Poinciana HOA Addresses Resident Issues

Homeowner association meetings in Poinciana have taken a different tone these days

Article Courtesy of The Ledger

By Tom Palmer 

Published June 19, 2015


They're in the evenings when more of the community‘s 48,000 residents can attend rather in the mornings that were more convenient to the Association of Poinciana
Villages' administrative staff.

APV Board President Peter Jolly-Newille, who in April survived an attempt to remove him from office by some opposed to change, is becoming active in setting meeting

First Residential Services, the management firm hired two years ago to run the sprawling community's day-to-day operations, is playing a smaller role in meetings these

Last month, the board voted to fire Frank Lacquaniti, a lawyer with ties to First Residential and hired Rayfield, Sepulveres & Wright, a Kissimmee law firm to provide
legal advice in the interim until the board decides on a permanent replacement.

Poinciana, an unincorporated 47,000-acre community lying between Haines City and Kissimmee in parts of Polk and Osceola counties, has been rocked by controversy over
the past three years.

Most of it has involved disputes over how representative the homeowners association board is and how responsive it and First Residential is to residents.

The board is responsible for budgeting proceeds from homeowner assessments and setting and enforcing rules for things ranging from use of common facilities to building

The dispute led to a drive that so far has been unsuccessful to win approval by the Florida Legislature to hold a referendum to decide whether Poinciana should become a

Residents attending the latest board meeting last week said they were happy with the recent changes in the way board meetings are conducted.

"Before people were not allowed to speak on anything that wasn't on the agenda and First Residential set the agenda," said Annette Brown-Best, who led the effort to
attract a hospital to Poinciana and has been involved in a number of community-improvement projects.

She said residents now are able to get news items printed in the Poinciana Pioneer, the APV's community newspaper.

The latest issue of the Poinciana Pioneer contained a full-page open letter from Mark Maldonado, First Residential's general manager for the APV, referring to changes
that occurred last month and promising to be more open and cooperative in dealing with residents' concerns.

During her turn on the agenda, Brown-Best presented information on park and transit improvements underway in Poinciana, asked the staff to look into sidewalk
improvements and finding a location for early voting on the Polk County side of Poinciana and asked for a longer voting period than a few hours to elect board members.

Maldonado promised to work on resolving all of her suggestions.

Others agreed with her assessment.

"The residents are now in control," said resident John Perez, who has been working with Polk County officials to get a fire station in the south end of Poinciana and
has organized local events to bring the community together.

Wendy Farrell, a resident who has been active in promoting economic development in Poinciana, said the new way of conducting the meetings is "a lot more transparent."

She also praised the law firm that is aiding the board through the transition.

"They're very approachable," she said.

Board member Victor Destremps, one of the critics of the way business was previously conducted at the meetings, said the board has taken control of the community's
affairs, as it is supposed to do by law.

"That's our job," he said.

Board member Don Gordon said the result has been that Poinciana has become "a very happy and harmonious community."

Jolly said after last week's meeting that he's trying to foster a more positive relationship among board members and between the board and the community.

"I've seen drastic change," he said. "My goal is to make sure we achieve the maximum."