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Homeowner association has authority to decide on new home proposal

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling against two homeowners challenging their homeowners association’s interpretation of covenants on building a new home.

In William J. Harness and Bridget V. Harness v. Tabassum Parkar, Arshad Husain, John Mattingly Homes, Inc., and Lakeridge Crossing Homeowners Association, Inc., No. 87A04-1107-PL-380, the appellate court affirmed a ruling by Warrick Superior Judge Keith Meier denying a request for injunctive relief and final judgment from William and Bridget Harness.

The Harnesses filed suit against their Lakeridge Crossing Homeowners Association, as well as a local builder hired by two neighbors to build a home, because of their concerns about the new structure complying with the neighborhood’s restrictive covenants. The HOA held a public hearing about the Harnesses concerns – specifically one provision regarding the proposed project’s building details that gave the HOA sole and exclusive jurisdiction to approve or disapprove a plan.

In March 2011, after a hearing on the topic, the HOA approved the neighbor’s proposed site plan as long as the home is located no closer to the water’s edge of Blue Lake than the Harnesses’ home. The Harnesses disagreed with the resolution and appealed in court, but the trial judge agreed with the HOA’s right to decide the matter and granted summary judgment against the Harnesses.

On appeal, the judges turned to the record and found the evidence supported the trial court’s findings about the HOA’s approval, the deliberative process required by the covenant at issue. Finding otherwise would invalidate the covenant, which the court has refused to do in past cases.

The appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s decision to not substitute his subjective judgments about the covenants in place of the HOA’s subjective judgment that has exclusive authority on this case.

Even though the Harnesses didn’t prevail in this appeal, the appellate panel determined that they didn’t file a frivolous suit or maintain the appeal in bad faith. The requested appellate attorney fees should not be awarded to the opposing parties.


 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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