Homeowners Vs Jesus

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Friday, July 29, 2011 - 10:06am

Florida homeowners association fines resident for refusing to remove "Jesus" sign.

Four years ago Sarah Phillips moved into her home in Jacksonville, Florida's Sutton Lakes neighborhood.

She says she has never had a problem, until now.

"We've had it out about a month. We haven't had any complaints from the neighbors," said Phillips.

Phillips has posted a Jesus sign in her yard and there was no reaction from anyone until she received a letter from the Sutton Lakes Homeowners Association telling her having it in her yard is a violation of the covenant

"It is basically telling us to remove the sign, under the bylaws," she says.

Phillips said she did sign the Covenant, Conditions and Restrictions, or CCR, but never agreed to allow the free exercise of her religion to be prohibited.

"I did not give away my freedom of speech, religion, my rights as an American citizen," says Phillips.

Taiana Marques lives in the same community and has a religious statue in her yard.

Marques said homeowners should have a right to express their faith.

"I think it is ridiculous, it shows who we are, our faith. I think it is just ridiculous they're coming up with that," says Marques.

The sign is hardly noticeable, but the violation notice says if Phillips does not remove it in three days, she is subject to fines of $100 a day.

Phillips says she plans to leave it where it is.

Bill Reno, property manager for the Sutton Lakes Homeowners Association said this month he has issued 30 complaints, and only one other for a religious sign.

"No signs are allowed except 'For Sale' or 'For Rent' signs. Religion has nothing to do with it. It is a deed restricted community, but rules are rules. It does truthfully, break my heart," he says.

The ACLU says that even though it cannot comment on this specific case, it is entirely possible that the HOA has the authority to take down the sign.
 

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