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.”