Fighting the Grinch Called the HOA in Hilarious Video

Fighting the Grinch Called the HOA in Hilarious Video

This Christmas may go down as the year of the Home Owner’s Association — that dreaded Grinch accused of dousing Christmas from coast-to-coast. While there have been high profile cases of HOA’s killing off Christmas lights in Idaho, Washington, and Indiana the best response to a HOA has to be this video made by a man disputing a complaint from his HOA that he put out his garbage can too early.

Justin Porter says he received a nasty gram from his HOA for putting his garbage can in his driveway on a Wednesday, the night before garbage pick up on Thursday morning. So in response he went to Youtube and made this hilarious public response (warning: some graphic language in this festive video):

Sometimes Christmas Lights Go Too Far

Sometimes Christmas Lights Go Too Far

FoxNews is reporting a new light fight in the early War on Christmas 2015. In the little town of Hayley, Idaho a man who traditionally erects an epic light display reportedly received a letter from his homeowner’s association telling him that his display would be offensive to non-Christians.

We get behind most of these stories but on this one we smell a rat.

First of all, the man’s display does sound like it would be a problem in just about any neighborhood. In addition to turning night into day with thousands of lights the display of Jeremy Morris includes a 22-voice choir and a live Nativity featuring Dolly the Camel.

Second of all, this is a new resident bound by an agreement with a home owner’s association. Have you ever signed a contract with a home owner’s association? Basically you waive most of your property rights when you do so. Any kind of exterior decorating will fall under the jurisdiction of association. That is just common sense.

“Your event will be offensive to the senses and will interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of your neighbors’ private property rights,” an attorney representing the home owner’s association evidently told the Morris’.

Of course, Morris uses all the usual and very valid arguments of religious freedom.

But we’re skeptical in cases like this. Just as with the Hyatt Extreme Christmas display in Florida we tend to simply take the WWJD approach to these issues and declare that real Christians are good neighbors first.

Dolly the Camel does not seem like a good fit in a typical residential neighborhood.

Florida City Takes Light Enthusiasts to Court

Florida City Takes Light Enthusiasts to Court

In the most famous Christmas light fight in America things are about to get really ugly — if they weren’t ugly enough already. The City of Plantation, Florida has imposed every warning, fine and ordinance it can but the Hyatt Extreme Christmas display has not only endured it has grown larger. So the city is going to court to prove its case. According to local media a judge will hold a hearing on the matter June 4th.

Other Christmas light enthusiasts from around the country are watching and starting to sound off. Lon Wilkins, from Henderson, Nevada, operates a popular local display in his own neighborhood. “I was supportive of the Hyatts at first because they seem like nice people just trying to celebrate Christmas,” Wilkins said. “But as we have watched this unfold it is clear they have been more about getting bigger and gaining more attention. They seem to have forgotten that the central message of Christmas is peace. If they cannot make peace with their own neighbors what are they all about anyway? I think it is all very sad.”

The case is important because Christmas lights on a much smaller scale have become an issue in many communities and home owner associations across the country. During 2014 we documented several instances where even simple displays of Christmas were disputed by local ordinance. If the City of Plantation case against Hyatt Extreme Christmas is successful it may fuel further lawsuits against Christmas light lovers.

Plantation Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic, who celebrates Christmas, said she is concerned for the neighbors who she said are forced to flee their homes during the holiday season.

“Who is dealing with all the madness again? Us,” said neighbor Dolly Imbert. “We have to go in and out of our houses. Where are my rights? It’s not a normal situation. This is insane. It should not be happening, period.”

The Hyatts were featured in 2013 on “The Great Christmas Light Fight” for their display that features moving characters, a movie screen showing a loop of films, a snow-blowing machine, flashing lights, and an occasional live Santa and “reindeer.” Judges praised the “amusement-park” quality of their presentation, but the Hyatts lost the $50,000 competition to a family from Decatur, Ga.

The city filed a lawsuit in Broward Circuit Court in February 2014 to get the display halted. That case was halted due to an injunction filed by the Hyatts last November. That case gets its day in court now and observers predict the Hyatts are going to lose.

Bendekovic said she wanted the legal action to continue.

“What happens if the settlement falls through?” she said. “We’re here to get the holiday display to [one compatible with] a residential one.”

The Hyatts don’t speak to the media unless it is to promote their display. They continue to make pleas and accusations on their website and Facebook pages. Some speculate that any lawsuit will be challenged in court and that the display will return this Christmas and for seasons to come as the battle takes place in the courts.

Local support for Hyatt Extreme Christmas is difficult to peg. While the display is no doubt wildly popular and draws huge crowds some think most of the monetary and vocal support for the Hyatts come from those who do not live in Plantation and who do not actually have to contend with the issue in their daily lives.

For the Hyatts the argument lies simply with their right to do what they want on their own property — an old argument without much teeth in countless cases with municipalities with zoning laws. The first amendment arguments actually make more sense — or would, if the city were demanding that no display be allowed at all. But that clearly is not the case as Plantation has said all along it just wants a Christmas light display that is on the level with other residences in the area.

Despite the debate the real costs are running up on all sides. Plantation claims it has spent thousands of dollars for police overtime and traffic control while the Hyatts are working under the burden of imposed daily fines of $250 and other fees in excess of $7000. Now attorney fees for both sides are added to the equation.

For the average home Christmas light enthusiast the case is being watched warily.

“We’re concerned about this case,” said Wilkins, who participates actively online with other Christmas light enthusiasts at PlanetChristmas.com, “Neighbor relations are an important part of what we do every year. There are ways to deal with this and some become so big or so popular that they have to get moved for the enjoyment of more people ultimately. Cities and residents can work together. But it appears all or nothing in the case of Plantation and the Hyatt display. It gives all of us a bit of a black eye because it makes all Christmas light enthusiasts look a little nutty and extreme. Most of us are not.”

Extreme Christmas Display on the Ropes

Extreme Christmas Display on the Ropes

The ongoing feud between the City of Plantation, Florida and the mega-Christmas light display known as Hyatt’s Extreme Christmas could be coming to a head as the City has now levied fines and filed a lawsuit against the Hyatts. The display has made news for years as it has sought out greater media attention in its fight against the city. Critics of the Hyatts now tell Defend Christmas.com the city has the display “on the ropes” as it has refused settlement offers from the Hyatts and seeks to increase fines for ongoing code violations and pressure on the city budget for added police presence and traffic support.

The feud centers on the fact that the display is popular and draws thousands of visitors to a residential area not designed to handle high traffic.

Complaints from neighbors about the traffic, trash, noise and vandalism in the area because of the popularity of the display has led to court battles and ongoing media outbursts between the two parties.

It is a bitter feud short on Christmas spirit: the Hyatts have led local efforts to oust the mayor in campaigns (calling her “anti-Christmas”) while the local police department has accused the Hyatt’s of being irresponsible.

Earlier this spring the Sun Sentinel reported that the Hyatts offered to cut back the size of their display from more than 200,000 lights to a “meager” 50,000 lights and to remove a Ferris wheel on the front lawn that gives endless rides to stuffed animals. They also offered to stop promoting their lights on the Internet if the city would waive the fines for code violations.

The City of Plantation immediately refused the offer.

The Hyatts appear to have once again dug in their heels, moving their website to a new domain and renewing their efforts on social media to gather support for online petitions supporting their cause. They claim the city unfairly imposes fines, blocks roads and detracts from their efforts to raise money for charity.

While it remains to be seen if the Hyatt display will return for Christmas 2015 neighbors and critics of the display are thinking the city will continue to increase the pressure on the Hyatt family to quit.

Police Call Hyatt Christmas Irresponsible

Police Call Hyatt Christmas Irresponsible

The ever-escalating Christmas light fight between the city of Plantaion, Florida and the Mark Hyatt Family took another odd turn as the city police have taken the rare step of issuing a public rebuke:

“In their unbridled zeal to promote themselves and their ‘Extreme Christmas’ holiday display in their single family residential neighborhood and without any regard for public safety or the complaints of their neighbors, the Hyatts are acting irresponsibly, and are causing the City to take necessary and well considered steps,”

Reaction on all sides of the issue have been as extreme as the display. The Hyatts have plenty of defenders and detractors from the local area. This was gathered from various social media outlets:

— “Bah humbug to the city of plantation, you really out of your mind thinking there is a problem, you should bee dealing with the cry baby neighbors instead, they are the problem.”

— “Well thank God they are not my neighbors. Imagine the traffic you have to fight to get home every day. Makes sense. The house looks like an amusement park. They are not concerned about the disabled and the elderly. BS.”

— “Again, move in next to these people. Enjoy watching strange men peeing in your front yard…..”

— “We enjoyed going last year, and I think we’ll go again this year. It’s a beautiful display. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Hyatt!!”

— “Seriously though, some people have NO IDEA that they are creating a nuisance for their neighbors. They only see their own “good” intentions, and as such utterly disregard the consequences for the people who live near them. That’s a sign of stupidity.”

— “What does a ferris wheel have to do with Christmas ? The house just has a bunch of electrical hazards in front of it. Ferris wheels need permits I think?”

— “Unless there has been some incident that has caused a danger to the public, then taking “proactive measures” by the police department and calling it such, is simply the opinion of an over zealous police chief. Sounds like the grounds for a lawsuit. I like it… I think I’ll drive by this house in support of their display.”

— “Such a beautiful display! And collecting donations of food for the needy at the holidays from those who visit is truly in the spirit of the season. But it seems some neighbors must have lodged complaints in order for police to be present. PLEASE do not blame the police for doing the job they are told to do- I’m certain that, to a person, NONE of these officers want the display removed. I pray the display will remain and the Hyatt family can continue spreading good cheer in the Christmas season.”

To all this we simply say: Peace on earth, goodwill to all men.