The Cottages at Savannah Condominium Unit Owners Association in North Ridgeville, Ohio, is threatening Frank Kronen with $50 daily fines if he doesn’t remove his Trump sign from his window. They claim it violates their “code rules and regulations” .
The Cottages is not the first residential association that has attempted to strip a homeowner of his Constitutionally protected right to free speech. Many associations have tried over the years and many have succeeded – but not all.
At least a couple of examples come to mind. In both of these instances the results were epic.
The first story took place a little over 20 years ago when Cheryl Kagan ran for State Delegate in Maryland. Cheryl lived in a high rise condominium and put a “Vote Kagan” sign in her window. And that’s when all hell broke loose! A rather vocal HOA attorney warned everyone that the entire area would look like “the backside of a refrigerator” if people were allowed to put campaigns signs in their windows. Where do they get these ideas? Unfortunately for the condo association and this particular attorney, Cheryl won! And the first thing she did once in office was to introduce legislation protecting condo owners’ right to put campaign signs in their windows. What a concept! The world has not spun off its axis and Maryland does not look like the backside of a refrigerator! So much for the expertise of industry members!
And let’s not forget the stunning accomplishments of Maria and Sam Farran who placed an Obama sign in their front yard. The sign exceeded the association approved size for signs by a few inches. When the Farrans were told they were in violation, they were more than willing to comply with the insanity of their HOA. They brought the sign into compliance by cutting it in half. Apparently the board was not amused. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and started the war that captured the imagination of the country. After several years of litigation, Olde Belle Haven filed for bankruptcy protection. And then a sense of community returned to the neighborhood. Although the HOA corporation still exists, the homeowners amended the documents stripping it of all its powers. The last I heard, the owners were a real community where people got along, did what they wanted with their homes and where property values went up.
So much for the prognostications of the HOA industry!
Meanwhile in The Cottages in Ohio, Frank says when he entered the US Army, he swore an oath to protect the Constitution and he is prepared to continue defending it now. He adds, “If that offends anyone, deal with it.” “I’m an American, I served to protect my right to put that sign in my window, I’ll be damned if somebody’s gonna tell me to take it out.”
I like his attitude. Good luck Frank. I look forward to adding your story to the ones where the homeowners win.