Honeymoon Period….. for a While…(Just Like Any New Marriage…)
I recall the first days in our new community, outside of Asheville, North Carolina. We’d selected one of the 5 styles the builder offered—a 2-story version of the grey stone cottages I so admired.
Originally, we put a bid in for the model, a Canterbury-style which saw the rooms flow out from the center, as spokes on a wheel. I admit to falling in love with that unit, probably due to its decor. As a former realtor, I should have been wise to that.
To our credit, when the builder wouldn’t negotiate, we moved on.
A realtor knows: “Never love the property too much.”
When another buyer defaulted on his purchase, subject to the sale of a home in Florida, we leapt to the fray. It was a break for us, since they’d already paid for upgrades of recessed lighting, maple cabinetry, granite counters, and a wall that closed off the 2nd. floor suite that had its own heating/cooling unit. I grew to love that upstairs suite where I write, while looking out on the mountains.
Thrilled, we settled in…enjoying group luncheons, hikes, and monthly socials in the clubhouse.
In those first days, I waved a neighbor over. While talking, she stood on our patio and surveyed the tiny splotch of land we could embellish since it fell into the realm of “owner’s domain.”
It was then she said: “You know that (she pointed to the birdbath sitting on the fence) is illegal.” Adding insult to injury, she went on: “Furthermore, it’s leaking (I’d put water in it.)” I’d left it momentarily on the fence, while I cleared a spot on the land.
I recall thinking: “OK, I’m not inviting her over, again.” She taught me how seriously some take their roles (as Board member, she helped devise rules.)
Denouement: The Tyranny of Rules
Soon, the Board set up approval process whereby residents sought permission for things they wished to add to their outside space.
We all agreed, at first: There’d be no Inflatable Santas…Or Bent-over Lawn Ladies with Exposed Bloomers…Or Pink Flamingos and Lawn Art Others Deemed Objectionable.
But “art” became a source of contention. Not everyone agreed as to what it was.
Following this, the “Tomato Wars” began. If residents planted them, they got letters, directing them to uproot. They were considered ‘a lure’ for unwanted wild animal visits.
Mobiles were forbidden as needless chatter that set some residents’ teeth on edge.
Patio umbrellas needed to be earth colors.
The community fell into disarray, and factions formed. Grumbling turned into outright rage. Meetings got ugly. In the opinion of a few, the Grounds Committee had overnight morphed from Helpful Group of Community Members….to Enforcers…to Nazi/Jihad Autocracy.
The topic on everyone’s lips: Were the rules sensible or over-the-top? Might some issues have been handled differently?
A few residents who wanted less rigidity pulled up stake (and beloved outdoor plantings) and moved on to other communities.
Few sought leadership roles (one poor man had to forego his Presidency 24 hours after commencement, when he got 45 e-mails from residents, in the first 24 hours.)
What stage is our community now in? “Adolescence”….We who raised families know what that means: “Hang on….” Some rules might need revisiting, as residents test the waters.
But most know: A townhome community is like a family. If there are 86 units, there’ll be 86 different opinions as to how things should run.
One can’t avoid growing pains. A new community will devise rules…Not everyone will like them…
Most of us realize the age-old mantra: “Better the enemy you know….” If you’re in a community that’s gone through growing pains and come out the other side, that’s a far better situation than one with “NO rules,” for that’s when Anarchy rules…
That’s when Upended Lawn Ladies-in-Bloomers appear everywhere.
P.S. Author states husband and she find their community diverse and interesting, with incredible folks from all walks of life. It was that community that supported them, following her husband’s terrible accident on that Weaverville road, 3 years ago….
But that’s a subject for another post…
….so “Stay Tuned.”
***PPS…Now, my question: “Did your community go through similar Growing Pains?” Or “What’s your thoughts on communal living?” Feel free to share. You can use anonymous name if you choose. You’ll need to give your e-mail address, but it won’t be published.