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Homeowners group sues to shut down day care

Friday, August 21, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 5:26 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 9, 2010

COLUMBIA – The board of Vanderveen Crossing Homeowners' Association is suing Heather Linneman and her husband, Taylor, for running a preschool out of their home.

Linneman started Little Wonders Preschool in 2003 after she and her husband bought the house from Steve Herigon of Herigon Construction. They bought it with the intention of running a day care and renovated the basement accordingly.

Now the homeowners' association is suing the Linnemans for breaking the association's covenants.

The covenants of the homeowners' association state that "permitted home occupations shall not include barber shops, beauty shops, shoe or hat repair shops, tailoring shops or any type of pick-up stations or similar commercial activities or any day care centers, residential care centers, nursing schools, or play schools."

Linneman's day care, which serves 13 children, is licensed by the state.

Heather Linneman said that when she bought her home Herigon told her that he was "in charge" and gave the Linnemans permission to operate the day care even though it ran against provisions of the covenants.

But in 2004, Linneman received a letter from the homeowners association board stating that she had to close the preschool unless she complied with three requests:

  • Getting Herigon's signature stating that he had given verbal approval to Linneman to start the preschool;
  • Having no signs in the front yard of the house indicating a preschool; and
  • Keeping the outside of the house neat and orderly.

She did all three and said she heard nothing further from the board.

By April, however, the homeowners association told Linneman that Herigon never had the right to allow her to run the day care and that she had to close it. Her refusal to do so prompted the lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial in Boone County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Linneman said representatives of the association board told her that they came back because there had been a complaint from a resident that the preschool was affecting the sale of houses in the neighborhood. Linneman, however, said she has heard nothing but support from her neighbors and, to her knowledge, every house that's been put up for sale has found a buyer.

She was not allowed to see the complaint in writing, she said.

Representatives from the association didn't want to talk about details of the case. Their lawyer, Ron Sweet of Oliver Walker Wilson LLC, declined to comment.

"I don't try my cases in the press. I try them in court," Sweet said.

Board President David Wilson called the lawsuit a "regrettable situation."

"I'm sorry it's come up," he said. "We're duty-bound to enforce the covenants as judiciously as possible. It's a tough situation that we don't want to be in."

Wilson said he knows how the lawsuit is affecting the Linnemans and that there's nothing personal about it.

"The board is all volunteers; we all try to do the best job we can to uphold the covenants."

According to the association's covenants, the party who loses the lawsuit will have to pay attorney fees for both sides.


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Comments

Sharon Godsey August 24, 2009 | 1:18 p.m.

I live in the same block as the day care and am very glad to see the board take this action. Had I known this day-care was here I would not have bought this house. I don't think anyone would want to live in a neighborhood when for hours each day (weather permitting) there is screaming and crying. I believe my property values have been decreased by this. As to homes selling in the area, we have been told they were only shown evenings when the day-care was not in operation.

(Report Comment)
Laura Pattrin August 27, 2009 | 4:40 p.m.

My children are in the Daycare at this area and I find it a blessing to have a quality place to take my children that I trust. I think the family has done such a wonderful thing to open their home to children and care for them. Heather talked to me about how she started the daycare and all of the challenges she has faced to try and provide a place where parents can take their children and trust they will be under good care. I know she has done this and my children have benefited from the care they have received. Everyday I drive up to the house to drop off my children I feel like I am dropping them off at home, because she does such a good job of keeping the area and home so nice.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 27, 2009 | 5:01 p.m.

("Linneman's day care, which serves 13 children, is licensed by the state.")
Sharon Godsey says:
"I live in the same block as the day care and am very glad to see the board take this action. Had I known this day-care was here I would not have bought this house. I don't think anyone would want to live in a neighborhood when for hours each day (weather permitting) there is screaming and crying.")
You must be a real humanitarian.
May I suggest you close your windows, turn on the A/C and turn up your TV soap operas.
(And by the way, it's not unusual for grown-ups, who take care of other people's children, to experience bouts of screaming and crying. It's not an easy job. Cut 'em some slack, will ya?)

(Report Comment)

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