Order for new elections has been amended in favor of homeowner Martin Negron.
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Following events in Poinciana, Florida, one of America’s largest homeowners associations, it is encouraging to see that the tide is turning – finally, state agencies are beginning to acknowledge the assault on private property rights and the already limited voting rights of residents of association-governed communities.
On June 23, 2017, an Arbitrator from Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) ordered that Association of Poinciana Villages (APV) conduct new elections for six of its nine Villages, citing invalid ballots cast by developer Avatar for unplatted parcels.
The homeowner had argued that Avatar had been given ballots to cast votes for homes on thousands of lots that would likely not be granted construction permits for homes, specifically, parcels of land submerged underwater, or that would need to be set aside with easements for roadways and utilities.
Within days following the Order for new elections, APV challenged the Arbitrator’s ruling, requesting a new hearing, citing the Arbitrator’s lack of jurisdiction and failure to consider that, even if Avatar’s invalid ballots were excluded, election outcomes in three of the Villages would have been the same.
APV wanted to avoid having to conduct new elections, presumably because developer Avatar retains control over most Village HOA boards, as well as the board of the master association (APV).
After all, if Avatar is not able to get away with casting votes for homes on unbuildable parcels, then the Developer’s ability to control Village boards and retain a majority interest in APV are at risk.
See earlier article with details here:
In response to APV’s challenge, DBPR has issued an amended Order on APV’s motion for rehearing on July 12, 2017. But it certainly was not the response APV was expecting.
As you can see from these screenshots, the Arbitrator explains that DBPR does have jurisdiction to decide on the matter of arbitrary and capricious actions of APV’s voter Registrar. And although DBPR cannot rule as to how many votes may be cast per parcel, or make an independent judgment as to which parcels of land are entitled to voting interests for Avatar, the Arbitrator can indeed require that APV take reasonable actions to be certain that Avatar is issued the correct number of ballots based upon government records that stipulate exactly how many homes could be constructed on each parcel of land owned by Avatar.
Here is the official amendment to the Order:
As to the matter of whether the outcome of elections in some Villages would have been different if Avatar had not been able to cast thousands of questionable ballots, the Arbitrator acknowledges the disenfranchising effect of APV’s February 2017 elections.
Kudos to Attorney Jennifer Englert, Orlando Law Group, for her timely response and challenge to APV on behalf of homeowner Martin Negron.
Stay tuned for updates on new Poinciana elections to be held in the near future.
Poinciana’s future now hinges on the involvement of its homeowners and residents, who have a duty to cast votes according to their values and interests as part of the larger community.
Official DBPR Order on Respondent’s Motion for Rehearing