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2020 Neighborhood Flashpoint: Allow Above-Ground Pools?

With community pools closed, more families vacationing at home think an above-ground pool would provide a temporary solution. But some HOAs and cities don’t allow it.

NEW YORK – Above-ground pools have become a hot commodity this summer as more families seek “staycations” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since many community pools and beaches are closed, though some households have added an above-ground pool to their backyards.

But neighbors are concerned. If one springs a leak, it could flood nearby properties, and a lot of YouTube videos show what could happen.

Tyler McSparin in Kansas City, Mo., recently posted on Twitter about his neighbor’s newly installed above-ground pool. “My estimate is that it holds about 60,000 pounds of water,” he recently wrote on Twitter. “And it is directly uphill from us. I sure hope those braces hold!”

Pool retailers are seeing a surge in business. Leslie’s Poolmart Inc. told The Wall Street Journal it sold out many above-ground pool models by May and demand tripled over the last few weeks. Customers who want an above-ground pool currently face a four- to six-week delay. The pools cost far less than an in-ground pool, but many models aren’t cheap, starting at $400 and going up to $9,100.

Big-box retailers also say that above-ground pools are flying off shelves this summer.

However, some homeowner associations (HOAs) view the pools as “cheap.” They worry about potential hazards and fear they’ll impact home values.

In the Country Cove Homeowners Association in Altoona, Iowa, which covers about 240 homes, several homeowners requested that the HOA relax its ban on above-ground pools for the summer due to the pandemic. But not all are in agreement.

“What we are trying to do is mandate people who are serious about a pool, they meet city codes, get permits and are not going to cause damage,” says Jessica Olson, a homeowner whose husband is on the board of the HOA. “Not a $200 pool with 700 blowup tools.”

Some HOAs, like the Winding Creek Homeowners Association in Woodbridge, Va., with about 400 homes, temporarily waived their restrictions on inflatable above-ground pools in backyard pools for just this year.

“Families are struggling to find recreational activities,” Thomas Hessel, vice president of the HOA. “It was a no-brainer for us.”

Many towns require permits to install a larger above-ground pool, but some retailers who sell the larger blowup pools reportedly don’t warn consumers that they need a permit.

Source: “Suburbia Is Awash in Above-Ground Swimming Pools – and That Has Some Neighbors in Hot Water,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 4, 2020)

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