State throws out Poinciana election

Article Courtesy of The  Osceola News-Gazette

By Ken Jackson

Published July 9, 2017


Days after a state arbitrator sided with a Poinciana resident who disputed how the subdivision counted developer votes in the February election of six of villages, the homeowners association filed a response and a motion for a new hearing.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations, which oversees the voting rights and regulations of HOA elections, last week determined Avatar, also known as AV Homes, was allowed to cast more votes than permitted in the Feb. 14 election because it counted, without proof, how many homes could be built on a still undeveloped parcel of land. Because of that, election results in Villages One, Two, Three, Five, Seven and Eight were thrown out, and the DBPR mandated that the Association of Poinciana Villages (APV) hold a new election by Aug. 1.

Voting results from those villages showed a column for resident votes, and another column for developer votes — hundreds or thousands of them depending on the village, representing Avatar’s lots and a vote per potential house that could be built.


Arbitrator Terrie Lee Jones established in the DBPR summary order that Avatar had yet to provide proof that under state and Osceola and Polk County standards all those lots would even be buildable. The original complaint, filed by Village Seven resident (and February election candidate) Martin Negron noted that roads, wetlands or retention ponds were not taken into account in the developer’s claim of potential houses.

“As the association allowed Avatar to vote more than one vote per parcel without definitive proof of how many homes it could actually build … the Association has improperly diluted the votes of other members of all the association,” the order said.

Among the conditions of any new elections established by the order, holders of undeveloped and unplatted parcels — mostly Avatar — must, prior to the election, provide proof, that complies with local government standards, of how many homes can be built on them.

APV counsel Tom Slaten filed a motion for a rehearing with the DBPR, saying in the motion its findings were flawed.

“It appears the arbitrator overlooked, miscalculated and/or made a mistake regarding whether the disallowed developer votes actually affected the outcome of the Village Two, Five and Eight Elections as well as overlooked the arbitrator’s jurisdiction to determine the existence of Home development in determining voting rights,” Slaten wrote.

He noted the Village Five results would have been unaffected by the developer votes, and provided a previous case that questioned the arbitrator’s jurisdiction in determining the existence and voting interest of un-platted lots and unbuilt homes. He also discussed the cost of a new election.

“The Summary Final Order requires a new election by Aug. 1, which will result in approximately $22,034.17 in mailing costs alone to notify 26,202 homeowners … the total cost is likely to be approximate (sic) $21,148.98 based on the February election,” Slaten wrote.

Ahead of an anticipated new election, Poinciana will hold a candidates forum July 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at New Dimensions High School, according to a community Facebook page.