By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
When you own property in an Association-Governed Residential Community, one of the obstacles to peace and happiness is the fact that a developer creates and controls that community while construction is ongoing. If the community is relatively small, the developer takes pride in his work, and behaves in a reasonable manner, owners and residents will not take much notice of what is essentially a benevolent monarchy.
The developer will complete construction as promised, and, if you are lucky, after a few years, the developer will graciously hand over control of the association to the homeowners, along with a complete set of legal and financial records, and a nice healthy reserve fund as a head start toward saving for future long-term maintenance of the community.
In reality, though, well-funded, large-scale developers are becoming the norm all across the country. (and around the world) Mass production of houses and condos is the norm, and quality construction is not necessarily a priority. Instead, homes are marketed with community perks that seem very enticing to buyers. Typically, large scale planned communities are centered around amenities such as private park areas and walking trails, recreational lakes, golf, tennis, or, in the case of Pelican Landing, private beach access.
Again, if the home buyers are lucky, the developer will fully complete all of the promised assets in the early stages of building the large community. Some developers never seem to get around to delivering everything they have promised. (a subject for another blog) Others, such as Pelican Landing developer WCI, deliver the tennis, pickle ball, and bocci ball courts, and the crown jewel – private beach access – but then continue to build more and more homes. Too many homes, according to Residents for a Better Community (RBC), a group of Pelican Landing homeowners. They contend that their small beach no longer feels private, but more like an over crowded public beach.
But now WCI has arranged to annex hundreds of new homes or condos, on two parcels of land outside of the community. WCI claims the move was voted on and approved by the board of Pelican Landing Community Association, and that the new owners would be entitled to access to that same small beach.
That’s not acceptable, according to RBC. The homeowners have obtained an attorney, and are now suing WCI, claiming that developer control was supposed to be transitioned to owners in 2010, when 85% of the units had been sold. But WCI continued to control Pelican Landings Board of Directors, the suit contends, behaving as if the turnover trigger had never occured.
According to the legal complaint, in 2012, the board, allegedly fraudulently controlled by WCI, authorized the sale of a Marina from PLCA, granting beach access to 200 additional units to be constructed by WCI in the future.
RBC claims that WCI has no right to add an additional 360 condo units plus 200 additional single family homes to the community, significantly altering the nature of the community, and making it difficult for existing owners to use and enjoy the luxury amenities they have paid for. The lawsuit explains that the sale of the Marina and agreement for annexation occurred after turnover of developer control. Therefore, the proposed sale agreement would have required the approval of 75% of the entire membership of PLCA. However, legal complaint also claims there is no record of any such vote ever having taken place.
Here’s the news release, with links to details of the pending lawsuit.
Pelican Landing homeowners sue developer for control