The saga of the Lawn development in Abbeylands, Clane took a number of dramatic turns over the past week.
In recent weeks, some residents of the gated apartment complex have been rebelling against what they regard as excessively restrictive rules imposed by the management company – such as a complete ban on children playing anywhere outside their own apartments.
Other problems there included residents who are tenants having their cars clamped because their landlords have not paid their management fees.
There is a power imbalance at the Lawns because while the owners of properties make up the management company, a majority of residents are actually tenants, and therefore legally have no control over the management company.
And there appears to be a clash of culture between those who drew up the rules which emphasise maintaining the “aesthetically pleasing aspects of the development” and the vast majority of those living there who are vibrant and diverse group including some with small children or grandchildren.
A meeting was called for last Wednesday, October 3 in the Corner House pub in Clane, which was attended by a mixture of owner-occupiers and tenants, as well as local councillor Brendan Weld.
Prior to that meeting, to which all residents of the Lawn were invited, Falcondale, a Newbridge-based property management company which are agents for the management company wrote to all owners inviting them to a meeting in the Westgrove Hotel on October 18.
Last Wednesday in the Corner House, a litany of grievances got a good airing, and the meeting resolved to form a residents’ association.
Cllr. Weld urged those present to attend the management company’s AGM and make sure their voices were heard.
However, when residents returned to their homes, a private parking management firm, which is employed by the management company had arrived and started clamping cars.
Those who attended the meeting believe it is no coincidence that they called at that moment.
This enraged residents and the Gardai were called.
Speaking to the Leinster Leader, Gardai said that their sole function on the night, given that this was a civil dispute, was purely to keep the peace and that they would only act if there were any breaches of the peace. There were none, they report, although they are investigating an incident in which the car of one of the directors was pelted with eggs.
They say an official complaint has been made and they are following a line of inquiry in relation to it.
Sharon Connors, an owner in the apartment complex, and one of two people who have agreed to head up the newly formed residents’ association, went onto local radio the following morning and outlined the events of the past few days.
It is possible the events of Wednesday night were a watershed moment in the saga.
By Friday morning, the residents were reporting that the three directors of the management company had resigned their positions. The exact circumstances of this are not clear.
According to Ms. Connors, a significant and overdue clean-up of common areas in the development took place.
And for the first time, residents congregated at the fountain in the courtyard of the development and chatted over cups of tea and sandwiches.
“There’s a lovely smell of fresh cut grass now,” she said, adding that for the first time, there’s a feeling of community at the complex.
“I never spoke to my neighbours before,” she said. Similar views were echoed by many at the meeting on Wednesday night.
“I feel as proud as punch,” she said, adding that ‘people power’ had prevailed.
“In the eight years I’ve lived here, I never sat at the fountain.
“We feel like we’ve been released from prison.”
- Conor McHugh