PECULIAR, Mo. -- A Missouri woman is in a dispute with city hall because it won't give her a permit for a swimming pool. The city says the pool would violate the rules of her homeowners association.
The problem is: There is no homeowners association.
The developer went bankrupt before the homeowners association could be formed. But the city still wants to hold her to the rules the HOA would have enforced if it had actually ever been created.
Amanda Brooks and her husband are expanding their deck and have put in a fence, all in compliance with city codes and all in preparation for the pool they want to install in the backyard of their home.
But when they went to apply for a pool permit, the city denied them, saying it would violate the rules of their HOA.
“I said I don't know what you are talking about. There's no homeowners association,” Brooks said.
The developer went bankrupt before one could be created, but the city showed her paperwork the developer had filed promising to create a HOA, and outlined the rules each homeowner would have to follow, including not building an above ground pool.
Brooks said she was perplexed as to why the city was trying to enforce rules established by a nonexistent HOA.
“I kind of laughed. I said, ‘you have no legal right to enforce this,’” Brooks said.
But the city codes officer wasn't laughing.
“He told me if I did get a pool and I put it in without a permit, they would fine me $5-to-$500 a day for every day that it was up,” she said.
So Brooks consulted an attorney who drafted a letter, stating in a nutshell that cities can't enforce HOA rules, they can only enforce city ordinances. But when she showed the letter to the city of Peculiar, she still didn't get a permit, so she called FOX 4 Problem Solvers.
We had never heard of a city trying to enforce the rules of a HOA, so we paid a visit to Peculiar City Administrator Brad Ratliff.
“We don't disagree that it's a unique situation,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff said the city of Peculiar, a once sleepy town, has grown more than 50 percent in the last decade. When the economy bottomed out, Peculiar found itself with 10 bankrupt subdivisions with no HOAs.
That left Peculiar with green spaces, retention ponds and monuments, and no way to pay for their upkeep.
“The only care, the only concern that the city has is we want to make sure that those green spaces and retention pond is maintained for the future of that development,” Ratliff explained.
Ratliff said the city was concerned if it allowed homeowners to violate one portion of the HOA rules filed by the developer, say building an above-ground pool, then homeowners would argue they didn't have to follow any of the rules, including paying for the maintenance of common spaces.
Although any taxpayer can understand the city's motivation, the letter from Brooks' attorney argues it’s not legal.
The day after the meeting, Peculiar granted Brooks and her husband their pool permit. The Brooks put their pool in last Friday, so they are already enjoying it.