A few years ago, Villager Joe Warner had a colorful pinwheel in his flower bed.
One day, he was notified he was in violation of the deed compliance rules.
“I received a picture of my pinwheel, with notice I was in violation of community covenants,” Warner said. “I had no idea I had broken the rules.”
He decided to take a tour of the neighborhood.
“I got in my golf cart and drove around my immediate community (street), of approximately 70 homes, and personally viewed 17 homes with various forms of ‘art work’ or objects, such as metal birds, that according to the community covenant document I received, were also not permitted, and not within the community standards,” he said.
He was in violation. They were not. The only difference is he was targeted by an anonymous complaint or “troll.” His neighbors’ ornaments had not been reported, therefore they were not in violation.
Of course, there was temptation to report the other violations.
“Yes, I could file anonymous complaints for each of the 17 resident homes with clear violations, and I thought about it, because I was pissed by how these complaints and actions are handled, but if I did, I would be one of those who do not have common courtesy (or guts), to knock on their neighbor’s door and express their observation of a violation. I did not report anyone,” Warner said.
The experience has changed how he views his neighbors.
“I mind my own business, I am respectful, and try to be friendly, but I do not socialize with my neighbors. I choose not to engage with those who politely smile, but say and do things behind your back. The anonymous complaint system fosters such behavior,” he said.
Laurel O’Brien of the Village of Hawkins read the recent Villages-News.com story about Kim Ruppert of the Sweetgum Villas in the Village of Fenney who was horrified to find a large cardboard “troll” sign in her yard.
“I agree with Kim who reported the slob who is too lazy to pick up his pet’s poop. I would give her a ‘Hero’ sign instead of ‘Troll’ sign,” O’Brien said.
She wants a return to anonymous complaints.
“I find newer residents highly ignorant of the rules and I know they aren’t being educated anymore. Therefore, it’s so easy for them to disregard common considerations,” O’Brien said. “I call my new neighborhood Hillbilly Hawkins. Not a compliment, but too many people squeezed together not obeying any rules.”
Maria Taylor and her neighbors in the Village of DeLuna are on the lookout for a problematic troll.
“We have a neighbor who rides around complaining about the small little ornaments we have in our front lawn, so therefore now no one has any ornaments in their front lawn, which was tastefully done, because this person is disgruntled, and has nothing else to do with his life,” she said.
Kathy Kaminski of the Village of St. James contends that anonymity is an important protection for residents who have been handed the responsibility of policing each other.
“In order to maintain the look of the property, our rules and regulations must be followed. Since the management will not assume the enforcement, and depends on residents to report infractions, we should be able to do so without having to deal with fallout from reporting an infraction. People who do so, are just wanting fairness and uniformity. When you buy into deeds and restrictions, you should read them prior to buying if you have a problem with following the rules,” she said.