Yes, that sounds like a parody movie trailer. But unfortunately this is a real story based on real things that happened in real life instead of brilliant satire. The Washington Post has an amazing story about how an Obama lawn sign ignited an intense legal battle in a Virginia neighborhood.
Sam and Maria Farran put an Obama election sign up in their yard leading up to the 2008 election. But what seems like a harmless political statement allegedly violated the stipulations of the homeowners association that governs the sleepy Virginia neighborhood where they live. The sign, it turns out, was four inches too tall. One particularly overzealous neighbor filed a complaint with the association and the Farrans were asked to take it down. Instead, they had a batter idea. They cut the sign in half. The homeowners association didn't appreciate the couples' humor, though, and fined them $900 for the infraction.
The association board believed they were operating within Virgina law, but the Farrans saw this as a violation of their free speech by a group of proto-communists trying to run their neighborhood like 1940s Russia. After the board rejected the couples' proposal for roof and deck renovations under less than legitimate seeming circumstances, the Farrans filed a lawsuit against the association. The battle lines in the neighborhood were drawn. And these people take their legal battles very seriously:
The Farrans said HOA backers told them to move. They found bullets in their yard. Someone implored a priest at their church to prevail on the Farrans to stop the lawsuit. A local real estate agent said the infighting was scaring off some home buyers.
What followed is a legal battle that's still ongoing, and a homeowners association that's been left bankrupt because of it. Is this homeowners association fight as interesting or flashy as the one that killed LA's 'House of Davids'? No, but it's still crazy. You can and should read the whole story over at the Washington Post.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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