Black Lives Matter yard signs spark debate within Chapel Hill neighborhood as HOA looks to enforce display policies

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some residents of the Briar Chapel community in Chapel Hill are questioning the timing of their HOA's enforcement of a yard sign policy.

They say the policy has not been enforced until now and believe it has to do with "Black Lives Matter" signs that have been popping up around the neighborhood.

Mia King has been printing signs for neighbors and said she now has requests for about 300 of them.

"We wanted to make these signs for a few of our neighbors," King said. "We wanted to just kind of highlight the Black Lives Matter movement."

But King said residents got emails from their HOA Thursday, saying it'll enforce their yard sign policy. One email says signs, yard art and garden flags are not allowed and must be approved first. Another asks non-compliant signs be removed by July 1.

"If you go around the neighborhood, you can see signs, flags, little lawn animals in the yard that technically aren't supposed to be there as per the HOA laws but until these signs started coming out, nobody had a problem with everything that was out there," King said.

"I know that there is this rule in our neighborhood," Briar Chapel resident Alexandra Weeks said. "We're all aware of it but it hasn't been enforced. That's the issue. It hasn't been enforced and so why are they choosing now to enforce it?"

So that she'll be in compliance, Weeks put up a homemade "Black Lives Matter" sign in her window, not on her lawn. She said she doesn't want to pay $25 for a yard sign approval application that could get denied.

"I just think the timing of enforcing the policy is suspicious, to say the least," Weeks said. "Interesting because as you can see behind you, there are signs all around the neighborhood that have been up for weeks, months and they haven't been asked to take them down. And all of a sudden now because there has been a lot more Black Lives Matter signs, they've been asked to take all signs down."

Several viewers reached out to ABC11, supporting the signs and questioning the HOA's enforcement timing.

ABC11 reached out to the Briar Chapel Community Association 9BCCA), which sent the email to residents. A representative sent this statement:

"The board of directors is the governing body of the Briar Chapel Community Association. Decisions about association bylaws, rules and regulations are under the board's purview, and not made by the property management team. Your inquiry and contact information has been passed along to the board, should they wish to respond."

After ABC11's inquiry, the BCCA issued this statement to the neighborhood Thursday afternoon:
"The BCCA Board apologizes for our messages of June 11, 2020 regarding enforcement of signage restrictions in the neighborhood. While our intentions were procedural, we failed to appreciate the relevance of current events in our decision and how our message would be received. We realize that our actions to address signage in the community have caused pain to some residents and for that we apologize. The Board is in the process of reviewing our legal documents with the assistance of counsel to determine the best way the Board can fulfill its duties under the covenants, including how those covenants may be adapted to better serve the needs of our community. The Board will take no further action regarding signage until we have gained that understanding and communicate further with you, our community."
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.