Heritage Harbour settles lawsuit

 

Heritage Harbour settles lawsuit

 

Date: March 27, 2013
by: Observer Staff

 
 

 

 

EAST COUNTY— Joyce Sandy likes to say the job right now for the Heritage Harbour South Community Development District isn’t about relationships — it’s about survival.

The Heritage Harbour South Community Development District last week reached a settlement agreement with the Lighthouse Cove Homeowners Association and resident Joe Ramsey, ending a lengthy legal dispute concerning costs associated with the CDD’s stormwater management system.

In a settlement agreement, Sandy, the CDD’s chairwoman, signed March 21, the Heritage Harbour South CDD will pay $10,000 to Lighthouse Cove.

Additionally, the agreement states a representative of Lighthouse Cove and other homeowner associations within the CDD’s boundaries will be given a “regular agenda opportunity” to speak at CDD meetings,
The settlement was discussed at a March 21 special meeting, when the board agreed to its terms with a 4-1 vote.

Supervisor Richard Lane dissented.

Two cases — one stemming from changes to stormwater assessments in 2011 and the other from continued changes in 2012 — had been consolidated into one case.

Stoneybrook Investors, the entity that owns the Stoneybrook Golf Club, and Lighthouse Cove challenged the new stormwater-assessment methodology in late 2011.

Lighthouse Cove alleged the assessment was not properly apportioned, among other concerns.

Sandy said she is happy the Lighthouse Cove case is a “done deal.”

She hopes to settle the Stoneybrook case by Sept. 30.

“I’m just thankful to say this has been achieved,” Sandy said. “Thank goodness.”

CDD special council John Harllee said the agreement was a “negotiated settlement” but declined further comment.

Heritage Harbour South’s regular attorney Kenza van Assenderp assured the board they “did nothing wrong,” after he gave them the go-ahead to sign off on the agreement.

“This settlement is not about the merits of the case,” van Assenderp said. “This was about the money.”

Concerned about rising costs, Sandy expressed a wariness to go to trial.

“These trials are so costly,” Sandy said. “Winning the battle is sometimes not worth the war.”

Lighthouse Cove attorney Kevin Hennessy could not be reached for comment by press time.

Contact Josh Siegel at jsiegel@yourobserver.com.


+ Board attorney assigned final task
Heritage Harbour South supervisors voted 4-1 to hire a new legal council, effective immediately, and to only use longtime attorney Kenza van Assenderp on an as-needed basis to deal with a lawsuit with Stoneybrook Investors.

Supervisor Joseph Jaudon dissented.

Board Chairwoman Joyce Sandy cited the need to cut costs as a reason to move forward without van Assenderp.

Currently, the board employs Bradenton-based attorney John Harllee as its litigation council.

Supervisor Lee Bettes, former chairman, questioned the timing of the move but ultimately voted in favor of the change.

+ Rizzetta & Co. selected as new district manager
Heritage Harbour South CDD’s new district manager is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S Army, whose 20-year military career focused on aviation logistics, highway transportation and seaport operations.

He also helped plan Super Bowl XLIII as director of operations for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee.

Though the board didn’t formally meet Greg Cox, of Rizzetta & Co., at the March 21 meeting, a smooth presentation from the company’s vice president and Supervisor Joseph Jaudon’s glowing recommendation was enough.

Cox was on vacation celebrating his anniversary with his wife.

The CDD’s longtime manager, Jim Ward, resigned abruptly Feb. 7, giving the board 60 days’ notice to find a replacement.


Rizzetta beat out Severn Trent, a firm the board said seemed less organized during its presentation.

The Tampa-based Rizzetta & Co. serves more than 100 CDDs across the state, including Waterlefe, GreyHawk Landing and Tara in the East County.

Pete Williams, the company’s vice president, opened his presentation by saying, “We will take everything off your plate so you can do what you’re supposed to do, which is to be a public official.”

Cox works as district manager for eight other districts.

Williams said Cox and another Rizzetta field personnel would walk the Heritage Harbour community once a month, monitoring contractors.

Williams said contractors the district uses will be held accountable for their work.

“We will put contractors’ feet to the fire,” Williams said.

In its proposed offer, Rizzetta said field services, such as wetland maintenance, would be a separate $7,500 fee.

Rizzetta also would help install a website for the board by hiring an IT contractor.

The board hoped to have the field-services expense included in the company’s general fee.

The board assigned attorney Kenza van Assenderp to review the contract with Rizzetta as his last assignment. The contract is expected to be signed by April 4.

 

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