TC Palm Q&A Column, April 30, 2017

Q: During the last election cycle we had a lot of political signs in our neighborhood.  Our governing documents provide that no signs are allowed except “for sale or rent” unless otherwise approved by the Board.  No one got approval from the Board to post political signs.  How can we stop this?

A: While political signs are not mentioned expressly in your governing documents the sign restriction your quoted would include them.  It provides that “no sign of any kind shall be displayed to public view on any Residential Lot.”  The only exceptions are signs with the resident’s name or a for sale or rent sign or a security sign.  The Board can however approve signs for “temporary use.”  Thus political signs can be prohibited but the Board could also establish guidelines for temporary placement of political signs.  The Board may want to consider this because trying to stop political signs is very difficult, divisive and really gets people worked up.  Banning political signs does not violate any Federal or State law.  People think it violates their right to free speech but the constitutional protection against banning free speech applies to government banning it not private entities.  But allowing political signs X number of weeks before an election and removal within X number of days after an election may be a more workable policy.  This could be established by the Board but it should be done at a special 14 days mailed and posted notice Board meeting as it is a policy affecting the use of the Lot.

Q: I live in a large older community with a golf course.  When I bought my house I paid a premium because it has a view of the golf course.  The golf course was developed by the same developer who built and sold all the homes and golf course was advertised as the major amenity.  Now the owner of the golf course, which is not the same as the developer anymore, wants to sell the golf course so it can be developed into multi-family homes.  What can we do to stop this?

A: My partner Jeff Wright is handling several of these types of matters and I have asked him to answer your question.   He writes:   This is a growing problem as communities age and the popularity of golf declines.  I expect this trend to continue as golf courses provide large tracts of open land in desirable areas that developers covet.  This is also a very complex legal issue as there are many layers to consider such as what your governing documents provide, what conditions were imposed when the developments was initially permitted and current zoning restrictions.  The process involved in applying for and approving a golf course conversion, including details on your ability to challenge it, can vary from one jurisdiction to the next.  I am handling several of these matters and without knowing more about your community my best advice is to not wait to start challenging the conversion and subsequent redevelopment.  The longer you wait the more leverage you will lose as certain legal and administrative hurdles are resolved by the new developer who undoubtedly will want to keep this out of the public eye as long as possible.

Richard D. DeBoest II, Esq., is co-founder and shareholder of the Law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC.  Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: question@gadclaw.com.  The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys.  Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein.  The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.