Neighborhood Dispute over Political Yard Signs

By Max Resnik

October 17, 2012 Updated Nov 8, 2013 at 8:40 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – Residents of a subdivision on Fort Wayne’s north side say they have been told to remove their political yard signs per subdivision rules despite Indiana code allowing them to be posted.

Residents of Wallen Chase subdivision say they were approached Tuesday by their association president who handed them a letter telling them to remove their political yard signs. One of those residents, Jennifer Barnes, says the neighborhood had no problem with the signs four years ago, and she believes she is entitled to share her political opinion.

"I'm a taxpayer, I'm a working citizen and my husband and I own our home and we thought that we could put a little sign out just, you know, saying that we're supporting one person."

A neighbor who lives across the street from Barnes on Snowgoose Lane says she also encountered the association president Tuesday. Deborah Ault says she, too, was shocked by the request to remove her sign.

"That's every American's right is to voice their opinions and that's why we live in America and that's why every vote counts."

The letter cites the neighborhood association’s covenants pertaining to yard signs. The letter tells the residents in violation of the covenant that “demand is hereby made for your lot to be free of the advertising sign. If this is not done within three (3) days of the date of this letter, this issue will be handed over to our attorney. Lot owners shall bear interest, attorney fees, and a mortgage lien will be enforced according to Article IV, Section 1 in the Covenants.”

According to Indiana code, however, neighborhood associations must permit the posting of political yard signs 30 days prior to an election and five days after an election:

IC 32-21-13-4
Prohibition on homeowner association adoption or enforcement of rules relating to display of political signs; exceptions
Sec. 4. Except as provided in section 5 of this chapter, a homeowners association may not adopt or enforce a rule that prohibits a member of the homeowners association from displaying a sign on the member's property during the period:
(1) beginning thirty (30) days before; and
(2) ending five (5) days after;
the date of the election to which the sign relates.
As added by P.L.5-2010, SEC.1.

Barnes, after being informed of Indiana code, says she feels the letter was intended to simply scare homeowners in Wallen Chase.

"I think it was really to threaten us, and I think most people read something like that and they think, 'Ok, well I don't want to have to deal with that so I'll take it down immediately.'"

INC reached out the association president, but a response was not provided. INC did learn that at least one resident was informed via email by the president, that per Indiana code, the resident would be permitted to keep her sign in her yard.

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