Bonita Springs City Council takes actions on Raptor Bay

Good News — This week the Bonita Springs City Council took two positive actions on the Raptor Bay development issues.

The Council voted unanimously to authorize its special counsel to file a request for declaratory judgement questioning the validity of the annexation agreement between the City and the Raptor Bay property owner (WCI) on the basis of potential contract zoning.  Also, the City extended the deadline for WCI’s application for Zoning Board approval to build four (4) 20-story towers to March, 2017.

To clarify, there are two annexation issues regarding the Raptor Bay Golf Course and WCI’s plans to build towers there.  First, there is the legality of the 2014 agreement annexing a portion of Raptor Bay into the City.  Second there is the issue of WCI building four 20-story towers on this land and annexing it into Pelican Landing – overburdening our Beach Park, tennis courts, privacy infrastructure, etc. The second annexation issue as well as opposition to dead-hand control by WCI is the essence of RBC’s pending request for a declaratory judgement.  Our PLCA annexation issue is different than and separate from the City of Bonita Springs annexation issue.

Earlier this year the City of Bonita Springs hired a special land use attorney to review the Raptor Bay annexation agreement between the City and WCI and other associated issues.  RBC has consistently argued that the annexation agreement requiring the city to make zoning changes to allow towers at Raptor Bay constitutes “contract zoning” which is illegal.  In fact, it was Ralf Brooks (RBC’s land-use attorney) who made this point and other critical points during the February 3rd, 2016 City Council meeting.  As a result, the City refused to amend the Comprehensive Plan to allow those towers and later hired independent council – otherwise those towers would be moving forward today.

As our Bonita Springs Councilwoman, Amy Quaremba, says –  “Court results are uncertain but there is room for optimism at this time.  What is certainly likely is that the time frame for hearing the current application [to build 4 20-story towers] will be delayed beyond the early Fall projection.”

RBC applauds these decisions by the City Council and is gratified that the matter will proceed to the courts for review and a final decision.

RBC’s pending suit continues to oppose WCI’s claimed arbitrary annexation and dead-hand control powers.  WCI’s recent filing to add 254 acres to Pelican Landing’s Exhibit A (Step 1 of Annexation) must be stopped.

Raptor Bay Hearing Coming Up AGAIN!

FACT OF THE DAY

Raptor Bay Hearing Coming Up AGAIN!

FACT:   This week, WCI made a formal request that the Bonita Springs government schedule another hearing for WCI’s application to build 4 hi-rise towers in Raptor Bay. Internal comments are due 9/14/16.  That could mean another public hearing as early as October.

RBC is challenging WCI’s claim that it can annex/add this property, and any other properties, into PLCA up to the end of 2020. WCI only has annexation powers if we as a community fail to stand up and challenge this claim in the only place where a ruling can stop them.  That is in the Florida court of law.

Ask candidates for the upcoming Board of Directors election what their position is on this important issue.

school-bus-at-raptor-bay-hearing

RBC AMENDS ITS COMPLAINT AGAINST WCI

Yesterday, August 22, 2016, RBC filed an Amended Complaint to its case against WCI.  We hope you will read this complaint so that you may better understand our actions (see the link to the Complaint at the end)).

At our hearing last month before Judge Rosman, WCI’s lawyers argued strenuously that the Pelican Landing Community Association (PLCA) must be made a party to this lawsuit. RBC’s original complaint specifically left out the Community Association because all of our claims are against WCI.  We contend that WCI can no longer: (1) annex/add more properties into Pelican Landing, (2) continue developer dead-hand control of our documents after turnover and (3) that turnover was actually reached before the end of 2009.  As a procedural matter, Judge Rosman “dismissed” our initial complaint without prejudice and gave us 20 days to amend it.

Because of WCI’s insistence that PLCA be joined in this action, PLCA is now named in the complaint as a nominal party. To clarify rumors, please understand that the only party RBC is seeking any remedy or cause of action against is WCI.   The PLCA board of directors can choose to participate to defend your rights – as we hope they do — or the PLCA Board can sit on the sidelines and have their attorney simply review the court filings as they are received. (see complaint paragraphs 7-8)

We are suing WCI because we believe their right to annex/add properties to PLCA expired years ago.  However, if anyone has doubts as to WCI’s intentions, note WCI’s turnover filing where they claim they can amend our documents in the future to annex more properties into PLCA and add two extra seats to the board for that expansion (find a link to WCI 7/22/16 Bylaws Amendment page 10 and PLCA Turnover Communication #20 at the end).   And they also have stated that the trademark of Pelican Landing is to be leased to us, not turned over immediately upon turnover. And, of course, most residents are aware of WCI’s pending application before the Bonita Springs City Council to build 4 hi-rise towers in Raptor Bay. That application states the new development would have full beach rights, overloading our private beach and our other amenities. WCI has also claimed they can annex/add Raptor Bay into PLCA. (see complaint paragraphs 37-38, 50-56)

We are suing to stop dead hand control – WCI contends it can control our documents until 2020 and veto any changes our new board might make. We contend that per our documents, dead-hand control ceased when WCI reached the 85% build-out of PLCA. (see complaint paragraphs 19-21, 32, 37-38)

We are suing WCI to clarify that the turnover percentage of 85% of properties in Exhibit A — which is needed for us homeowners to take control of Pelican Landing — happened before the end of 2009. Because turnover occurred before Cielo, Terzetto, and Altaira were built, WCI is responsible for the assessments/reserves for these units and perhaps more. (see complaint paragraphs 16-18, 29, 44-45)

As to any claim that adding PLCA as a nominal party in the lawsuit will cost us PLCA homeowners lots of money in legal fees, that is false. There was even a rumor of a possible special assessment for legal fees. But since no allegations of any kind are made against PLCA, there are no claims to defend and the board need not participate.

Recent legal opinions sent to residents by the PLCA Board of Directors fail to address the fact that the document that is controlling the determination of the 85% Turnover Trigger, Dead-Hand Control and Annexation is Exhibit A to the Declaration, not the DRI.  The opinions also fail to recognize that the 75th Amendment (the 2001 Settlement Agreement) was made three years after a Florida law was passed that forbade dead-hand control provisions in any HOA documents.

We hope this helps clarify many of the misconceptions and the inevitable variations of rumors that have spread.

Please click here to read the entirety of RBC’s Amended Complaint filed 8/22/2016.

Exhibits to the Amended Complaint: Exhibit AExhibit B-1, Exhibit B-2 , Exhibit B-3Exhibit CExhibit DExhibit EExhibit FExhibit GExhibit H

Please click here to read WCI’s 7/22/16 Amendment to our Bylaws

Please click here to read the PLCA Turnover Communication #20.

We thank the hundreds of you who have joined with us to protect our community and make sure the laws of Florida are followed.

Barbara Craig, Bruce Fennie, Bob Loos

RBC Officers and Pelican Landing Residents

Recap of Raptor Bay Informational Meeting and link to view presentation

The following is a short report on the recent public meeting that WCI was required by law to hold to inform Bonita and Estero residents of their proposal to build four  22 story towers in Raptor Bay. Hundreds of concerned local residents from multiple communities packed the house. (newsclips previously provided see posts below). Please note we await receipt of WCI’s summary of the meeting.

Suffice it to say, despite the meeting title, very little information was provided in the surprisingly brief slide presentation.  The maps presented were on a distant screen and even when attendees asked specific questions, the WCI representative from Grady Minor Engineering did not expand the map nor did he provide clear responses.  Text documents projected on the screen were unreadable.  The goal seemed not to inform, but to obfuscate.  No printed information or copies of the maps and diagrams projected were provided to the attendees.

As requested by attendees unable to view from afar – WCI’s engineering firm provided the presentation click here: 6 27 2016 Public Information Meeting for Pelican Landing PD

When the question period arrived, not one person spoke in favor of the proposed plan. Pelican Landing and surrounding communities were very well represented at the meeting.  West Bay’s Owners Association President spoke in opposition to the plan, as did concerned homeowners from Meadowbrook, Coconut Shores, Eldorado Acres, and Spring Creek Village.  Everyone that stood up and spoke should be commended. This was an opportunity to stand up and be counted.

About fourteen questioners asked whether or not Raptor Bay, and its subsequent towers will be annexed/added into Pelican Landing, and/or if WCI planned to include the Pelican Landing Beach Park and our other amenities in the marketing materials for the sale of the proposed towers. Each and every time the question was asked regarding Amenities and Annexation — the answer was inexact or Wayne Arnold of Grady Minor Engineering said they “had not gotten that far in their planning and design”.  At no time did any executive or employee from WCI speak during the presentation or respond to any of the questions posed.

While PLCA President, Clyde Knowles, and Vice President, Shirley Withrington. were both present neither Clyde or Shirley spoke in favor of or in opposition to the Raptor Bay application.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Continue reading

RAPTOR BAY REZONING & TOWER THREAT IS BACK: YOU ARE NEEDED!

Raptor Bay Public Information Meeting
Monday, June 27, 2016 at 5:30 p.m.
at the Living Waters Church, 22100 S. Tamiami Trail, Estero, FL 33928

 WCI is back once again with a revised application to build four 20-story towers over 2 stories of parking (200+ feet tall) etc.  WCI is now trying to accomplish this under the Lee County Plan after their application was rejected using the regulations of Bonita Springs earlier this year. This is a dramatic deviation from the current zoning limit of 75 feet for maximum height.

There will be no need to provide expert testimony at this “informational” meeting, however you may wish to listen and say nothing … or listen and indicate your objection to the nature of this development.

Continue reading

Resident Craig response to Board President Knowles allegations

In response to allegations PLCA President Clyde Knowles made during the June 15, 2016 PLCA Board Meeting, with her permission, Professor Craig allowed the blog to publish her June 17, 2016 communication  (including a list of her impressive credentials) as follows:

 

Mr. Knowles,

I write to you to say that I was quite surprised by both the content and angry and intemperate delivery of your remarks about me.  The fact that your claims were not accurate is of course troubling.  I was not present for this attack, as I was at the Bonita City Council meeting held at the same time to represent an RBC concern about an agenda item, or I would have made these comments to you directly at the Board meeting.

In an article on line in one of today’s papers there was a statement that is apropos in our community as well:  “Political discussion can be civil or rowdy, gracious or mean.  But to have any meaning it has to be grounded in fact.”  I strive to be civil and gracious, and I always ground my position in fact, in so far as it is knowable; careful and thorough analysis; and reasoned argument.  And I try to stick to the issue not the messenger.  But in this case, the messenger has made untruthful allegations and done so in a quite personal and public manner,  thus I respond to the allegations and the method of delivering same.

Continue reading

RBC Responds to WCI Turnover Proposal to PLCA

To: The Board of Directors of the Pelican Landing Community Association, Inc.

Re: The PLCA Board’s May 12, 2016 Turnover Communication #19 supporting WCI’s turnover mandate

From: RESIDENTS FOR A BETTER COMMUNITY

The following correspondence, as sent to all Board members, was presented  by RBC spokesperson Dr. Craig at the PLCA BOARD MEETING, MAY, 18, 2016

As a Director of the Pelican Landing resident organization, Residents for a Better Community (RBC), I am responding to Turnover Communication #19 which the PLCA Board sent to all residents on May 12, 2016. In this Communication, the Board presented and supported the newest WCI-mandated post-turnover board design. Residents were informed by this Communication, sent after the vast majority of residents had already left for the summer, that WCI has filed official notice in the public record that it is proceeding with its so-called “voluntary” turnover and scheduling elections for this post-turnover Board for October 11, 2016 well before most residents will have returned south. Such “timing” does not pass even the most basic olfactory test of fairness.

The Board design that WCI is mandating, and that the PLCA Board has endorsed, does not meet the requirements of Chapter III, Section 3.3 (b) of the PLCA Declaration which requires that the post turnover Board be based on neighborhood voting groups unless 100% of the Voting Representatives agree to an alternative design.

More importantly, the provisions in the WCI proposal purporting to allow WCI to increase the Board size post-turnover and claiming that WCI has a “right to annex” property into PLCA violate Florida State Law (720.3075) and violate clear prohibitions of the 2001 Settlement Agreement (recorded as Amendment 75 to the Declaration) which state that Declarant may not make changes that would “materially adversely affect the rights granted” in the Settlement Agreement.

RBC wishes to put the PLCA Board on notice that it is now amending its legal case (RBC v. WCI) to include a challenge to WCI’s mandated turnover Board design and claimed rights to exercise “dead hand control” post turnover.

We wish to also assure PLCA owners that, with their continued support, RBC will press on in court. Failure to do so, would allow WCI to ignore its own documents and to violate state law intended to put restraints on developers post-turnover.

Abdication of this fight would be detrimental to the property rights of us all as promised to us when we purchased here. A promise memorialized in our documents: most especially in the Declaration and in the agreements set forth in that 2001 Settlement Agreement. In reality, virtually all conditions of legal turnover happened in 2001. That is all conditions but for one–WCI’s ability to continue to exercise dead hand control. Then, as now, this was contrary to existing Florida Law, harmful to PLCA owners and gave WCI over a decade and a half to exercise control without responsibility and in contravention of State Law. We cannot allow another “turnover” to be accomplished without insisting that the law and documents be followed!

The role of the PLCA Board is to represent the interests of the property owners of the Association. It is hard for me, and many others, to fathom how the Board imagines it is performing this fiduciary duty by publicly supporting WCI’s claim that it has unilateral annexation and amendment powers post turnover in light of the clarity of state law and the protections provided to PLCA owners in the 2001 Settlement Agreement. At least 3 of the members of this current Board have publicly stated, in my hearing, that they oppose annexation. None of you can hold onto that claim in light of Turnover Communication #19 that you sent to the community.

I would suggest that a far more useful strategy for this Board would have been to vote to support the RBC in its legal action to fight annexation rather than embrace what you profess to oppose. RBC would welcome your support in the future if, on further consideration, you truly do oppose annexation and dead hand control. To that end, I would suggest that the Board would be wise to seek a second independent legal opinion with regard to WCI’s latest efforts to continue its “dead hand’ control of Pelican Landing- a clear violation of Florida Law–much as the Bonita Springs Council is doing in regards to the Raptor Bay Towers issue.

Cordially yours,

Barbara Hinskon Craig, Director RBC
Robert Loos, President RBC
Bruce Finnie, V.P. RBC