AP NEWS
Related topics

Dispute between HOA, residents ends

November 20, 2016 GMT

A months-long dispute between a homeowners association and residents of a local subdivision resulted in the dismissal of a lawsuit and a display of democracy as residents of the Lakeside subdivision met Friday evening to cast their ballots for a new homeowners association board of directors.

“This was a combination of events. Over half of the residents all had the same complaints but none of them came together as a group to actually fix the situation,” Nathan Clarys told Laredo Morning Times.

Through a social app, residents were able to begin discussing their concerns, Clarys said.

“We were able to collectively create a group that wanted to make a difference and we all worked together to make this process happen,” he said.

Over 40 residents attended a meeting held at the Lakeside park Friday evening to submit their ballots for nominees.

Of the 15 nominees for a position on the board of directors, none had any relation to the current board members, Louis P. LaVaude, attorney for the LS Community Association, told those in attendance.

About seven of the 15 nominees spoke at the meeting about the changes they would like to see made to the association, calling for transparency and accountability.

Clarys, Marc Gonzalez, Carlos A. Canales, Melissa Martinez and Ignacio “Tommy” Gutierrez were elected to the board of the Lakeside homeowners association late Friday evening.

Each director will serve a two-year term, according to a notice from the LS Community Association.

“The board of directors will now be selecting the officer positions,” Clarys said.

Selecting block captains to address issues of concerns in each neighborhood is a priority, Clarys told LMT.

The lawsuit

On Aug. 8, the LS Community Association filed a lawsuit against Melissa Martinez, Gilberto Soto and Nathan Clarys.

Martinez, Soto and Clarys comprised an elections committee formed in order to facilitate the nomination of a new board of directors for the association.

The lawsuit requested a temporary restraining order against the committee ordering it to “refrain and desist from taking actions not authorized by law or conducting meetings in violation of the bylaws of the association.”

On Aug. 9. Associate Judge Melissa Joy Garcia signed off on a temporary restraining order against the elections committee.

Actions taken by the committee would result in immediate and irreparable harm to the owners of the association who purchased their properties in reliance of the bylaws of the association, the restraining order states.

“Commencing at least in 2016, Lakeside Subdivision owners began to complain to the association that annual meetings for the election of a board of directors had not recently been held,” the lawsuit states.

Bylaws were drafted and signed by the initial board of directors, namely Sara Alicia L. Brittingham and Tomas Brittingham, on Nov. 17, 2004, according to court documents.

Eduardo Brittingham, who is named as a member of the initial board of directors, failed to sign off on the bylaws, court records state.

The Brittinghams were not present at Friday’s elections meeting and could not be reached for comment.

“According to the Texas Residential Property Owners Protection Act … an association is required to call an annual meeting. If an annual meeting is not called, an owner may demand that a meeting be called not later than 30 days from the date the board of the owner’s request for a hearing,” a notice from the elections committee states.

“(The) current board for LS Community Association have failed to call an annual meeting since 2005,” the notice states.

A demand for a meeting of the association was made in writing March of 2016 and sent by certified mail, according to the notice.

The association’s lawsuit claimed no demand was ever sent.

On Aug. 22, both parties reached an agreement during a hearing before 49th District Court Judge Joe Lopez, resulting in the election of a new board.

The lawsuit against the elections committee was dismissed Nov. 2, according to court records.

The elections

“I believe one of the biggest investments and sacrifices we make is in our neighborhoods,” Marc Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez ran for the board of directors because he wanted to bring transparency, he said Friday night.

Another concerned homeowner, Melissa Martinez, said no transparency was available with the current board.

No meetings were held and financials were not provided when requested, according to Martinez.

“We need to understand that we, as residents, have rights,” Martinez said.

Martinez called for the need of security, referencing two bodies found dumped in the Lakeside subdivision in August.

“I want to serve to bring change to our subdivision,” Martinez said.

Arturo Gonzalez Jr. and Carlos A. Canales each said they were running because the residents want accountability and they believed they could provide it.

Lakeside has a right to see exactly what was going into the association and what the residences were receiving in return, Gonzalez said.

“I wanted better and we can make it better,” Melissa Patiño, a nominee and 12-year resident of Lakeside, said.