DeBary, homeowners' group in squabble over sinkhole

Article Courtesy of The Daytona Beach News-Journal

By Mark Harper

Published January 26, 2014


DEBARY — DeBary Golf & Country Club Homeowners Association officials recently complained that the city has not properly maintained a sinkhole and owes 17 years' worth of unpaid fees.

HOA President David MacLean recently approached the council, asking it to intervene. 


A fence erected by the city on the property in 2004 has begun to slide down in the hole, he said, adding that the overgrowth of brush is causing “a danger” to children who live near the cul-de-sac at the end of Hampton Hills Court.

“That whole area needs to be stabilized,” MacLean said.

HOA officials have not specified how much is owed in unpaid association dues.

While the City Council agreed last week to review the matter at a workshop on Feb. 19, City Manager Dan Parrott disputes some of the HOA's allegations, including that the land is “a lot” owned by the city.

A golf cart passes by an overgrown lot that has a sinkhole in the 300 block of Hampton Hills Court in DeBary

“It's simply an easement the developer dedicated to us,” he said. “It's not a property we're going to pay HOA fees on.”

Asked whether the threat of charging back fees was intended to push the city to spend money stabilizing the property, Parrott responded: “I suppose it could be ... it's more like a kick in the shin.”

The manager said he's not sure what options the city has, and any work that might be done on the lot is complicated by the fact that gopher tortoise holes have been observed. Gopher tortoises are a protected species in Florida, so any land clearing must first be permitted by the state.

Parrott said the city has not had an engineer look at the site and he hasn't yet determined how much the sinkhole has grown in recent years. No one is suggesting the sinkhole poses a threat to swallowing any nearby homes.
But Cher Ray, who owns a home and a separate lot adjacent to the sinkhole, is concerned that the property poses a safety risk, as it sits near a path on the edge of the golf course.

“We are all working to clean it up and firm up the boundary fence that exists and has become a danger and an eyesore,” she wrote in a letter to the property management company that represents the homeowners association.

Rodney Silver, an association board member involved in the matter, said residents of Hampton Hills Court have made complaints about “large snakes” and “varmints” that live in the brush.

“We have to shore up that property,” Silver told the council.

Meanwhile, Ray is having her own issues with the HOA. Concerned about the safety of people who use her lot as a cut-through to the golf course, she put up several “no trespassing” and “private property” signs.

The HOA's management company wrote her back, ordering her to take down the signs because they violate the community's rules.

“There should be danger signs,” Ray replied.

She said though she put up signs for the protection of the community, they were “constantly run over or thrown aside, and (had) obscenities written on them.”