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Published Tue, Nov 20, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Tue, Nov 27, 2012 07:39 PM

Fate of neighborhood and HOA still unclear

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- ajames@newsobserver.com

CLAYTON -- Confusion and uncertainty are the common ground between the two sets of neighbors who’ve been divided into two very different groups in the Timberlake residence – one group will have to pay dues to a homeowner’s association and the other group has no obligation to join.

“We were all friends in here before this,” said Claudia Donolli, who lives in Phase II of the neighborhood, the area that won’t have to pay dues to the HOA.

After alerting residents about the HOA that will be formed in their neighborhood starting January 1, Kohn-Ell Management met with about 50 concerned residents in October and told them the original 32 homeowners in the neighborhood could opt out of the HOA. Homeowners who moved into the neighborhood after the first 32 homes were sold are required to be in the HOA. The management group has not sent any follow-up letter or information to the residents since the initial meeting.

“We’re waiting to find out what happened or maybe the whole issue was dropped,” said Suzanne Morris, one of the original 32 homeowners.

But Kristin Hoffman, of Kohn-Ell management, said the company is taking its time reviewing feedback from the residents that they received at the meeting because they want to make sure they’ve got all the facts right in order to avoid round two of what happened when they sent the first letter.

In October, surprised residents of the Timberlake subdivision in northeast Clayton received a letter that said a management company would be taking over the management of their neighborhood association. All of the residents were told they would soon have to start paying $200 annually to the HOA that would be formed when the developer relinquishes control of the property on December 31.

Though all residents received the letter, not all will be affected equally. At the meeting, residents were told that those who bought homes in the development’s first phase, could opt out of the HOA because their covenant did not include any information about an HOA. Homeowners who bought their house more recently are part of Phase II, and their covenant included language requiring membership in the HOA.

The neighborhood has been divided into two. Common areas, such as the pond, and the entrance sign, have been muddled in the divorce and now residents are confused over who is responsible for taking care of them.

Donolli said her husband and six other men have been taking care of the pond with money out of pocket for the past 7 years. Now, the attorney for the management company, Larry Kristoff, has warned residents in Phase I that if they are not a part of the HOA, then they could be personally sued if someone drowns in the pond. Some of those homeowners do want to pay to be in the HOA to avoid such liability. For Donolli, there’s no clear choice. She said hardly anyone goes down to the pond, but the risk of being sued is scary.

“It’s a hard call because we don’t want liability to the pond but we want to stay friends with our neighbors,” said Donolli. Regardless of the shared liability the HOA offers, Donolli said she and her husband have no interest in being in an HOA.

Hoffmann, of Kohn-Ell Management, said she expects to send letters to Timberlake residents by the end of November that will explain what will happen next in the neighborhood.

James: 919-553-7234

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