Local News

Man at Odds With Homeowners' Association Over Clothesline

Posted December 3, 2007 6:09 p.m. EST
Updated December 4, 2007 6:28 a.m. EST

— 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."