match the aesthetics of the community' or something like that. They are trying to quote convenants in the HOA that basically prohibit people from keeping piles of building materials in my yard (??). The only rule that is remotely close is something that permits irrigation related stuff:

"No water pipes, sewer pipe, or drainage pipe shall be installed or maintained on any Lot above the surface of the ground, except hoses and movable pipes used for irrigation purposes"

I thought a 'water pipe' was a bong.

They liken my rain barrel to a 'bird bath' (yup, decorative object). Let me guess how many birdbaths there are in my neighbor's yards? 20? How about those hose caddy things that you roll up your hose into? Yeah, they are everywhere, made of the same stuff that my barrel is AND THE SAME EXACT FRIGGIN COLOR! Do I complain about those? Nope. Are they 'aesthetically pleasing?' No way. They are utilitarian and people find them useful and they sit where they are most useful, the same place I put my rain barrel.

Did I mention that I haven't had to turn on my spigot this year? Small victory but I'll take what I can get.

And the barrel is made of almost the same stuff as my vinyl siding and they are the EXACT SAME COLOR! You tell me. The pic on the right is my water barrel next to my house and my neighbor's downspout. Am I nuts or does it match? I bought the EXACT COLOR spraypaint and did two coats! Who does two coats anymore?

This is not really killing me, but it's just so typically absurd and short-sighted. Here are pics from my neighbors' front yards. That's the foreclosed house down the street. nobody taking care of that. 3' high grass in the back yard. And guess what? The HOA can't do anything about it cuz the BANK OWNS IT!

Sure, me with my rain barrel is not going to have a huge impact, but how about EVERYONE having one in the area! Imagine the press the community would get! Imagine people actually wanting to live here and turning around the housing market in one small pocket! Imagine the leadership position the board could take and make this area look amazing! And think about all of the crap we could help keep out of the Chesapeake Bay!

But... they don't like it, so it has to go.

I'm going to keep up the fight until I get threatened with fines. I'm waiting on a 'cease and desist' letter that will be my second-to-last straw. After that, it's a private hearing with the Board. Look up 'pro forma' if you don't know what it means. It means I'm going to prepare something, make a case for my stupid rain barrel and then have them say 'no' because they already have told me 'no' and they can't let somebody show them they are wrong. Who the hell are 'they' anyway?

They are my neighbors, and they are just looking out for my property values... Sure.

AACo Stormwater wonky-stuff below:

§ 4-2-310. Stormwater management and erosion control.
(a) Definitions. In this section, the following words have the meanings indicated:
(1) "Stormwater management practices" means practices recognized by the Office of Planning and Zoning for the permanent reduction and change of drainage patterns of stormwater runoff from structures and other impervious surfaces, including, but not limited to, living roofs, sidewalk infiltration planters, permeable pavers, bioretention installations, cisterns and other permanent diversion and infiltration methods. The Office of Planning and Zoning shall provide a list, updated annually, of the stormwater management practices that qualify for the credit.
(2) "Qualified improvements" means physical improvements made to a residential or commercial property that have been approved by the Office of Planning and Zoning.
(3) "Qualified property" means a new or existing commercial or residential property on which qualified improvements are installed to reduce stormwater runoff from the property.
(b) Creation. There is a credit from County real property taxes levied on residential and commercial property and any improvements thereon that install or implement permanent stormwater management practices.
(c) Calculation. The tax credit shall be 10% of the cost of materials and installation for making qualified improvements, this credit not to exceed a total of $10,000 over the five-year life of the credit.
(d) Eligibility and duration. A qualified property is eligible to receive a stormwater management credit for each year for a period of five years against the taxpayer's real property tax if:
(1) the credit is not combined with other tax credits;
(2) the Office of Planning and Zoning certifies that the property is a qualified property;
(3) the taxpayer must apply for the tax credit within 45 days after improvements are completed, and must apply each year to be eligible for the credit; and
(4) the qualified improvements are not completed pursuant to a requirement in any State or local law.
(e) Effective date. The credit shall be effective for the taxable year following the issuance of the notice of assessment by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation for the qualified improvements.
(f) Form of application. An application for a stormwater management credit shall be made to the Controller on a form provided by the Controller's Office; demonstrate that the qualified improvements meet the requirements of this section; provide a statement under oath under the penalties of perjury as stated in § 1-201 of the Tax-Property Article of the State Code, that the improvements are in working condition and regularly maintained; include acknowledgement that failure to maintain said improvements shall also entitle the County to pursue a refund of the credit plus a penalty equal to 200% of the credit; that a condition of receiving the credit shall be that officers and employees of the County or the administration may enter onto the site of the improvements for the purpose of making inspection in furtherance of this section; and include any additional information the Controller believes to be necessary to determine if the taxpayer is eligible to receive the credit.
(g) Grant. The Controller shall grant the credit if the application meets the requirements of this section and the taxpayer is current on all taxes owed to the County.
(Bill No. 85-07)

9 Comments:

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Icon O. Classt said...

A water pipe is a hookah.

 
At 8:04 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Suck-tastic. Of course I have an even worse HOA story, my 'rents in FL signed some stupid petition to make changes to the HOA's charter with the county and now some guy is suing everyone who signed the petition.

HU??? Its more of a pain for them due to having to hire a lawyer to get out of it, than the actual potential damages.

 
At 8:05 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Oh yah, I'm thinking of going to rain barrel setup in my back yard so as to even alleviate some light flooding in my backyard.

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger mona said...

Does anyone live in a subdivision where there are several people who ignore the subdivision rules?
I do. No one is supposed to have those ugly fences on the top of their pools, and it seems that everyone in the sub with a pool has one of those. My neighbor has one, and I have to look at that hideous thing every time I look out my window. Then there is my other neighbor who has three dogs.
The maximum number of dogs is supposed to be two. I wouldn't mind the three, but two of them are pit bulls who viciously snarl and growl and act like they are going
to eat my dog when they are outside. Even the owners scream at them to stop. It is very unnerving. Then one of the board members is delinquent by 3 years on the dues because she has decided she doesn't need to pay since she is on the board. I can't take the neighbors around here. I was looking for a forum to vent about the jerks around here and I came across this site called http://urajerk.com and I sent all of those idiots on the board and all my lovely neighbors with the ugly pools an anonymous card. LOL I loved it. I know it sounds stupid but I feel better. He he he.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger dcdouglas said...

Mike,

Gwad directed me over to your blog. I'm sure CityBikes will miss you.

If you need anyone to take your very nicely painted rainbarrel, please let me know. I'll pick it up!

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger DT said...

Not that it will probably help that much, but maybe when you go in you can bring a bunch of neighbors for support. If that doesn't work, you can always moon them...HOAs like that stuff, ha.

Do they have rules against lawn furniture, like patio tables and whatnot? Put a board on top and you've got a table.

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger Tom said...

your next battle should be a clothesline so you can reduce your dryer use......
I'm sure HOA's would love to see that in your backyard.....
http://www.laundrylist.org/

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/02/clotheslines_hu.php

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger urbaindk said...

HOA's should be added to Bush's Axis of Evil. God they suck.

Have you considered talking with the the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (http://www.acb-online.org/) or other conservation organizations? The next step would be to possibly take it to the local news media. If nothing else it would make a good op-ed piece.

You are right. You may only be "one person" but how could anybody else join you if they are constrained by the shortsightedness of the HOAs?

Good luck with it,

Dave.

 
At 7:20 AM, Blogger Big Daddy Mike said...

DK,

I have letters from my County Councilman, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, DNR and more but it doesn't seem to matter. They are judge and jury. I'm waiting for a hearing...

 

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