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Holiday Light Fight In Bucks County

By Elizabeth Hur

DOYELSTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Some in Bucks County are fueling a Christmas light controversy. They are going against the Homeowners Association and ditching white for colored bulbs starting Friday night.

Marie Buonanno explained, “I’d just like the opportunity to please display colored lights.”

Sounds innocent enough but last year, her Home Owners Association fined her $400 for doing just that: $10 a day for the 40 days she displayed colored lights. Undeterred, she’s at it again — this time with the support of some of her neighbors.

Keith Clements said, “We put colored lights up in support of our friends. My wife and I believe that everybody should have the opportunity to celebrate the holiday anyway they can.”

But according to George Edwards, the Doylestown Station Condominium Association president, while he declined to talk on-camera, he told us a letter recently sent out to homeowners speaks for itself.

Bottomline, when you sign on the dotted line to move into the development, you agree to the community’s rules and regulations and that includes displaying only non-blinking, white lights for winter holiday decorations.

Buonanno understands but argues, it’s time for a change.

“You’re allowed to have blue candles or orange candles in your windows for religious holidays. As a Christrian, Christmas is not a winter holiday, as per se, it’s a religious holiday for Christians,” Buonanno said.

In the same letter, the Board explained a survey was conducted to figure out what, if any, changes were necessary. The letter read in part:

“The results of the questionnaire were published in the Fall 2011 Newsletter. Only 38 out of the 211 residents responded: 14 for colored blinking lights, 5 for colored lights, and 19 not in favor of colored or blinking lights.

The Board determined that no change in rules and regulations was warranted based on the following:

*Limited feedback on the subject at the annual meeting.

*Those in favor of color or color blinking lights did not represent the majority of the residents.”

Buonanno responded, “I don’t understand how the displaying of Christmas lights for 30 or 40 days during the Christmas holidays is such a big deal, I just want to have a merry Christmas.”

For now, Buonanno says if she and her supporters get fined, she is willing to pay the fine but plans to continue her fight to have the rule changed.

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  • Jim

    If they fine you, pay the fine in pennies. They will enjoy counting 40,000 pennies.

  • Shannon

    You think that’s bad, this HOA won’t let a kid with Cerebral Palsy keep his playhouse.

  • Jimbo

    One of my dreams in life is to buy a lot of land next to a HOA development and build the tackiest house in the world on it.

  • J.c. Edmond

    George Edwards worships Satan.

  • Scott

    HOA’S need to go away, they are nothing more then little cliques ran by a bunch of self absrobed morons, that think they are all that.

  • Stephanie Mauser

    usually, the aim is to stop ppl from putting up the kind of displays that make the news and draw tons of car and foot traffic. i think a re-write of the rules IS in order. rather than no colored and/or blinking, limit the size of displays or amount of lights?


    The amazing thing about all this (and no one has seemed to comment on it) is why would you even create a rule that keeps someone from putting up BLNKING, COLORED, LIGHTS during CHRISTMAS? What kind of micro-managing idiots would make and enforce this rule??

    This is most HOAs in the USA. Let’s just enforce stupid rules that are based on people’s personal preferences. And let’s make tax-paying residents as miserable as we are. You wanna change the rules? Then come to our little club meetings on a regular basis and vote on it.

    And to think, this woman has actually paid MONEY out of her pocket for breaking the “rules.” Who needs that, especially in THIS economy??

    Sad is the day where ADULTS fight with other ADULTS about COLORED, BLINKING CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. WOW.

    • diana

      HOA’s are getting out of control. Their intent is to prevent the neighborhood from getting out of control. Blinking or colored lights? really???? Sounds like the HOA is on a power trip.

  • Sherri

    Blue or orange candles are colors for Hannakah. Is the HOA saying you can celebrate that with the usual displays, but not Christmas? I am a Christian and thus celebrate Christmas,but also have a menorah for my Jewish friends on display. The HOA is out of control – people should be able to celebrate their religious holidays as they wish within reason (reason meaning colored lights).

  • Amber B

    Why is this news?

    • Constellation

      Because someone thought it was some sort of “freedom of speech” story, or possibly had a religious angle to it, when it’s nothing more than a woman that signed a contract and now wants to negat it. And until she gets her way will continue to stomp her feet and throw a tantrum like a two-year old.

      • tick tisk

        i know, to think signing a contract meant you don’t have to follow the rules? nevermind x-mas, i say we start a tantrum to remove all the illegal aliens out of the usa. i mean we DO have LAWS in place to FOLLOW, don’t we?? is my tantrum on removing illegals out of line with binding regulations? hmmmmmmm?????

        you people are typical, whining about sticking to regluations because of signed contracts when it fits your agenda on blocking displays promoting a x-mas, yet don’t give a rats a$$ about what i mentioned above.

      • Scott

        HOA’S need to go away, they are nothing more then little cliques ran by a bunch of self absrobed morons, that think they are all that.

  • Jen

    While I believe in fighting to change the rules rather than breaking them to do so, at least she is willing to pay the consequence for her actions. She knows that what she’s doing is against the rules, she just doesn’t agree with the rule. I agree that she should have thought of that before moving into a place with a HOA, but it’s hard to think of everything and hindsight’s always 20/20! :) I may not like her method, but I do respect her for fighting for what she wants and accepting the consequences of her actions.

  • Jerome

    HOAs’ are just another form of fascism and I find it to be anti USA and should have all the board members tried for Sedition / Treason and sent back to the country that their families came from! I Find any group the surpresses or is against the US constitution i.e. first amendment to be despicable and I would have them shipped out of my country.

    • ryanL

      So you believe anybody who is against the Constitution should be shipped back to the country their relatives came from? Sounds unConstitutional to me. Second, in that a HOA is a private organization, it technically isn’t being unConstitutional.

  • not scrooge

    I would never move to a development where there is a HOA. They are run by those idiots who went out for class president but lost. They think they know what everyone in the community wants. I agree there should be some standards but I also believe if the majority wants change, then change.

    • diana

      I think HOA’s are a catch 22. They are good in a sense to help the neighborhood from going down the tubes. They make sure people maintain their homes and don’t allow (for example) bright magenta colored houses or 3 broken down cars sitting for all to see). However, they also bring about rules that are ridiculous at best. (not being able to keep your garage door open unless you are in the garage). There should be a fine balance.

      • Mal

        I live where there is an association with the same rule. How stupid is that?

  • Jim Wilmer

    Just can’t believe people fight over such crazy things. The lady said she would pay the fine; so be it. Next time the vote comes up; lobby the neighbors for something different. Remember 200 of your neighbors had no trouble with the light color restrictions!!!!!

  • dave

    How is it that 19 for colored lights (“14 for colored blinking lights, 5 for colored lights”) “did not represent the majority of the residents”, but “19 not in favor of colored or blinking lights.” does? Isn’t 19 vs 19 50%- not a majority either way?
    Regardless, you agreed to the terms so live by them or get them changed or vote the HOA members out or ANSWER THE SURVEYS WHEN THEY ARE SENT.

    • Lokari

      Probably their rules require a super majority to make changes. But your premise is correct – if you don’t get involved in the business of the association, you have no right to complain when it goes against you.
      We’ve got a similar (non-participation) problem in our HOA. I don’t think we’ve ever had a ten percent turnout for a meeting. The closest we ever came was when the rates were going up for the first time in the 10+ year history of the HOA.

    • Jen

      They didn’t say that the majority aren’t in favor. They said that no changes were being made due to limited feedback since roughly 200 people didn’t respond to the survey.

  • Oh Please

    Typical Doylestown. Move into a place with an association–presumably to keep out the ‘bad elements’ and keep things just so, then decide you no longer like the rules and fight it. Don’t forget, of course, calling in all the media outlets for your fifteen minutes of fame. So glad I don’t live here anymore.

    • Jay Catrella

      “So glad I don’t live here anymore”??
      Shouldn’t that be “so glad I don’t live THERE anymore”? Otherwise you apparently still live there! Or, perhaps you’re living in a “OCCUPY” tent now?

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