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Evans homeowners association board upset over firing

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A disgruntled homeowners association recently disbanded by the neighborhood’s developer is seeking reinstatement.

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Roger Cannon, the former president of the Summerlin Homeowners Association, stands for a portrait and offers a tour of the neighborhood.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Roger Cannon, the former president of the Summerlin Homeowners Association, stands for a portrait and offers a tour of the neighborhood.

Former Summerlin board members and neighborhood residents upset over the board’s June 3 firing by local builder Tom Werner are circulating a half-dozen petitions throughout the Evans subdivision asking that the association be re-established. Efforts so far have amassed about 50 signatures, according to Summerlin homeowner Meagan White.

Problems between the board and Werner boiled over early this year after Augusta lawyer Wright McLeod was hired to manage the association. Former board members are alleging myriad misdoings against McLeod and Werner.

Despite being disbanded a month before, board members still sent a letter to McLeod’s office July 8 to notify McLeod that they were terminating him based on his failure to provide meeting minutes, maintain up-to-date financial records, file taxes on time and enforce neighborhood rules and policies, such as vehicles parking on streets and placement of trash receptors and satellite dishes.

Fired board members also had problems with construction debris in the subdivision, landscaping maintenance and a vacant acre of common space they say Werner promised to deed them earlier this year, until they were disbanded.

“He has not given us any reason why we’re fired,” former board President Roger Cannon said of Werner. “He won’t see me. Wright McLeod won’t see me.”

Though the association questioned whether Werner had authority to dissolve the group, McLeod said the Summerlin covenants showed Werner was within his rights. The document said that Werner has the same number of votes as board members, plus one, until January 2015.

McLeod said that until Werner is finished building in the 355-lot neighborhood off William Few Parkway, he retains full power of the board. The subdivision is about 85 percent complete.

“He’s in control, and it’s very understandable that until he’s out, he’s not going to allow a board to dictate what he can or cannot do in his neighborhood,” McLeod said. “The moment they do something that is counter to his best interests, he can just wipe them out.”

McLeod, whose firm advises 65 neighborhoods, said the past board’s allegations against him are unjustified, and he called any accusations of financial negligence a “cheap shot.”

“I’ve never seen a board so dysfunctional and not understanding of the democratic process,” said McLeod, who is now managing the subdivision on behalf of Werner. “It is the Jerry Springer Show.”

Werner, the president of Pierwood Construction, developed the neighborhood under the name Santa Monica LLC. He ran the homeowners association for seven years before the first board was elected in 2009. Since then, he said, there have been nothing but problems.

“They were fighting amongst themselves so much, and they were just constantly going after each other,” Werner said. “They were calling our office to get us in the middle. Once I took it back, now both factions – I’m talking three to four people on each side – they’ve joined forces against me.”

White, who served on the neighborhood’s board in 2011 and 2012, acknowledged that her association had internal strife but said she believes the board was fired because it wanted to first terminate McLeod’s services.

Cannon and White said they also are leery with how dues money will be spent without representation from homeowners. McLeod said any financial information is accessible to residents on the neighborhood’s Web site.

White maintains that residents of the subdivision deserve to have a say in matters regarding where they live.

“I know a lot of people are angry because they don’t feel like we are being listened to,” she said.

David Parham, who has lived in Summerlin since 2010 and has never been involved with the association, would like to see a board back in place to ensure how his $150 annual dues are spent.

“We just feel like we need representation here in the neighborhood, not just a lawyer and a developer making all the decisions that affect us,” he said. “We have no say at all. I think that’s the biggest issue. We have no rights.”

Werner said that he handles only major decisions affecting the neighborhood and that McLeod deals with the finances and day-to-day operations.

He estimates that he’ll be entirely finished with Summerlin in the next18 months, when he plans to relinquish the association again to homeowners.

“It can’t come soon enough,” he said. “My mistake was turning it over to them too early.”

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Little Lamb
46040
Points
Little Lamb 08/12/13 - 10:16 pm
9
2
Poor Character

From the story:

“He’s in control, and it’s very understandable that until he’s out, he’s not going to allow a board to dictate what he can or cannot do in his neighborhood,” McLeod said. “The moment they do something that is counter to his best interests, he can just wipe them out.”

Wow! I certainly am glad Wright McLeod was defeated in last year's election for Congress. His lack of principle in this matter shows him to be unfit for Congress. Well, maybe he could represent a district such as Charlie Rangel's; but not one from Georgia.

just an opinion
2638
Points
just an opinion 08/12/13 - 10:29 pm
9
2
Arrogant lawyer and developer

Calling the residents "the Jerry Springer show" and stating that the developer "can just wipe them out". That wouldn't sit to well with me. Non-lawyer advise to residents: hold your dues until you are represented.

JRC2024
8879
Points
JRC2024 08/12/13 - 11:01 pm
2
4
While I understand the

While I understand the frustration of the homeowners, It is still the developers land until he finishes building and he should be in control so that all the properties are of like quality. After it is finished then he has no more control because he has no more land.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 08/13/13 - 04:04 am
5
3
Yep, there appear to be

Yep, there appear to be legitimate reasons for the builder to keep control until the development is completed.

Just My Opinion
5638
Points
Just My Opinion 08/13/13 - 04:50 am
8
3
Well, it sounds to me that

Well, it sounds to me that both sides are somewhat at fault in this situation. But, like others have already mentioned, the comments from the builder AND from Mcleod don't sound professional at all. In fact, they sound bitter. If I were a new home buyer, I would think very seriously about moving into this neighborhood...not just because of the politics involved. It sounds to me like this builder can't wait to get out of there and, in his "haste", might start taking shortcuts on the quality of this houses being built.

corgimom
32599
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 07:31 am
5
5
If you ever want to see a

If you ever want to see a bunch of adults act like adolescents, look at a homeowner's association.

The things that they get all het up about is ridiculous.

Trash cans, really? REALLY?

Developers are well-known for promising amenities that never materialize. It's perfectly legal. If it's not in writing, it probably isn't going to happen. It's marketing hype.

Adults are supposed to know that.

seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 08/13/13 - 07:54 am
7
1
HOA

Try to avoid them if you can...some good points & some bad...

Valkyrie1
315
Points
Valkyrie1 08/13/13 - 08:04 am
6
3
corgimom

Trash cans are the least of our concern in this neighborhood. Come try to drive through here sometime, it's dangerous. Despite "no parking on the street" being in our covenants people park in the street to the point it isn't passable. They park in such a way on one road that you a driving blind down a corridor only one car can fit through, praying that you aren't going to smash into an oncoming car you can't see. Mr. Werner and Mr. McLeod don't enforce the lawn maintenance rules either so the neighborhood looks like complete crap. I wish amenities and trashcans were our biggest problems.
When we sent a letter as a community to Mr. Werner we were called ungrateful for "all of the improvements to the neighborhood". These improvements consisted of trees and a plot of land deemed unusable by civil engineers. The useful improvements? Made by the board.

GnipGnop
12241
Points
GnipGnop 08/13/13 - 08:04 am
8
0
I would never live

in anyplace with a HOA. They are more often than not dictatorships with cliques that rule the roost with a iron hand. Thanks but no thanks.

Valkyrie1
315
Points
Valkyrie1 08/13/13 - 08:08 am
4
1
HOA

Hoa's do certainly have their bad points but it's getting hard to buy in Columbia County without dealing with one. This HOA was not trying to do anything crazy. It wanted to clear up dangerous parking issues and make Mr. Werner clean up his construction trash from the streets and the wetlands in the neighborhood. The infighting with the Board also had a lot to do with Mr. Werner interfering in the "democratic process". HE was the one who made it undemocratic by holding random elections that didn't follow the Association By-Laws. By-laws (and Covenants) which our illustrious lawyer Mr. McLeod admitted to having not read at our last meeting with him.

tl-bro
155
Points
tl-bro 08/13/13 - 08:26 am
4
2
HOA

Are a necessary evil in subdivisions with private roads and other common areas. The biggest problem is that the only people who ever want to get involved to run them are usually the very ones you don't want involved: either elderly people with nothing else to do than nitpick their neighbors or crooks who want their hands on the HOA checkbook.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/13/13 - 08:29 am
0
3
yeah, sounds like a beautiful

yeah, sounds like a beautiful disaster. Good onya whoever is charged with leading this circus. You certainly held it together, well 85% of it anyway.

wmarkw
164
Points
wmarkw 08/13/13 - 08:44 am
6
0
I suggest for those future

I suggest for those future home buyers is to wait for the development being built across from Summerlin and look for houses there. There are supposed to be more amenities and Summerlin has NONE. Tom tried giving the neighborhood an unusable piece of land for them to use for god knows what. Also another warning to all prospective home buyers, do NOT listen to the "in house" real estate agents as they are spreading lies regarding what Summerlin will offer. There will be NOTHING in this neighborhood so dont fall for their BS!!

wmarkw
164
Points
wmarkw 08/13/13 - 08:56 am
6
0
Trash

My comment already got flagged so I re-posted an edited nice version. Wright has no room to talk regarding his Jerry Springer comments. His office and employees are inept when it comes to handling an HOA. The worst decision this board did was to allow them to manage the HOA at Tom's pushing. However, the residents in the neighborhood have no one to blame but themselves when Summerlin turns to trash. Of the 175 homeowners in the neighborhood, I would say about 20% are concerned with the direction their community is going. But it is already going downhill with all the trashy, unkempt yards and no one following the covenants; Summerlin is unfortunately a doomed neighborhood. BUYER BEWARE

walkedit
34
Points
walkedit 08/13/13 - 08:57 am
5
0
Villages of Greenbrier

The homeowners here held an election. The newly appointed President and others were called to Mr. McLeod's office where he told them that he and the previous president held a meeting and that he would be taking over the management. I would urge everyone to get in touch with the Summerlin association and see if this could be reversed.

wmarkw
164
Points
wmarkw 08/13/13 - 09:06 am
3
1
DUES

Wright also said at a meeting he would LOVE to see the dues in the neighborhood increase upwards to $700+ a year in order to ousts the rental properties. Good luck with that.

BUYER BEWARE

corgimom
32599
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 09:28 am
0
8
People ignore those

People ignore those "no-parking" covenants all the time. The only choices are for the HOA to send a letter to the homeowner- that they ignore- and then to start towing.

As for the unusable land, of course he's going to do that, he's not going to give away usuable land, is he?

And developers NEVER clean up their construction trash. MAYBE he'll clean it up some after he is done building, but it's not too likely.

The best way to get rid of the trash is to either organize a neighborhood cleanup, or get donations from the homeowners and hire someone to haul it away.

HOA's are used as a marketing tool, there are always decent people that follow the covenants, and then there are those who don't. You have take all of them with a grain of salt.

The decent people always think that the HOA will enforce the regulations, and very few of them do, it's too expensive and time-consuming.

The best thing to do is move as soon as possible, you are fighting a hopeless battle.

corgimom
32599
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 09:29 am
2
2
"Wright also said at a

"Wright also said at a meeting he would LOVE to see the dues in the neighborhood increase upwards to $700+ a year in order to ousts the rental properties. Good luck with that."

That is absolutely legal, and yes, the homeowners will be forced to pay them, or face foreclosure.

HOA's have a lot of negatives, you have to know what you're getting into when you buy.

gunter7879
87
Points
gunter7879 08/13/13 - 09:43 am
3
1
It wasn't about trash

It wasn't about trash receptacles. It was about trying to make our community a better place to live. The only thing that the HOA asked Mr. Werner to do development wise was to repair broken things or to pick up developer trash. And we aren't not talking little slips of paper. We are talking about major construction trash including nail boxes scattered in roads or sawblades left sticking up in pathways. I'm sure you'd be upset if you got a flat tire or granny got a nail in her foot while she was power walking. We also asked to fix erosion damage and stop houses from flooding during heavy rainfall. We also respectfully asked to hold off planting trees to an entryway leading to the common area, which we were considering paving. We NEVER told him how to develop his lots, just help with common area problems, such as the dangerous entryway that the county has just ORDERED him to redo. We freely admit that one or two of our past and present HOA members were not as polite as they could be, but we never were a "Jerry Springer show". And I take offense to the fact that Mr. McLeod is complaining when we went to him with internal matters for guidance. The HOA, not the developer, hired his office to be a guide and mediator to make sure we WERE following the democratic process. The fact was, we needed more help than some and he didn't want to put in the effort!

gunter7879
87
Points
gunter7879 08/13/13 - 09:58 am
0
2
Why we hired Wright McLeod

The board that was elected last October hired Wright McLeod in order to finish poorly written and unfinished covenants and establish a fine system for violations. we already have a list of rules, but as it stands the are no consequences for breaking those rules. We also asked for help collecting unpaid dues. We hired the lawyer to make everything was by the law. I want to know how can they say we were the ones irresponsible when it was the board who hired them in the first place?

corgimom
32599
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 09:52 am
3
3
"We are talking about major

"We are talking about major construction trash including nail boxes scattered in roads or sawblades left sticking up in pathways. "

Yep, that's what they do. I'm sorry you're going through this, but this is actually quite normal. This always happens when you buy into a developing subdivision.

At least the construction workers aren't using your property as an outdoor toilet. They do that too, count your blessings.

corgimom
32599
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 09:58 am
1
5
As for the erosion control

As for the erosion control and flooding, he isn't going to fix that, ever. As long as he is grading according to the local code, and following the county, state, and Federal laws, he is under no requirement to do anything about those issues.

While I appreciate what you are going through, I don't think it's going to get fixed. You could try calling the county about the flooding, and see what they have to say.

All that developer cares aboutis getting the houses built and sold. When he is done, he will move on to the next project.

Once a house is sold, once it has its 1 year warranty period, it's over and done with, as far as he is concerned. He isn't going to do anything or spend any money that he doesn't have to.

specialist
202
Points
specialist 08/13/13 - 10:14 am
3
0
Home owners assn

We are another of Mcloyds 65 hoa's .

For three years I have requested at the annual meetings that the assn post on their website, or provide to the homeowners a spreadsheet listing ALL the checks written, to WHOM it was was written, the AMOUNT and the PRODUCT/SERVICE(S) for which it was written. Mccloyds representative was there and said it would be done and the president of our board concurred. Still has not happened and probably will not. What does someone have to hide? Our dues are 500.00 per year, so that's a lot of money. We live in Windmill Plantation and have for 14 years. Believe me when I say the worst thing a HOA can do is to engage a lawyer. Demand a check ledger with ALL the expenditures to ensure that the funds are accounted for and properly dispersed. There is a large opportunity for fraud and abuse of the funds. We did have a problem with our funds several years ago, the treasurer was caught, prosecuted and made full restitution. We (homeowners) do not have a clue how much Wright Mccloyd is receiving for representing the HOA.

bdouglas
5035
Points
bdouglas 08/13/13 - 11:54 am
4
0
McLeod HOA Management...

I think if you were to take a poll of all the HOA's who have worked with McLeod's group you'd find the same comments. Our HOA just fired them earlier this year, too. They were great at mailing out letters to people who were in violation of covenants, but that's about as much as they ever did about it. The problem, though, is also compounded by budget-strapped HOA's (due to deadbeats who never pay their yearly dues) who then have to pay to pursue any sort of lien against residents for unpaid fines or dues because every one of those actions in turn costs the HOA money. Not at all surprised at the attitude shown by McLeod in his comments. His rep that came to our last big yearly meeting with them was an absolute jerk and was downright rude to residents during the meeting.

Cars parked in the road? Just tow them, right? Nope. HOA has to pay for that, too, and will likely never collect if they bill the resident for it. Overgrown grass? Covenants say that the HOA will get it fixed and charge you for it. Who pays for it initially, though? Right, the HOA. Who then bills the homeowner, who then ignores it. Our neighborhood has at least 3 of those "trash lots" that the developer couldn't use. They never get taken care of and just look like overgrown messes. HOA says developer still owns them. Developer says they deeded them to the HOA. So no one takes responsibility and it still looks like trash. Developer built a retention pond in the middle of the neighborhood for drainage. Those get deeded to the county. County only comes twice at year, at best, to maintain those areas (inside and outside the fence). HOA repeats that info and lets it look like a mess. It's a no-win situation.

corgimom
32599
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 10:44 am
1
5
bdouglas, all that you say is

bdouglas, all that you say is 100% true.

But there isn't any money to enforce violations. Because everybody screams at the idea of HOA dues going up, and you can't have it both ways.

HOA"s get what they pay for. And everything you describe is pretty much universal, I don't know what people expect when they buy into these subdivisions.

Now, I'm a country girl, so the idea of a natural lot suits me fine. And yes, I wouldn't mind having one next door to me. No close neighbors on one side of me, I'd like that.

As to the 3 lots, all you need to do is check at the courthouse. The HOA owns them, the developer isn't about to pay taxes on them.

Valkyrie1
315
Points
Valkyrie1 08/13/13 - 10:47 am
3
0
Corgimom

Just because it happens all the time doesn't make it right. Someone has to start holding these people accountable. Someone has to stand up and say "This is about the families in these neighborhoods not the almighty dollar in your pocket". We have Veterans, Military Families, young families, and retirees in this neighborhood getting screwed over by Mr. Werner and Mr. McLeod. Pierwood, of which Mr. Werner is the CEO, can barely sell homes in this neighborhood anymore. That's a direct result of his business practices, not the HOA's behavior. Beasely Homes sell like hotcakes in here. They just sold a Pierwood that has been on the market for at least 2 years, other builders couldn't keep a lot in here that long if they wanted to.

bdouglas
5035
Points
bdouglas 08/13/13 - 10:58 am
4
0
@corgimom

That's the point I was making about enforcement vs. what it costs to do anything about it. People want something done, but don't want to pay for it. People don't want to pay their dues because they feel like the HOA isn't "doing" anything for them. But they can't "do" anything for them without a budget. It's a neverending circle.

As for empty lots...I'm fine with natural, too. The problem is when all of the property surrounding those "natural" lots is nicely manicured. People who spend so much time and money to make their property look nice don't want that to be ruined by the eyesore next door.

Valkyrie1
315
Points
Valkyrie1 08/13/13 - 11:06 am
2
2
bdouglas

The Board was told by Mr. Werner and Mr. McLeod that they couldn't tow vehicles. They said fines could be enforced but then changed their minds on that. I seriously question the legalities of what Mr. Werner and Mr. McLeod have done. I would never encourage anyone to hire Mr. McLeod's management company as this is not the first neighborhood I have heard about them doing these things with.

AllieCat13
7
Points
AllieCat13 08/13/13 - 11:12 am
1
6
More Than Meets The Eye....

People need to pause and actually investigate the situation before jumping to conclusions about McLeod, Summerlin, and HOAs. McLeod manages numerous associations extremely well and the actions of one HOA should not reflect poorly McLeod's HOA office. HOA associations are difficult to deal with for residents, boardmembers, and those who help with the legal aspects of the HOA. Keep in mind that, A. when people buy a house in neighborhoods with HOAs, they sign contracts that agree to the provisions of the covenants, and B. McLeod's office simply acts upon the association's wishes. As usual, people notice the barely-present bad instead of the ever-present good. One would think that the people of Richmond and Columbia Counties would be smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors propogated by Mr. Cannon and "The Augusta Chronicle."

Valkyrie1
315
Points
Valkyrie1 08/13/13 - 11:22 am
4
1
Allie Cat

You have at least two associations claiming this from Mr. McLeod. If he were acting on the association's wishes wouldn't Summerlin still have their association? He didn't do his job as the Association lawyer when the Board existed. There is no smoke and no mirrors here. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last an association has had issues with Wright McLeod's management agency. I was present in a meeting with Mr. McLeod in which he was supposed to be clarifying some points of the Association Bylaws. In that meeting he admitted to NOT HAVING READ THEM. Is that competant legal representation? Is that smoke and mirrors?

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