A judge said yesterday that an Edmondson Heights woman whose Formstone door frame violates the local community association's covenant would be spared -- at least temporarily -- any consequences.
Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II vacated another judge's contempt-of-court order against Ann Lopez, 70, adding that he hoped attorneys for her and the association, both working pro bono, could come up with a compromise in 60 days.
"I'm not trying to set a precedent," said Judge Turnbull. "This isn't the case of the century." Sending Ms. Lopez to jail would be "patently ridiculous," he said in the brief hearing.
On Aug. 5, the judge had signed an order for her incarceration for six months, plus a $1,500 fine and court costs and gave her 30 days to comply with the court's decision that she replace the frame or go to jail. Her attorney received a stay on that ruling until yesterday's hearing. In June 1993, Circuit Judge William Hinkel had found Ms. Lopez, of the 1000 block of Harwall Road, in contempt for not obeying the order of another judge to replace the door frame she had installed three years ago to stave off bugs and water.
Jeannie Carbo, president of Edmondson Heights Civic Association, said the association covenant, a set of legally binding restrictions on exteriors of homes, says: "Frames must be replaced in the same style as the original design of either wood, aluminum or vinyl covering in white only."
The association charges $5 a year to join, and one-half to two-thirds of the 1,027 households are members, she said.
Kristine Crosswhite, Ms. Lopez's attorney, asked Judge Turnbull to vacate the order of contempt because Ms. Lopez did not have a lawyer on some of the previous court dates, so no one made a closing argument stating her client's position. She also argued that her client didn't believe the covenant applied to her. Jack Andrews, the attorney representing the civic association, countered that Ms. Lopez already had been found in contempt and refused to acknowledge the court order.
Of Judge Turnbull's ruling, Ms. Crosswhite said: "That's the best we could hope for and we're absolutely delighted."
Association members will wait to see what happens. "Nobody in the association wants to see her go to jail," said former association President Bruce Spivey, who was in the courtroom. "This has been going on for three or four years, so she's really had a lot of time. I guess 60 days more isn't going to hurt anybody."