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Sellers v. Woodfield Prop. Owners Ass'n

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

January 29, 2015

STANLEY SELLERS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
WOODFIELD PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Respondent

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY. Honorable Mark E. Orr, Circuit Judge.

AFFIRMED.

For Appellant: Craig C. Lowther, LOWTHER JOHNSON Attorneys at Law, LLC, Springfield, MO.

For Respondent: Richard T. Ashe, CARNAHAN, EVANS, CANTWELL & BROWN, P.C., Springfield, MO.

GARY W. LYNCH, J. -- Opinion author, MARY W. SHEFFIELD, P.J. -- concurs. DON E. BURRELL, J. -- concurs.

OPINION

GARY W. LYNCH, J.

Page 358

Stanley Sellers appeals from the trial court judgment ordering removal of a storage building located on his property. Sellers raises four points on appeal, ultimately arguing that the trial court erred because a prohibition of all storage buildings is not allowed in the property covenants and is unreasonable. Finding no merit in any of Sellers's claims, the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

Factual and Procedural Background

Sellers has owned a home in the Woodfield subdivision of Nixa since 2011. Before purchasing his home, Sellers became familiar with the " Declaration of Restrictions, Covenants and Conditions of Woodfield Subdivision" (" the Covenants" ). The Covenants provide that " [n]o structure whatsoever shall be erected, placed, or permitted to remain on any Lot except one detached one-family dwelling with any appurtenant accessory structure or structures approved by the Architectural Committee." The Architectural Committee is composed of three members of the Woodfield Property Owners Association (" the POA" ). The Covenants state that the Architectural Committee " shall develop guidelines and policies for the development and [sic] of a residential community which is harmonious and aesthetically pleasing." The Architectural Committee established guidelines and policies by accepting rules enacted and enforced by the original developer. The policies are set out in a document entitled " Woodfield Minimum Building Requirements" (" the Requirements" )

Page 359

and have been publicly available online at the POA's website since 2010.

Shortly after purchasing his home, Sellers constructed an outdoor kitchen with the prior approval of the Architectural Committee. Without seeking the prior approval of the Architectural Committee, however, Sellers then began construction of a storage building to store lawn equipment.[1] After construction began on the storage building, Sellers was contacted by the POA and advised that his storage building violated a provision of the Requirements, which states: " Storage buildings or utility buildings are not allowed." There are no other storage buildings in the subdivision. Sellers initially sought a waiver from the POA and the Architectural Committee. The POA declined to amend the Requirements at a special meeting. After the Architectural Committee also denied his request for approval via letter,[2] Sellers asked the trial court to declare that his storage building was not in violation of the Covenants.

Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for the POA and concluded that the Requirements were not a " new burden" on property ownership greater than that set forth in the Covenants but rather were validly enacted and in effect when Sellers purchased his property. The trial court also concluded that neither the Requirements nor the decision to deny Sellers's storage building was ...


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