Flap over truck in driveway to cost Hillsborough community $187,443

Article Courtesy of St. Petersburg Times

By Nicole Hutcheson

Published July 29, 2010

TAMPA — A four-year legal battle between a homeowners association board and a man who wanted to park his pickup truck in his driveway may have entered its last chapter.

On Friday, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Martha J. Cook ruled that the Eagles Masters Association must pay $187,443.37 in legal fees for A.J. Vizzi. The association has 30 days to pay, appeal or file for reconsideration.

In March, Cook decided that the association should pay Vizzi's fees. The two parties were left to determine the amount.

Friday's ruling came after that communication broke down.

"We had tried to resolve the case and resolve the fees informally with the association without a hearing," said Daniel Anderson, Vizzi's attorney. "But, unfortunately, the association never made us an offer."

Board president Bruce Derby referred questions to association attorney Jonathan Ellis, who did not return calls for comment.

The ordeal began in 2001, when Vizzi was first cited for parking the truck in his driveway. He argued his truck was permitted within Windsor Park, one of the nine subcommunities in the Eagles. After several hundred dollars in fines, the association sued Vizzi in 2006. A Hills­borough circuit judge sided with Vizzi in 2008. A subsequent appeal by the association was defeated in March, when the appeals court ruled in Vizzi's favor and ordered the association to pay his fees.

Vizzi's attorney requested $211,000.

The Soaring Eagle, the neighborhood's quarterly newsletter, stated that the legal fees will not require a special assessment.

In addition to yearly fees for each of the villages, Eagles residents pay $650 a year to the Eagles Masters Association.

Jim Keeney, 67, a Eagles resident for 10 years, said he does not like the idea of his fees funding a lawsuit. "The fees should go toward the betterment of the community," he said.

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