(WSVN) – Her hedges in her front yard are beautiful. The city says they are too high and need to be cut back. Her response? They have been there for 32 years and are grandfathered in … or are they? Which is why we bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Willie Mae lives in the white house. Not the one in Washington, but not even that building is this white.
Willie Mae Glynn: “I love white.”
Does she ever. White floors, white walls, white furniture, even white artificial fruit.
Willie Mae Glynn: “It’s clean. That’s a sign of heaven, you know. Everything is all white.”
Patrick Fraser: “So this is heavenly.”
Willie Mae Glynn: “Yeah, this is heaven.”
Her house is her heaven, and her front yard is now her headache.
Willie Mae Glynn: “They’ve been there since 1990, so there 32 years ago.”
Thirty-two years ago, Willie Mae planted her ficus hedges in her front yard, and she treats the hedges as well as she cares for the inside of her house.
Willie Mae Glynn: “It really is this healthy.”
Patrick Fraser: “You’re proud of this hedge.”
Willie Mae Glynn: “Yes, because it gave me privacy.”
Then, Lauderdale Lakes said the hedges were illegal.
Willie Mae Glynn: “A citation for the hedges. I got a citation now.”
Willie Mae was told her next-door neighbor had complained, and according to city code passed in 2016, no hedge in the front yard could be taller than four feet.
Willie Mae Glynn: “Has been there 32 years. Because somebody doesn’t like them. I got to cut them down because someone doesn’t like them.”
Willie Mae was told several people complained about her hedges last year. She says it’s because of her politics.
Willie Mae Glynn: “That’s why they hate me, because I put down a Trump sign out there, and I put a DeSantis sign in the neighborhood.”
Her Trump sign came down after the election, but not her hedges, she says.
Willie Mae Glynn: “That’s beautiful and nothing wrong with them, and I’m not taking them down, and so now they say they’re going to put a lien on my house.”
When Willie Mae refused to cut them back, Lauderdale Lakes started fining her $100 a day.
But that’s illegal, Willie Mae believes.
Willie Mae Glynn: “I’m grandfathered in, from 30 years ago to book one. When I put them up, that was that. That was the height.”
You hear the words “grandfathered in” a lot. Legally, Howard, can your property be grandfathered in?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “It depends. Components of your house — like a roof, doors, windows — are grandfathered in when the building code changes, and landscaping can be grandfathered in, unless you have a safety issue. In this case, the tall hedges block a neighbor from seeing pedestrians and drivers when they back out, so the city can force Willie Mae to trim them down to four feet.”
I contacted Lauderdale Lakes. They had the proof they had taken the proper steps in Willie Mae’s case.
Willie Mae’s next-door neighbor told me she was the one who complained about the height of the hedge. She said she almost hit someone when she was backing out because the hedges blocked her view.
As for the fines against Willie Mae, they now total over $4,000.
Willie Mae Glynn: “All this started ’cause I put a Donald Trump and DeSantis sign in the yard.”
Willie Mae thinks that’s where it started, and she knows where it’s going to wind up.
Willie Mae Glynn: “I would rather go to court.”
If Willie Mae continues to refuse to cut the hedges down, she has a homestead exemption, so they cannot take her property from her. They can keep fining her and then try to collect the fines if she sells the house.
A problem growing out of control? Wanna hedge your options to solve it? Branch out and call us, and see if we can cut it down to size.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.