WENTZVILLE, Mo. (KMOV.com) – A Wentzville man claims his homeowner’s association (HOA) is putting kids at risk by saying the fence he put around his pool is too high.
Murray Randall told News 4 he put the 6-foot vinyl fence around the pool because he is worried someone will drown if there is no barrier.
The problem though is that the HOA in Peine Lakes Estates never approved the fence. The association said they only allow 4-foot fences, with some exceptions.
Because Randall’s fence wasn’t approved, the HOA filed a lawsuit and the case went to a jury. The jury became deadlocked and the case resulted in a mistrial. It will be retried later this month.
In an email to News 4, the HOA president did not offer a comment because of the ongoing litigation but added, “I appreciate your interest in our community and trust that both sides will be fairly and accurately represented.”
Rebecca Poindexter is raising two boys, ages 5 and 12, next door to Randall and said she is in favor of the fence because she worries about drowning.
Randall’s other neighbor, Joe Snyder, also said he is in favor of the fence because of its height and the slickness means little ones can’t climb over it. He told News 4 he hopes the HOA will reconsider its position.
According to Randall, the neighborhood pool has a fence that is very similar to his.
Randall said he received an approval from the City of Wentzville, so News 4 went to city hall and spoke to City Manager David Gipson.
When asked who has the final say when it comes approving something on private property, Gipson said, “The city will issue permits based on city regulation. If an HOA has a restriction stricter than what the city has, the HOA would be responsible for enforcing that particular requirement.”
According to city officials, permit approval does not constitute subdivision approval.
Randall said his fence cost $10,000 and is top of the line. He said he thought the HOA would understand his safety concerns, even if they didn’t approve.
Stephen Davis, who is not involved in this case, works at Carmody MacDonald in Clayton and represents HOA’s. He told News 4 he’s an expert in cases involving disputes between residents and their association.
Davis said the HOA can grant a variance so all parties involved can move on but it depends on the documents. He continued, stating, “Sometimes documents allow for specific variances for specific reasons, sometimes they don’t.”
Randall’s request for a variance was denied. At this point, he said he feels powerless, and with the rising legal costs will likely give up.
“When you put up a 4-foot fence are you going to lose sleep at night?” News 4’s Chris Nagus asked Randall.
“Of course. I go on vacation, a 6-year-old child could climb a 4-foot fence,” he responded.
Besides safety concerns, Randall is also worried about his financials. He claims the HOA is planning to go after him for court costs.
If you plan to buy a house in a neighborhood that has an HOA it is suggested that you know the rules. If you decide to take a chance, know it could be a costly battle.