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Homeowners Association Rules 'Jesus' Sign Violates Rules

7:58 AM, Jul 28, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Four years ago Sarah Phillips moved into her Sutton Lakes home and said she has never had a problem, until now.

"We've had it out about a month. We haven't had any complaints from the neighbors..., said Phillips.

MORE: Kids' Lemonade Stand Curtailed by Their Homeowners Association

Phillips has posted a Jesus sign in her yard and there was no reaction from anyone until she received a letter from the Sutton Lakes Homeowners Association telling her having it in her yard is a violation of the covenant

"It is basically telling us to remove the sign, under the bylaws," she said. 

Phillips said she did sign the Covenant, Conditions and Restrictions, or CCR, but never agreed to allow the free exercise of her religion to be prohibited.

"I did not give away my freedom of speech, religion, my rights as an American citizen," said Phillips.

Taiana Marques lives in the same community and has a religious statue in her yard. Marques said homeowners should have a right to express their faith.

"I think it is ridiculous, it shows who we are, our faith. I think it is just ridiculous they're coming up with that," said Marques.

The sign is hardly noticeable, but the violation notice says if Phillips does not remove it in three days, she is subject to fines of $100 a day. Phillips said she plans to leave it where it is.

"I think it is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous," said Phillips.

Bill Reno, property manager for the Sutton Lakes Homeowners Association, said this month he has issued 30 complaints, and only one other for a religious sign.

"No signs are allowed except For Sale or For Rent signs. Religion has nothing to do with it. It is a deed restricted community, but rules are rules. It does truthfully, break my heart."

We contacted the ACLU and were told that even though it cannot comment on this specific case, it is entirely possible that the HOA has the authority to take down the sign.

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