By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
When homeowners discovered that their community’s security guard, Joseph Conover, was unlicensed and a convicted felon, a group of four homeowners at Turnberry Reserve decided it was time to oust the current HOA board and management company.
A few weeks ago, several homeowners staged a public protest outside the entrance to their community, holding up signs urging their neighbors to vote in a new board of directors at the upcoming HOA election.
FL HOA manager hires convicted felon as private security guard
That prompted the HOA to issue violation notices and fines against the protestors, citing HOA restrictions, which do not allow signs in the community.
Another HOA lawsuit
According to a report by WFTV9, four Turnberry Reserve homeowners are now fighting back. Maria Napolitano, Brandon Mayol, Waleska Herzog Fernandez, and William Tapia have filed a lawsuit in Osceola County court against their HOA board, Sherry Raposo of Management 35, and Conover, Raposo’s live-in business partner.
HOA board members named in the lawsuit are Diana Boyd (HOA President), Michele Aichner Jones, and Ivette Luna.
The homeowners ask the court to reverse HOA fines, which they say were imposed in retaliation for their public protest. The Plaintiffs also accuse the HOA of blocking member access to their online accounts, where they normally pay their fees.
Importantly, Turnberry Reserve homeowners say they didn’t violate any HOA rules, because they staged their picket line on the public right-of-way outside their entry gate, on County property.
Concerned homeowners also have the full support of Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins. He has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate Sherry Raposo, the owner of Management 35.
History of trouble with Raposo at Turnberry Reserve
Floridians might think the name Sherry Raposo sounds familiar.
That’s because, back in 2013, Local News 6 reported that Raposo, then HOA President of Turnberry Reserve, was charged with stealing dozens of trash and recycling bins from residents’ driveways in the community.
Why would an HOA President do such a thing? Well, according to reports, Raposo was enforcing an HOA rule that says all trash and recycling bins must be stored out of sight, except for a limited time window on waste pick up days.
At the time, the HOA sent letters to all its owners and residents, warning them to keep their waste cans out of plain view.
When residents didn’t comply, Raposo hired a contractor to remove the offending waste bins from private property. The recycling cans were dropped off at Waste Management. The company’s workers then had to make a special trip to return all 80 cans to each affected residence.
The household waste bins had been dropped off at a St. Cloud recycling center, with no notification to residents as to the whereabouts of their trash cans.
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office enforcement investigated the bizarre incident and eventually charged Raposo with petit theft larceny charges.
Incidentally, homeowners in Turnberry Reserve at the time said that Raposo was running the HOA board from a home she owned in Arizona.
No transparency at Turnberry Reserve
Today, Raposo manages Turnberry Reserve HOA. The association has a website that’s only accessible to residents with a login and password.
As is increasingly typical in HOA-ville, USA, there’s no absolutely no public information available about the community for housing consumers.
Since the Turnberry Reserve HOA controls who can login to its website, it also controls the information it wants homeowners and residents to see.
So it’s not surprising that Raposo has also been accused, by a neighboring Florida HOA community, of refusing to provide access to HOA records. Investigators have looked into those complaints, but reportedly dropped their investigation, when they did not find enough evidence to indicate a crime.
The question is, how does a former HOA President become the HOA’s manager several years later, especially given Raposo’s history of going rogue with the trash can caper?
No First Amendment rights in HOAs?
The reader will notice that Turnberry homeowners claim their protest took place on a public right-of-way.
But, what if residents chose to protest on property within their HOA-governed community? Should HOAs be allowed to squelch the American right to freedom of assembly, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
I have a hunch, most Americans would say, “No way!”
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if HOA attorneys respond the the HOA lawsuit at Turnberry Reserve.
Watch for the legal experts to publish articles and opinions claiming that HOAs have the right to limit Constitutional rights in their communities, using their usual legal argument: The U.S. Constitution applies to government, not private organizations such as HOAs.
Most HOA industry attorneys tend to cling to the belief that your Constitutional rights end once you enter your HOA-governed community. And they advise HOA board members accordingly.
It’s a recipe for abuse of power.
That’s why, each week we see more and more reports of HOAs stepping all over the rights of U.S. residents.
Each time HOAs ignore First Amendment rights, public opinion of HOA communities — and the industry that promotes them as virtual utopias — takes a nose dive.
Homeowners across the country continue to fight for their First Amendment rights in court. An Illinois Appellate Court recently upheld the rights of a condominium owner in Chicago. And, in Pennsylvania, another HOA dismissed its lawsuit against a homeowner, an unsuccessful attempt to shut down the homeowner’s website critical of the HOA board.
The current homeowner lawsuit against Turnberry Reserve HOA and its management company offers further proof that Americans are absolutely fed up with being ruled by dictatorial HOA bullies. ♦♦
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