By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Ever dream of owning a condo by the beach, spending your Golden Years enjoying the sand and surf?
What if you paid big money for your retirement dream home by the sea, but your access to the beach was blocked by a sand dune? And what if the condo association and its management company failed to address the problem?
Such is the case alleged by 4 homeowners at Bays Edge Condominium, located in Lynnhaven Shores, Virginia Beach. The condo owners range in age from 63 to 91. All of them have disabilities that limit their mobility.
In 2014, condo owners reported to their association and its management agent that they could no longer access the beach by way of the association-maintained private path, due to a 3-6 foot drop off from the dune.
In 2015, after the Hutcheson Realty and Bays Edge Condominium Association failed to respond, three of the four homeowners involved in the current lawsuit settled a federal lawsuit against their association. That 2015 suit claimed violations to the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.
The condo association reportedly agreed to clear the sand dune and provide beach access. But after delaying action for months, and without any official vote from the condo board, Hutcheson opted to lay down a Mobi-Mat instead of building a proper walkover structure to access the beach on the other side of the sand dune. The Mobi-Mat is designed for flat or slightly sloped surfaces, and is not intended for the steep slope and drop-off of a sand dune.
Now a fourth condo owner has joined the three Plaintiff owners from the 2015 lawsuit, to file yet another discrimination complaint in federal court.
So much for carefree beach condo living.
According to the following report in Southside Daily, during the course of this 3-year-long dispute, one of the condo association’s board members has gone on record telling one condo owner to “piss off” and calling another owner “decrepit.”
Not exactly neighborly behavior.
Virginia Beach residents say they were called ‘decrepit’ after asking condo to clear sand dune. Now they’re suing.
By Adrienne Marie Mayfield – November 7, 2017
VIRGINIA BEACH — After three years of fighting in and out of court over a sand dune that allegedly prohibits disabled homeowners in a Lynnhaven Shores neighborhood from accessing the beach, four people are suing a Virginia Beach condominium association and its property manager in federal court on the basis of discrimination.
The involved homeowners — 91-year-old Harry Seipel and his wife Andrea Boyce, 63-year-old Randolyn Halterman and 83-year-old Betty J. Carder — say that a sand dune that formed over a private path meant for Bays Edge Condominium residents has impeded their access to the Chesapeake Bay, according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk.
Condo management company certified by CAI
Bays Edge Condominium Association, was established in 1986. The Association does not maintain a public website, but corporate public records confirm the names of 5 board members, with the official association address listed as that belonging to Hutcheson Realty, Inc.
On its management company’s website, Hutcheson Realty, Inc. describes its Association Management Division as AACM certified, and boasts that it is an active member its local chapter of Community Associations Institute. CAI is the international trade group that claims to serve the needs and interests of “homeowner leaders” (board members) and community associations (homeowners, condominium, and cooperative associations).
Hutcheson Realty, Inc. was established in June 1977 and is a full service real estate firm with sales, property management (rental) and Association divisions. Hutcheson Realty began managing Common Interest Communities in 1996. In 2010 Hutcheson Realty, Inc. earned the Accredited Association Management Company® (AAMC®) designation from Community Associations Institute (CAI), national professional recognition in the community association field. Our staff is active in the Southeastern Virginia chapter of CAI. Our knowledge and experience in communities which share a common interest provides a positive approach to insuring a secure financial position and proper maintenance and care of property to create a great place to come home to for the residents of every Association we assist.
Note that Hutcheson Realty also operates Sales and Rental Property Management divisions, providing the advantage of “insider” knowledge of the local real estate market, and creating potential conflicts of interest.