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Community association threatens fine over butterfly garden

A Florida woman is in a tussle with her neighborhood's homeowners association over the butterfly garden in her front yard.

The woman, from Pensacola, is a retired teacher who said she has had a butterfly garden in her front yard for about six years. She told a local TV station that she nurtures caterpillars and butterflies throughout their growing cycle. Her yard is filled with plants and trees that butterflies find appealing.

Her neighbors, however, aren't thrilled with her passion.

Earlier this month, she said, she received a letter from the property owners association in her community, informing her that community rules forbid a resident from raising any animals other than cats, dogs or other household pets for noncommercial reasons.

The notice informed her that she was going to be fined $25 per day – which totals more than $9,000 a year – unless she keeps the butterflies away from her property.

"I have been known to bring them in, help them through their life cycle and once they're adults and those wings are flapping, I let them fly," she told WEAR-TV.

She said she believes she has been targeted because her property is on the do-not-spray list for mosquitoes, which she said would harm the caterpillars and butterflies.

"It's a beautiful neighborhood, and I live here and I want my caterpillars and butterflies to be at peace too," she said.

Homeowners associations are plentiful in Florida, and they exist to keep the state's communities beautiful. And beauty, indeed, is in the eye of the beholder. Still, some restrictions can be overbearing and are able to be challenged. A Florida attorney who works with homeowners associations covenants and rules can offer advice in cases such as the one this homeowner faces.

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