Parkside granted its wish for new HOA

Board facing ousted group's tree troubles


Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Luis F. Perez
Published July 21, 2005


Boca 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 crowd.

Lucke was installed as new president of the HOA and struggled to control the meeting.

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 organized.

Tree removal has residents up in arms