IDAHO FALLS (KIFI) – An elderly veteran in danger of losing his house is asking for compassion as Memorial Day approaches.

There’s an idyllic neighborhood called Gem Lake Harbor on the south side of Idaho Falls. It has waterfront views, plenty of birds, and Bob Reinisch.

Reinisch spent seven years in the U.S. Navy as an officer aboard a nuclear submarine. He moved to the Gem State after working in a naval yard for 30 years. Now he’s a bugler.

“We provide full military honors for veterans’ funerals,” he said. “I even did two today.”

Reinisch is heavily involved in Idaho’s veteran community, founding non-profits and leading others. He’s lived in Gem Lake Harbor for over 23 years.

“Wouldn’t give it up for the world,” he asserted. “But I may have to.”

When Reinisch purchased his lot and built his house, he was told his homeowner’s association wouldn’t start up until the neighborhood’s second phase of construction began. That happened last year.

“Right off the bat, we get an [annual] homeowner’s fee of $500,” Reinisch said.

Reinisch provided Local News 8 with the minutes from his latest HOA meeting, dated May 18th. The HOA approved a special assessment of $3,000. The fee is due July 1st.

“I’ve lived close to poverty level most of my adult life,” he said. “Fifty years. And we can’t afford that kind of assessment.”

“During that meeting, I got so upset that I started having chest pains,” he continued.

Those chest pains were so severe that Reinisch was about to call an ambulance when they finally subsided. But in a sense, he was lucky.

“One of the homeowners that sat next to me – he went home and died,” Reinisch said.

“I made a proposal to ‘em to exempt veterans over 70 years of age,” he continued.

However, the HOA’s lawyer, Mark Fuller, claimed that clashes with its covenant.

“The CCRs do not allow for any assessment exemptions for homes owned by older members or veterans,” Fuller said in an email Reinisch provided to Local News 8. “Special treatment would be unfair to younger members, those physically prohibited from military service such as non-citizens, etc.”

“But he’s a lawyer – what do you expect?” Reinisch said with a laugh.

“What he failed to include is that there are provisions within the covenants to do it anyhow,” he continued. “It’s called an ‘amendment to the covenants’ – which requires a two-thirds majority vote, but it can be done.”

Local News 8 asked Reinisch how he felt about the current situation.

“Heartbroken,” he admitted.

“I’ve done over 2,000 veterans’ funerals, and it’s a true blessing for me,” he continued. “I’d have to give that up and move to somewhere else.”

“I love this house!” Reinisch added. “I want to stay here. I’m 80 years old. I want to die here.”

Local News 8 reached out to the homeowner’s association for comment, but did not receive a reply.

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