Longboat Key Towers has left the Islandside Property Owners Coalition (IPOC) limited-liability corporation. It is the second group member to leave the organization in the last three months.
Longboat Key Towers Secretary Joe Zilewicz confirmed for The Longboat Observer that his board decided to sever ties with the organization at a Sept. 20 board meeting.
“Different people had different views about what it meant to be part of the organization,” Zilewicz said.
“The matter came up for a vote last month, and the chairman sent a letter to IPOC announcing the decision.”
The move leaves IPOC, which is opposing the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project with two legal challenges and a code amendment challenge, with four managing members.
In July, The Pierre dropped out of IPOC, just before the group filed a second legal challenge to the Islandside project.
Pierre Association Inc. attorney Jeremy Anderson told The Longboat Observer in August that a newly installed board of directors decided it no longer wanted to be involved with IPOC.
“They decided they are not taking a position either way on whether the Islandside project should have been approved or not,” Anderson said in August. “Their current position is individual owners can participate with IPOC financially if they want.”
Longboat Towers’ board members declined to comment further on why they made their decision.
But the decisions made by both boards most likely stem from liability concerns.
Sarasota attorney Steven Thompson, who was hired by Lighthouse Point resident John Saputo in April 2009 to question his homeowner association’s involvement as a managing member of IPOC, said board members from both The Pierre and Longboat Key Towers expressed their concerns to him after reading an article in The Longboat Observer that expressed Thompson’s liability concerns.
“Board members have a fiduciary responsibility, or very high standard to their owners,” Thompson said in July. “That duty is to be responsible for the maintenance and repair of condos and common elements and not to use owner monies to fund lawsuits.”
If IPOC were to lose the legal challenges it has filed in Sarasota County that challenge the Islandside project, Thompson believes monetary judgments could be placed against the associations involved.
IPOC President Bob White, however, continues to maintain that no liability issues exist with his limited-liability corporation, which was formed in October 2009.
“I’m not quite sure what’s stimulating this,” White said.
White told The Longboat Observer he received a letter from the Longboat Key Towers board dated Sept. 20 that expressed its concerns and denied it was an IPOC member. But White says the letter does not officially request White to remove Longboat Key Towers as a member.
“I indicated in a follow-up response dated Sept. 27 that we have agreements establishing the LLC and signed documentation from the Towers as a member,” White said. “I also said the documents allow them to withdraw anytime.”
White said that IPOC is funded through voluntary contributions and IPOC attorney Michael Furen has given IPOC his opinion that shows there are no grounds for any legal liability.
White said there would only be liability concerns if IPOC filed a frivolous lawsuit.
IPOC, which filed a declatory judgment July 30 seeking a de novo, or new, hearing in court to challenge the Islanside project’s consistency with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, has also filed a writ of certiorari, which challenges the ordinance the Town Commission adopted to approve the project.
Both challenges could take up to two years to be completed after all appeals are exhausted.
IPOC’s remaining four managing members include L’Ambiance, The Sanctuary, Lighthouse Point and Beaches of Longboat Key South.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].