St. Augustine Shores Service Corp.
St. Augustine, Florida
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Petition for President to Resign handed to Board Members Will Board follow the bylaws?
By Jan Bergemann
St. Augustine, November 16, 2002

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.

Please read the other articles about the problems in the St. Augustine Shores!

To the Board and all Shores homeowners: 10/10/02

Since I was not allowed to speak at the last two monthly Board meetings, I wrote this to try and cast some light on the green belt dispute.

My opinion is that it starts with the Shores Board's claim, (w/o documentation) that the green Belts must remain "natural". This is the prime stumbling block between the board and the owners. The owners base their position on the PUD and the 1985 Deltona deed of gift that passed the common grounds to the Service Corporation. Both documents state that the green belts can be landscaped, planted etc. not just left natural. This is confirmed by letters from Rosemary Yeoman the county zoning manager and years of history in the shores.

The Service Corp. could have passed restrictions ( within the limits of these documents) on what could be done in future years in the green Belts. No board has ever done this but that option is still open. The Service Corp. owns the land and within the PUD and the deed from Deltona could set new rules. These would govern future changes in the green belts. The owners do not question this. What the owners resist is, what appears to be, the boardís proclamation of a nonexistent rule to be the law of the land and then using that nonexistent rule to destroy years of loving work and reverse approvals years old.

For four months the owners have asked the board where the PUD or any body of documents gives the board this right. The question has been answered by an escalating use of power and harassment and intimidation of the homeowners. No answers to our questions or any response to our offers to discuss the subject have been received. 

It appears to us that Terry and the whole board prefer to work on the basis that might makes right. This may be true in a dictatorship but should not be true in St. Augustine in 2002. 

We again ask Terry and the Board for the documents that give them this power, fully expecting not to receive them since we doubt they exist. Should we be wrong and such documents exist, please bring them out and letís see them. This is no time for secrecy between neighbors.

John Geiszler

I believe it is newsworthy that the petition drive to oust St Augustine Shores Service Corp. Board member and current President is way over subscribed.
On tabulation last week the registered homeowners had 972 homeowners signatures to remove him against a required 852 based on 25% of the August 20th Property Appraisers list of 3405 parcels in the Shores. This is the first time that the Shores Bylaws "Board member removal clause" has been used. 
Brannon and his 3 dedicated followers have controlled the board since the May 02 election. 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. All this has been done with total disregard for the feelings of the community and with refusal to even discuss the compromise proposed by the homeowners and recommended by the County zoning office. They insist on total capitulation by the homeowners. The proof of the above is well over 25% of the angry homeowners ot this quiet, mainly retired, community have voted their ownership rights to remove this irritation from their Board of Directors.

At the monthly Board meeting of the St. Augustine Shores Service Corp. Thursday night 11/14 the only agenda item is the current and future litigation. Meeting starts at 7:00 PM at the Shores Riverview Club and an early seat is recommended.

Jim, Since I havn't been able to reach you by phone I wrote the above. I would hope that it appears in the Thursday paper in some form and that you have a reporter and camera man at the meeting. Among other things the petitions will be presented by our attorney and I expect Brannon will object to much of what he hears from the floor. It should be a lively meeting.