13 Investigates


HOA Hall of Shame inducts Summerhill over swing set battle

Posted at 6:31 PM, Jan 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 16:56:34-05

"Oh my gosh! I know what this is!" says little Nick Robinson as he jumps up and down on cell phone video taken by his parents on Christmas morning, 2016.

But the joy of that morning has long been replaced by controversy for the Robinson family.  

They've been battling Summerhill, their homeowner association, for more than a year over a swing set for Nick and his sister, Kelli.

"It stresses me out, like, I lose sleep over it every night," Amanda Robinson said.

"The HOA board has come out and said that the jungle gym is a detriment to our neighbor across the wall here," added her husband, Matt.

A patio cover and pool mean there's only one spot the swing set can go in the Robinsons' backyard.

All the surrounding neighbors approved it, except Roy Holt, the HOA board member who lives next door.  

The board's lawyer says that has nothing to do with Mr. Holt's complaint - which he filed before being elected.  

He calls the playset a "detriment" and worries about the children being able to "peer into his home and yard while on the structure."

But here's the kicker--the Summerhill community is made up of two-story homes, so the view from second floors in all the surrounding homes means neighbors can see into each other's backyards.

On top of that, Matt points out, "They're saying it's violating his privacy, but I can look over his wall.  I'm 6'5", I look over the wall. I see everything, honestly."

There are other play structures, trampolines, basketball hoops, even a balcony that extends above boundary walls in this Henderson community.

"I feel like we're being treated unfairly," said Amanda.

To make her point, she showed us the oleanders in the complaining neighbor's yard, which put the board member himself in violation of the CC&Rs.  

Oleanders are called a "Nuisance" and "Not permitted" within Summerhill.  

Amanda filed a complaint about that nearly a year ago, but the prohibited plants are still there.  

As for the swing set, Matt says, "We have a petition going around with 50 signatures of residents that live in here that think this is ridiculous and that the HOA board should allow us to keep our jungle gym."

Amanda admits she made a mistake in the beginning - not knowing she needed prior approval from the HOA's Architectural Review Committee before installing the swing set.  

She got it after the fact but was told they'd have to plant trees to block it from the neighbor's view.

"After we planted the trees, they said that the trees are not mature enough."

Then they suggested she put up a trellis to block the view.

"You can see through a trellis!" points out Bruce Flammey, an attorney who specializes in HOA law.

"No one homeowner has veto power against what anybody else is doing," explains Flammey. "However, in this situation, it starts to look like maybe one homeowner does."

We went to Mr. Holt's home, trying to reach him for comment, but he did not respond.

The HOA's attorney told us no one from the board would go on camera, saying they're just trying to balance the interests of two homeowners.  

Amanda Robinson says she won't be bullied.

"If it was something that was mine, I probably would just be like, okay, I just don't want to - it's not worth the fight. But for my kids..."

The latest letter to the family from the HOA lawyer suggests mediation through the Real Estate Division's ombudsman.  

Contact 13 will update this story when that happens.

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