Neighborhood divided over political displays

Association president says law doesn’t apply

Political signs occupy the front yard with Halloween decorations at the home of Jim Rozman on Conifer Court. The Rozmans live in the Grand View subdivision, where the home owners association is battling with residents over the display of such signs.

The signs are looking a bit troubling in the Grand View Homeowners Association.

Residents in this 198-home subdivision northeast of Patterson and 28 roads are banned from placing political campaign signs in their yards. The president of the HOA, Tom Lowrey, is so adamant about enforcing the association’s rule that he has taken it upon himself to walk the neighborhood and uproot all campaign signs.

“He took my signs down Wednesday evening,” Grand View resident Jim Rozman said. “And he did it to my neighbor as well.”

Bill Bradshaw is an eight-year resident of the subdivision and a former member of the subdivision’s board of directors.

“We had our signs out under the window,” Bradshaw said. “He came up, took the signs down and didn’t knock on the door or anything and left us a note that the (covenants and restrictions) for the Grand View
Homeowners Association say you can’t have any political signs up.”

When he was a member of the board, Bradshaw said he agreed with the HOA’s rules. Since then, the state Legislature passed Senate Bill 100 in 2005, which appears to allow HOA residents to display political signs for 45 days prior to the election and for several days after.

“That bill does not apply to our neighborhood association because our dues are less than $300 a year, and we have an attorney’s opinion on this,” Lowrey said.

The issue boils over every election season.

“In 2004 I put a Bush-Cheney sign up, and I got a letter from the president of the homeowners association threatening legal action,” Rozman said.

He said his plan this year was to do the same thing he did in 2004: Throw the letter away, keep the signs up and wait until after Election Day for the whole matter to blow over. But it is not blowing over.

“This issue is going to small claims court,” Lowrey said.

Lowrey, a Grand Junction attorney, said residents are allowed to place campaign signs in their windows, but they are not allowed in yards. He said the First Amendment is no defense against the HOA’s rules.

“Homeowners associations are private organizations. The First Amendment does not apply to private organizations. They apply to governments,” he said.

That argument has no traction with Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction.

“I think that is a tortured legal argument,” Penry said. “I don’t care if you are a John McCain supporter or a Barack Obama supporter, you ought to be able to put a political sign in your yard. This is America, for heaven’s sake.”


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