Article Courtesy of The
By Bob Ferguson
Published February 22, 2018
The fourth time looks like it will be the charm for a
trio of Poinciana homeowners.
According to court documents, Judge Catherine L. Combee denied the request
by the Association of Poinciana Villages and developer AV Homes, more
commonly referred to as Avatar, to have a fourth amended complaint
dismissed. The complaint filed by homeowners Peter Jolly, Victory Destremps
and Annette Brown-Best alleges a breach of contract by the HOA and
“It’s been two years and almost $100,000,” said Keith Laytham, a spokesman
for the civic nonprofit Association of Poinciana Villages.
The three homeowners and representatives for the HOA and developer met in
the Circuit Court on Feb. 2 and Feb. 5. The next hearing is slated for Feb.
The trio of homeowners had three previous lawsuits thrown out. Combee’s
denial came Feb. 12.
The claims by the homeowners are that the developer and HOA violated the
1985 agreement in which the developer was supposed to turn over control of
the community to the homeowners. Part of the homeowners’ case is that APV
violated Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act that forced the homeowners’
association to update its deed restrictions after 30 years.
According to the 1985 agreement, Laytham said, control was supposed to be
turned over in 1991. The developer was scheduled to pay diminishing HOA fees
until 1996 when the fees were set to be removed. Laytham said the fees have
been waived, but control has not been relinquished.
“That’s where these election results come in,” Laytham said. “As Jolly and
Destremps found out, if you don’t want to do what Avatar says, you get
thrown off the board.”
APV is a community of nearly 27,000 homes that spans parts of Polk and
Osceola counties. The HOA is broken up into nine villages with each
represented by a five-member board. One member from each village board is
selected to serve on the HOA’s master board.
For undeveloped plots, the developer is given votes based on how many homes
could be built on the vacant land. Laytham said the developer exaggerates
those vote counts by including marshy areas like wetlands and plot sizes
undevelopable by county land development regulations to put board members in
place who are favorable to AV Homes.
Destremps and Jolly are former board members. In 2015, APV was forced to
file an injunction against the two after they removed $1.6 million from APV
and placed it into accounts only they controlled. Most of the money was
recovered late that year.
Another element of the complaint filed by the homeowners pertains to
Solivita. Laytham said in 2012, the development was allowed to secede from
APV, but that should have only been done with a majority vote from each
village board. Laytham claims that did not happen.
“There were 6,000 parcels in Solivita and each of them was paying into the
HOA,” Laytham said. ”(With those gone), they had to either cut back on
services or increase fees. That says to the rest of the community that
Solivita is special. That’s just one of the ways that Avatar breaks the
Representatives for APV could not be reached for comment.