Homeowner’s association digs in over Brandermill garden war

Posted at 8:14 PM, Jul 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-23 06:58:45-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR)--A garden could soon cost a Chesterfield family a lot of money, because their patch of flowers and vegetables has upset the homeowner's association.

Chris Gilson loves his vegetable garden and loves teaching his daughters and other neighborhood kids how to care for it.

But a controversy is growing.

Gilson says it started when the Brandermill Community Association (BCA)sent a notice of violation and asked him to remove this planter box.

"We got another letter stating removing your vegetable garden and planter box or else get fined $10 dollars per day,” he said.

He said he could incur the fine every day for 90 days if he doesn't comply with BCA property covenants..

Gilson says he was told to submit plans to the architectural review board and they were denied.

He and his neighbors were floored.

"Nobody has a problem with it,” said neighbor Lisa St. Louis. We know that's how he and his family live…not a bad looking garden.”

They are growing in the front because they don’t get any sun in the back.

“They say we can grow something in the back yard but we have nothing but trees and a creek…doesn't get any sun,” said Gilson.

He knows some people would argue that when you buy in an area with a homeowners association, you must follow the rules to the letter.

Brandermill's  community manager John Bailey declined an on camera interview, but explained  gardens are considered major landscaping and they require approval.

He said the BCA is reviewing the matter and could consider future changes to residential guidelines that will provide clearer language as it relates to vegetable gardens.

CBS 6 asked Bailey why Gilson was allowed to have a garden for 10 years if it's a violation of the rules.

He said he wasn't aware of that, and speculated it could have been an oversight as there are more than 3,000 homes in Brandermill.

Gilson says he's not ready to give up the fight, even though he lost one appeal he plans to take his case to the full board on August 5.

“I would like to change the culture; Brandermill has been around for 40 years. I think people want to plant in their yard."