The tension between an individual's expression of his beliefs and the desires of a community to maintain a set of standards are taking center stage in a west Pasco neighborhood this week.
It all started when Tim Meeker, a resident of the Mediterranean Villas development off of Broadmoor Boulevard, plunked a big blue sign in his front yard reading, "Jesus is the reason for the season."
As a Christian, Meeker believes strongly that the Christmas season is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus -- and he thinks no sign is too big to proclaim that message.
"To me, if the message is OK, they should be saying, "Rejoice! Jesus is the reason for the season. Amen," Meeker told the Herald.
But the development's homeowners association disagreed and told Meeker, who moved in last year, that his sign is larger than the 2-foot by 2-foot dimensions allowed in the standards agreed to by all of the 215 homeowners in the development.
Margaret Jacobson, a Mediterranean Villas resident and president of the volunteer homeowners association board, told the Herald that the rules were made by the developer who created the community in 2002, and that the rules exist to keep the area looking attractive so it will be a nice place for its residents.
"Everybody is under the same rule. Nobody is being singled out," Jacobson said.
And the homeowners association has no objection to the religious message of Meeker's sign. He would be free to post the same sign with the same message in his yard as long as it met the dimension restrictions, she said.
"Nothing is wrong with the message," Jacobson said. "Our stand is it does not follow the (rules). That's what we all work under."
She said that a two-page flier reminding residents about the rules for holiday decorations -- and including language about the 2-by-2 size limit -- was tucked into doors about two weeks before Thanksgiving.
Jacobson didn't want to comment on how the homeowners association will attempt to resolve the differences with Meeker, but she reinforced that it's purely the size that's at issue and not the message.
Meeker told the Herald he has no plans to remove the sign.
"It shouldn't be considered a sign. It should be considered my Christmas decorations," he said.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org