A neighborhood association dispute is headed to court after homeowners met and voted to remove the association’s board of directors and install a new and larger board.
Homeowners in the Ventura and Spring Meadows subdivisions in northeast Bexar County met June 30 and voted 221-1 to remove the association’s current board members — President Lisa Pfeiffer, Vice President Vicki Pawelek and Secretary Kathleen Vargas — after a tumultuous eight months that saw the board close its monthly meetings to the public, remove lifeguards from the community pool and discontinue participation in the county Citizens On Patrol program.
The group of homeowners called a special meeting and gathered at Northeast Church of Christ on FM 78 and voted to remove the three board members, to enlarge the board to five members and to fill the board with a new slate of board members.
But attorney Susan Rice, speaking on behalf of the Ventura Homeowners Association, told those gathered that their votes didn’t count and that any action taken that evening would end up in court.
“Basically, it’s the corporation’s position that this is not a properly called meeting, pursuant to the governing documents; nor are the votes that are going to be taken proper.
“It does not mean that tomorrow morning your votes are going to be honored,” she said, adding, “Those are going to be going through the court system and we’ll be dealing with those through the courts.”
But Lanny Worel, one of a group of organizers of the special meeting, disagreed.
“We feel that this meeting is lawfully called and … in compliance with association bylaws, and that any and all business that takes place here tonight will be valid and binding,” Worel said.
The association board tried to file a restraining order to keep the meeting from happening, but a county judge found no validity in the association’s complaint and allowed the meeting to go forth.
“In November, the board of directors closed the board meetings to all of us, none of us could go,” Worel said. “It was three months later that (they) began sending out invitations. Without an invitation, you couldn’t attend.”
Worel was one of five Ventura/Spring Meadows homeowners elected to the board during the meeting. Also elected to the board were Tony Jones, Evelyn Nolde, Stephen Turner and Gary Siegel.
Worel said the board has done everything in its power to stop the group from meeting, despite the group’s gathering of enough signatures to properly call a special meeting of the association. The board told Worel’s group that the petition contained invalid signatures, but refused to give the group a list of any faulty signatures.
The group decided in May to call the special meeting, assured they had enough valid signatures to do so. A letter dated May 15 was sent to the board, citing articles and sections of the Ventura bylaws that allowed for such a meeting to take place.
Once a quorum was established at the meeting, a motion was made to remove all three current board members from their positions. A ballot vote was taken and the motion passed, 221-1. The next motion sought expansion of the board from three to five members, which was approved 223-0. Names of seven homeowners were put on a ballot and the five were selected.
Residents openly questioned why the board meetings were closed, and asked who was responsible for monitoring the board’s actions.
Worel explained that the homeowner associations are governed under the non-profit corporation act and that board meetings are not mandated to be open, “but what we go by is the (people) who have been here for over 20 years, board meetings have always been open except for a short time in 2007, when they simply didn’t hold meetings.”
Jones, a subdivision resident since 1999, said, “If you pay your dues, you should have a say in how your money is spent. If they take that away from you, you should also be allowed to say, ‘If I don’t have a say, then why am I paying you?’”
Homeowners expressed anger over the board’s decision to cancel its lifeguard contract at the pool and replace it with a camera-security system.
“I’ve never seen a camera give CPR,” Jones said. “By the time you see it on camera, what’s happened has happened.”
“It was a total three-person decision,” Worel said. “It was not our decision to do away with the lifeguards and put a web-based camera in there for security.”
The pool was closed for a period of time following a June 11 investigation by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department. A resident who spoke during the meeting said she called the health district on June 8 following a weekend swim.
“I was disappointed with the condition of the water, it was filthy,” said resident Yvonne Rex. “That was Saturday; on Monday morning, I called the Metro Health Department and filed a complaint, because they (association management) didn’t seem too concerned.
“They officially closed it down (June 11) because of the condition of the water. Come to find out, the filter was broken … but my question is, how long had the filter been broken, and they were still allowing people to use the pool, with that disgusting water?” she added.
Lifeguards in neighboring subdivisions commonly perform hourly or bi-hourly water sampling in addition to enforcing hourly safety breaks and monitoring pool attendance.
Worel said that since the June 30 meeting, both sides have agreed to enter into mediation.
“We don’t know where it will go from here; all we can do is do our best and then carry on,” he said.