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Fleetwood Estates Homeowners Association v. Lex

Court of Chancery of Delaware

March 6, 2014

Fleetwood Estates Homeowners Association, Plaintiff
v.
Mary Lex a/k/a Maria Lex Defendant

Date Submitted: December 10, 2013

Draft Report; February 19, 2014

MASTER'S REPORT

Pending before me is Defendant Mary Lex's motion to vacate the default judgment this Court entered in favor of the Plaintiff, Fleetwood Estates Homeowners Association (hereinafter "HOA") on November 4, 2013. The issue is whether Defendant is entitled to reopen the default judgment that was entered against her after Defendant failed to respond to a complaint by the HOA that sought to compel her compliance with the restrictive covenants governing Fleetwood Estates. Defendant has failed to demonstrate any extraordinary circumstances that would justify the relief she is requesting. Therefore, I am issuing a draft report in which I recommend that the Court deny Defendant's motion to vacate the default judgment.

Factual Background.

According to the Verified Complaint, the Plaintiff is the owner of real property at 14047 E. Jana Circle, Seaford, Delaware, which is located within the Fleetwood Estates subdivision. The HOA is charged with maintaining, administering and enforcing the recorded covenants and restrictions for owners of lots in the Fleetwood Estates subdivision. The following are the restrictive covenant sections that are relevant to this action. Section 2 of the Restrictive Covenant states:

Fleetwood Estates is hereby established as a restrictive development of single family detached dwellings. For the purpose of these restrictions, the word "family" shall mean a single person occupying the dwelling unit and maintaining household; two or more persons related by blood or marriage or adoption occupying a dwelling, living together and maintaining a common household or, not more than (3) unrelated persons occupying a dwelling, living together and maintaining a common household.

Section 3 of the Restrictive Covenants states:

No house, dwelling, accessory building or landscape design shall be commenced, erected, nor any addition to, or alteration therein shall be made until house plans, specifications, and landscaping design showing nature, shape, height, materials, floor plan, color scheme, location and approximate cost shall have been submitted to and approved in writing by Fleetwood estates Architectural Committee, its successors or assignee and a copy thereof as finally approved with the Fleetwood Estates Architectural Review Committee or its successor or assignee.

Section 8(d) of the Restrictive Covenants states:

No boat trailer, boat, travel trailer or camper of any type shall be semipermanently or permanently placed or stored forward of the front of the dwelling.

Section 8(e) of the Restrictive Covenants states:

No wholly or partially stripped down motor vehicle or battered motor vehicle shall be permitted to be parked on any lot or on any street in Fleetwood Estates.

According to the Verified Complaint, in September 2009, Defendant submitted plans to the Fleetwood Estates Architectural Review Committee (hereinafter "the Committee") and received approval to construct a detached garage. The specifications did not include a bathroom, plumbing or mention of any intended use of the building as an apartment. Around the same time, Defendant received approval from the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission (hereinafter "the Commission") for construction of a detached garage with an unfinished second floor to be used for storage. In October 2010, Defendant received another approval from the Commission to finish the upstairs portion of the detached garage and install a bathroom. The proposed use listed on the building permit application was for an exercise room. Defendant never submitted any building plans or specification to the Committee for the refinishing of the upstairs portion, construction of a bathroom or exercise room prior to her application to the Commission.

According to the Verified Complaint, Defendant's adult son is currently using the finished room above the garage as an apartment. Defendant also is storing a boat, flatbed trailer, and travel trailer in front of the property, has a pickup truck permanently parked in her front yard and a piece of machinery, apparently a motor vehicle transmission, stored indefinitely in front of the property, in violation of the restrictive covenants. The HO A sent Defendant notice of these violations by certified mail on July 23, 2012, and again on November 9, 2012. To date, Defendant has refused to accede ...


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