By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Sometimes a bitter homeowner’s association dispute is not what it seems.
Readers may recall a previous post about Bella Collina, an exclusive planned golf resort community near Orlando.
The lawsuit alleged racketeering on the part of the developer, and accused Schar and his affiliated company DCS Investment Holdings, LLC, of improperly obtaining control of the POA board, then taking actions to deliberately deflate values on lots in order to repurchase the land at a low price.
One year later, most of the plaintiffs have dropped out of the lawsuit, a judge has declined to certify the federal class action suit, and the entire case seems to be falling apart.
About Bella Collina
According to a news release posted on Bella Collina’s website, Schar is a co-owner of the Washington Redskins, and a founder of a leading home building company, NVR Inc.
Members of the Tuscan-themed Club enjoy fine dining, catering, a fitness center with salon and spa, a pool, tennis courts, and 18 holes of golf. The private golf club community’s residents include the former Mayor of Monteverde.
Planned real estate offerings include estate homes exceeding $1.5 million, new villas starting at roughly half a million dollars, and soon-to-be-offered luxury condominiums.
Bella Collina is managed and maintained by a Community Development District and a Property Owners’ Association. Hundreds of lots — a small portion of the approved planned community — were sold to high net worth individuals, including many foreign buyers. Then the subdivision fell on hard times in most recent recession, bringing development to an abrupt halt.
According to Randall Green, a current POA board member, when Schar took over from the original developer, Bobby Ginn, most property owners in Bella Collina had stopped paying assessments years ago. The POA took legal action against 400 owners to collect delinquent assessments.
It was in this context that Orlando Attorney Tim McCullough filed a class action lawsuit against Schar and DCS Investment Holdings.
But, in February, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Justice Paul G. Byron dismissed the Plaintiff’s complaints, and ordered the Plaintiffs to provide a legal basis for their allegations.
A few weeks ago, in light of their baseless claims, the U.S. District Magistrate ordered four of the plaintiff property owners to pay the developer’s legal expenses.
Bella Collina owners ordered to pay developers’ legal bills
A federal magistrate has ordered several property owners in Lake County’s luxury Bella Collina community to pick up their developers’ legal tab, which is expected to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Philip Lammens on Tuesday ordered four property owners to pay the legal expenses, saying their complaints that DCS Investment Holdings illegally controlled the property owners association were not supported by facts.
Amid a counterclaims by Bella Collina POA of “fraudulent and abusive legal practices,” Plaintiffs Bart and Kathryn Sutherin and Michael S. Choo have issued letters of apology and have officially withdrawn from the class action.
Choo has filed an affidavit that accuses Attorney McCullough of forging his signature on legal documents.
It appears that allegations of corruption have shifted from Bella Collina’s developer to Attorney Tim McCullough and several current or former property owners.
Stay tuned for updates on this continuing saga.
See reference documents posted below.
Bella Collina’s developers have successfully sued homeowner Don Karl Juravic for slanderous online postings about Schar and his company.
Attorney McCullough also faces allegations of witness tampering and tampering with evidence involving his clients and ex-clients.
A short history of Bella Collina, and purchase by DCS Investments in 2012:
Apology letters from Plaintiffs who have withdrawn from class action lawsuit against Bella Collina POA, Schar, and DCS Real Estate Investments.
Depositions ordered to investigate fraudulent and abusive litigation practices.
Michael Choo affidavit alleging that Attorney Tim McCullough forged his signature on legal documents.
Court papers dismissing class action: