A Cody home and its owners have recently become the centerpiece of a colorful legal battle involving that house’s exterior paint and an unwillingness to cooperate with homeowners’ association demands to alter it.
The Cody Ranchettes Homeowners’ Association is requesting Kelly and Debra Hennessy revert their house paint to an earth-tone color to agree with HOA bylaws. The Hennessys have aggressively fought and refused this request since first contacted in January 2018.
“It will take a court order to make us change our color scheme,” the Hennessys wrote.
Both the HOA and Hennessys are now suing each other in Park County civil court.
The Hennessys are fighting to keep their current home colors while the HOA is suing to make them change them.
“We received a letter from this HOA … that is the spiteful work product of bureau(c)rats selectively and inappropriately directed against us because of our disaffection with this parasitic group,” the defendants wrote in court documents.
They also want formal separation from the HOA, cheaper HOA road maintenance fees based on their claimed limited use of Rolling Hills Drive road.
Both plaintiffs and defendants are requesting their legal fees be paid for by the opposing side if the court decides in their favor. An 8 a.m. April 10 trial date is set for the case which is scheduled to be heard for up to three days.
A stroke of the hand
The HOA said in January 2018 the Hennessys started painting some boards with what appeared to be a shade of green. The board said that later, red, yellow and blue stripes joined the mix. By the end of March colors were orange, brown, white, green and blue, plaintiffs said. The defendants said they started painting in October and tested 12 colors on their house, spending $1,200.
In court documents, HOA board members Donnie Champlin, Al Abee and Gary Hand allege the Hennessys did not seek HOA approval before conducting paint tests on their home, which the Hennessys have not formally disputed.
The Ranchettes HOA regulations mandate, “There shall be submitted to the Architectural Control Committee a complete set of plans and specifications of any and all improvements, the erection or alteration of which is desired, and no structures or improvements of any kind shall be erected, placed or maintained upon any lot unless and until the final plans, elevations and specifications therefore have received such written approval as herein provided. Such plans shall include … proposed color scheme for roofs and exteriors.”
The board also contends the four colors the Hennessys chose to paint with on the house body do not qualify as earth tones and thus break HOA regulations.
The defendants dispute this claim and in court documents said final colors chosen by March were “cafe gray,” (pre-existing) “maroon rust,” “walnut bark” and “cinnabark.”
“The colors blend seamlessly into the decor at Cody Ranchettes,” the Hennessys wrote in a letter to the HOA.
The HOA is demanding the Hennessys pick different colors and reduce their choices to one color for the house body and one color for house trim. They also gave them an option to return the house to its original colors.
“No home in the subdivision has ever been painted using alternate colors for alternate (body) boards,” the Plaintiffs said in court documents.
HOA members also said in court documents the paint diminishes home values in surrounding residences.
Law or bureaucracy?
The Hennessys moved into their home in 2005, five years after the Ranchettes HOA’s most recent bylaws were written.
They claim the HOA’s request is a personal attack and that many infractions are not enforced within the Ranchettes community. Also mentioned in court documents is their allegation that homes exist in the subdivision without earth tones and more than two colors on the outside house body.
Over the course of the spring, the Hennessys crafted around 10 letters to Tom Reed, Ranchettes HOA manager, HOA board members and other neighboring residents, criticizing and berating both parties for their handling of the situation. The letters were included in court documents.
“We’ll only modify our meticulously chosen color scheme at the implied or express point of a gun,” the Hennessys wrote in one letter.
Within these letters the Hennessys hurled insults at the Plaintiffs and neighboring residents, covering a wide realm of vernacular name-calling which included phrases such as, “Morons, pissant Kool-Aid stand CEO, bullying louts and lowlifes, clown college rejects, three stooges, pissant tinhorn dictators, abysmal lunkheads, filthy dirtbags, messrs, wannabe cops/process servers, bottom-feeding, HOA ambulance chaser, local shyster, terminal idiots, spite-addled pond scum, Celine Dion, spiteful minions.”
The Hennessys also displayed various signs around their residence during the summer, attacking the HOA and the state of Wyoming. The HOA board demanded the signs be taken down due to violating HOA rules, which the Hennessys only partially cooperated with.
Plaintiffs said the Hennessys continue writing letters despite demands to cease from the HOA’s legal representation, Burg, Simpson, Eldridge, Hersh & Jardine PC law office. Even within a congratulatory letter sent to a recently graduated Cody High School student in their neighborhood, the Hennessys mentioned the ongoing paint dispute and tossed a few more insults at a few parties.
A hand-delivered April 20 letter from Abee and Jeff Leisy to the defendants, reiterating that house painting must be in harmony with the neighborhood and requesting prior paint plans be submitted, drew outrage and claims of trespassing from the Hennessys, along with more written attacks crafted by the couple.
On May 9, the Hennessys crafted a more conciliatory letter, agreeing to pay a voluntary $25 fine if allowed to move forward with their chosen paint colors. The HOA board rejected this offer.
In one letter, Kelly Hennessy claimed suffering from PTSD, loss of sleep and self-esteem, fear and emotional distress because of the dispute.
Within their letters, the Hennessys also mention being charged unexpectedly for road maintenance and express frustration about disrepair to their Rolling Hills Drive road. In January the couple wrote a letter which they claim separation from HOA purview and question the need for said body.
“You don’t need an HOA albatross to be a considerate, generous neighbor, it can just as readily compromise or even vitiate this peaceful state,” the Hennessys wrote.
The Hennessys were subpoenaed to give deposition evidence Wednesday at the Burg, Simpson, Eldridge, Hersh & Jardine PC law office. Hand and resident Jake Jacobson were also subpoenaed to give testimony at the same location. The Hennessys said Abee, Champlin and Reed will also be questioned by their lawyer, Frank Chapman of Chapman, Valdez, & Lansing Attorneys at Law of Casper.