Local News

Dated Covenants Pitting Neighbor Against Neighbor

Posted November 23, 2007 11:36 p.m. EST

— An old agreement among neighbors is pitting homeowner against homeowner. The dispute is over dated covenants in the Raleigh neighborhood of Sunset Hills.

"I like the wooded areas. I like the trees. I would like the neighborhood to stay as much as possible," Sunset Hills homeowner Francis Hale said.

The Raleigh neighborhood of Sunset Hills is changing. Older, smaller homes are being replaced with new, larger ones. Hale said at least two new homes are in direct violation of the neighborhood's covenants.

The covenants – that date back to 1944 – state a home cannot be built on less than two lots. No one apparently knew these covenants existed until a builder went to sell a home. A title search uncovered the two houses in violation.

"Some of the codes in the covenants are completely outdated," Sunset Hills homeowner Stephen Flournoy said.

Flournoy lives in one of the new, larger homes in Sunset Hills. He pointed out a restriction that stated no person of any race other than the Caucasian race can live in Sunset Hills, unless they are a servant.

That restriction has been declared unconstitutional, but the others are still in place.
Some people would like to see all the covenants go away.

"It should be allowed to change if the majority of the people here want it," Flournoy said.

Hale started a petition to keep the covenants in place. He said he is also considering taking the issue to court. The larger homes could then be ordered to relocated or be torn down.

"I don't want to make life difficult on my neighbors, but I'm sure they are well protected. I'm willing to go as far as a can," Hale said.

The attorney for the builder with the non-compliant house declined to comment. His law office is circulating another document that would allow the covenants to expire next year, if the majority of homeowners sign off on it.