Judge affirms: The rights of citizens trump the rights of flowers

The SE Texas Record Nov. 28, 2011, 10:00am

"This evening, I saw a small animal in the middle of La Jolla. It was a baby Bobcat!!! When the Bobcat saw the car it scampered into the woods to safety. Soon those woods will be converted to houses and the poor Bobcats will have to move onto our Preserves and Sanctuaries in order to survive the onslaught of 'civilization.'" – George H. Russell, WaterwoodNews.com, March 3, 2006

Most people spotting a bobcat in their neighborhood would be concerned for the safety of children and pets. George Russell is concerned for the safety of the bobcat.

He loves animals so much, he even capitalizes their generic names.

Russell also loves flowers and thinks they're more important than people, too.

Russell and his wife, Suzanne, have fought for the rights of flowers for more than a decade. Their ongoing battles with the Waterwood Improvement Association (WIA) prompted the group to sue for an injunction against the couple, which was granted by San Jacinto County District Judge Robert Trapp in June and upheld by the Ninth District Court of Appeals on Nov. 17th.

The Russells live on Waterwood Parkway at an entrance to the Waterwood subdivision. The county obtained an easement over the parkway in 1979 and has since maintained it with contributions from WIA.

The Russells own property subject to the county's easement and planted wildflowers on it. They made a habit of harassing and obstructing workers who came to mow the easement.

In upholding the lower court's injunction against the Russells, Appeals Judge Charles Kreger emphasized that the mowing of the easement is not just a matter of aesthetics, but also "a matter of safety for the driving public."

Russell once offered to "give lessons in aesthetics, ethics, and ecology to those members of the WIA Board who have obviously never been exposed to anything other than golf, killing animals, card games, and mindless television programs."

Perhaps Russell is the one who needs to take lessons – in human relations.

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