The Carlisle man feeding and sheltering feral cats in violation of homeowners association rules should find other ways to help. If you choose to live in a home governed by a homeowners association, you're required to follow the association's rules. Courtyards of Carlisle's association is going above and beyond in its approach to deal with feral cats.

Robert Schlitt, a resident of Courtyards of Carlisle, has been feeding and sheltering feral cats for a year and a half. He befriends them, catches them and brings them to the Furry Friends Network. That activity is prohibited under a Courtyards of Carlisle Unit Owners Association rule. The homeowners association says it will fine any resident who violates that rule.

To meet Schlitt halfway, the group said it would oversee weeklong trap-and-release programs at least once per year through the Furry Friends Network. The association's president, Sharon Zupko, is correct when she says, "The association has rules and regulations that must be followed. The feeding of wild animals is frowned upon because it continues to attract nocturnal animals."

When you live in a community governed by a homeowners association there are benefits and tradeoffs. Often, there are restrictions on the kind of cars you can park in your driveway or on the street, or rules about length of grass, or shared snow-removal or trash-removal services. This association chose to deal with its feral-cat problem through a resolution banning trapping and feeding, and it's up to all residents of this community to abide by that.

The homeowners association isn't being unreasonable. The group was well within its rights to ban Schlitt's practices, fine him if he did it again, and leave the issue there. Instead, it formed a partnership with Furry Friends Network to proactively deal with feral cats, a problem that plagues not just this community but much of the borough.

Schlitt's doing what he thinks is right, but ignoring homeowners association rules when you live in private community is the wrong approach. He should find other ways to help.


?2013 The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.)

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