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Man at Odds With Homeowners' Association Over Clothesline

Posted December 3, 2007
Updated December 4, 2007

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— For Matt Reck, sunny days are usually good days – for him to dry his clothes.

"You can't beat the stiff towels, you can't beat the stiff shirts and you can't beat the stiff sheets," he says Monday, as he hangs his laundry in the back yard of his Wake Forest home.

Reck has a dryer. He just prefers not to use it. He says the clothesline is a way to save.

"Everybody's going on about the environment," he says. "Well, you know what? I'm doing my little bit to help the environment and to save a couple of dollars in the meantime."

He says he saves about 50 cents a load and insists his clothes are lasting longer.

"I have a denim jacket I bought in 1989 that I still wear," he says laughing.

Not everyone is laughing, though. Reck recently received a notice from his Wake Forest neighborhood's homeowners' association saying that a neighbor had complained about the clothesline and that the association does not allow them.

"It's just not coming down," he says.

And the stakes are going up.

In fact, Reck was quoted in this week's Time magazine as someone who defies clothesline restrictions. The title of the article: "The Right to Dry."

"It's good practical stuff," said state Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, who co-sponsored a bill this past year that would prohibit counties or homeowners' associations from forbidding clotheslines.

Only three states – Florida, Hawaii and Utah – currently have specific laws that protect the homeowner's right to use clotheslines.

"And there's a certain beauty and a certain Americana and apple pie to clotheslines hanging on a line, flapping in a spring breeze," Faison said.

For fear it would lower property values, the bill, however, did not pass.

"I was a little bit disappointed in that," Reck says. "It's a do-it-yourself energy bill if you do so."

Even Reck, he says he does draw the line somewhere, however.

"Well, I don't hang out my underwear," he says, laughing. "That's my business."

245 Comments

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  • brandy2 Dec 4, 2007

    OOPs I meant disparate treatment.

  • brandy2 Dec 4, 2007

    HOAs should be declared illegal. They cause controversy and hard feelings among neighbors. Often times the covenants are unreasonable and outdated. In our subdivision, the HOA does not enforce the covenants equally. Some people can do as they please with no repercussions and others have their hands slapped no matter what they do. Our HOA practices desperate treatment. I would never buy property again that had the possibility of having a HOA. When I bought my property there was no HOA, but later the developer decided there should be one.

  • LibertarianTechie Dec 4, 2007

    Although I agree with this gentleman that using a clothes line is a great idea, he should have read the covenants before he signed them. He had a choice, and he decided to sign his life away.

  • angora2 Dec 4, 2007

    This is comical. Heck, I live in Hayes Barton and my next-door neighbor has SEVEN vehicles on his property, most in shambles. There is no ordinance or HOA to prevent it. And these folks are worried about a clothesline?

  • jackadoo Dec 4, 2007

    Often people do not sign restrictive covenants unless you are moving into a new home. You are bound by whoever signed it for your property before you. They should be made available to you at closing, but who reads all that detail anyway.

  • Adelinthe Dec 4, 2007

    One thing that really gets under my skin in a big way is restrictive covenants, especially ones like this that make little sense to anyone.

    However...this man knew the rules and signed on the dotted line. The time to contest this was before he affixed his signature on the agreement - not now.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Hammerhead Dec 4, 2007

    Ms. Turner, thanks for reminding me, I rented the movie last week and need to watch it tonight, return it late, or not watch it at all.

  • iamforjustice Dec 4, 2007

    I hang my clothes in the oven when I bake. It works for me. When I come to work my clothes always make everybody hungry except the day I wore baked fish stew. I was attacked by 8 kittens and 4 cats. I try to cook my clothes on lasagne or meatloaf day.

  • RTPMedic Dec 4, 2007

    This is probably the same neighborhood in WF that moaned, complained and whined about not have adequate fire service, then wanted to moan, complain and whine about where it was being put, what color is was, how many people would be there, and how loud the blooming siren would be. This is the South, if you don't like it leave. We have got to quit CONFORMING and STAND UP for a change. Hang out that laundry I am there with ya!

  • mikewill Dec 4, 2007

    Let's see...save money, save energy, save the environment or worry about a possible small fluctuation in property values. I would have thought any brain dead moron could get the right answer but leave it to the political brain dead morons to prove me wrong. Instead of his clothes we should hang the politicians on the clothesline.

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