Crystal Angels hold garage sale, face fines
The Crystal Angels raised almost $1,500 for needy children’s Christmas gifts at a yard sale this weekend, but much of that money may be used to pay fines.
The board of the Winhaven Collection Homeowners Association will be levying fines or restrictions on the owners of a home who hosted a yard sale despite warnings.
In order to raise money for the charitable organization, Laurie Hennessy held a yard sale Friday and Saturday in the front yard of a home where she lives with with her mother, LeVon, on Lantana in Winhaven.
On Saturday, she received a cease and desist notice of violation. She has 10 days to respond to the board, said board president Joe Vasta.
“She’s in violation of the CC and Rs and we’re going to pursue the matter. It’s our responsibility,” Vasta said.
He said he has been misrepresented as callous and cruel, but he has been responding to complaints from other homeowners. He denied Hennessy’s statements that he was rude or said he didn’t care about charity work or threatened the group with a fine.
“I told her she could make use of a common area and made every effort to be as fair as possible while still representing the other homeowners’ rights. She responded she would be out of town on the other date and it would be too difficult to move. She told me she had called before to ask about the dates, but she made no effort to apprise us of her plans,” Vasta said.
Rene Cardinal, secretary/treasurer of the association, said the board is charged by the 247 homeowners to enforce the covenants, conditions and restrictions and homeowners pay a $47 monthly fee to the board for that purpose.
The cease and desist violation charges Hennessy with three violations – having an unauthorized garage sale, posting signs and allowing trade on the premises. According to the notice, the board has the right to do a number of things. They can impose a fine up to $100 for each violation and for each day, suspend the homeowner’s voting privileges, suspend her rights to use any common area or obtain injunctive relief to force her to cease and desist the violation and obtain attorney’s fees and costs incurred.
Hennessy, who has owned the house for eight years, had a copy of regulations from 1989 which states garage/yard sales are considered a commercial activity which may constitute a nuisance as well as increase the risk of harm to other residents and will be permitted only with prior written board approval. It also states no sign of any kind shall be displayed to the public view without approval of the board, with the exception of signs advertising the lot for sale or rent and neighborhood watch signs.
Hennessy said she will send the board a letter that states she has stopped the unlawful actions, but she said she will refuse to pay any fines if any are levied.
“If they don’t back down, they will have to take me to court, I guess. There are a lot of people who support me,” Hennessy said. “I won’t pay that much of the children’s money.”
On Saturday, she asked visitors to sign a petition supporting her right to hold a yard sale in her yard and 110 people signed the petition. She said the group raised about $300 more last year, possibly because they turned people away Friday morning while they were at the homeowner’s association board meeting.
She said she was not aware of the specific dates set aside for yard sales until Vasta came to her house as she was setting up the yard sale Thursday morning. Hennessy said she was gathering items for three months for the sale and could not have possibly moved the sale to another place or date, especially since the sale had already been advertised.
“One man came by who told me his children wouldn’t have had a Christmas last year if it wasn’t for the Crystal Angels. One man said he’d pay my fines for me. We had a lot of people come by. The people were marvelous and a lot of people from Winhaven said the board has too much time on their hands going after a group who is doing this for charity,” Hennessy said.
Cardinal said the group has to be consistent and the issue isn’t about charity – it’s about following the rules. He said the home doesn’t even belong to a Crystal Angel, it belongs to LeVon Hennessy.
“The homeowner has the responsibility of compliance and the Crystal Angels have no right to even be there. The bottom line is they need to follow the rules,” Cardinal said.
Hennessy said she feels like the board is singling her out, because another homeowner on her street had a yard sale on the same day.
Vasta and Cardinal denied that.
“It’s possible for someone to have a sale without us knowing, we don’t patrol the neighborhood, but we make every effort to put people in compliance,” Vasta said.