Article Courtesy of NEWS 6 ORLANDO
Published March 8, 2017
SUNTREE - The Suntree Master Homeowners Association, one of Brevard County's
largest residential developments, may soon have one of the strictest policies in
the state when it comes to allowing sexual offenders and sexual predators to
Suntree HOA is
considering a new policy banning sexual offenders from the
community, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
The association is asking residents to amend its housing
restrictive covenants, which would bar known sexual
offenders and sexual predators from owning or renting there.
Technically, it's asking residents to approve expanding the
zone of protection of city and county ordinances by
restricting sex offenders from residing within 3,000 feet
from places where children regularly congregate, essentially
covering all of Suntree.
The proposed changes follow meetings with the Brevard County
Sheriff's Office on what crimes are taking place on the
Space Coast and what communities can do to prevent problems
before they start.
"We thought being
preventative was better than being reactive," said Todd
Foley, general manager of the homeowners association.
Lawyers and others familiar with fair housing statutes say what's being proposed
in Suntree likely is legal, as housing covenants generally have more power over
a neighborhood's make-up, much more so than those without official neighborhood
Suntree, as residents often like to boast, is one of the most popular areas in
Brevard. It's made up of 4,500 households, including single-family homes,
apartments and townhouses, as well as schools, day care centers, bike paths,
walking trails, two 18-hole golf courses, several parks and 50 neighborhoods or
The covenant amendment is scheduled to be voted on at the association's March 15
People already living in Suntree who have been convicted of sex crimes could be
grandfathered in if new guidelines are approved, but the association says it
will determine that on a case-by-case basis.
"The restriction is intended to cover all persons qualifying as sexual offenders
or sexual predators,” said Sonia Bosinger, the lawyer for the Suntree homeowners
association, “however, for any offenders that may already be residing within the
3,000 foot zone of protection, Suntree will need to analyze each case
individually to determine the parties’ respective rights and obligations.”
The proposed amendment comes just about a year after the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development issued guidance about restrictions placed on
renting or selling to convicted felons. The department's concern was that
certain races could be more adversely affected by such housing restrictions
because of the of their higher number of arrests and convictions.
That's not necessarily the case regarding what Suntree is proposing, said Ryan
Poliakoff, a South Florida lawyer specializing in condo regulations and housing
association issues. Poliakoff also is a regular columnist with FLORIDA TODAY.