The Peculiar Board of Aldermen gathered for their regular Monday night work session meeting on Monday, November 4, at City Hall in Peculiar. The Council Chambers were full of residents, as a polarizing topic concerning a Home Owners’ Association (HOA) at the Twin Oaks subdivision was on the agenda.
The friction is largely centered around drainage basins in the subdivision that must be maintained to meet City Code requirements. In 2000 when the first phase of the housing development was initiated, the owner, a representative of Ray-Pec Land, LLC., met with the City of Peculiar and certain covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CCRs) were established. At that time, the CCRs were agreed to be enforced through an HOA.
Interestingly, a Twin Oaks HOA has functionally existed without the public’s knowledge. However, as City Code issues such as the maintenance of drainage basins have come up, the City has stepped in and corrected the issue at the taxpayer’s expense. Now Peculiar has made known that a real HOA must be formed so that the City is not taking care of a problem that was originally agreed to be an HOA matter.
Jennifer Bedford was the first resident to speak about the Twin Oaks issue.
“We feel that as a neighborhood we can come together in accomplish this,” Bedford said, claiming that the City does not need to get involved.
Brain Blessing, also a resident of Twin Oaks, said, “I feel like it’s an overreach of government.”
“Leave us alone,” he continued.
In defense of the City’s approach, Mayor Ernie Jungmeyer said, “We want the people who are supposed to be doing it to do it instead of the City bearing the expense.”
The Mayor stated that an HOA was promised when the subdivision was built and that it needs to be implemented now.
James Green was another resident who spoke in favor the neighborhood organizing their own solution.
“I feel like [the HOA] has been slammed down our throat,” he said.
“Let us deal with it at first and if we can’t deal with it and get it done, then come in and give us a helping hand.”
“We don’t like this. We don’t like it — period,” said Alderman Homer Dunsworth.
“It hasn’t been resolved by you guys,” he continued, explaining the reason why the City had to be involved.
Green said that his paperwork clearly states that there is no Home Owners’ Association for Twin Oaks; however, Green did not bring the paperwork to show the Aldermen.
“I will do whatever the majority of you wants to do,” said Alderman Bob Fines to resident Green.
Richard Robertson spoke to the Aldermen also, saying too that the paperwork for his home clearly stated that there was no HOA.
“Let us get our own board,” Robertson said, stating that he did not want any Aldermen involved in the neighborhood’s decision making.
Cindy Keesler, yet another Twin Oaks resident, reiterated the same ideas as the other residents, asking for the Aldermen to let the home owners decide on a plan and only come in if they could not work it out among themselves.
Ruby Ford spoke to the City Attorney asking if any group can simply come together and develop an HOA with its own CCRs.
“We need to get that answered before we go charging on,” she said.
City Attorney Reid Holbrook read from the regulations concerning the formation of HOAs, stating that there need to be regular dues established and he advised that the residents use an attorney to get in touch with the original developing team to move forward.
The original development group, Ray-Pec Land, seemingly exists without the leader who began the Twin Oaks subdivision in 2000. Its business page on Yelp.com states that it has ceased to exist.
Tina Elsworth spoke to the Board, saying that she believes conversations about an HOA have been going on longer than some of the residents admit.
“One reason I would really like your help is because we have had twelve years…we don’t know what to do,” she said.
“I just want mentorship.”
Phillip Ware has owned two homes in Twin Oaks. He said his realtor said that there would be an HOA when there were 250 homes in the subdivision, along with a pool, a park, and an elementary school.
“I would like to know who technically owns the property and why you’re not going after them to mow,” he said.
“Why should we have to pay to upkeep someone else’s property?”
City Clerk Nick Jacobs stated that the owner, Ray-Pec Land, transferred ownership of the property to the HOA which existed outside of any of the actual home owners’ knowledge.
“If our positions were reversed, I would probably be as mad as you right now,” said City Attorney Holbrook. “I don’t think the City has the standing to go after this owner,” he continued.
Ware said he would pay for an HOA if he received a benefit, claiming that an HOA in this case is being shoved down his throat.
In a moment of passion, Alderman Holly Stark talked about how everyone else in the City are the ones really getting stuck with the bill for the subdivision’s upkeep.
Resident Nancy McClendon asked about the size of and cost to maintain the basins.
Clerk Nick Jacobs listed out the bid he received from the City’s mowing contractor which read that each basin would cost $350-450 per mow.
Deborah Southard spoke against an HOA and the notion that it’s not fair for the other residents of Peculiar to foot the bill for Twin Oaks.
Sarah Marcer, however, has lived in Twin Oaks for ten years and spoke in favor of an HOA.
“As an HOA we own the property and the common areas so it is our responsibility to take care of it whether we like it or don’t like it,” she said.
“I think the City needs to help us.”
Jerry Ford spoke to the Aldermen and said that the meeting that night proved that they do need some outside help. Ford also brought up a section in the City Code which states that any subdivision that holds more than 50 homes must have an HOA.
That Code was established in 2006, however, six years after the development of Twin Oaks.
As the public hearing section of the meeting closed, the Board began to discuss among themselves what the appropriate action is from the City’s perspective.
Homer Dunsworth asked everyone in the room who was in support of an HOA to raise their hands and then he asked for those opposed. The split was roughly 75/25, with those in favor of an HOA taking the majority.
Alderman Stark suggested that the Board give the residents of Twin Oaks 90 days to work out a plan before the City states for sure that they need to take action.
Alderman Donald Turner stated that when he first moved to Peculiar he looked into Twin Oaks and heard the promises of an HOA, pool, and the rest.
“This is a Home Owners’ Association, not a City’s Association,” he said in support of letting the residents work out a plan among themselves.
“I’m not for government getting involved,” said Alderman Veronika Ray.
“Give yourselves 90 days, but you still need help.”
City Administrator Brad Ratliff clarified that the 90 days were just in place to show progress, not a complete solving of the entire issue.
It was agreed to give Twin Oaks the 90 days to make progress on a solving of the problem.