Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Luis F. Perez
Published July 21, 2005
Raton · A group of disaffected Parkside residents got what they wanted
Wednesday when they officially took over their homeowner association after a
rare recall vote to remove the previous board.
Jim Daniel, the departing president, left the new board with some advice:
"Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."
Well, minutes after he uttered those words Jochen Lucke, Martin Segel, John
Devine and Stephen Bloom, who were elected after they opposed a move to cut down
167 ficus trees in the gated community along Military Trail, got it.
Dozens of residents who attended the meeting started peppering them with
questions about how they planned to handle the controversy that got them into
office in the first place.
Lucke started to move through the agenda when one resident gave him some more
advice: "Wait, you have to elect officers," said a voice from the
Lucke was installed as new president of the HOA and struggled to control the
The controversy started when the previous board voted to remove ficus trees as a
precaution against them falling in a storm. Last year's hurricanes uprooted
ficus trees across the city. An arborist said 59 trees were dangerous and should
be cut immediately. Zimmerman Tree Service told the old board it would be
cheaper to cut down the 167 ficus trees. So that's what the old board decided.
But a group of residents vehemently opposed that move and fought to save the
trees. They called the media. They tried standing in front of tree-cutting
crews. They found a lawyer and threatened legal action. And in the end, they
organized the recall vote to remove four of the five previous board members. The
angry residents walked the neighborhood and collected 115 ballots from the 203
homeowners in the community saying they wanted a new board. Craig Ernst was not
recalled and stayed on the board.
The recall stopped the tree cutting, but not before around 60 trees came down.
Now the question for the new board is how do they plan to handle the rest of the
ficus trees, many of the ones deemed dangerous still standing.
Lucke told the crowd the new board had to cut down the ficus trees as the
arborist suggested because of the liability they created for the community. But
before the board moves forward, Lucke said, it would develop a master plan.
"Our intent is to move on this as quickly as possible," Lucke said.
Another resident suggested since the new board planned to do pretty much the
same thing as the old board, maybe they should resign and re-install the old
board. Wait, better yet the resident said, maybe a recall vote should be
removal has residents up in arms