HERITAGE HARBOUR — The public outcry against increased Community Development District assessments in Heritage Harbour for Fiscal Year 2012 has turned into a legal dispute.
Both the Lighthouse Cove Condominium Association and Stoneybrook Investors LLC officially have served the Heritage Harbour South Community Development District lawsuits challenging assessments for the district’s storm water management system.
The lawsuit, filed by Lighthouse Cove and property owner Joe Ramsey, alleges the CDD has “improperly levied an invalid non-ad valorem assessment on the plaintiff’s properties” at an amount of $147.70 per lot.
Stoneybrook Investors, owner of the Stoneybrook Golf Club, alleges it is being assessed illegally for stormwater management and the CDD, instead, owes it more than $3.8 million from benefits derived over the last eight years, plus $40,000 monthly going forward.
CDD supervisors prepared for the challenge Jan. 10, voting to hire local attorney John Harllee, of Harllee & Bald, P.A., as special council to the district.
“I think he’s the best in the area,” said CDD attorney Kenza vanAssenderp, who is based out of Tallahassee. “He’s very highly respected and as honest as the day is long.
“This district board has done nothing wrong,” he said. “I’m going to fight these two (lawsuits) as hard as I can.”
In response to the Lighthouse Cove case, which was served Dec. 13, vanAssenderp has filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss all three counts listed in the lawsuit on the basis that Lighthouse Cove failed to state a cause of action.
In the Stoneybrook Investors case, for which an amended complaint was filed Dec. 30, a response from the district is due to the court by Jan. 25. VanAssenderp said he still is assessing how best to respond to the lawsuit and declined further comment on the case.
VanAssenderp said he did not know how much time attorneys would need to prepare their defense, but the lawsuits, overall, will be costly to the district. He said he and Harllee would not duplicate work, wherever possible, to keep costs as minimal as possible.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
In other business:
• Representatives from Banks Engineering and Morris-Riley Development, firms hired by the district for engineering, management and other services, did not attend the meeting, because they were not needed for any specific agenda items.
• In response to a residents’ concerns about aesthetics of the wetland at Stone Harbour Loop and Stone Harbour Loop, supervisors said plants will be added to the wetland in March or April, improving the look of the wetland.
• Lighthouse Cove resident Joe Ramsey offered to put out signs at Lighthouse Cove to notify residents of upcoming Heritage Harbour South CDD meetings.
• Supervisors approved the audited financial statements for the district for Fiscal Year 2011. A representative of Grau & Associates was on hand, by phone, to answer questions. The auditor gave the CDD a “clean” audit.