Six angry Junction homeowners pleased that measure may allow political yard signs
A group of homeowners embroiled in a bitter battle with their homeowners association say they have gained the upper hand, with a little help from the Colorado Legislature.
Known as the Grand View Six because they live in the Grand View subdivision, the homeowners had political signs removed from their yards during the past election cycle.
Association president Tom Lowrey removed the signs in accordance with his interpretation of state law and the association’s rules.
But six households fought back, saying state law (and the rules) violate basic constitutional rights and freedoms.
The homeowners’ association filed suit in Mesa County court to keep its members from planting any more political signs in their front yards. But the lawsuit may become moot if the
Legislature passes Senate Bill 09-249, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, and Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.
The bill would clarify state law and remove a provision that created two classes of homeowners’ associations: one in which homeowners who pay in excess of $300 a year can place political signs in their front yards, and one in which those paying less than $300 a year in dues are banned from expressing their political persuasion.
The Grand View subdivision, northwest of Patterson and 28 roads, falls into the latter
“What has prevailed here is common sense and reason, that is the bottom line,” said John Kirby, a Grand View resident opposed to the association’s rule. “I am so glad the Legislature fixed this because this would have gone on and on.”
The Legislature’s Local Government and Energy Committee passed the bill unanimously. It still has to face the full Senate and House. Because of the bipartisan sponsorship, members of the Grand View Six say they are confident it eventually will be signed by Gov. Bill Ritter.
“We are not going to do anything until we know whether the Legislature passes it,” Lowrey said. “If it passes, it makes the lawsuit moot.”
The association filed for summary judgment last month, arguing the First Amendment and certain provisions in the Colorado Constitution do not apply to the Grand View association because it is a private entity, not a governmental entity.
“So the constitutional rights the homeowners are claiming just don’t apply,” Lowrey said.
Former Grand View association president and current Grand Junction City Council candidate Roland Cole said he agrees with Lowrey’s logic but not with the law.
Cole, who still lives in the subdivision, placed one of his own campaign signs one foot outside the subdivision’s property line.
“Because I can’t put one in my own yard, I wanted to remind them that I was running (for political office),” Cole said.
He added that if he was still the association president, he would have taken the same stance as Lowrey, but gone about it a little more diplomatically.
“And I have told Tom Lowrey that,” he said.
Jim Rozman, another of the Grand View Six, said he was incensed that dues he pays are now being used against him.
“We are paying to sue ourselves, and we are also paying to defend ourselves. What a joke that is,” Rozman said.