Just When You Think There Was Some Oversight...

Did you think the government has got your back?

Think again!

While the Club has touted their revitalization approval in the newsletter, recent documents have shed light on the process.  While the Department of Economic Opportunity determined the document the Club submitted was in compliance, they decided to ignore the fact that it did not satisfy statutory requirements.

Here is a review sheet and statute checklist the state filled out for the Club:

Notice the three red Xs where it states the document seeking revitalization does not satisfy submission requirements?  While the Club's attorney did eventually provide the state with the missing governing documents, that still did not change the fact that the Department of Economic Opportunity found that the declaration was more restrictive than the previous governing document.  But I presume they came up with that decision because they felt the documents provided by the Club showing that the Club was right was enough to satisfy their review (more on that below).

In addition to their findings, they also to have claimed that they verified the signatures of the property owners, but even that was done poorly.

For instance, the state verified that he signature for the property at 10415 Jutland Ct. approved the declaration.  They dated their approval as of January 25th, 2016 and state that the owners Simon Vera Montero Elkin and Maria Fernanda Saavedra approved of the revitalization.

The problem is that they had purchased their property December 18th, four days after the department received the documents from the Club.  

There is no way the Department of Economic Opportunity verified the new owners approved of the proposed revitalization so what signature did they have on hand?

They had a months-old signature from the previous owner yet they stated they verified the signature of the property.  How exactly did they do that?  Especially when the signature not only had the wrong owner but was also not notarized?  In fact all of the signatures received by the state were not notarized.  So why did they state they were approved?  

They decided to assume every property owner was a member and they based that off of the property appraiser's website:

The problem with that is that nowhere on the property appraiser's website does it assert that every homeowner is a member.  In fact, it states the opposite - that there is no mandatory association in the community:

Now this goes back to the previous point of how they deemed the revitalized declaration was not in compliance.  Well, one of the documents the Club lawyer submitted to the state was an amendment made back in 2002 that granted the Club authority over every property.  Not only that, it also significantly altered the voting interests of non-members (which the state surprisingly did not acknowledge).  While there is significant case law to back up the argument that the Club is unable to confer authority over properties where no authority existed before, there was also the cold hard facts that they fudged the signatures granting themselves authority by submitting multiple signatures for individual properties and, like the case of 10415 Jutland Ct., they submitted signatures of people who no longer had a controlling interest in the properties the Club claimed they were given jurisdiction over.

There is also the deeper legal argument that the amendment appears outside the chain of title for every property.  When the restrictions expired so did that amendment (no matter how improperly done).  So the only thing present in the chain of title is the original declaration so any amendment, such as one forcing homeowners into mandatory membership would be considerably more restrictive than the only document on file that existed at the time the properties were conveyed, meaning the amendments cannot be part of the revitalization process.  There is also the other issue of the fact that since the restrictions expired, the revitalized declaration cannot force those homeowners who were not members but owned after 2002 into eternal mandatory membership, but I digress.

So when presented with this information - that the Club did not correctly amend the existing declaration of covenants and lacked and lacked standing to revitalize the declaration of covenants that had expired - what did the Department of Economic Opportunity do?

They claimed they lacked the jurisdiction to interpret the laws (despite the fact that is exactly what they were doing when they declared the documents in compliance while not even verifying signatures) and referred the matter to the circuit courts to determine the validity of the 2002 amendment before they can rule on the validity of the 2016 revitalization.

All of this because a corporation decided they wanted to tell people what to do with their properties and the state has made it easy for them to do so (see image where they allowed the Club to submit documents to help support their revitalization).  Meanwhile if you are a homeowner you have to lawyer up and jump through a thousand hoops to try and rectify the matter.  

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