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Homeowner wants to replace tree with boulder

Updated September 6, 2022 - 9:07 am

Q: I live in (a local) community and am taking care of my mom, an amputee in a wheelchair. Your name has come into conversation this afternoon with an issue in our homeowners association that I believe, is within your realm of expertise; seeing how, the only next person we would call is our lawyer.

Synopsis: I’m looking to remove the following tree and replace it with a large boulder. For the past three years, the tree has been a constant headache in terms of maintenance, fire hazard, roof access for rodents, falling over during any and all wind storms (safety/liability hazard), a huge mess generator for the front of our property; and overall, a giant water hog — of which — my water bill is paying for. I intend to remove the tree and replace the spot with a rather medium size boulder; thereby, curbing all aforementioned problems by 100 percent.

Reason for Removal:

Tree branches constantly grow onto our roof, violating Henderson Fire Code 15.12 and providing roof access to rodents.

Liability: safety hazard as the tree constantly falls over.

Tree is a huge water hog — of which — I’m paying for.

The HOA in this community is responsible for maintaining this landscape, but they play the ignorance card, so I pay for the tree trimming.

To current date, I’ve applied twice to remove the tree with my own funds (three months), and yet the board of directors (three people, 70-plus years old with zero Nevada Revised Statutes or board experience) ignore the issue entirely.

Side Note: I’m paying for this project: I’m not asking the HOA or board to flip the bill for this. I’m paying for the tree removal; as well as, the compatible boulder, as it all sits on my property.

The front yards of all property owners, at the sidewalk is the responsibility of the HOA — as decreed in our covenants, conditions and restrictions. Hence the monthly HOA fee of $186.

By the board and HOA playing ignorance to this situation, I’m viewing this as a violation of the Henderson Fire Code (15.12). A violation of the Henderson Water Conservation Code (14.14.050). Of course, this violates the community mandates:

“Section 9.8 subset I, but otherwise subject to this Declaration (including, but not limited to, the ARC provisions set forth in Article 8 hereof), and subject further to Applicable Law, the Board shall not and the Governing Documents must not prohibit an Owner from installing or maintaining drought tolerant landscaping in areas which the Owner has the right to occupy and use exclusively; provided that such landscaping is selected to the maximum extent practicable to be compatible with the style of the Community. For purposes of this subsection, “drought tolerant landscaping” shall mean landscaping which conserves water, protects the environment, and is adaptable to local conditions. …”

So the final question, if you’ve read this far: Where to turn next? Are there any agencies that could assist with this debacle (i.e. water authority, fire marshal, etc.)?

A: In most governing documents, the association has a requirement to review, approve or reject an architectural request within “x” amount of days, often 45 days. If the association fails to make a decision within the time frame, the request is generally approved by default as long as the improvement is consistent with the architectural guidelines of the community.

You have two issues. The first is that the association has not responded to your request and the second, replacing of the tree with a boulder consistent with the association’s guidelines.

Your best option is to contact the Nevada Real Estate Division and speak with one of the Ombudsman’s investigators concerning the lack of a response from the board in either approving, rejecting or requesting a modification of your architectural request.

As to the actual removal of a tree and replacing it with a boulder, you will need to look at your architectural guidelines as the board may have the authority to require you to do more than place a boulder.

Q: We just received a publication from our master association stating they are going to raise our monthly assessment 29 percent to balance next year’s budget. I thought Nevada had a 3 percent max on raising assessments per year. Can you please provide the NRS that covers this?

A: There is no such state law on the books. You need to review your governing documents as to the percent that the association can increase your assessments without homeowner approval.

Barbara Holland is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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