Unit owner proposes new lawsuit


Unit owner proposes new lawsuit


Date: February 19, 2014
by: Kurt Schultheis | Managing Editor


A unit owner is threatening to add another lawsuit to the legal mess that surrounds the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.

Colony Beach & Tennis Resort unit owners Sheldon and Carol Rabin, owners of two shuttered beachfront condos, are considering filing an injunction in Sarasota Circuit Court against the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association, citing its failure to maintain the existing buildings on the property.

The injunction will request the association undertake its maintenance and repair responsibilities and seeks damages from the association board for what it claims is the board’s breach of fiduciary duty.

In a memo to unit owners dated Feb. 14 titled “Preserving Our Valuable Investments,” Sheldon Rabin noted he has retained attorney Alan Tannenbaum, of Sarasota-based Tannenbaum Hanewich, to prepare the injunction.

Tannenbaum has already secured permission from the Middle District of Florida’s Bankruptcy Court to pursue an injunction. Tannenbaum also sent the association a request for records and a list of eight questions regarding maintenance and repair of Colony units in a Jan. 9 certified letter.

It’s Rabin’s hope that the lawsuit could lead to a settlement that “should require the association and board to meet its fiduciary responsibility to all of the owners to repair and maintain all of the Colony units and common elements.”

Rabin said his most pressing concern for the lawsuit is the beachfront condos.

Rabin, a former board member who was not re-elected to the board in May, calls the beachfront units in his memo “by far the most valuable units of the complex.”

The town has scheduled a hearing 9 a.m. March 4 at Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Road, to review each building and decide whether the process for tearing down each building has merit.

Rabin told unit owners in his memo he’s worried about the upcoming hearing.

“Currently, the town of Longboat Key is now threatening to condemn the buildings and related improvements which will cause the property to lose its density,” Rabin said. “Of special concern to the beachfront units is that under existing regulations, our buildings are not likely to be able to be rebuilt once condemned.”

That’s because those units are closer to the Gulf than currently allowed under federal regulations.
Rabin wrote that “none of us are litigious, but we do believe the board needs a wakeup call to protect our very special and unique investment.”

Before the lawsuit is filed though, Rabin is seeking more unit owners to join him and his wife as plaintiffs.

“We have yet to get a coherent explanation of under what authority our association and its board can get away with neglecting its maintenance and repair responsibilities and not informing the various developers they have been talking with over the past few years that our beach units are unique and it is to everyone’s advantage to maintain them,” Rabin wrote in his memo. “It is Tannenbaum’s opinion that it is more likely that a circuit judge will give credence to our case if more than just my wife and I appear as plaintiffs.”

Rabin is forming a nonprofit corporation called Concerned Owners of The Colony, Inc. to act as the corporation to collect funds for the lawsuit.

“My wife and I have personally paid $650.00 to incorporate this entity,” Rabin wrote. “We ask that you do the same.”

Association President Jay Yablon called the threatened lawsuit “an intramural association issue” when asked to comment.

Yablon only stated that “Mr. Rabin and his legal counsel are well aware of the association’s position” when asked to elaborate.

As of press time, the lawsuit had not been filed.

Other Colony legal issues, meanwhile, are percolating this week and next week.

Five association board members are meeting privately with Town Manager Dave Bullock and Mayor Jim Brown Wednesday at Town Hall before the Town Commission holds an attorney-client special meeting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss a petition for a writ of certiorari the association filed Jan. 10.

That petition asks a 12th Judicial Circuit judge to quash a portion of a town resolution that mandates the association increase a bond the town can use to maintain the dilapidated Colony property in case of an emergency from $50,000 to $250,000.

And, on Feb. 25, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May is expected to rule on a proposed settlement and confirmation plan among several Colony parties in his Tampa courtroom.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at kschultheis@yourobserver.com






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