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Raleigh woman, HOA in stare-down over backyard staircase

Posted January 1, 2013

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— A Raleigh woman could be climbing the stairway to foreclosure in a battle with her neighborhood's homeowners association.

Gloria Daniel received a city permit to build the two-story staircase at the back of her Karlbrook Lane home in the Stowecroft neighborhood off Buffaloe Road. But she didn't follow the subdivision's covenants, which required her to get approval from the HOA first.

The Stowecroft Owners Association Inc. sent Daniel letter after letter telling her to tear the staircase down. She refused, saying she spent thousands of dollars on it.

"They say they're going to fine me $100 every day, and if I don't pay, they're going to foreclose on my home," she said recently. "When they say 'foreclosure,' I was so sad. These people are going to foreclose on my home just for building some steps."

Michael Ganley, an attorney for the HOA, sent a letter Monday to WRAL News to defend the association's stance.

"This is not the case of a homeowner building a flower garden or porch swing without approval," Ganley said. "Ms. Daniel has constructed an enormous and unsightly staircase edifice to provide exterior access directly from the ground level to the second floor of her home."

What's more, he said, she has consistently misled the HOA about the reason for the staircase.

"Even following construction, Stowecroft was still willing to give Ms. Daniel permission to maintain the staircase, but Ms. Daniel has not provided any truthful or reasonable justification for the necessity of such a structure," he said.

Stowecroft staircase dispute HOA: Raleigh woman misled them about staircase

According to Ganley, Daniel has told the HOA on various occasions that she wanted to protect her home against a Hurricane Sandy-type storm, planned to care for orphans or needed the stairs to care for her developmentally disabled husband and son.

He noted, however, that the stairs were built long before Sandy hit the East Coast and that Daniel doesn't live with any family members.

Daniel told WRAL News that she plans to care for developmentally disabled adults on her second floor. The state will help pay for that care, but Department of Health and Human Services regulations for such "supportive housing" require emergency access for all floors – so she built the staircase to the top floor.

"I don't know why they want me to tear it down," she said.

Neighbors such as Ed Wilburn said the rules are clear about getting HOA approval for any construction projects, but he said he would prefer the association focus more on security and upkeep in Stowecroft.

"I think the current HOA spends more time on building infractions as opposed to the actual tenants," Wilburn said.

Neither side is giving in, but the HOA is delaying the fines in hopes of working out a compromise with Daniel.

139 Comments

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  • msncdso Jan 8, 12:14 p.m.

    Sometimes rules do sound unreasonable but this one makes a lot of sense.

    This thing effects others owner's property values.

  • superman Jan 7, 12:28 p.m.

    Looks like the stairs cover her entire back yard. Would hate to climb all those steps a couple times a day. She should have spent less on the stairs and had someone to do some yard work and plant some grass. Tear down the steps.

  • mac240 Jan 7, 11:34 a.m.

    Tear it down! If you want to do crazy things to your house, don't move into a neighborhood!

  • cbrandonwilliamson Jan 7, 11:20 a.m.

    That is an ugly stair case.

  • ckblackm Jan 4, 7:30 p.m.

    some of the new laws require any group of homes built above a certain number, have to have covenants.

    That is not true.
    btneast

    ---
    That "new law" was enacted in 1999... not exactly new.

  • deanm56 Jan 4, 4:51 p.m.

    I think her neighbors should thank the HOA for doing it's due diligence. The larger and more pressing concern would be an adult care facility operating in a residential area. Not sure about the state laws concerning this, but as a homeowner I don't want to come home to a business next door and I'm sure many of her neighbors feel the same way. Is she even allowed to run a business from the home ?

  • mkereardon07 Jan 4, 9:39 a.m.

    When are these disgusting HOA things going to go away?
    They are clearly the most dangerous threat to our property values bar none.
    The most manipulative, unethical and even sociopathic personalities are drawn to postions of power in these things like flys to garbage.
    There are no election laws, open meeting laws or chain of custody of ballot laws that apply to HOAs.
    They are like cheap carnival con games, and homeowners are refusing to play.
    How many homeowners show up to these rigged meetings in your community?
    None in mine! We refuse to dignify this corrupt little tin pot governance.

  • btneast Jan 3, 4:35 p.m.

    some of the new laws require any group of homes built above a certain number, have to have covenants.

    That is not true.

  • Not_Time_Yet Jan 3, 12:54 p.m.

    Sounds like the resident was trying to sneak around the HOA rules. Still that set of stairs is horrible, it could have been designed as a multi-level deck with steps parallel to the house and doubtful anyone would have complained.

    That being said many of the HOA rules when carefully read actually say things like "should" rather than "must" or "will" and have "guidelines" rather than "requirements".

  • itsmyownopinion Jan 3, 11:35 a.m.

    Oh, good grief, there's nothing down Buffalo Road to get this excited about. We're not talking multimillion dollar homes here.

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