Both groups claiming to run Azalea Lakes HOA resign under pressure from residents
POSTED: Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 10:39pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 11, 2014 - 12:40pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — The Azalea Lakes subdivision started Thursday with two groups claiming to be the board of its homeowners association. It ended the day with nobody in charge.
Under pressure from residents, members of both groups offered to resign during a meeting Thursday evening, leaving the subdivision without anyone in charge.
"We don't want somebody saying, 'hey, this was the Richardsons' fault,' or, 'hey, this was Mr. Paul's fault,'" one man explained. "We need to start fresh."
The old board, led by Roland and Veronica Richardson, resigned in January amid questions about missing financial statements. A new board, led by Paul Shivers, was appointed in its place. The Richardsons and the old board claim they were reinstated on May 20, which Shivers and the new board disputed. Both sides argued over who had access to bank accounts and message boards.
"Whatever it is, it's fracturing this community," another man noted. "And the thing is, I don't care what it is, but it's gotten a little personal. And it's really, really frustrating to each and every one of us."
The replacement board led by Shivers hired attorney Donnie Floyd to represent it and compel the original board to cease and desist.
"Are you doing that for free, sir?" one woman asked.
"No, ma'am," Floyd responded.
"Then that money's coming out of our subdivision?" she continued.
"Most certainly is," he answered.
"Then let them pay out of their money," another woman stated. "Not our money. Because we did not hire him, and he doesn't really belong here! Period!"
According to forms submitted to the Secretary of State's office, Shivers is listed as the president of Azalea Lakes Subdivision, Inc., a non-profit in good standing with the state. The other officers are listed as Lisa Simmons, Lloyd Dubuisson, and Lloyd Scallan. (Tom Douzat said he was on the board, but was not listed on its official filings.) Between the time the board was reinstated by the state in 2000 and 2014, there had only been one amendment to its filing related to the board's makeup. But in June, 2014, alone, there were five amendments.
The fighting between the two groups was so bad, the rest of the neighborhood decided the only way to move forward would be to force all of them out. Brandon Foreman suggested the subdivision had enough cash on hand to last through the summer, and could put its bills on auto-pay.
"Put the money in an account," he stated. "We know what a water bill costs, we all pay it every month. We know what an electric bill costs. We've got enough money in the accounts, let it roll, and just have a standing meeting here once a month until you get a quorum, and we move on with life."
He quickly got the support of the rest of his neighbors.
"And let's get on with our lives, people," another man added. "Cause I'm about ready to put my house up for sale and leave, with a loss!"
Shivers, Douzat, and the Richardsons were the only members of the two boards at the meeting. At the urging of Foreman and the rest of the residents, each offered to resign.
The long fight caught the eye of the Azalea Lakes North Homeowners Association. Members are worried about their own property values being dragged down by their neighbors across the water. Rabbi Michael Bryan, president of Azalea Lakes North, attended the meeting to offer his board's assistance.
"You gotta get through this. You gotta get past it. You've gotta get to where there's order, and peace, and stability in the neighborhood."
Shivers said his goal as board president was to merge the two adjacent associations. That has been discussed over the years, but never come close to fruition. One sticking point is that Azalea Lakes residents pay dues of $20 per month, compared to just $10 per month on the north side of the lake.