|Date:||Jul 25, 2007|
|Text Word Count:||593|
Three subdivisions in the sprawling Boca Del Mar community could soon get what they have been fighting for: independence.
For nearly two years, residents of Boca South, Heatherwood and Marina Del Mar have been trying to break away from the Boca Del Mar Improvement Association, which controls the smaller associations.
But now attitudes are changing: The master association has agreed not to challenge a lawsuit to sever ties for good.
“It would be a friendly lawsuit,” said attorney Kenneth Zeilberger, who represents the three subdivisions.
Boca Del Mar has almost 10,000 homes and about 90 subdivisions spread over 2,350 acres stretching from north of the Broward County line and east of Florida’s Turnpike. The master association maintains roads and green space among the subdivisions. The three communities, along with Rio Del Mar Estates, are separated from the rest of Boca Del Mar by Military Trail. The four subdivisions were annexed by Boca Raton in 2004. The city maintains their medians and open spaces and city police patrol the area.
Residents in the three communities, with about 160 homes, claim they barely receive any service from the master association, despite more than $16,000 they pay annually in maintenance fees. Most of that money, they said, benefits the thousands of Boca Del Mar homes west of Military Trail in unincorporated Palm Beach County.
Boca Del Mar Improvement Association board members said they provide some services such as lighting but it is unclear how much it costs the master association.
In South Florida, communities often group under umbrella associations, and breakaway disputes similar to Boca Del Mar’s happen frequently, said Bill Raphan, the state assistant condominium ombudsman.
Residents of a retirement community west of Delray Beach have a similar situation on their hands. Tuscany Condominium Association is trying to cut ties with the Kings Point Condominium Association, he said. Tuscany is frustrated with how the master association is handling repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Boca Del Mar Improvement Association didn’t oppose the secession, but required that 90 percent of Boca Del Mar approve it. In contrast, homeowners in the three subdivisions argued they needed 90 percent of the owners living in each of their communities.
Both parties reached a middle ground.
“We have come to an understanding,” Marina Del Mar Estates Homeowners Association President Ronald Sayles said. Boca Del Mar Improvement Association President Paul McDermott said the separation will benefit Boca Del Mar.
“It is to our advantage to release them because it costs us money” to provide services, he said.
Still, McDermott said, the subdivisions need to sue the master association to terminate their required membership in the Boca Del Mar Improvement Association. His board, he said, would not fight the lawsuit.
The lawsuit would seek to amend each of the four homeowner associations’ documents to allow 90 percent of its homeowners to vote to leave the master association. It would also seek to cancel membership to the master association, Heatherwood President Paul Wallace said. His association, Marina Del Mar and Boca South are waiting for Rio Del Mar to join them in the proposed lawsuit, he said.
Wallace said years of efforts finally have paid off. “It was a lot of work.”
Wallace has no plans to create a new master association with the other three subdivisions.
Paola Iuspa-Abbott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6631.
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