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Aucoin v. Copper Meadows Homeowners Association, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 3, 2019

DUSTIN AUCOIN & ASHLEY AUCOIN
v.
COPPER MEADOWS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC.

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. C-20175067 HONORABLE DAVID M. SMITH, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Shane E. A. Romero, Jr. Law Office of Shane E. Romero, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Copper Meadows Homeowners Association, Inc.

          Stuart Paul Bowie Colomb and Saitta, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Dustin Aucoin Ashley Aucoin

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Van H. Kyzar, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          VAN H. KYZAR JUDGE

         The defendant, Copper Meadows Homeowners Association, Inc., appeals from a trial court judgment declaring the property of the plaintiffs, Dustin and Ashley Aucoin, free from a restriction set forth in the subdivision's covenants, enjoining it from further attempting to enforce the restriction, and ordering the return of a fine imposed for an alleged violation of the restriction. For the reasons set forth, we affirm.

         DISCUSION OF THE RECORD

         The plaintiffs, Dustin and Ashley Aucoin, are the owners of a house and lot located at 107 Meadow Lake Drive in Youngsville, Louisiana, which is part of the Copper Meadows Subdivision, Phase II, established through the defendant, Copper Meadows Homeowners Association, Inc. (Copper Meadows). On September 1, 2017, the Aucoins filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Request for Permanent Injunction against Copper Meadows, seeking to have their property declared free from the effects of a subdivision restriction prohibiting the parking of trailers on or in front of the homes located within the subdivision. The petition specifically pled the two-year liberative prescription period for enforcement of restrictive covenants after a noticeable violation, as set forth in La.Civ.Code art. 781. The petition also sought the return of a $25.00 fine imposed and drafted from the Aucoins' bank account by Copper Meadows for an alleged violation of the restriction.

         It is undisputed that at the time the Aucoins purchased their house and lot in February 2010, Provision 18 of the Act of Dedication and Restrictive Covenants of Copper Meadows Subdivision, Phase II, read as follows:

The placing and parking of house trailers or mobile homes on any lot in the subdivision shall be prohibited. No motor home, travel trailer, camper or other similar recreational vehicle may be used as a residence
on any lot and any such vehicle, as well as any boats and boat trailers, must be parked and kept behind the front set-back line within a closed building or behind a fence at least six (6') in height. No vehicle may be parked on the street in front of any residence longer than twenty-four (24) hours and no vehicle may be placed on blocks or any immovable positions on any lots or street in this subdivision.

         At that time, Provision 20 of the Act of Dedication and Restrictive Covenants of Copper Meadows Subdivision, Phase II, also read, in part, as follows:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, until all of the lots in the Subdivision are disposed of by the Developer, these restrictions, including, but not limited to, front, side, or rear line setback requirements, may be amended unilaterally by an act executed by Developer without the written consent of any other owner or purchaser of said lot or lots provided, however, that no amendments may be enacted without the written consent of all owners where such amendments affect restrictions related to the manner in which these lots may be utilized (i.e. residential).

On January 10, 2014, Copper Meadows amended Provision 18 of the Act of Dedication and Restrictive Covenants of Copper Meadows Subdivision, Phase II, to read as follows:

The placing and parking of house trailers or mobile homes on any lot in the subdivision shall be prohibited. No motor home, travel trailer, camper or other similar recreational vehicle may be used as a residence on any lot, and any such vehicle, as well as any boats, boat trailers, or other trailers, must be parked and kept behind the front set-back lines within a closed building or behind a fence at least six feet (6') in height. No vehicle may be placed on blocks or an immovable position on any lots or streets in this subdivision.

         The Aucoins claim that Dustin Aucoin works as a professional plumbing contractor and utilizes a cargo trailer in connection with his business. The Aucoins assert that the trailer has been parked in front of their home on almost every evening during the workweek, between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and all day and evening during the weekends since they purchased their home in February 2010. Copper Meadows attempted to cite and fine the Aucoins in 2013, for violating the original Provision 18 of the Covenants, but withdrew the action after protest by the Aucoins. After this incident, Copper Meadows amended Provision 18 on January 10, 2014, to specifically prohibit the parking of trailers in front of the lots within the subdivision. The Aucoins assert that they continued to park their trailer in front of their home after the amendment, and that in August 2017, Copper Meadows again cited and fined them another $25.00, which they again ...


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