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Latonia Woman Battling Cancer Warned by City About Yard Decor

When you’re undergoing treatment for breast cancer, you need an “oasis”, a “happy place,” according to Carman Deda Lake.

For Lake, that was her front porch – all decorated in tropical décor – a special gift from family and friends to offer her support and love during a “very difficult time.”

But someone in her Latonia neighborhood didn’t appreciate the gesture.

On Aug. 18, a warning from the City of Covington's code enforcement department was taped to Lake’s door, stating that her decorations were a nuisance and not permitted and had to be removed. On Aug. 21, she received a copy of the warning in the mail from the city.

When she called the city’s exterior inspector for code enforcement, Dave Edwards, for clarification he told her that someone had complained that her decorations were a distraction to the neighborhood, she said.

She explained that the porch with the decorations had become her safe haven during a difficult battle with breast cancer – including four surgeries since June 4 and one more on the way.

“He said I was welcome to decorate my back yard but that the front porch decorations had to come down,” Lake said. “That absolutely devastated me.”

Edwards could not be reached for comment but Covington City Commission Tim Downing responded on a Facebook post about the issue, "I spoke with staff, a warning was issued due to complaints about converting her front yard into sand. That being said, the city will not pursue a citation."

Lake, 49, is a single mom of three teens and purchased her Latonia home 20 years ago. She said she’s never dealt with anything so negative before.

“I think what has happened to me is wrong,” Lake said. “I just don’t understand. My decorations weren’t hurting anyone, and they made many people happy. They’ve helped with my healing.”

2020 has been a tough year for Lake – a divorce, quarantine, a non-refundable canceled vacation to Panama Beech and a cancer diagnosis – and the warning was the breaking point, she said.

“I’m just too exhausted to fight anymore,” Lake said. “I really just would like the city to apologize for the stress and unhappiness that they have put me through.”

Lake said that she has removed what she could reach and has had her son take down and box up the rest of the decorations.

“Being able to sit in my rocking chair allows me to get some fresh air, speak to neighbors at a safe distance and I enjoy when people walk by and tell me how my house makes them smile or happy,” she said.

Now that’s gone.

“Now, I just lay upstairs in my bedroom because it isn't worth the effort to go down the stairs and when I look outside it just makes me cry and I hate having to tell everyone that loved my home why all my decorations are gone.”

Written by Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor

Photo provided