After they painted their house blue, the homeowners association sued and neighbors called it ‘obnoxious.’ Court says they’re in the clear

After they painted their house blue, the homeowners association sued and neighbors called it ‘obnoxious.’ Court says they’re in the clear
Duane and Kathryn Korth, who live in the Gretna area, were sued by their subdivision’s homeowners association for painting their house blue. But the state’s highest court found Friday that the Korths did not violate the restrictive covenants of the Estates at Prairie Ridge subdivision. (COURTESY PHOTO KATHRYN KORTH)

LINCOLN — A homeowners association in Sarpy County might be feeling the blues after a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling Friday.

Duane and Kathryn Korth, who live in the Gretna area, were sued by their subdivision’s homeowners association for painting their house a shade of blue that, according to neighboring homeowners, was “a nuisance” and “obnoxious to the eye.”

But the state’s highest court found Friday that the Korths did not violate the restrictive covenants of the Estates at Prairie Ridge subdivision. The court ruled that the covenants required new homes to be painted in earth tones, but they did not restrict the color when a house is repainted.

The ruling reversed a decision by Sarpy County District Judge George Thompson.

In 2004, the Korths built their house and proposed to paint it blue. But their developer denied this proposal and recommended that they choose an earth-tone color instead, in compliance with local covenants.

Ten years later, the Korths informed a member of the Estates at Prairie Ridge Homeowners Association of their decision to repaint their house a shade of blue. A disagreement ensued, but the Korths went ahead with their plan.

That led to a lawsuit from the homeowners association.

During a trial, a representative of the Prairie Ridge developer testified that the intent of the covenants was to provide “a very natural, earth-tone environment” that blends in “with the environment.” However, he said that there was no language in the restrictive covenants specifically referencing which paint colors are considered earth tones.

Current and former residents of surrounding lots also testified that they had been required to disclose exterior paint color for approval by the developer when building their residences. They all additionally testified that the blue color chosen by the Korths was a nuisance, an annoyance and obnoxious.

Thompson ruled in favor of the homeowners association, agreeing that the blue color “clashed with the neighborhood” and “does not fit in.” The exact shade of blue was not disclosed in court documents.

The homeowners appealed, which led to Friday’s ruling by the Supreme Court.

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