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Response to Bayard (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 4, 2019, 02:58 PM

3. I know about the fight you're talking about because a lot has been written

about cattle ranchers who have a manifest destiny idea about property. That is definitely a huge problem, and I think the laws should have already been on your side to make it easier to protect your property.

On a smaller scale, I experienced something similar that involved property rights. Something that should never have happened if the laws were meant to protect a homesteader. It was something that revealed the true nature of Central Florida. Except, no one wants to talk about it, so new people continue to walk in without understanding what they're being subjected to. I will make an effort to explain it, because it sounds like you have been through a harrowing experience and can understand it on a personal level.

The problem with my neighbors disrespecting property lines has a history that goes back to the nineties. At least, that's my opinion. It's not just the activity of one bad neighbor. It's a collective mindset of a group that has or had back channel access to the political powers during that decade. It was a crazy time and everything came off the rails, which is what you would expect in a Republican leaning community that had very little respect for government regulation. In their favor, it didn't seem like local government had much respect for government regulation either. By the time they found a purpose for it, it was too late. This story is about what happens when the private sector takes the reigns of our local government. Spoiler: the rest of us end up with the worst of both.

We purchased our home in 1994. The neighbor next door, who was the president of our Association during this footloose era, had already put up a rail fence twenty feet into the golfcourse property. "To keep the golfers off his property," he claimed. They were nice neighbors for the first two years, and then an insanity set into this community that began in 1996.

During that time, one of our neighbors was part of a resistance group that was playing an active role in the fight against the then owner of the golfcourse and Country Club. This resistance group was opposed to the owner's plans to build two properties on the golfcourse. The plans were for single family, upscale homes, which was a huge improvement over the high density vested rights that he had when he first purchased the property. The Country Club owner received approval to build single family homes based on compromises he obtained through prior lawsuits. In other words, Zoning by Litigation.

He also wanted to finish the last phase of the community I live in. This would have been a third property that he wanted to work on at the same time, though he didn't own the property.

You have to pay attention to all the moving parts, and back in the 1996-1998 time frame, there were two major moving pieces to pay attention to. The first: the development of the two properties near the country club had heavy opposition, mostly by its members. It became a hostile situation and strategies ranged from efforts to buy his property, to taking over City Hall through the election process. That's my interpretation of what I witnessed or read from researching public records of that time.

And, we will start by saying that it appears that they intended to use the power of the city to stall or interfere with the developer's right to develop his property. This is what I concluded based on my reading of ample briefs that were part of the developers' latest lawsuit against the City. The evidence of foulplay would have been confirmed if the developer exercised his right to modify the lawsuit and proceed with a jury trial. If he had followed that process, he would have deposed the City Attorney, and it would have been all she wrote.

We need to see the chronology of the lawsuits to see how that would have transpired: I think it was July 1998 when the Federal Court ruled on the developer's lawsuit against the City. The decision would weaken the city's hand because the judge ruled that the city had provided assurances to the developer, therefore it ruled in favor of the developer based on estoppel. Therefore, the developer had his vested right to develop the two properties along the golfcourse in what they called, developable property.

If the developer had followed the next legal option to him, and modified his lawsuit and obtain his jury trial, he would have had the opportunity to also prove another claim he made in his lawsuit. Business Interference. Maybe even conspiracy, but I haven't read the lawsuit in several years, so I am not sure about that last part. But Business Interference I do remember because I can see how that would have related to the development of the final phase of our development.

To prove business interference, and possibly conspiracy, all the developer would have to do was depose the City Attorney, because in October 1998, four months after the judge had made the estoppel ruling, the City Attorney had a strategic talk with the City's trial attorneys. This they did to determine the monetary offer they were going to make to the developer. And in that talk the City Attorney provided details that would have confirmed what we may know today, loosely, as conspiracy.

But, the developer never took that option, because, in December 1998, he settled out of court with the City for two million dollars.

The second moving piece in 1997, (at exactly the same time that the backwater boys and gals were launching their tactical assault to stop those two developments), involved the final phase of our development. The country club developer could prove he had a business relationship with the representative of the private owner of final phase of our development because both the developer and representative showed up in 1995 when the conceptual plans were approved by the Planning and Zoning board. But that property became in jeopardy when the resistance group managed to stall the development of the other two properties. The stall occurred when questions were raised in November 1997 that required a legal opinion. This requirement created a lull, a stall. And it was in this time period that a new, competing developer showed up to develop the final phase of our property.

I went to every "public" City meeting that involved our community and the way things were handled will point to a rush job. I could write chapters on what I saw that smelled, but in short, the development for the new developer was rushed through city hall. Probably the biggest smoking gun of malfeasance was a ground breaking photo taken with two high level City elected officials that took place two and a half months before the first public meeting was held in City Hall.

In addition, we were held back by the member in our community that was part of the resistance group. He asserted and reinforced the idea that our Association was not turned over to us yet, so we believed we had no rights, except for what was negotiated privately.

It was all a lie. Not only was the Association turned over ten years prior, but the legal papers was signed by the guy who was involved with the resistance group.

Like following a plume to a chemical spill, this guy's name kept coming up. One of the few people that befriended me told me that this fellow was the one that made the pitch to buy the Country Clup. I realize this is hearsay, but I can affirm that Resistance Guy told me that "we made an offer for the Country Club, but the offer was rejected." He just never confirmed that he was the one that did the sales pitch, so of that, I cannot be sure.

But I think about it a lot. Can you imagine how much money he would have pulled in as commission? It would probably require a need for a financial consultant. With his political connections, he would also have the power to draw up small sections of the golfcourse, and it makes me wonder when I see people stolid to this day about taking over common grounds or golfcourse property, if someone made promises to them, that were impossible to keep.

All I can say is, back in 1997-1998, some of my neighbors behaved in very strange ways with reference to that new developer. They bent over backwards to facilitate construction and were also very nasty about keeping the rest of us at bay. Even to the point of making rules to keep the rest of us from talking to him. It was an eerie time. Think about it. We had a group of neighbors that worked together to try to get our common grounds deeded over to them, which should sound strange, unprecedented and unheard of, but they acted like it was no big deal and they were hostile to the rest of us who wanted to slow down the process long enough to understand what was going on.

In sum, I believe when the federal court allowed the city and developer to settle the lawsuit that it also stopped the rest of us from discovering just how much our neighbors worked together to compromise our community. And, without a clear line drawn, a lot of what we see today when it comes to encroachments, started back in that time. That's what I sincerely believe.

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Baitball Blogger Jan 2019 OP
spooky3 Jan 2019 #1
Baitball Blogger Jan 2019 #6
spooky3 Jan 2019 #7
Bayard Jan 2019 #2
LineLineNew Reply I know about the fight you're talking about because a lot has been written
Baitball Blogger Jan 2019 #3
Bayard Jan 2019 #4
Baitball Blogger Jan 2019 #8
IcyPeas Jan 2019 #5
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