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Article falls short of covering both sides of issue

Letters to the Editor
Published April 21, 2006

Although I am not an owner in the Gulf Harbors Woodlands planned community, the April 18 report about its disputed children's playset did not portray both sides of the issue. The writer's sympathy for the owners who wasted $50,000 in legal fees was misdirected. Unrepentant homeowners might make for sympathetic headlines, but not balanced journalism.


Although I normally have empathy for the little guy, I don't on this occasion. My heart is with the voluntary, unpaid board members who are required by Florida law, under oath, to enforce the community's bylaws and rules. It's a thankless job. A disgruntled resident who feels the rules do not apply to him or her created division and disharmony. Shouldn't neighbors work together, not against one another? The crisis in such a neighborhood is not the unfair treatment of children. Rather, it's the discouragement of potential board recruits. When a dispute exists, few are willing to suffer the criticism of their neighbors to run for the board.

Individuals with the attitude "You can't tell me what to do in my own back yard" should never purchase real estate in a homeowners association or condominium community. Not everybody can live with covenants.

When neighborhood and condo communities are organized, the developer and original owners develop bylaws and rules. New buyers receive a copy of these documents and must sign an agreement that they will abide by them. When there is a dispute, Florida law encourages the use of mediation and arbitration to resolve the issue and minimize the expenses. Should a trivial matter like a playset have tied up the dockets of our courts and appeals courts for several years? If it cost $50,000, the owners need to look in a mirror and ask themselves if they did everything in their power to resolve the disagreement out of court.

No one likes to sue an already discontented neighbor. Boards take legal action only as a necessary last resort. Remember the expenses of such suits must be divided among the other neighbors. The $16,000 that the judge ordered the losers to reimburse their association is probably only a fraction of the community's prolonged legal expenses. Hopefully, all neighbors can learn to live together.

Volunteer board members deserve the appreciation of home/condo owners as well as the Times for their unpaid service, which is often so unrewarding. Don't forget to thank your neighbors for their time-consuming service on your community's board. They are the ones deserving of your sympathy.

-- John D. O'Shea, New Port Richey

Homeowners beware: You can't have restrictions both ways

Why? Every few months the Pasco Times has a front-page article about someone tilting at the windmill of deed restrictions. It seems everyone wants the protection of the restrictions, as long as they "can't tell me what I can do with my back yard."

That's the whole point, and Lynn Johnson, a real estate agent, should know that. Fifty grand to lawyers. What a waste.

-- David White, New Port Richey

How can anybody deprive a parent of God-given rights?

Another parent is deprived of parenthood and the ability to bond with and protect her children.

Lynn Johnson should not have been deprived of her rights just because a few people who govern her deed-restricted community have decided to take a dislike to her and her children. Parenthood is a God-given right, and those who are opposed to parenthood should consider moving to a 55-plus community where I am sure they would be much happier. Or maybe they should consider owning cats and devote their time to their feline friends rather than getting involved with the true love of a parent.

Guess what? Mother's Day is May 14. I would hope that everyone will appreciate Lynn on this day. Her children are those who suffer the most.

-- Walter Morrissey, Brooksville

Seminoles are not entitled to claiming the area, either

Re: Only Seminoles can claim area, April 7 letter

The letter writer didn't shoot so well when she wrote only the Seminoles can claim the area.

The Spanish, Portuguese, French and English were in possession of Florida long before the Seminoles even existed. The word Seminole in the Mikasuki or Muskogee language meant nondomesticated, wild - also outlaws and runaway slaves. These violent immigrants from Georgia began to be known as Seminoles about 1775 - some 275 years after Columbus discovered America.

There were many tribes in Florida, but even long gone ancient tribes are referred to as Seminoles.

Doubt you saw many signs in Texas that had "no airmen or dogs allowed on grass." But there was no shortage of "no soldiers or dogs allowed." Aviators were treated with awe and welcome.

-- Harry E. Dunlap, Holiday

[Last modified April 21, 2006, 08:06:19]

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