KISSIMMEE -- Things got heated Friday as local legislators in Osceola County decided not to move forward with a new bill that would impact homeowners associations and their election process.
While the meeting was only slated to last a few hours, legislators and Poinciana residents discussed the proposed bill all day Friday, ultimately deciding not to move forward and bring the bill to Tallahassee this upcoming legislative session.
Throughout the day however, dozens of Poinciana residents spoke out against the Association of Poinciana Villages, saying Avatar, the developer, has more control than the 70,000 homeowners living in the area.
"I've even led protests in the streets. It feels like we are just spinning our wheels. 'Thank you Sir.' We are just asking for a little help," one Poinciana resident told the legislative delegation.
Those who sponsored the bill, state Senator Darren Soto, D-Orlando and state Rep. John Cortes, D-Kissimmee, explained the proposed bill was created because they both are inundated with calls from residents complaining about the HOA and its current election process.
If passed, the bill would have extended HOA election polling hours, and required the HOA to post election times and opportunities 30 days in advance. However, this legislation would only apply to Osceola County residents.
The Association of Poinciana Villages covers the entire development which spans about 26,000 homes from Osceola to Polk County. So while this law may apply to those living on one side of Poinciana, it wouldn't apply to their neighbors.
"I just want to make sure we aren't wasting time," state Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, told the delegates. "There isn't any possibility that this could be legal once it became law."
"I don't know if we could get it passed. Period. If our lives depended on it," Rep. Neil Combee, R-Auburndale, later said.
The delegates got into a very heated discussion, where the bill was called "sloppy" and "unconstitutional."
Attorneys representing both the outspoken residents of Poinciana and the HOA also stated their concerns that parts of the bill could be questioned in court.
In the end, the delegates voted down the bill 3-2.
The vote came as a blow to those Poinciana residents who showed up hoping for something to change.
"I'm very disappointed. We keep begging, we keep asking our legislators, begging those people that we voted for to help us," said Annette Brown Best from Poinciana.
While these residents didn't leave with what they were hoping for the HOA, members of the HOA board did go to the meeting and speak on the bill.
"The election process needs to change. I believe everyone has a right to vote," one member said.
After the meeting, we caught up with some of the board members who told us this was the first time they became aware of the issues with polling hours. They told us they plan on bringing up the possibility of extending those hours during one of their future meetings.
We were told more discussion about the problems in Poinciana isn't finished.
Osceola and Polk legislators plan on meeting Nov. 9 to talk about those issues as well possibility of making the area a city.