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Crystal Angels defy homeowners association, hold sale

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

Even angels sometimes break the rules, and the Crystal Angels believe the Winhaven Homeowners Association rules were made to be broken.

Laurie Hennessy, who lives with her 86-year-old mother LaVon Hennessy at 1729 Lantana in Winhaven, thinks the homeowners association is being inconsistent in telling her she cannot hold a yard sale this weekend.

Hennessy and her sister Shirley Parish are part of a group called the Crystal Angels, who help needy families buy presents at Christmas. To raise money, they hold two yard sales a year.

This week, the angels were setting up the yard sale planned for Friday and today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The angels were pricing items when they were told they could not hold the yard sale, despite the fact the event was for charity and that it had already been advertised.

“Somebody came over and said he was from the homeowners association and we couldn’t have the yard sale – that if we did, we would be fined,” Parish said. “We told him it was for charity, and he said he doesn’t care, he’s in the middle and he’s getting calls from other board members because yard sales are only supposed to be on special days. We don’t want to get fined, because there goes all the money we raised.”

Friday morning, 14 of the Crystal Angels descended on an association board meeting. Hennessy said because the item wasn’t on the agenda, the board was reluctant to talk about the issue.

“They were a little shocked we all showed up. They said they can’t let me have it because they have two days a year for yard sales,” Hennessy said. “We said, well, there is nothing in writing that says I can’t have it. Yesterday, they basically said they would fine me $500 to $1,000 and they were getting an injunction against me, which is false, but it says in the by-laws they can fine me $50. Then they said they didn’t want to talk any more about it. Basically, I told them I’m going home and I’m going to open my garage sale. And they said, well, do what you have to do.”

The board has specific rules about yard sales.

“We allow two yard sales a year, the second Saturday in April and the second Saturday in September,” Cardinal said. “When they move in here, they have to abide by the rules. (Yard sales) create a big traffic problem and it clutters up the sidewalks. We understand the need for charity events, and that’s why originally we allowed no yard sales, but a year ago, we amended that.”

Cardinal said the rules were amended again this year because the two yard sale dates were inadequately advertised. On Tuesday, the board met and set a third association-recognized yard sale date for Oct. 14. He said the Crystal Angels were told they could easily hold their yard sale then, but were told they would not.

“We are just a bunch of 60- and 70-year-olds here. We have been working our butts off. If we were 20-year-olds, it would be different,” Parish said.

“We’d like them to wait for two weeks, but if they won’t, they will cause us to do something we don’t want to do,” Cardinal said. “The rules originated to protect people who bought homes in Winhaven. We make exceptions to the rule, for example, in order to settle an estate, it’s necessary to hold a sale of the property, but this isn’t a vital thing.”

Parish said Hennessy’s home is completely full of donated yard sale items and the garage is impassible.

“This is the main source of our donations. If we have to put everything back, we’d have to rent a storage shed,” said another Angel, Linda Reagon. “She (Hennessy) can’t even get in and out of the garage.”

Hennessy, who has owned the house for eight years, said she opened the garage sale Friday and was doing a great amount of business.

“There are so many people here, its unbelievable. I’m not going to close it. I will take the consequences. I may be in jail tomorrow, but oh well. I did not do this intentionally. The board said they are going to get a lot of negative calls, and I said, ‘I know, but as many negative calls you get, I will get just as many positive comments at my yard sale. This will be done in two days. On Saturday afternoon, you won’t even know it was here. I’m trying to do something good for people, and you’re slapping me in the face,'” she said. “I told them there was a sale seven houses down from my house in June. I’ve got proof, so why are they singling me out? The reason is I’m right on the main drag. But that’s why I have it here.”

– Group of friends. The Crystal Angels formed three years ago when some friends and family members began meeting for lunch once a month.

“When we first started, I was making reservations for tables, now I am making reservations for rooms. There are 35 of us now. At one luncheon, I said we need a purpose. The first year, we helped one family. Last year, we helped six. And we bought them everything from the Christmas tree to dinner and everything on their wish lists.”