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November 25, 2002

Crofton fence flap continues

From: Annapolis Capital, MD - 25 Nov 2002

By SCOTT BURKE, Staff Writer

The Crofton Civic Association is suing a pair of homeowners who allegedly reneged on a promise to remove their front yard fence -- even though the couple is set to do so before they sell their house at the end of the month.

Association President Steve Grimaud said the group knew about the impending sale of the house at 2902 Middlebridge Court, but filed suit against David and Beate Kanamine anyway to ensure the fence comes down.

"We still needed to make sure the community's interest was being protected," he said.

The lawsuit filed in Circuit Court on Tuesday asks for no money, just to have the Kanamines remove the white picket fence that violates the community's covenants. Mr. and Mrs. Kanamine could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit is the latest development in the two-year-long battle between the Kanamines and the community association since the couple installed the fence in the summer of 2000.

Community covenants prohibit front yard fences, but Mrs. Kanamine said they built it to protect her then-5-year-old son, who has cystic fibrosis and is partially deaf, from running into the street where he might not be able to hear oncoming traffic.

George Turner, a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker in Annapolis, said the Kanamines agreed to take down the fence before closing on the house.

"It's under contract and due to close by the end of the month," he said.

Mr. Turner declined to disclose the amount of the sale, but the listing price for the five-bedroom house was $459,000.

The association made an agreement with the family, which it made public in May, allowing the Kanamines to keep the fence until Oct. 1.

After that time, they would "remove the fence at their expense" or "allow the association to enter their property to remove the fence if they have not done so," according to the agreement.

Their lawyer at the time, Harrison Wetherill of Annapolis, wrote a letter in March to the association's lawyer, Frederick C. Sussman of Annapolis, agreeing to the Oct. 1 deadline.

Mr. Wetherill could not be reached for comment.

Since the fence was built, neighbors complained to the association's board of directors that the Kanamines were using their child to get approval of a decorative fence while damaging their property values.

The Kanamines denied the allegations and claimed they received verbal approval from the board. The association said that never happened.

The board originally told the Kanamines to tear down the fence in September 2000 shortly after it was built. Mrs. Kanamine appealed and threatened a lawsuit.

She also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging the decision violated the Fair Housing Act. The agency told the association last year it would not act on the complaint.

The board has spent over $6,000 on legal fees, wiping out most of its covenant enforcement fund. No trial date has been set.

Copyright © 2002 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.