Real estate developer Lennar is extremely angry at Supervisor Ed Tinkle and the rest of the Gateway Services District board.
In fact, at the Hampton Park annual HOA meeting last week a Lennar spokesperson called the GSCDD “the worst CDD” they have ever worked with.
The statement was part of a tirade by Lennar executives in which the development company leveled a slew of accusations at the GSCDD. Tinkle wanted to directly address Lennar’s statements, but Lennar refused to allow anybody from the GSCDD to respond.
The GSCDD was afforded the opportunity to speak later in the meeting, however Lennar’s entire team left before it was Tinkle’s turn speak on Gateway’s behalf.
Basically what happened was…. Lennar attempted to use the meeting in order to manipulate Hampton Park’s residents. Lennar wanted to manufacture anger from the residents… and have the residents aim their anger squarely at the GCSDD board.
But didn’t work. At all.
And that’s because like most other residents in Gateway, Hampton Park homeowners are keenly aware of the Lake Bank Restoration Project. Which they should be, because after-all they are helping to pay for it.
So everybody already knows that it was shoddy work by developers like Lennar who left Gateway residents on the hook with a $20-30 million bill to fix the pond issues.
When the time came last year for Lennar to hand over the ownership of Hampton Park’s ponds to the district, the GSCDD decided to do something novel: they inspected the lakes to make sure they were built correctly and were in compliance with local regulations.
Well, guess what? None of Hampton Park’s ten completed ponds are in compliance.
And the GSCDD won’t accept ownership of them until they are.
The discussion that took place at a GSCDD meeting earlier this year on the pond turn-over topic went something like this:
Lennar: “We’re Lennar. We tell you what to do, and you do it. That’s how it works.”
GSCDD: “That’s how it used to work. But thanks to this huge-ass bill you left us to pay, that’s not how it works anymore.”
Lennar: “Waaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!!! I’m telling on you to Hampton Park!!” (I’m paraphrasing.)
Tinkle has repeatedly stated in district meetings that the GSCDD would gladly accept ownership of the ponds today if they were up to code. That’s part of the GSCDD’s job. Tinkle knows that. The whole board knows that.
In fact, the district wants to own the ponds. They’re supposed to own them. That’s how Gateway was planned. Nobody is disputing that.
But Tinkle has put his foot down and told Lennar point-blank that Gateway residents are not accepting ownership of the ponds in Hampton Park (and the costs of maintaining them) until those ponds meet South Florida Water Management District standards.
The other four Supervisors must obviously agree with Tinkle, because they could over-rule him and they aren’t. The board is letting Tinkle speak on its behalf on this matter.
Not surprisingly, Lennar doesn’t want to pay to fix the ponds. They just want the district to take them off their hands.
But since the average pond in Gateway is expected to cost over $300,000 to fix, that would mean over $3 million to fix the 10 completed ponds in Hampton Park. (NOTE: No estimate has been given in Hampton Park. I’m just utilizing known figures from the Lake Bank Restoration Project since that’s the best information I have right now, and applying those figures here.)
So Lennar’s strategy was to create an angry mob in Hampton Park.
They did so by saying “Okay, well if Gateway residents won’t pay – we’ll just stick the entire bill for the lakes on to the Hampton Park homeowners.”
Indeed, Lennar included a maintenance assessment for the ponds in next year’s Hampton Park budget. Since the community is not yet sufficiently built out the developer still has control over many aspects of the HOA and the community’s budget.
The intended result of the HOA assessment, Lennar hoped, was that Hampton Park residents would get angry and put pressure on the GSCDD to accept the ponds… and thus let Lennar off the hook for fixing them.
But as I mentioned earlier in the article, it didn’t work.
The Hampton Park HOA and homeowners weren’t fooled by the tactic.
In fact Hampton Park residents are not angry at the GSCDD at all, and the HOA board seems more determined than ever before to force Lennar to pay to fix their mistakes.
When you buy something that’s brand new it’s supposed to be in perfect condition.
So we should all be glad the Board of Supervisors are standing up to Lennar and refusing to accept the Hampton Park ponds until the ponds are in the proper condition.
Hampton Park residents pay their share to fix and maintain ALL of the ponds in Gateway. And once this is all resolved the Hampton Park ponds will become part of the GSCDD system and all Gateway residents will reciprocate and pay for their ponds – just as it should be.
This whole thing is just Lennar getting desperate and trying to avoid paying.
Lennar reached in to its bag of tricks and tried to turn the people against the government. I’m sure it’s worked plenty of times before.
But to be fair, Lennar really had no way of knowing that the residents of Gateway and Hampton Park were already so educated about the community’s pond issues. (Must be due to the CDD’s excellent communications/PR strategy.)
Lennar never stood a chance trying to manipulate the Hampton Park homeowners. The developer really came out of this thing looking foolish and childish.
In the end, I can’t envision any scenario where Lennar is let off the hook and Gateway residents are forced to pay for the developer’s errors when the ponds were built.
Hampton Park is probably going to have to sue Lennar, though, if the developer continues on this path of trying to stick the HOA and Hampton Park residents with the bill.
Lennar should just own up to their mistakes, fix the ponds, and then just like Tinkle has said (many times) the GSCDD will accept ownership and responsibility for the ponds from that point on.