We are seven homeowners in Eldorado at Santa Fe, New Mexico and for over two years we've been fighting our Home Owners Association both in and out of the courts for the "crime" of having pet hens. Besides the nearly $20,000 we've already spent in legal fees and court costs to defend our property rights, this legal battle is most galling because our HOA pet covenant DOES NOT PROHIBIT CHICKENS.
Susan Billings, David Borton, Devi Borton, Rose Winston, Greg Colello, Gershon Siegel and Xubi Wilson are the seven residents who were served the day after Christmas 2012 with a lawsuit. There were originally nine named in the suit but two couples decided not to fight, gave up their hens and are moving out of Eldorado! Tragic.
It is our HOA's position that "a chicken can never be a pet." The suit claims the defendants are causing "irreparable harm to Eldorado" and are in violation of Article II, Section 11 because "they have hens on their properties." What's particularly outrageous about this statement is the fact that keeping hens in our sprawling rural subdivision, with its 1.5 average lot size, has until now, been a 40-year accepted practice! (None of us has Roosters as a rooster crowing at 3am would be a nuisance to our neighbors and therefore be prohibited under the nuisance clause)
For details on our lawyer's analysis of the covenant in question or other details of this misguided case go to www.hensforth.org.
Here is how Susan Billings, one of the defendants shown in our video, describes her situation: "I am a single mother of a ten-year-old boy and I have lived in Eldorado for the past 12 years. I work two jobs so that I can afford to live in my home because I want my son to have a decent education. I accepted the restrictive building codes as governed by the HOA and I abide by them. I do not, however, agree to the HOA's over-reaching their authority mandating the kinds of pets Eldoradoans can keep on their 1-4 acre lots. My son and I chose chickens as our pets and we adore them. It has been a wonderful learning experience for him and he has chosen as result of having pet hens to be a vegetarian. I cannot begin to tell you how much joy I get in watching my pet hens from my kitchen window and sharing their eggs with my neighbors. It is, after all, why I work so hard "” to enjoy my home. The additional stress from being sued by my HOA can be overwhelming and I have thought about giving in, but I remember my son and how important it is for me to set a good example of standing up for what you believe. And I believe that I, as every other hard working American, have the right to live peacefully and enjoy my home without hassle. "
Eldorado started off 40 years ago as the largest solar community in America and an affordable place to buy a first home and a safe place to raise kids. As the subdivision built out over the years we began attracting a more well-heeled, retiree demographic. Now that this group has taken over running our HOA, they seem determined to marginalize those of us not part of that group. They see hens as some kind of "gateway animal" and believe that continuing to allow them will destroy property values. The damage to our community over this has been grave, dividing those who applaud the HOA for instigating a frivolous lawsuit to "protect their property values" and those who are disgusted and even horrified at seeing their yearly assessment monies going to sue their neighbors. This whole drama has made Eldorado a laughing stock throughout the county and beyond and has done more to harm our property values than any hand full of hens.
After mediation, depositions, counter suits and motions for summary judgments, we are finally reaching the end of this tragicomedy. Our court date is for this coming May 5th and we will finally get to present our case by proving our covenant does not prohibit hens. The judge is going to rule as to whether or not a chicken can be "a recognized household pet." SHOULD HE RULE IN OUR FAVOR, A LEGAL PRECEDENT WOULD BE SET THAT WILL HELP OTHER PET HEN OWNERS AROUND THE COUNTRY FIGHTING THIS SAME BATTLE.
So we THANK YOU in advance for any help you can give us. We will use your contributions wisely to get the maximum result from them. We've been fundraising and working at this now for 2 years but we remain HENSFORTH! and We Won't Chicken Out! We are eternally grateful to you. Help us save our pets and keep our community the free and open place it was before this started.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Make a contribution of any amount. Your moral and financial support will be greatly appreciated.
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Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We don't intend to lose this and lose our rights to have the pets of our choice.
HAPPINESS IS A WARM HEN. Don't you agree?
And this just in:Word on the street has it that Robert Redford is considering making a "Milagro Bean Field" type movie, intending to cast himself as the noble, crusading-for-the-underdog-attorney role. Anonymous sources, however, claim that our attorney, Ronald Van Amberg, is insisting the role go to Geo