Fenton residents shocked over subdivision rules banning minorities

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FENTON, MO (KTVI) - Some residents of a Fenton neighborhood are up in arms over a nearly 70-year-old deed restriction that bans minorities from owning homes there.  The rule clearly cannot be enforced, but for some, just its existence is upsetting.

“That is wrong.  No matter where you’re at it’s wrong,” Dennis Smith said.

The neighborhood just off of New Sugar Creek Road has been there since the World War II era. The restrictions are dated October 1945.  Item number 4 of the rules states no property, “shall ever be owned or occupied by persons not of the Caucasian race, nor by Semites or persons of the Semite race.”

Smith was given a copy when he asked a neighborhood association member for information about fees he is paying.

“In the conversation he said we cannot sell to non-Caucasians, and then he said on the piece of paper to be sure to read number four,” explained Smith.

He interpreted that statement as endorsing the document, but the trustee he was speaking to tells us by phone he was just pointing out a clearly illegal section of the document and making sure Smith understood that other sections remained in effect.

Smith’s son Jacob is the one who contacted Fox 2 about this, saying he felt compelled to try and initiate a change.

“I was pretty outraged. I couldn’t believe that in this day and age a rule like that would still be on the books.  I would think someone would have found it by now,” he said.

A neighbor, George Shannon, says he remembers seeing the document when he bought his house two decades ago, but he thought it was so outdated and ridiculous, that he paid little attention to it.

“I never thought for a second that anybody would really think that way now.  We don’t sit down and talk about it, but given the interest now, I think we should sit down and revise it,” he said.

Shannon goes on to say that long forgotten passage should not be a reflection on the people who live along Circle Drive and Spur Lane, “It’s a reflection of what happened in the forties.  It’s not a reflection of anything that’s going on right now.  At least nobody that I know of.”

Subdivision Restrictions

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31 comments

  • Cit Riverview

    The Supreme court ruled in 1948 or 1949 outlawing covenants banning Blacks Jews from owning property in a given area.

    Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), is a landmark[1] United States Supreme Court case which held that courts could not enforce racial covenants on real estate.

    • slpyhd

      Thats so true, but I have grown up in North Co
      and welcome all races as long as they abide by the laws, I’m going to welcome you. That’s crazy in this day & age!

  • j

    Onlyy 3 posts before some ignorant azzholes like tom posts.

    subdivision is not in fenton. there is no part of fenton in jefferson county

    • Cit Riverview

      J, the real problem is this: People who live in areas where minorities are the Majority, they are TRAPPED! and have no escape. They suffer as many of those Minorities do with the cultural of violence. The large difference Between Ladue and Riverview Gardens are the price of Housing which prevents people who are the problem in Riverview that cause the strife in the neighborhoods.

    • Connie

      J, you should know things before you speak of them. I live in Jefferson county and I live in Fenton. Part of Fenton IS in Jefferson County.

    • T

      There are parts of Fenton in Jefferson County. Try Delores drive. I live in Fenton and I am still in Jefferson County

  • Michael Margulis

    haha….1940 two similar small towns, first town fenton protects property value and bans Jews, second town chesterfield welcomes them….flash forward to 2014……..haha

    • Cit Riverview

      As I stated in another post the reason the Jews are located in the west part of the county is because of property cost in West county keep the “so-called” problem people out. There of course wealthy Blacks in West county but not enough to cause strife in the west overall. Look at U-city it was at one time populated by a significant population of Jews. Now its population has a significant population of Minorities and I mean African Americans because Jews are minorities in our country.

  • Julia Bowen

    Just repeal the stupid thing and move on! This is just another excuse to scream racism and stir up problems. It’s unenforceable, stupid and just needs to be eliminated from the books. There are many of these ridiculous laws that are still on the books and have never been eliminated. This one came to light, get rid of it and MOVE ON!!

    • Cit Riverview

      JB,The complaining class would loose it ability to complain. The Victim-hood class of people would then move onto another issue. This story is just another way for the Victim class to generate revenue for their causes.

      • Super Cat

        The only people that complained are the people who already live there you bigotted hick. Noone is claiming to be a victim. The folks that live there brought this to everyones attention. People like you are the reason laws like that were written in the first place.

    • Eddie Martinez

      The law was changed…. in 1968. Please see my comments below. The reporter should have known that. It is just an attempt by a reporter to inflame things.

  • Eddie Martinez

    As any reporter should know. These restrictions are not enforceable.
    The housing law of 1968 ruled them unenforceable. Did you know that the law originated from right here in St Louis? In 1965 a white woman and a black man wanted to buy a new house being built by Alfred H Mayer in north county. Mayer refused to sell to them so they sued. The case was tried and won in 1968 changing the law. It would be ridiculous to expect to go back and record a change on every single piece of property ever sold. The law ruled it illegal. This is nothing more than race baiting and an irresponsible attempt to inflame people. Anyone who has went to school has learned about the housing law of 1968 and the Civil Rights law.

  • Gezz

    How about the “upset” homeowners take some action and help the trustees rather than complaining…..obviously its not enforced so who cares……but if a homeowner is so “worried” about it how about you put up the $3,500.00 to amend the restrictions or heck how about the $7,500+ to update the full restrictions – walk the neighborhood to get all the ballots from the homeowners etc…..
    Quit complaining over small stuff – or TAKE ACTION…..

    • Eddie Martinez

      The restrictions WERE removed in 1968 by the Fair Housing Law of 1968. Fox 2 News should of known this. There is no need to amend the restrictions. The law did it in 1968. These were common restrictions back in the days before the law was passed.

  • Sarah Holdener

    RSMo 442.403 –Restrictive covenants relating to discrimination invalid–effect–no liability by existence of covenant in document filed by specific date.
    442.403. 1. Any restrictive covenant recitals on property, real or personal, found in any deeds, plats, restrictions, covenants, or other conveyances of any type or nature, filed for record at any time in the office of the recorder of deeds in any county, which relate to the race, color, religion, or national origin of any person, shall be void and unenforceable, and shall be ignored, as if the same never existed.
    2. Any person or legal entity with an interest in real property or any agent of such person or entity, shall not incur any liability by reason of the mere existence of a restrictive covenant described in subsection 1 of this section in any document filed for record before May 3, 1948, in any recorder of deeds’ office.

  • Marc Dunn

    this is found in alot of OLD deeds the original deed to my home stated no blacks or jews its documentation —- history—– it is what it is ya can’t change history —— people need to educate themselves

  • A.F. A.M

    hey got a question. i was looking at moving to fentn. but what if im half white half black which side of me gets to live in fenton???????????????? stupid racist people

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