By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Did you know that condominium associations are not just for apartment-style homes and townhouses? The condominium governance structure is also used for non-residential property such as storage units, garages, and boat slips in a marina.
For example, Half Moon Bay in Croton-on-Hudson (NY) is a common interest community with an HOA that represents 3 residential condominium associations and one “dockominium” — a condo association for owners of boat docks at the marina.
As with many mixed used common interest developments, combining residential and commercial/amenity associations complicates management for both homeowners and business owners.
In theory, all four associations of Half Moon Bay HOA should manage the community with cooperation and transparency. In reality, condo owners and business owners have been at odds over Marina fees for years.
Residential condo associations have an interest in keeping assessments as low as possible, so they may be motivated to shift costs and limit fees paid to the Marina, especially for condo owners that do not dock boats at Croton-on-Hudson.
Marina owners, Steven and Brian Plotkin, have an interest in maximizing profit for their business, so they tend to raise fees as high as the market will bear, while also avoiding unnecessary costs.
Residential coondo association members on the HOA board outnumber the two dockominium members. And apparently, they tend to vote against the interests of Marina owners.
Last year, according to a report in Westfair Online, Plotkin was denied access to records of the HOA. Plus, he and another dockominium member on the HOA board were excluded from voting on certain resolutions.
The marina owners sued, and NY Supreme Court Justice Sam D. Walker issued a ruling this June. Judge Walker confirmed that the Marina association’s board members have the right to be treated as equals on the HOA board — no hiding records or preventing Marina association members from voting on HOA issues.
Not long after that ruling, HOA board members — excluding Plotkin and another member — voted on a new rule to limit use of the Half Moon Bay community swimming pool to residents and guests only, disallowing non-residents and corporate owners. Since Steven Plotkin co-owns a condo in the name of Sunset Condo II LLC, he was not issued a pool pass this year.
So Plotkin is suing the HOA once again, alleging, among other things, selective enforcement motivated by retaliation. He says that dozens of non-residents have access to the swimming pool. This time, the marina owner and condo owner is asking the court to invalidate the board’s new arbitrary and selective rule, and is seeking $1 million in damages.
As you can see in the referenced article, this is another example of a conflict between a “parent” Master Association and one of the “child” associations, in this case, the Marina Association.
The reader has to wonder why the HOA was organized to include member associations with conflicting interests of residential and commercial property owners. Most likely, the arrangement was originally set up to benefit one interest group at the expense of another.
With no clear resolution in sight, the current state of affairs almost guarantees a perpetual stream of legal battles.
Half Moon Bay lawsuit pits marina against condos
By Bill Heltzel – August 28, 2018
A simmering dispute between the directors of the homeowners’ association of Half Moon Bay in Croton-on-Hudson and the marina dockmaster has spilled over in court.
Steven Plotkin, dockmaster and co-owner of a condominium unit, is suing the association’s directors for $1 million in Westchester Supreme Court, claiming he is not being allowed to use a swimming pool and clubhouses.
Their motivation, he claims in the complaint, is “a desire to retaliate against the marina and anyone associated with it because the marina challenged the HOA board’s authority.”
The lawsuit also charges two board members individually – Linda O’Neill and Eugene Kim – and the management company, Heritage Management Services Inc. in Somers. Attempts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful.