St. Augustine Shores Service Corp.
St. Augustine, Florida
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In an emotionally charged bard meeting homeowners handed President Terry Brannon the signatures of 972 homeowners with the petition to resign. This was done according to the bylaws of the St. Augustine Shores. More than 100 homeowners listened to a short speech by Sean Sheppard, attorney for the homeowners, who asked Terry Brannon to refrain from further actions until the petition was validated and acted upon.
Instead of taking action immediately the board members voted to postpone any kind of action until verifying the petition. But the statement of Terry Brannon that there is no time limit on validation of this petition seems to be incorrect. The Florida Administrative Code contains regulations in this regards. It seems that Terry Brannon has often his own way of interpreting the existing rules.
He has obviously the support of his fellow board members, who are defending his actions. Board Director Rudy Esser threatened with resignation if Terry Brannon was ousted. Something quite a few homeowners in the St. Augustine Shores would possibly appreciate, considering the reaction of many homeowners in attendance. His sister Susanne, as well a director of the board, defended the president, claiming that many homeowners didn't realize what excellent job Terry Brannon is doing.
All this is actually very disturbing for people not so familiar with the whole issue. Recently voices have called for investigation in regards to two board members, who, according to the bylaws, shouldn't be board members in the first place.
One of the main arguments used in Terry Brannon's defense is definitely very questionable. Board members are volunteers and are not getting paid for their work, is the statement given pretty often. But wouldn't honorable volunteers resign if facing such a huge opposition among their fellow homeowners? Instead of spending valuable assets for legal fees on a law suit obviously not wanted by many homeowners, Terry Brannon should see the writing on the wall and do the honorable thing : Resign!
It seems to be anyway just a matter of time. Even if it turns out that there may be a few invalid signatures mixed in - happens with every petition-drive - the necessary number will definitely be reached and there seem to be even more homeowners willing to sign the petition if need be, especially after the outcome of last night's meeting.
Homeowner John Geiszler, one of the more outspoken members of the community, stated on various occasions that a sit-down talk would possible solve many of the problems. In an e-mail dated 10/10/02 he asked for legal reasons in order to better understand the boards' actions. But so far nothing has been forthcoming.
In an e-mail, sent to the St. Augustine Record and many other interested parties, John Geiszler made it clear how many homeowners in the St. Augustine Shores really feel : "They have created untold costs, emotional pain and loss of community esteem by their various moves to reinterpret our governing documents and force their will on the homeowners." (Click here to read complete e-mail )
Terry Brannon declared on various occasions that the reason for trying to enforce the deed-restrictions by means of expensive law suits is the fact that he has to be afraid of being sued for failure to enforce the deed-restrictions. But the many other directors before him didn't get sued for that reason. Many homeowners consider this a cheap excuse and a cover-up.
And there is no rule anywhere stating that people can't sit down and talk things over before funds are wasted for legal expenses.
Homeowners living in associations are paying dues for improvement of their neighborhood, not for legal fees, especially not for a law suit with very questionable outcome. It seems like many Directors don't understand that they have a fiduciary duty towards their fellow homeowners. And that could very well lead to a law suit against the Board of Directors : Breach of Fiduciary Duty. It wouldn't be the first time that happened here in Florida.
Since homeowners have according to our
constitution the right of peaceful enjoyment of their homes, this whole
problem should be quickly settled, so that the existing resources could
be used again for the purpose they are intended : improving the lives of
the homeowners in the St.Augustine Shores.