NASHVILLE — At least one resident of Nashville’s Abbeywood Village neighborhood in Burton Hills is unhappy because he says he can’t post his Bill Lee for Governor sign in his front yard.
That man, Daniel Allen, told The Tennessee Star his homeowners’ association forbids it.
This, despite a state law that, going by Allen’s interpretation, supersedes his HOA policies.
Members of the Tennessee General Assembly enacted that law, the Tennessee Freedom of Speech Act, last year.
Allen, a Republican, said he neither lobbied for the law nor did he help write it.
He just wants freedom of speech — for him and even his neighbor, a Democrat who is rooting for Phil Bredesen for the U.S. Senate.
“I am not going to vote for Phil Bredesen. He’s not my guy,” Allen said.
“But I believe my neighbor has a right to have that (Bredesen) sign out there, and I and no one else in this complex have a right to tell him he can’t.”
The Star on Friday repeatedly tried to contact all four members of the Abbeywood Village HOA, as well as President Grant Carpenter, Managing Agent Teddy Christenberry, and Outside Counsel Gerald C. Wigger.
No one other than two board members, Will Robinson and Tim Rhodes, responded. Both men declined comment and referred all questions to Carpenter.
According to the exact language of the law, a homeowners’ association may not prohibit the display of political or campaign posters or signs placed on private property by the owner of the property or any lawful resident.
An HOA, though, “may adopt reasonable covenants, conditions, restrictions, or rules with respect to the placement of political or campaign posters or signs.” Those restrictions include limiting the size of campaign posters and signs in common and private property areas to four square feet, according to the law.
According to Allen, his HOA’s lawyer said the Tennessee Freedom of Speech Act only applies to new HOA agreements — not the one Allen and his neighbors live under, which is 30 years old.
Allen said he has talked to state legislators, and they tell him his HOA is acting against the law.
“My objective is to draw some attention to the issue and maybe get some people to apply a little critical thinking to what they are doing, why they are doing it and what their objective is in suppressing other people,” Allen said.
“I’d love to see my HOA become a little more reasonable. They’re entrenched. Frankly, I don’t think they’re going to move the needle.”
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Chris Butler got his master’s degree in communications from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana Tech University.
Chris worked as a newspaper reporter for seven years and later was an investigative reporter for Tennessee Watchdog from 2010 to 2017. From May 2018 to August 3, 2018 Chris was the Tennessee communications director for the TennValues PAC, which endorsed Bill Lee for governor. Chris has served as the investigative reporter for The Tennessee Star since August 6, 2018.