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Never-ending APV story continues through legal filings

Posted on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer

Don’t close the book on the Board of Directors elections in the Association of Poinciana Villages just yet.

While the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulations demanded APV hold new elections, which it did on Aug. 1, where 14 of the 15 Village board members elected in February were voted in again, there are plenty of people not living happily ever after.

Since the election, a handful of legal motions and documents have been filed by lawyers for APV, AV Homes (the area’s dominant developer) and homeowner Martin Negron.

So, to catch you up …

Elections were originally held Feb. 14. Residents choose their “village” (neighborhood’s) five-person board; one of them is then chosen for the nine-member APV Master Board, Poinciana’s policy-making board.

After Negron, a candidate himself, filed a motion with the DBPR, state arbitrator Terri Leigh Jones voided those results after proof showed the developer cast more “block votes” — one for each homes that could be built on tracts not yet platted into lots — than should have been allowed.

APV and its counsel then said, as votes were about to be counted on Aug. 1, it would count the block votes according to what the DBPR demanded — those reported as suitable under Osceola and Polk (Poinciana spills onto both sides of the county line) land development codes.

But, AV Homes, which was not specifically named in in the DBPR’s findings, filed a motion in Polk County’s 10th Circuit Court against APV that “the adverse position regarding counting (AV’s) votes for its unplatted tracts of land … have created a justiciable controversy.” On July 21, the court allowed AV to count one vote per house allowed based on the tract’s maximum density. Negron and his resistance group, Friends of Poinciana Villages, said that didn’t take into account roads and tracts underwater.

Just last week, Slaten, on behalf of APV, filed a motion making the case that the DBPR lost jurisdiction when the circuit court made its decision.

Like in February, AV Homes cast thousands of votes on Aug. 1 — not as many but enough to put its supported candidates into village board seats.

On Aug. 3, Jones, the arbitrator, filed a Florida Bar complaint against APV counsel Tom Slaten, who did not disclose the circuit court case to Negron or the DBPR despite an “ethical duty to do so while the arbitration case was pending” (AV Homes filed in Polk Count on July 7; Slaten filed a response on July 11 without alerting the DBPR, which issued its final judgment July 12). Jones then recused herself from Negron’s claim.

Slaten, on behalf of the APV, has since filed motions to determine which election will stand if the circuit court action voids the most recent one, and to dismiss Negron’s motion to collect his own legal costs, filed by FOPV counsel Jennifer Englert “as a sanction for the willful and intentional actions” of keeping the circuit court case quiet.

The Master Board was scheduled to be chosen among the current village boards and seated Tuesday.

A scheduled interview with Dottie McStay, a Village 9 board member and the president of the APV Master Board, has been postponed a number of times since the election.