A Poin­ciana home­owner

Home­owner tries to di­min­ish de­vel­op­ers’ power

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Ryan Gille­spie Staff Writer

con­tests the re­sults of a home­owner as­so­ci­a­tion elec­tion, say­ing that the sec­ond bal­lot was as flawed as the first.

A home­owner is again try­ing to tip the bal­ance of power within one of the state’s largest home­owner’s as­so­ci­a­tions away from de­vel­op­ers.

An elec­tion chal­lenge filed by home­owner Martin Ne­gron calls for a re­count of votes in the As­so­ci­a­tion of Poin­ciana Vil­lages, but only af­ter the state agency that reg­u­lates HOAs tosses out scores of votes he thinks are il­le­gal.

That agency, the Florida Department of Busi­ness and Pro­fes­sional Reg­u­la­tion, al­ready sided with Ne­gron in a chal­lenge in June and nul­li­fied the re­sults of a Fe­bru­ary vote. In that rul­ing, an ar­bi­tra­tor or­dered the Aug. 1 elec­tion.

If the votes are tossed out, Ne­gron and his at­tor­neys think it would pave the way for home­own­ers to be seated on the board.

“How are we ever go­ing to win?” he said. “Hope­fully the [state] will put some teeth into this.”

At stake is a say in how the com­mu­nity of about 50,000 res­i­dents spends an­nual fees paid by home­own­ers and how the HOA gov­erns the neigh­bor­hood.

Ne­gron’s chal­lenge al­leges noth­ing changed in the Au­gust elec­tion, and that de­vel­op­ers were again al­lowed to cast thou­sands of votes for un­de­vel­oped lots they own in the neigh­bor­hood.

He con­tends some of these lots can’t be legally built upon be­cause they’re dot­ted with marsh­lands, or fall within the 50-year flood zone, the com­plaint states.

Ne­gron also al­leges that the de­vel­op­ers didn’t prop­erly fill out pa­per­work al­low­ing them to vote and that one of the de­vel­op­ers isn’t a United States cit­i­zen.

Asked for com­ment, the HOA said it was “aware of the new pe­ti­tion, how­ever, the DBPR has not, as of yet, asked APV to re­spond.”

Pre­vi­ously, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Poin­ciana Vil­lages main­tained a judge’s rul­ing in Polk County Cir­cuit Court al­lowed it to cal­cu­late de­vel­op­ers’ votes by al­low­ing a vote for the max­i­mum num­ber of homes that can be built per acre.

In a pre­vi­ous state­ment, the HOA said it “will rec­og­nize the

de­vel­oper’s right granted by each Vil­lage As­so­ci­a­tion to cast votes on be­half of its un­plat­ted tracts of lands with­out plat­ting them.”

Ne­gron and his at­tor­ney in­ter­vened in the Polk County case and asked for the rul­ing to be thrown out be­cause it in­ter­fered with ar­bi­tra­tion.

A hear­ing is sched­uled for Novem­ber, Ne­gron’s at­tor­ney Jennifer En­glert said.

Af­ter the Or­lando Sen­tinel re­ported on the Polk County judge’s rul­ing, the state ar­bi­tra­tor work­ing the case re­cused her­self and also filed a com­plaint with the Florida Bar against at­tor­ney Tom Slaten, who rep­re­sents the HOA, be­cause he didn’t no­tify her of the cir­cuit court case.

“We’re kind of back to square one,” En­glert said. “They still never have proven what lots they’re build­ing on … the more we dig in, the more prob­lems we find. … Even­tu­ally their feet will be held to the fire. If we keep go­ing, we’ll even­tu­ally get there.”

For years, res­i­dents have com­plained they lack a voice in the 44-year-old com­mu­nity, which sets an­nual fees and con­trols the bud­get. The HOA is com­prised of nine vil­lages and col­lects $252 from each prop­erty owner an­nu­ally.

A group of res­i­dents has said they think the as­so­ci­a­tion doesn’t treat them fairly in debt col­lec­tion and isn’t trans­par­ent with its spend­ing.

Keith Laytham, an ad­vo­cate for the group of res­i­dents, said the as­so­ci­a­tion has “proven time and time again they can’t run a fair elec­tion.”

Ne­gron said he and oth­ers in the neigh­bor­hood spent many hours and sev­eral week­ends try­ing to mo­ti­vate home­own­ers to vote in the Au­gust elec­tion and was frustrated all it re­sulted in was more le­gal pro­ceed­ings. “Why should there be another elec­tion? APV al­ready did ev­ery­thing wrong,” he said. “The state al­ready gave [the HOA] rules to fol­low,and they didn’t do it.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.