Families yield in Port St. Lucie shutter squabble

Jul 23, 2008

Palm Beach Post–July 22, 2008

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

PORT ST. LUCIE — Art and Doris Haendel will interrupt their North Carolina vacation next week to drive home and open the accordion shutters on their Kings Isle house.

It’s that, or face daily $50 fines for subjecting their neighbors to what some consider visual blight: closed metal shutters painted white to match the house.

It’s enough to turn a retiree into a civil-rights activist.

"We now know this matter needs to be argued through the state of Florida’s political system," Doris Haendel said, "We have already begun to pursue" a letter-writing campaign to state legislators.

A neighbor offered to open the shutters, but the Haendels decided to drive home and do it themselves. Another member of the three families cited for the shutter rule, Richard Laramee, has hired a contractor to remove his back-porch shutters and stack them in his garage.

He hopes that the worker will return if a hurricane appears offshore.

"It’s discouraging to live in a community where the rules are insensitive to some of the residents’ needs," Laramee said.

The couples’ homeowners association sided with an appeals committee and upheld violations against the shutter scofflaws who closed their window coverings and headed out of state for the summer.

Although Laramee cited a new city ordinance permitting closed shutters on vacant homes during hurricane season, an appeals committee said that law has no bearing on stricter rules in Kings Isle.

Residents were given until Friday to open their shutters or face daily $50 fines from the homeowners association. The Haendels received an extra week so they can drive home from their vacation spot in North Carolina.

Property manager Beth Miller said that, although many snowbirds would like to close their shutters for the season, others in the San Marino section of Kings Isle dislike looking at boarded-up windows, even if the shutters are attractive and painted to match the house.

Laramee was ordered to remove his back shutters even though they’re not visible from the road.