Judges show homeowners association a sign: Back off

Political signs

January 15, 2015 7:00 pm  • 

QUEENSBURY — A local couple has been successful a second time in court, as a mid-level appeals court ruled last week that Hudson Pointe Homeowners Association has no authority to restrict posting of political signs in front of the couple’s property.

The decision comes after an August 2013 ruling in favor of Peter and Peg Jasinski for issues with the signs that started in 2008. The homeowners association appealed that decision.

Homeowners association Vice President Sandra Barlow said the board will be drafting a response to the ruling at its meeting Tuesday, which is open solely to members.

The Jasinskis, who did not return a call for comment on Thursday, bought their 114 Hudson Pointe Boulevard home in 1999. They recalled displaying political signs starting in 2004, according to a previous Post-Star article.

In 2008, through the association’s board of directors, the Jasinskis were notified they were in violation of the association’s rules.

After the Jasinskis refused to comply, the board set a $5-per-day fine for violating the sign restriction.

In July 2012, a lien in the amount of $1,070 was filed by the board against the Jasinskis’ property, prompting the lawsuit.

Lawyer Leah Everhart represented the Jasinskis through the first case and its appeal.

“It’s been frustrating for them,” Everhart said. “They tried to get resolution with the association, but were left with no option but to go to court.”.

The signs were placed in an 11-foot strip of land between the Jasinskis’ home and Hudson Pointe Boulevard that was part of the right of way given to the town by the association so the town would maintain the roads in the development.

Since the town owns the land, the association has no right to regulate it, the judges ruled in the appeal.

Queensbury Supervisor John Strough said the town does not regulate political signs.

“It’s a free speech issue. We do regulate commercials signs, though,” he said.

Everhart called the strip, “The unpaved portion of the town roadway,” adding, “We did not believe the homeowners association had any authority to restrict or punish them for activities on it.”

The recent ruling, unlike the one last year, was a total victory for the Jasinkis.

In the original lawsuit, the Jasinskis asserted the association had misinterpreted the sign regulation, saying it didn’t include political signs, had no authority to govern the town-owned land, abused its discretion by placing the lien and violated the Jasinskis’ right to free speech.

The lower court’s decision acknowledged the ambiguous wording of the association’s sign rules, deciding in favor of the Jasinskis because their interpretation of the regulation was the least restrictive.

In the appeal, the association contended its restrictive covenants were maintained, despite dedication of the land to the town. But the appellate judges rejected that argument.

The decision states the association had no authority to fine the Jasinskis nor file a lien against them and ordered the lien vacated.

Arthur Siegel, the lawyer for the homeowners association, did not return a request for comment.

“It’s good decision, they’re very pleased,” said Everhart of the Jasinskis. “It’s the right decision, it’s just unfortunate it had to go this route.”

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