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Old 04-29-2011, 08:05 PM
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darrels joy darrels joy is offline
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Angry Homeowners Association Demands Removal of Sign of Support for Marine (UPDATED)

Homeowners Association Demands Removal of Sign of Support for Marine (UPDATED)

Earlier this week local news station KTBS broadcast the story of Tim and Jodi Burr who have a son currently engaged in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom. The Burrs are currently engaged in a battle with their Homeowner's Association at The Gardens of Southgate about a banner of support on display in their front yard.

The covenant with the HOA forbids signage from residents.

The Burrs position is that they are being unfairly discriminated against. In their neighborhood are signs of all kinds on display: signs of support for various college athletic teams, birth announcement signs, alarm system signs, welcome flags, decorative flags, and holiday signs. The Burrs, in fact, have had other signs on display in the past without incident:
For the each 5 years we have lived here we have had (as many others have had) a "sign in view of the public" in our yard. Specifically we have had "Welcome Y'all" , "The Burr's established 1990", and "Home of a Parkway Panther." signs. To our knowledge, none of these have been considered "infractions", as they have never been addressed until now that we have hung our banner for our Marine Corps son.
So what's the difference? Mrs. Burr writes:
We received a letter of request of removal from the HOA back in February. At this time, we respectfully sent a letter of response asking for a review of our covenants and to meet with the board to discuss the matter. Our letter was not received. We then mailed a certified copy of the letter to ensure it's delivery and placed a phone call to the HOA board to inform them that it had been sent. We were told by the HOA President that she would have the post office box checked the following day. Our certified letter was returned "unclaimed" two weeks later. In the mean time, the HOA board sent an Active Duty Air Force Officer to our home uninvited to make a personal visit to us to talk about the matter. During our conversation, this gentleman asked us what we would think if someone wanted to hang an anti-war sign in our neighborhood. Prior to his visit, we tried hard not to think the issue was the sign's content. However, after his question, unfortunately, it made it difficult to continue to think that way.
What in the world is this country coming to? Of course a Homeowner's Association has the right to write their own rules and one agrees to those rules when they move in. In the Burr's case, they did not receive a copy of those rules until after closing on their home, however, it probably wouldn't have made any difference. Who would ever imagine that anyone could object to a sign of support for one of our soldiers?

Does the Air Force officer who visited them intend to insinuate that someone in the neighborhood was offended by their sign? In what capacity was this visit, anyway?

Mrs. Burr says she and her husband have received nothing but support from their neighbors and she does not want to cast her neighborhood in a negative light because of this controversy. Their only conflict seems to be with the HOA.

An odd twist to the story is that the president of the HOA is T. K. Mastny, the president of the Republican Women of Bossier. The RWB is very active in its support of our military. My question is why couldn't this somehow have been resolved privately and peaceably? It sounds like the Burrs have tried - they requested a meeting with the board and were ignored.

Sharon McCullar is a Vietnam veteran and has been a speaker at several of our Tea Party gatherings. She left a post on the KTBS website that sums up the situation perfectly:
Yet again, America gets a glimpse of the incremental erosion of freedom! As a veteran of the Vietnam Era myself, and as a mother of two Marines who have already bled for this country, I am appauled that we have come to this point in our history. There is no greater sacrifice than military service. Any attempt to diminish it or those who serve to keep our country free is simply inexcusable. Both of my sons have faced death, lost friends to sniper bullets, and watched as their fellow brothers lay bleeding and limbless after IED explosions. So many have given all so that we could live, worship freely, and pursue the great American dream. How dare any one person, neighborhood association, or lawmaker take away our right to honor these amazing heroes. I weep for my country because I hardly recognize her anymore. May God continue to keep his hands on my beloved homeland.
At this point, the Burrs are continuing to fight for their right to display their banner of support for their son Corey. They are anticipating expensive legal fees in the process. What they really want is an explanation as to why some signs are allowed and others are not. What, exactly, is it about their sign that singles them out?

If you want to weigh with verbal support, you can email the Homeowners Association through their attorney Geoff Westmoreland or you can leave a comment for the Burrs here.

Update: Jodi Burr informs me that as a result of the KTBS story they received two offers of pro-bono representation from local attorneys. As of now, their attorney has filed a TRO to keep things status quo until the case can be heard by the court.

She continues to insist that they are not out to battle the HOA just for a battle; they attempted to contact the HOA in February when this issue first came up in an attempt to clarify the language of the covenant, however the HOA did not respond to their first letter or their certified follow-up letter. All they really wanted from the outset was for the rules to be enforced consistently. As it is now, it only appears that the Burrs are being singled out.

Regardless of the covenant with the HOA, it seems to me that this is a First Amendment issue. Would an agreement with the HOA override the First Amendment?


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