May 7, 2016

"I continue to hope that logic will prevail."

Says a man who built a big swing set in his yard — in violation of the village code — and wants a variance. Part of his argument involves portraying the structure as a "wisteria arbor."

I'm not sympathetic to people in this position, which of course has nothing to do with logic. He's relying on the old strategy: Better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Every time that works, it erodes the belief that the rules apply to everyone.
“The village is interested in compliance. . . . The rules apply to everybody. They apply them equally,” said Suellen Ferguson, an attorney who represents Chevy Chase Village in the case. Ferguson said the swing set initially was described as an “arbor” in documents his family submitted requesting a variance. Then, things got a little wild. Time went on, swings started being attached... It became a play structure.”

39 comments:

Gahrie said...

It was just a swing set. A $1,500 custom-designed swing set that doubles as a wisteria arbor in a posh Washington-area neighborhood, but just a swing set.

Still, the monkey bars and three swings Bill Maloni erected for his six grandchildren in the back yard of his Chevy Chase Village home have drawn ire.





Go look at the picture...there is nothing there that should offend anyone. It is in his fenced BACKYARD for Christ's sake...it's not a K Mart special..it cost $1,500 and is exactly the type of thing you would expect from someone living in a "posh" neighborhood.

This is just another case of a bunch of pretentious busybodies with too much time on their hands exerting power over others.

mikee said...

As a resident in a strict HOA neighborhood, I built a swingset that conformed exactly to the 8 foot height code. Then after the inspection I removed the 4 feet of mulch I'd put at its base, for safety, and had my 12 foot high swing, which is the envy of all the other kids in the neighborhood.

If you can't out-think an HOA, you need to sit down and think about it a bit longer.

David Begley said...

Get used to more of this in the Age of Lawlessness brought on by Obama.

His latest edict is declaring NC in violation of the Civil Rights Act regarding transgendered people and public bathrooms. Transgendered people not even mentioned in that 60's law. Just magic legal reasoning. Disgraceful.

CStanley said...

I'm not sympathetic to people in this position, which of course has nothing to do with logic. He's relying on the old strategy: Better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Every time that works, it erodes the belief that the rules apply to everyone.

Good thing we're about to nominate someone for president who is the king of this tactic:
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/trumps-war-with-palm-beach-213122

damikesc said...

The rules ALREADY don't apply equally.

Playing by them is a sucker's game.

I'd dare them to attempt to tear it down. Then have guard dogs leashed to it.

His latest edict is declaring NC in violation of the Civil Rights Act regarding transgendered people and public bathrooms. Transgendered people not even mentioned in that 60's law. Just magic legal reasoning. Disgraceful.

I bet the people who voted for that law would be stunned to know that the law they voted for did away with the concept of biological sex.

I wonder if it would've been passed had they known this. It is also why I will not vote for anybody who votes for any civil rights bill of any sort from now on. They are ALWAYS perverted like this.

Fernandinande said...

In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under wisteria arbors.

traditionalguy said...

It seems to be a front set back line violation placing a fixed structure other than landscaping.

But how did they get Protective Covenants that last for 100+ years?

P-Covs are often called private zoning, and most jurisdictions, wanting the public zoning to control, have placed a limit to the years the private zoning can last.

damikesc said...

Hell, I'd go a step forward and threaten lawsuits. Even if you lose, you'll hurt the HOA pretty badly financially. And they cannot just unilaterally decide to increase your dues (I know my mother's house purchase price listed what her HOA dues would be --- even thought the HOA has not remotely lived up to their end of the bargain).

Burn that shit down.

Eleanor said...

My HOA is currently in a dispute with a builder. The HOA has no rules about what I can and cannot do on my own property. It's all about water rights on the pond the HOA owns. A person owns a piece of commercial property that has frontage on the pond, but no deeded water rights. He wants the property re-zoned for residential and expects to build 14 new homes. As part of the selling point for his homes, he expects to build a new beach on his frontage, but he doesn't have rights to the pond. An easy solution would be for the HOA to welcome the new homes, but the commercial property owner and the HOA don't have a rosy past. The town planning board has not yet approved his plans, and every time the builder shows up at one of their meetings so do lots of members of the HOA. The town's attorney keeps suggesting to the builder he might offer something to the HOA to get them on board, but the builder insists he'll just start his own HOA and build the beach. The first Monday night of the month has become very entertaining.

n.n said...

Classic pro-choice doctrine. It's better to force a concession than to explain the exception.

Big Mike said...

I used to live not that far from Chevy Chase Village, and there are so many things caught up in that article that are ripe for commenting.

First, I would not live in any neighborhood where I could not make my yard friendly to children or grandchildren. The point of having a house is to raise children, otherwise you might as well live in an apartment somewhere.

Second, Chevy Chase Village borders on the District of Columbia and there are numerous politicians and very well-connected individuals living there. I cannot for a moment imagine that "The rules apply to everybody" and are applied equally, as Suellen Ferguson, an attorney who represents Chevy Chase Village solemnly avers.

Finally, according to this article, Chevy Chase is the snobbiest small town in America. Trust me, Chevy Chase Village is even worse.

BrianE said...

According to the article one of the violations is that as a swing it's not allowed to be permanent. He just needs to use that engineer son and cut off the legs and engineer it to be freestanding.
I think covenants are preferable to city zoning. A person should be aware of what can and cannot be done before buying a property. I'm with the council on this one.

Oso Negro said...

So if you are concerned that the rules apply equally to everyone, you ought to be deeply concerned about illegal immigration and security violation exceptions for presidential candidates

Ann Althouse said...

"Go look at the picture...there is nothing there that should offend anyone. It is in his fenced BACKYARD for Christ's sake...it's not a K Mart special..it cost $1,500 and is exactly the type of thing you would expect from someone living in a "posh" neighborhood."

This is exactly the way people who think the rules don't apply to them speak. Change the rules, if you want, but the argument that the rule wasn't made for people like me is bad.

Ann Althouse said...

"According to the article one of the violations is that as a swing it's not allowed to be permanent. He just needs to use that engineer son and cut off the legs and engineer it to be freestanding."

Make sure you don't kill any kids while you are at it.

That thing is very large and heavy. It would be dangerous not anchored in the ground.

mccullough said...

First principles. The local government should have no power to prohibit this or even the power to require someone to ask for permission. Given this, his arbor argument is funny. Branches of wisteria circumscribe a golden grin

Gahrie said...

This is exactly the way people who think the rules don't apply to them speak. Change the rules, if you want, but the argument that the rule wasn't made for people like me is bad.

Were you awake during the 60's and 70's?

Gahrie said...

Maybe he can get Justice Roberts to change the definition of a swing set for him, and over rule the will of the people.....

Owen said...

I have a (weak) hypothesis that the sort of people who find time to sit on HOA's and zoning boards fall into a narrow part of the psychological spectrum. High control needs.

Anyway, from what I can glean in the article, this dude made two major mistakes. First, to allow the "structure" to drift away from its characterization as an "arbor" toward that of a "jungle gym/swing set." Second, to affix the structure "permanently." Both elements have some subjectivity, and both could be better played. Of the two, I think he could most easily have played the "permanently affixed" aspect. Instead of sinking those posts in concrete, sink BOLTS in the concrete. Then mount tabs on the posts that can hold the bolts. Add a lock nut. You're done.

For added style, you can have the "arbor" in sections that are similarly held together in bolts, so that a couple of guys can disassemble and pack it away as the HOA watches.

This guy is richer than he is smart...

Howard said...

Fuck the rules and bend the rules are effective tactics with a long, successful history in the USA. Having a healthy disdain for rules and regulations is a necessary feature of a free society. Not everyone gets their rocks off wordsmithing combat against bureaucratic toads and busybodies. Fuck process, it takes too much time. We only have a finite time here on earth and spending hours, days weeks months and years going through all of the motions, genuflections and weedling with HOA's and other tyrannical legal and extra-legal boards is the larger sin.

These assholes are attempting to steal our lives. Fuck them and fuck all those that think process over progress is the greater morality.

Gahrie said...

Fuck the rules and bend the rules are effective tactics with a long, successful history in the USA.

Howard was obviously awake for the 60's and 70's.

Phil 3:14 said...

"Get used to more of this in the Age of Lawlessness brought on by Obama."

do you honestly believe this started with Obama?

Its in our nature to question rules and assume our situation is "special"

You know, for kids!

Joe said...

HOAs are an abomination.

Phil 3:14 said...

Howard is on the long march to make America great again

Phil 3:14 said...

Even better

Phil 3:14 said...

Images of the fly

Jonathan Graehl said...

How can you not be sympathetic. All he needs to do is remove the swing and he has an arbor, so that's the correct resolution. Then he can ask permission to put the swing on.

damikesc said...

This is exactly the way people who think the rules don't apply to them speak. Change the rules, if you want, but the argument that the rule wasn't made for people like me is bad.

But it is reality. It is vastly preferable to have no rules than to have extremely selectively enforced rules.

Owen said...

"…preferable to have no rules…"

There are always rules. It's a question of who is allowed to make, interpret and enforce them.

Power abhors a vacuum. If you have neighbors who come over and tell you where to put your swing set, the neighbors are dominant. If you take the rules and put bolts on the concrete foundations so the swing is not "permanent," you are dominant or at least you are a player.

Push come to shove, you can go Galt and move. These people do not own you.

Levi Starks said...

I'm just glad to know that Althouse see the flawed logic in the strategy of better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.
Especially when applied to ilegal immegration.

EMD said...

Deep down, everyone is a slaver.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

A rule is a rule, unless you're Hillary Clinton and the rule is gov record retention compliance (and, you know, the rule against endangering top secret info).

A rule is a rule, unless you're someone who illegally immigrated into the US (and, you know, probably stole a SS# and/or identity, etc).

No one is outraged, though, because Hillary is a woman and many of those millions of illegal immigrants are children...so have some empathy!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

How tough is it to make the swing parts detachable? Grandkids aren't around, take em off. Get a ladder!

John said...

Blogger traditionalguy said...

But how did they get Protective Covenants that last for 100+ years?

P-Covs are often called private zoning, and most jurisdictions, wanting the public zoning to control, have placed a limit to the years the private zoning can last.


I don't know about other jurisdictions but in PR, covenants are written right into the title deed (covering the individual property) as well as what is called a master title deed covering the entire subdivision/development "Urbanization".

They cannot, generally, be overridden by zoning laws. They are perpetual unless changed. The only way they can be changed is by a unanimous vote of the property owners.

The one who suggested letting the HOA sue: Again, maybe different in different jurisdictions but here, if the HOA wins a judgement in court, we put a lien on the property and it can't be sold, transferred, have a building permit or an occupancy permit issued and so on. The homeowner not only has to pay all costs of the action, tearing down the swingset in this case, also has to pay the legal costs and the lawyers costs.

I've lived here since 1982, been on the HOA board, often as president, every 3-4 years. Don't you dare screw with me on our covenants!

Your property and your right to do with what you wish? Sure, within the bounds of the covenants that you signed and agreed to, voluntarily, when you bought the property. You signed the contract. All we, the HOA, are doing is making you live up to your word.

John Henry

John said...

A thought occurred to me: Could the swingset be mounted on a trailer?

Here in PR it is a pain in the neck to erect a billboard or sign. You need a permit, it needs to comply with a bunch of regulations and there is a fee. We still have way to many billboards but they do try to make it harder.

So what people do is buy a 40 trailer like you see on the highway. These can be adorned with any advertising or graphics one wishes. Then you park the trailer in front of your business, in a vacant lot or wherever you can. It's not a billboard or sign, it is a vehicle. As long as it is not parked illegally, it is OK. Not very attractive but legal.

What do the covenants say about a trailer in the back yard? How about a trailer with a swingset mounted on it?

A question, is the swing in question in the front or back yard? From the article I was under the impression it is in the front yard on the street. Behind a fence and bushes but still visible from the street.

John Henry

John said...

Blogger Joe said...
HOAs are an abomination.

Do you live in an HOA neighborhood? I can understand the thinking but if you live under an HOA it is a choice you freely made. You have no, none, zip, zilch, nada, grounds for complaint. Don't like it, live in a non-HOA neighborhood.

If you do live in an HOA neighborhood, do you participate in your HOA? Go to the annual meetings? Go to the board meetings assuming they are open? Serve as an officer? Serve on committees?

We feel lucky to get a quorum at our annual meetings. We have a terrible time finding 7 people willing to serve on the board of directors. In 34 years, it is mostly the same people serving year after year. Not because we want to but because most people would rather complain than step up.

My response to those people, in our neighborhood is basically "Go fuck yourself" (I'm not real good at community relations even when on the board) If they aren't going to help, I don't want to hear the complaints.

I wonder if the douchbag with the swingset takes part in the HOA? I wonder how much hounding is required to get him to pay his annual dues? I suspect that one of the reasons he lives in an HOA neighborhood is because of how nice it is. Let the next door neighbor keep a backhoe parked in his front yard and see how much swingset guy likes it. He would probably be one of the first ones to complain to the HOA to "Do something!"

John Henry

BrianE said...

It would be dagerous...

Not really.

Gahrie said...

We feel lucky to get a quorum at our annual meetings. We have a terrible time finding 7 people willing to serve on the board of directors. In 34 years, it is mostly the same people serving year after year. Not because we want to but because most people would rather complain than step up.


Sounds to me like the best course is to dissolve the HOA...but then you wouldn't be able to tell other people how to live would you?

JAORE said...

I served 6 years as VP of our HOA. My three primary jobs (self selected) were to apply the rules equally, keep the other board members from expanding the rules and keep us from spending dues money for every single "Isn't THIS a good idea" that was floated.

I could give examples but six years was plenty of time to have ground my teeth into nubs. No need to relive that past.