Property rights worth fighting for no matter how eccentric the individual

DAYTONA BEACH -- Hurrah for Mongo!

If you don’t know who Mongo is his real name is Robert Hodges. He has been in a battle with Volusia County for two years over items he felt were art that he had placed on his lawn as well as on his built-up of dunes.

Because his vision of art clashed with his neighbors in Wilbur-By-The-Sea, due to it including things like brightly-colored undergarments on a clothes-line, old toilets, signs, flags and figurines, well, naturally, they complained.

Code enforcement came out and trucked away his “dunes” -- sand that he had purchased, and did so while he was away. He fought back by asking them to show him the specific nuisance violations and the battle was on as he sued for the return of his property and the right to do with it as he pleased.

Granted, I would not be happy living next door to all the “junk” he had in his yard, but I support his right to fight back against government that is not only denying his rights to decorate his property as he sees fit, but also hauled away pieces of his property and charged him fees for not taking down the balance of the items. He may be eccentric but he does have rights. He and the county have finally reached a settlement.

Granted, I would not be happy living next door to all the “junk” he had in his yard, but I support his right to fight back against government that is not only denying his rights to decorate his property as he sees fit, but also hauled away pieces of his property and charged him fees for not taking down the balance of the items. He may be eccentric but he does have rights. He and the county have finally reached a settlement.

His attorney, Eric Latinsky, said Mongo would rather "spend his funds to improve his dunes with plants and landscaping, making them aesthetically pleasing and beautiful as opposed to continuing to litigate, which just seemed to be unproductive.”

Mongo does have terms to abide by, such as maintaining his yard, according to a landscaping plan, otherwise the county will remove anything that violates it. He can have two clotheslines as long as they are used to actually dry clothes and not have decorative bras and underpants waving in the breeze for months at a time. He's entitled to display three small signs, but only two can be permanent. And he may have 10 4-foot figurines, but only 30 days at a time and only four times a year.

By abiding by these terms he can have his dunes back. The county admitted that the dunes as they are today do not violate any county code, but they cannot be any higher and no others are allowed. The county also waived more than $6,000 fees that had been accruing, which they called "clean-up" charges and each side will pay its own legal fees.

As a homeowner myself, I resent all the government rules and bureaucratic red tape placed upon what any of us can or cannot do on our own parcels of land.

That’s why I am pleased that Mongo fought the good fight and actually gained some ground. I would rather have the outcome be that "he owns it, he decorates however he wants to," but realistically, I am smart enough to understand that there have to be some societal rules or there would be chaos. It just seems as though government, both local and federal, have too much say in our lives.

I see Mr. Hodges' settlement as a victory in the battle to get some of out rights back. and for that small amount of hope I thank him.

I see Mr. Hodges' settlement as a victory in the battle to get some of out rights back. and for that small amount of hope I thank him.

Darlene Vann Picture

Short Bio

Musings By Darlene Vann
Darlene Vann is a resident of Edgewater and has been with the 24/7 Internet newspaper from the onset. She likes to write about the lighter side of life, but sometimes feels compelled to tackle some of the tougher issues.