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      Townhome owners upset about Christmas decoration rules

      Some residents of an Horry County townhome community are wondering what their homeowners association has against Christmas decorations.

      They've been told their holiday lights and trimming are against the homeowners rules, and must be removed.

      Last holiday season, David Bates put up magnetic letters on his garage door that read, Merry Christmas.

      He soon got a letter from the St. Andrews Homeowners Association that said the sign wasn't allowed.

      So this year, he put the letters on his entrance door, which, due to a recent rule change, is now permitted, but he also added a string of lights on the bushes in front of his home and was told that's not allowed, either.

      "They said it interfered with the gardener and the garden maintenance and stuff like that, which this time of year, there is none," Bates said.

      Bates and his wife say the homeowners association rules are too picky. They say they read the rules when they bought their townhome, but didn't think the rules would go this far.

      "We thought Merry Christmas would be, Merry Christmas. Who's gonna complain about Merry Christmas? Which, obviously we were wrong."

      The Bates aren't the only ones. They say other homeowners have been told to take down decorations too.

      The homeowners association's Vice President said, once the community allows one type of sign to go up, they can't stop others, and some people just go too far.

      "We've had Merry Christmas with big Budweiser signs on the side of the buildings, like 10 by 20 signs, so we just have this rule. We feel these rules are reasonable," said Dave Sacash.

      Sacash said the rules are there because some people have damaged buildings by drilling holes or compromised safety by running wires across sidewalks. He said most people like the rules.

      "A lot of people actually buy property here because they want the rules enforced and they want a pleasant place to live."

      But the Bates said they're so upset about this, they've considered selling their townhome and finding a place that allows merrier decorations.

      The St. Andrews community is off River Oaks Drive, in the Carolina Forest area.