By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When 46-year-old Kerri Doyle moved to Delano in November 2011, she was looking forward to the joys of being a first-time homeowner painting her walls, growing plants outside, and getting to know her neighbors.
Instead, because the townhome she purchased (in the Kings Pointe development) is reserved to residents age 55 and older, Doyle found herself in an expensive and time-consuming predicament.
“I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’d like to stay,” said Doyle, who teaches first grade in Orono.
When Doyle purchased the home, she said she wasn’t fully aware of the ramifications of being under 55. Initially, she thought it would be OK to live there because the townhome association allows for 20 percent of its residents to be under 55. However, she later found out that the association’s bylaws state that those residents must be at least 48.
When Doyle spoke to her real estate agent about it, he told her he’d look into it. The answer she received from the real estate agency’s legal council was “basically not to worry,” she said.
“I kept inquiring, but I got the impression it wasn’t a big deal,” she said.
Less than two months after Doyle moved in, however, she got a letter from the townhome association stating that she will be fined $1,000 per month because of the age violation. At the advice of her attorney, Doyle has not paid this fine, and has only been paying the monthly association fee she agreed to when she purchased the house.
Doyle stated the association might knock the fee down to $50 per month, but in addition to the age violation, there are other issues the association is requesting be addressed. Doyle’s patio, for example, is not complete, and she has been told she needs to put in a retaining wall, sod, and fencing. However, when she purchased the house, she thought that would be the builder’s responsibility.
In order to “cure” the age violation, Doyle is considering having her mother move in. When Doyle had major surgery in the summer, her mother had stayed awhile to take care of her anyway, she said. Doyle’s parents currently live in Stacy, about an hour from Delano.
According to John McCashin, Kings Pointe association president, allowing Doyle to stay in the townhome without curing the age violation could be problematic.
“If we allow her to stay and not meet the qualifications, we could lose our senior citizen status,” McCashin said. “If we lose our senior citizen status, then anyone could move in here.”
According to Delano City Administrator Phil Kern, when the development was zoned and planned, the developer requested it to be for residents 55 and older.
“The development was not planned to accommodate young people,” Kern said, explaining that the streets are not wide enough to handle school buses, there are no parks, and guest parking is limited.
When Doyle moved in, the city of Delano received a zoning complaint from the townhome association. The city followed up on that complaint, and filed a lawsuit in Wright County.
However, after the city heard Doyle’s side of the story, city staff decided to work out an agreement with her.
“Unfortunately, it appears to us that Ms. Doyle was misled by a number of people in the process,” Kern said.
From the city’s standpoint, as long as the unit meets the age requirement, there are no city issues, Kern said.
“Ms. Doyle has been incredibly cooperative,” Kern said.
Doyle said she feels sad that the townhome association is angry with her.
“They feel like I purposely did this,” she said. “That’s, like, the worst thing to me. I wanted this to be something we worked on together. It shouldn’t have gotten to this point.”
Doyle said many of her neighbors have been rallying around her, however.
“I’m grateful for them, and for the city’s support,” she said.