Covenants vs. Ordinances, July 10, 2021
There was a question posted on Facebook recently about building restrictions in Holiday Island which led to a lot of follow up chatter about unit covenants, lack of enforcement of the covenants, and of course it wouldn’t be complete without a thrashing of assessment money being spent on the golf courses. Kind of the bottom line of the chatter was that you may as well do whatever you want because no one enforces the covenants anyway. I would like to make some observations and follow up with what the city will be able to do to help.
First of all, it is inaccurate to say the everybody does whatever they want. Implying that no one follows the rules and no one tries to enforce them. Most people in Holiday Island follow the rules because they want to be good citizen neighbors, they want to live in a nice neighborhood, and they want to maintain their property values. The Planning Commission has a role to play relative to enforcement. However, the unit covenants are legal agreements between the property owners and as such the property owners must enforce them. So, when you say that nobody is enforcing the covenants on your behalf it’s because no one else has the right or responsibility to do so. And to be specific, HISID has no right or responsibility to enforce the covenants. You will not see the Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District even mentioned in the covenants.
With that said, the current Planning Commission does issue building permits and will tell you what is and is not allowed in your unit. And if two or three property owners send a request to them pointing out a violation, they will send a letter to the property owners notifying them of the violation and the concern of the other property owners in the units. I personally was successful in having business signs that were popping up in my unit removed. I know of a couple other situations that were resolved with the help of the planning commission. If that level of notification is unsuccessful, at least it is on file as a record of notification if and when the property owners decide to take legal action.
For all practical purposes the restrictive covenants, all of which were written by the Developer, were written to protect the Developer. It was his way of guaranteeing that nothing would take place that would negatively impact his ability to sell lots in the unit. As long as the Developer was still actively selling lots, he would put up the money if needed to take what ever action was necessary to correct a violation. Without that “muscle” enforcement falls on the property owners. And there are examples of where the property owners were successful in such efforts.
Enforcing the covenants was one of the main reasons why Holiday Island incorporated. And the City Council is actively working on setting up a City Planning Commission and will soon start to draft ordinances to deal with trash in yards, unauthorized structures, and many of the things that are in the covenants. In order to provide the enforcement “muscle” the city will have a code enforcement officer and will establish a relationship with Judge Ramsey and the District Court. So be patient. Help is on the way. In the meantime, please follow the rules, work with the current Planning Commission and ask your neighbors to do the same.