The Dispute Over Yard Decor

Jane Benedum’s home in the 4500 block of Beverly Drive has been in her family for 50 years.

The daughter of J. Claxton Benedum and great-niece of wildcatter Michael Benedum, Jane, who grew up in East Texas and now lives in Highland Park, accumulated a collection of potted topiaries, statues, fountains, and more — some of which she acquired herself, some of which were passed down from family members — which now decorate her yard.

“We like whimsy,” Benedum said of her family.

Lion statues in her yard are a tribute to her mother’s astrological sign, she said. Other decorations came from her family from Pennsylvania and from her own travels. 

“Some of (the yard decorations) have been in my family for generations,” Benedum continued. “This is not crap.”

In September, though, she said she was notified by the town of Highland Park that her yard decor ran afoul of an ordinance passed unanimously by the town council in August that limits the number of decorative items that can be placed in front and visible side areas of residential homes. Specifically, per the ordinance, decorations like statues, sculptures, pots, planters, etc., must be 5% or less of the yard area. 

(READ: How Many Are Too Many?)

Benedum said she’s not sure what inspired the ordinance, as she hadn’t received complaints about her yard prior to the letter from the town about the ordinance, but she felt “targeted” by the ordinance, and she’s prepared to fight the citations “to the Supreme Court” if necessary.

“I’ve got time, (and) I’ve got gumption,” she quipped.

As of mid-November, the decorations remain, and a new sign in the front of her yard asks passersby to “help save my yard” and contact Highland Park code enforcement about the case.

We’ll continue to follow this case in our upcoming January issue of Park Cities People. Tell us what you think about the ordinance by taking our survey here.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at

5 thoughts on “The Dispute Over Yard Decor

  • November 23, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Why doesn’t the town council worry about more important issues, like saving some of our most beautiful and historic homes?! Instead, our town has become a construction zone for ugly white boxes with lots of windows.

    • November 23, 2021 at 12:06 pm

      do you have any suggestions on how the save old homes project would work

      • May 10, 2022 at 10:17 am

        It looks awful!! They should think about other homeowners on their street.

  • November 23, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    there is more to the history of the front yard situation on beverly.

    and while it may not be as she claims, crap, it certainly is a junk festival eyesore

  • December 2, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    If we wanted to live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood or division with strict HOA rules on appearance, we would be up in the suburbs. I understand there are hundreds of laws/guidelines you must follow in HP when building a new house, emphasis on new. But does that mean beautiful and historic homes (such as this one) should be required to conform to new laws? I’m not saying we do away with rules. Should we keep our yards mowed and take pride in our property? Absolutley. But, I believe this is government overreach infringing upon her property rights. It would be one thing if you had items in your lawn that were overly offensive or hateful in nature, but to limit statues and decorations is crossing the line. I don’t like ‘slippery slope’ arguments, but what’s next? Political signs? Citizens from other countries displaying their home flags? Leave her alone.


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