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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. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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