Mt. Juliet area man spends near $11,000 in dispute with HOA
The Tennessean
Andy Humbles
15 September 2016

Photo: Andy Humbles The Tennessean

David Oakley was fed up with neighbors in his Wilson County community parking their boats, RVs and commercial vehicles in their yards.

So he took his homeowners association to court. To the tune of almost $11,000 in his own legal fees.

Oakley, 69, alleged the Seven Springs Estates Homeowners Association did not enforce parking restrictions according to neighborhood bylaws for the 66-lot subdivision off Central Pike that he and his wife moved to in 2007 as a retirement home.

“If I wanted to live in the Kampgrounds of America, I would have moved to the Kampgrounds of America,” Oakley said. “It’s called property rights.”

The legal brawl dates back March of 2007, when Wilson County Chancellor C.K. Smith concluded an amendment to the Seven Springs Estates “Declaration of Covenants” that included parking restrictions for commercial vehicles, trailers, recreational vehicles, boats and non-functioning automobiles “applies to all lot owners."

The homeowners association had contended that the amendment didn’t apply to homes whose sales closed before the 2007 addendum because of a grandfather clause. But the chancellor ruled that the clause “does not excuse,” Seven Springs Estates owners from compliance.

However, the court also ruled the homeowners association did not have an obligation to enforce the bylaws.

Oakley was back in General Sessions Court last month, this time specifically seeking to recover $10,892 in legal fees, court costs and a letter related to the case, he said.

General Sessions Judge Barry Tatum dismissed Oakley's plea for financial relief based on the Chancery Court’s jurisdiction in the case. The Chancery Court did not award Oakley financial relief requested as part of the lawsuit, which Judge Tatum stated can be interpreted as a denial.

he and his wife have been shunned by some neighbors

Oakley, who said he and his wife have been shunned by some neighbors over the dispute, doesn't plan to continue to pursue money he's spent in the case.

The extent of Oakley’s fight has baffled the volunteer homeowners association, current president Shawn Worlow said.

Oakley took his grievances to court, saying the HOA wouldn’t meet with him about his concerns. However, Worlow maintained the HOA holds annual open meetings and that Oakley has not raised concerns. His complaints about the parking restrictions were made mainly via lengthy email, Worlow said.

“We don’t have any ill-will toward him,” Worlow said.

The median sales price of homes that closed in the last two years in Seven Springs Estates is $389,000, Worlow said.

While the homeowners association isn’t obligated to enforce the parking restrictions, it did send a letter to residents that the regulations would be enforced starting Sept. 1. Worlow said the rules are now in effect.

the fine is now $25 per month

The fine for boats, trailers, commercial trucks and similar vehicles being parked in yards at Seven Springs Estates is $25 per month, which Worlow said a resident can choose to pay. Oakley has argued the fine is less expensive than using a commercial storage facility.

Attorney Jason Ferrell, who has represented the homeowners association, declined comment.

A representative for Community Management Associates that serves as the property manager for Seven Springs Estates also declined comment.

I won the war, but lost the battle, the battle being reimbursement of my legal fees

“I’ll just wait and see,” Oakley said about enforcement. “I won the war, but lost the battle, the battle being reimbursement of my legal fees. But the board has changed its tone 180 degrees. I am 100 percent convinced if I hadn’t brought the lawsuit then nothing would have changed.”

I have a hard time figuring out what Mr. Oakley has won. For a mere $25 a month, all the boats, trailers, commercial trucks and similar vehicles can remain.

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