Road Reads

Horror, Satire and the Truth about Gated Communities

The Association ~ by Bentley Little

In November, 2006, Simon and I were in the Philadelphia area on a three-and-a-half week training program prior to assuming ownership of our auto repair franchise. Little did I know that one of the books I read during that time would have a long-lasting impact on my psyche.

The Association tells the story of Barry and his wife, Maureen, and what happens to them when they  move from California to a gated community in Utah. That’s when they discover that they have moved into the neighborhood from hell.

Their neighbors are strange, the Board of Directors (BoD) sanctions killing pets, hates children and employs destructive and deadly methods for punishing anyone who breaks the constantly-changing rules.

As things go from bad to worse, the couple finds ways to fight back, but the classic good versus evil tale culminates in a fight to the finish that is so bizarre, the reader doesn’t know whether to laugh or shiver with fright.

The Association is written with wit, and what appears to be first-hand experience with gated communities and those who rule them. Like the author of this book, Barry is a horror writer. Some of the events described in the story seemed over the top, but the satire wasn’t lost on me.

Ironically, Simon and I had just moved from Atlanta to Fairfield Harbour, a beautiful gated community in the New Bern area in North Carolina. Although we had heard of various shenanigans perpetrated by the Property Owners Association BoD, I found the comparison between fiction and reality somewhat harsh.

Early on in the story, a neighbor brandishing a clipboard arrived at Barry and Maureen’s house to warn them that they could not hold a garage sale. It was against the rules. Apparently, it was the neighbor’s “job” to wander around looking for violations.

In Fairfield Harbour, people had been seen walking and driving around with cameras and clipboards in an effort to catch their neighbors in violation of a new rule that prohibited property owners from keeping boats, trailers and RV’s in their yards. As mean-spirited as this was, I still believed that our BoD and neighbors were nowhere near the level of depravity as the directors and their myrmidons in The Association.

Fast forward seven-and-a-half years. Our BoD has evolved into true monsters.

The BoD

With on-going litigation, squandering of funds, fiscal irresponsibility, fabricated awards, lies, vilification of anyone who dares to question their motives, selective enforcement of rules and a host of other transgressions not involving murder or physical violence, the Fairfield Harbour BoD is beginning to look a lot like the one in the book.

The real-life battle is on-going, and the winner has yet to be decided, but because of the actions of a cabal of vile, loathsome, evil individuals, the beautiful community into which we moved is now a true fustercluck!

Take it from Bentley Little and me, think twice if you are contemplating moving into a gated community. There may be untold horrors awaiting you.

4 Comments

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    Penny

    Apr 25, 2014

    Reply

    What you say is true. But I strongly believe that what goes around eventually comes around. It's just a matter of time. Meanwhile, Simon and I will enjoy living here, despite the reign of terror perpetrated by our BOD. Since we're not the least bit interested in joining their groups, clubs or inner circles of sycophants, they can't ostracize us. There's more than enough to keep us busy both inside and outside of our community. Sure, they hate my guts, but not caring is very liberating. Besides, what people whom I neither like nor respect think of me isn't worth dignifying. When I decided to review "The Association, I couldn't resist asking Simon to round up pictures of certain critters in order to illustrate what I meant. Unfortunately, as laughable as these monsters are, the damage they've done to this community with their self-serving agendas is as tragic as it is despicable!

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    Ken

    Apr 25, 2014

    Reply

    As a friend of Simon's living in Fairfield Harbour, I can verify what he says sadly is true. I see no end to the tyranny in sight, presently we are in a temporary slight slowdown until the devise another plan to create more turmoil Many residents pay no attention to the politics and enjoy life. Lots here to enjoy and a lot of really nice people, just a few bad apples can terrorize just for their lust for power. This is largely a retirement community, can't they just relax and enjoy their retirement?

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    Penny

    Apr 24, 2014

    Reply

    If we had known what we would have to deal with, we never would have bought here. Having said that, we love our house, our friends and neighbors and the beauty of the community. I also love going to POA meetings and pissing the assholes off. They never know what I'm going to say. they just know that they won't like it. Annoying the hell out of assholes can make my day!

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    Jill

    Apr 24, 2014

    Reply

    It sounds like a great book, I'll have to look for a copy. I think the HOAs really are an abomination! II got sucked into one (tho I REALLY didn't want to be). They make out like they're voluntary associations but they're really not. You can't NOT join one if you buy in an area where there is one. Sometimes there really isn't another property that fits your needs. I completely reject the idea that anyone else should have ANY say so about what a person can do with the property THEY bought and paid for! If you BUY something, that means YOU get to USE it! If the HOA wants to tell me what I can do with MY property, then THEY should pay my mortgage! Other than that, they can go jump in the lake! I have yet to have any one of those power hungry little wanna be dictators explain to me how spending a fortune for a piece of property and then NOT being able to use it is in ANY way a good thing. HOAs are like any government, they're formed to protect the common good but they attract power hungry people. Regular paople have too many useful things they're busy with to want to do that job! So eventually they always get taken over by the thugs who THINK they have the right to tell other people what they can and can't do. Too bad, it's human nature that any type of government always works that way. Very, very sad.

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