Lakes at Mercer Island Homeowners' Association v. Witrak

810 P.2d 27 (1991)

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Lakes at Mercer Island Homeowners’ Association v. Witrak

Washington Court of Appeals
810 P.2d 27 (1991)

Facts

The Lakes at Mercer Island Homeowners’ Association (the association) (plaintiff) sued homeowner Bonnie Witrak (defendant), seeking an order that Witrak remove from her property a row of 30 trees that were 25-30 feet in height, were immediately adjacent to Witrak’s boundary line with a neighbor, and obstructed the neighbor’s views. The association had previously rejected Witrak’s plans to build an addition to her home, which according to a restrictive covenant required association approval before any construction. After Witrak planted the trees, she resubmitted her plans and suggested that the trees improved the construction plans and obviated the view-obstruction objection. The applicable landscaping-and-fencing covenant required association approval for any fences, walls, or shrubs delineating lot lines and prohibited any fence exceeding six feet in height. The trial court ruled that Witrak’s trees did not constitute a wall or a fence and granted summary judgment for Witrak. The association appealed. Witrak urged the court to adopt a literal definition, arguing that the covenant should be strictly construed with any doubts resolved in her favor and that, as a matter of law, fences may not be naturally grown.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Forrest, J.)

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