Condo directors fight tulips, daffodils
PORTSMOUTH — As spring officially began Tuesday, Kim Bois was happy to see her tulips and daffodils begin to sprout from beneath the mulch, but she now must defend her well-used green thumb against a lawsuit from her own condominium association.
Attorney Paul McEachern, who's defending Bois, said the board of directors from the Atlantic Pointe Condominium Association placed a $4,500 lien on Bois' home — from unpaid fines which accrued daily since Oct. 24 — and wants her to pay $8,000 in legal expenses for planting perennials on the property in the past.
“This gave her a vested right,” McEachern said, adding he spent the first day of spring preparing the countersuit against the association, which formed in 2010 and claims it has the right to overrule previous agreements.
“I will be asking the court to prove her right and them wrong,” McEachern said, arguing the board of directors acted beyond its right.
Bois, who's been living at 20A Albacore Way since May 2008, said she is very discouraged at the situation, especially since she enjoyed the community and was very proud of how her garden looks.
Bois said the association sent her a certified letter August 2011 saying she had to remove her flowers by Sept. 1, 2011. She added she waited until association members could decide at their biannual meeting in October, but the vote never took place.
Since she did not comply, Bois was fined $25 a day for the first two weeks and $50 a day afterwards.
“It's been going on for a couple of months,” Bois said, adding the situation quickly deteriorated in February when a real estate broker told her about the lien.
Bois said she was shocked, especially since her garden, which has flowers and bushes, isn't any larger than other plots, which only have bushes.
“My garden was in place quite a while before the board was elected,” Bois said.
Bois said she and her mother only started planting after speaking to the developer, Bob Sullivan, in the summer of 2008. She added Sullivan, who lives in Massachusetts, later sent an e-mail to confirm he provided the permission once he turned the development to the association in 2010.
“We started planting in the late summer and early fall, because that's when you plant bulbs,” Bois said, adding she decided to plant perennials, instead of annuals, since she was thinking long-term.
Bois said her mother provided bulbs from some of her favorite plants for the new garden. She added they planted daisies, echinacea, bearded irises, lavender, tulips, daffodils and hydrangea bushes.
“She was a very avid gardener and has an absolutely beautiful garden,” Bois said, adding she is grateful the three years they spent gardening together.
“My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That's why I moved back to New Hampshire,” Bois said, adding she had been previously living in San Francisco, where the cost to buy a home was well out of her reach.
“I just wanted a little space to do something,” Bois said, adding she only wanted to have a small garden, but wasn't interested in mowing the lawn, fixing the roof or shoveling.
Bois said the current situation makes her want to move away. She added she hopes to be able to save some of her mother's plants and have to pay only for her legal expenses, but not the association's.
“I'm just hoping we get a reasonable judge,” Bois said, adding she's willing to reasonably compromise.
Although McEachern said he's surprised how quickly the news spread of the association's actions, her case will be based on the law, not public opinion.
The association's attorney, Sandy Roberts, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The association wants Bois and three other of her neighbors to remove flowers, stone patios and a wall, which they installed themselves or paid someone to place.
McEachern said Bois and former neighbor Patrick Champagne, who is in Florida, already paid for the materials and invested time in the hobby of beautifying their homes on top of the significant cost of the condominium.
“They actually enhance the value of the property,” McEachern said, adding the pictures he saw of the garden are something anyone would be proud of.
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