It has been the center of attention in a Nampa neighborhood for over a year, but the days of a black wrought-iron fence will soon be coming to an end.
"The lawsuit has been settled, we are selling our home, and moving to a new subdivision, the fence is coming down," said Nampa homeowner Bekah Graves.
Bekah and her husband, Eric, have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars battling the Shalimar Terrace homeowners association for the right to keep their powder-coated black ornamental steel fence around their property.
"It got to the point that financially, and emotionally, we just couldn't do it anymore," said Bekah Graves.
The Graves family says they aren't stopping their fight because they think they are wrong. After a year of stress, they decided it was time to move on.
The fence fight boils down to Article Five of the neighborhood CC&R’s, which basically says that homeowners can't build a fence without approval by the board of directors of the homeowners association.
Bekah and Eric say though that since their HOA board wasn't really enforcing Article Five when it came to other homeowners in the neighborhood, they assumed they would be extended the same courtesy.
"I mean there are fences all over the subdivision so I don't know how anybody in our shoes would have thought anything differently than what we thought," said Bekah.
That even includes the previous owner of their exact property, who built a black wrought iron fence on one side of the house without any issues.
"I don't know, it doesn't make sense it's kind of like living in the twilight zone," said Bekah.
With all that in mind though, the Graves say they don't think their fight was ever just about the fence.
“At the end of the day I think it truly boiled down to a power struggle between the president of the HOA and our family, and he won," said Bekah.
Cases of HOA's selectively enforcing CC&R’s are not uncommon, but Boise attorney David Leroy says legally, those contracts are usually ironclad.
"Just because they were not earlier enforced does not automatically give someone the ability to say, you can't enforce them now. In fact it is not much of a defense at all typically," said Leroy.
So oftentimes in a situation like the Graves had, an age-old question is presented.
Is it better to ask for forgiveness or permission?
Ethically and practically you can argue that one forever, but legally, Leroy says challenging CC&R’s is usually an uphill battle.
"Homeowners can win, but it is often lengthy and expensive to do so, therefore I think it is better to ask for permission than forgiveness," said Leroy.
So when it comes to an HOA board that is out of control, Leroy says the answer to fixing things is right in your backyard.
"The homeowners boards for the first instance are held accountable by their own members,” said Leroy. "People should be active in their homeowner associations."
That is something the Graves family hopes others will learn from their fight.
"Fight for your neighbors, fight for what's right because one family is not enough to make a difference, a handful of families isn't enough to make a difference, but a neighborhood can come together and say, 'What are you doing?'" said Bekah.