Article Courtesy of The Orlando
By Ryan Gillespie
Published September 19, 2017
A homeowner is again trying to tip the balance of power within one of the
state’s largest homeowner’s associations away from developers.
An election challenge filed by homeowner
Martin Negron calls for a recount of votes in the
Association of Poinciana Villages, but only after the state
agency that regulates HOAs tosses out scores of votes he
thinks are illegal.
That agency, the Florida Department of Business and
Professional Regulation, already sided with Negron in a
challenge in June and nullified the results of a February
vote. In that ruling, an arbitrator ordered the Aug. 1
If the votes are tossed out, Negron and his attorneys think
it would pave the way for homeowners to be seated on the
“How are we ever going to win?” he said. “Hopefully the
[state] will put some teeth into this.”
At stake is a say in how the community of about
50,000 residents spends annual fees paid by homeowners and how the HOA
governs the neighborhood.
Negron’s challenge alleges nothing changed in the August election, and that
developers were again allowed to cast thousands of votes for undeveloped
lots they own in the neighborhood.
He contends some of these lots can’t be legally built upon because they’re
dotted with marshlands, or fall within the 50-year flood zone, the complaint
Negron also alleges that the developers didn’t properly fill out paperwork
allowing them to vote and that one of the developers isn’t a United States
Asked for comment, the HOA said it was “aware of the new petition, however,
the DBPR has not, as of yet, asked APV to respond.”
Previously, the Association of Poinciana Villages maintained a judge’s
ruling in Polk County Circuit Court allowed it to calculate developers’
votes by allowing a vote for the maximum number of homes that can be built
In a previous statement, the HOA said it “will recognize the developer’s
right granted by each Village Association to cast votes on behalf of its
unplatted tracts of lands without platting them.”
Negron and his attorney intervened in the Polk County case and asked for the
ruling to be thrown out because it interfered with arbitration.
A hearing is scheduled for November, Negron’s attorney Jennifer Englert
After the Orlando Sentinel reported on the Polk County judge’s ruling, the
state arbitrator working the case recused herself and also filed a complaint
with the Florida Bar against attorney Tom Slaten, who represents the HOA,
because he didn’t notify her of the circuit court case.
“We’re kind of back to square one,” Englert said. “They still never have
proven what lots they’re building on … the more we dig in, the more problems
we find. … Eventually their feet will be held to the fire. If we keep going,
we’ll eventually get there.”
For years, residents have complained they lack a voice in the 44-year-old
community, which sets annual fees and controls the budget. The HOA is
comprised of nine villages and collects $252 from each property owner
A group of residents has said they think the association doesn’t treat them
fairly in debt collection and isn’t transparent with its spending.
Keith Laytham, an advocate for the group of residents, said the association
has “proven time and time again they can’t run a fair election.”
Negron said he and others in the neighborhood spent many hours and several
weekends trying to motivate homeowners to vote in the August election and
was frustrated all it resulted in was more legal proceedings.
“Why should there be another election? APV already did everything wrong,”
Negron said. “The state already gave [the HOA] rules to follow,and they
didn’t do it.”