In February 2007, we were sent a violation letter from Melrose Management that demanded we remove dead sod in our easement area. We were under water restrictions at the time and waited until May 2007 to replace the sod with perennial peanut, a Florida-friendly groundcover. Our HOA documents allow for 90% of our lot to be planted, covered, and maintained in grass or other natural vegetation. The groundcover is/was allowed by our documents; apparently someone on the "board" didn't like it. The board's selective enforcement continues to this day: they claim certain landscaping changes are "not in keeping with the community aesthetics". Whose community aesthetics? The community aesthetics are the opinions of a few board members and are not based on fact or logic, nor are any of them trained as horticulturists or landscape architects. The Sanctuary homeowners have never been asked to discuss or vote about any kind of community aesthetics.
in May 2010, the HOA board initiated a lawsuit against us for planting the Florida-friendly perennial peanut in place of sod. Requiring grass where it will not grow is violation of Florida state law regarding Florida-friendly landscaping.
In April 2011, we offered to settle this lawsuit for $5.00 (it's a court document). We filed a countersuit in Sept 2011 to sue the board for breach of fiduciary duty because we were forced to try and end this madness. There are too many breach of fiduciary duty claims to list here, but to name a few:
In June 2012, we proved that the easement area we were allegedly not maintaining is HOA common property. The HOA should have been taking care of the grass and trees in the easement area since the first home on the street was sold. At this point in time, the board should have dropped the lawsuit. Instead, they twisted this information and decided to move forward with the lawsuit. They alleged we were illegally maintaining HOA property! If we had been illegally maintaining the HOA easement, then every homeowner on the street has been illegally maintaining the easements!!
In November 2012, the board decided, without homeowner input, to change the declaration to force homeowners to maintain the easement area. This was done for the specific purpose of the HOA board trying to strengthen their lawsuit. The process for the amendment was illegal, even though the HOA attorney, Clinton Paris, was consulted.
We do make changes to our yard: we replace dead plants with hardier plants, replace dead sod with drought-resistant groundcovers, and even add more plants to the landscape. These changes are less than 10% of the approved landscape and, according to our rules and regulations, do NOT need architectural control committee approval. How many of you have made less than 10% changes to your landscaping without approval and have been sued? The owners of 9105 landscaped their entire yard before submitting an architectural application. They didn't even receive a violation letter. And later, one of the owners became a board member (Philip K. Bell) and voted to sue us! See the email where K. Coglianese approved the 9105 landscaping installation after the fact here. Also read the letter congratulating them on their "lovely landscaping work".
The board has not accepted our offers of settlement, nor have they offered us a reasonable settlement offer for this insane witch hunt. We can't drop a revenge lawsuit that we didn't initiate. The board has yet to report the countersuit claim to the insurance company, and even had Melrose Management company try to cover it up. If this case ends up in trial and we win the lawsuit, it is possible there would be a special assessment of over $2500 per household to cover the costs of this foolish lawsuit. Four costly depositions have already been held and there are at least 20 more past and present board and ACC members to depose before trial.
We have been asking for a face-to-face meeting with the board for over 20 months. The board has refused. The HOA attorney, at HOA meetings, has made public verbal comments about our refusal to compromise. Ask yourself WHY this issue was even escalated into a lawsuit? It is because delusional board members are spending your money and our money on their own personal agendas. If the board members had to use their own money, would it have even been filed in the first place? Total legal fees paid since 2009 are up to $60,000. Click here to view documents including the email which calculates legal fees paid on this insane lawsuit.
We can send you a file of all the court documents, violation letters, or even emails we've sent to board members which prove everything we have stated above is true. Go to our contact page and request them, or click on any links on this website. If there are documents that you would like to see and they aren't uploaded, contact us and we will be more than happy to provide them to you. We don't have anything to hide!
If you'd like to see all the Sanctuary HOA board meeting minutes or financial statements, contact the current board members or Meritus Associations. Sanctuary homeowners are, by Florida law, FS 720.303(5) entitled to view official records. Year end financial statements, prepared by Meritus Associations and Melrose Management are available here.
"Truth is powerful and it prevails." Sojourner Truth
It all began in May 2007 when we planted low maintenance, drought-resistant perennial peanut to replace dead and dying sod in the small easement area. We used a groundcover that would be disease-resistant, would not need fertilization or mowing, and would grow without using the sprinkler system. Except for the tiny yellow flowers when it is in bloom, it also looks like St. Augustine grass. It was a win-win for our pocketbook, ease of maintenance and the environment.