BROOMFIELD, Colo. — During a time when water conservation is a growing concern, a Broomfield homeowners association was forcing a family to tear out artificial turf that they had just installed. If a new bill passes, however, that could soon be against the law.
Kerry Armstrong's dog loves playing in the backyard, and so does her husband. They have a small putting green.
"We're very pleased with how the landscaping looks," said Armstrong.
But not everyone in Broomfield's Anthem neighborhood is pleased. Because instead of sod, she chose high-end artificial turf for their yard.
"We are very conscientious of water conservation. We all lived through the horrible fires of Colorado last year, the drought," said Armstrong.
To be clear, what they installed isn't your childhood putting green.
"The product itself has has really improved dramatically," said Armstrong, showing samples that looked like real grass. "I know several people in this neighborhood have it. I don't know why they were allowed."
Armstrong was shocked to get a letter from her HOA last September demanding she remove the artificial turf and stating that it was the HOA's duty "to protect the aesthetic appeal and property values in the neighborhood."
Armstrong said she belatedly realized that her landscaping contractor's designs had not specified that artificial turf would be used and mistakenly labeled the area as sod in the design she sent the review committee. However, she pointed out several neighbors who also had turf as the reason she believed it was allowed.
The HOA board denied Armstrong's appeal, threatening fines of $10 a day if the turf wasn't torn out. If she was not a member in good standing, she would not be allowed in the recreation center where she volunteers.
"Some of these boards are being obnoxious and bullies, frankly," Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, told Contact Denver7 that HOAs should be encouraging water conservation, not discouraging it.
"We live here in Colorado, and water is a precious resource," said Titone."Not a lot of people want just rocks in their backyard, they want to have a place for kids to play or for the dog to play in, and artificial turf is a really great alternative for that."
She has introduced a bill to prevent HOAs from banning artificial turf and is working on the larger issue. Most homeowners can't afford to take their HOA to court, so Titone wants an affordable, alternative dispute resolution process through the state.
"We want to make sure that people can settle those disputes, hopefully, before they go to court, and save people a lot of money," said Titone.
In an email to Contact Denver7, the Anthem Highlands Community Association declined to comment. But after we reached out, Armstrong received a letter from the HOA stating they would wait to see what happens with the pending legislation.
"They need to listen," said Armstrong. "Many others that I have spoken to also want artificial turf for water conservation in their backyards. It's time to make some changes and listen to your community and protect the environment at the same time."
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