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East County Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 4 years ago

Stoneybrook residents ready to take control

by: Josh Siegel Staff Writer

EAST COUNTY — More than a month after Lennar Homes announced it will turn over the Stoneybrook homeowners association to residents, a lawyer and a prominent property manger assured that such a transition should be easy and controversy-free.

Hundreds of homeowners came to the Stoneybrook clubhouse Oct. 28, to listen to Stephen Thompson, a Bradenton attorney, and Chris Brown, of C&S Management, explain how the turnover, set to occur Jan. 2, will work.

Lennar, the developer of Heritage Harbour and the communities within it, including Stoneybrook, has been in control of Stoneybrook’s homeowners association for more than a decade.

Lennar’s Tony Burdett, who has represented Lennar on the board, cited a push from a group of residents, as the impetus for its decision to hand over the association now.

Lennar wants to turn over the community’s assets, including its recreation center and pool, through a quitclaim deed, which is weaker than a warranty deed, which guarantees rights under a transfer.

Lennar has agreed to hire an audit firm to clarify resident concerns, although state law does not require it.

“Every turnover has issues and concerns, but you are starting from a clean slate,” Thompson said. “ The developer has prepared and done everything to this point and now it’s yours. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”

At the time of turnover, Lennar will resign from the board; an election will determine a new resident-controlled board.

Lennar must turn over all assets and pay its outstanding bills by that date.

A 2012 lawsuit has been the main point reason turnover has not yet occurred.

In early 2008, Lennar had planned to add the site known as Moore’s Dairy to Heritage Harbour, extending Stoneybrook east to Upper Manatee River Road. But, in May 2011, the bank foreclosed on the property before reselling it to a company managed by developer Carlos Beruff, of Medallion Home, for $4.7 million.

Beruff outbid Lennar for it.

Beruff’s company sued Stoneybrook’s HOA and others, including the Heritage Harbour Master Association, Lennar Homes and Manatee County, seeking re-foreclosure because the original document did not name Stoneybrook and the master association.

Lennar has considered the still-undeveloped property as part of Stoneybrook and, because of that, it contends the community is not 90% developed.

Under state law, homeowners associations must give control to residents three months after 90% of the community has been developed.

The issue has divided the community, but residents recognize they must work together.

“It’s not ‘you guys’ and ‘these guys,’ it’s ‘us,’” resident Rob Bloom said. “We are not going to be perfect. We are just people in a community.”

Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].


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