Here’s how the attempt to hand the Stoneybrook HOA legal authority over the roads went down

Posted on March 05, 2020, 9:37 am
14 mins

As you all know by now, in December 2019 the Gateway District’s Chairperson Margaret Fineberg colluded with a Lee County Deputy to arrange for a parking ticket to written within the Stoneybrook community.

Please note that I wrote that sentence as stated fact, and not a belief or a strong possibility. Because I know for a fact that’s what happened.

In February 2020, Gateway’s attorney Tony Pires attempted to hand over legal control of Stoneybrook’s roads to that community’s HOA board without informing – let alone gaining approval from – the Board of Supervisors.

Please note that I also wrote that sentence stating a fact. Because it, too, happened. And I will prove it.

Here are the details.

On January 30, 2020 an attorney for Lee County (who I’m choosing not to name because the last thing he deserves is for his name to come up in Google searches for all eternity over this) wrote to Pires saying:

——

Dear Mr. Pires,

I understand that you serve as legal counsel to the Gateway Services Community Development District (“CDD”). Recently, our office has received several inquiries concerning the enforcement and validity of an agreement entered into in 2006 between the County, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Stoneybrook at Gateway Homeowners Association Inc. (“Association”) for the exercise of County jurisdiction over certain roads within the Stoneybrook community for traffic control purposes. A copy of the agreement is attached for your reference.

The third “Whereas” clause in the agreement states that “the roads described in Exhibit “A” have been dedicated to the Association and are currently operated and controlled by the Association.” However, I understand that this may not be accurate. Recently our office was provided with a number of documents, including a copy of a letter dated August 4, 2010 from you regarding this issue. In the letter, you opined that the roads in question are owned by the CDD, not the Association. I am attaching a copy of the letter and other documents we received.

Section 316.006(3)(b), Fla. Stat. provides in pertinent part: “A county may exercise jurisdiction over any private road or roads, or over any limited access road or roads owned or controlled by a special district, located in the unincorporated area within its boundaries if the county and party or parties owning or controlling such road or roads provide, by written agreement approved by the governing body of the county, for county traffic control jurisdiction over the road or roads encompassed by such agreement.”

If the roads in question are still owned and controlled by the CDD, and not the Association, the agreement may not be valid and enforceable under Florida law. I would greatly appreciate if you could confirm whether the CDD continues to own and control the roads subject to the 2006 agreement, or whether there have been any changes regarding ownership and control of the roads since your 2010 letter.

Thank you very much for your assistance. Please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss these matters.

—–

So, basically, everything I’ve been saying.

Pires waited a week or so.. then half-heartedly tried to arrange a phone conversation with the county lawyer regarding the January 30 email. That is until Supervisor Ed Tinkle made an explosive statement on the evening of February 6, 2020 during the Gateway District meeting that traffic enforcement contracts were under threat all over Lee County.

Evidently Pires wanted to speak to the county attorney right away after that. Like, lickidysplit.

The next morning, Pires sent Lee County’s lawyer the following message:

—–

[ATTORNEY NAME], it was a pleasure speaking with you. As a follow up to our conversation, and as mentioned, attached please find the current, extant agreement between the GSCCD and the Stoneybrook at Gateway Master Association, Inc. (HOA) dated October 4, 2012, that in part provides in Paragraph 3 that the HOA shall operate and maintain the defined GSCDD Systems and Facilities, including the GSCDD owned roads, streets, sidewalks within the Stoneybrook at Gateway community listed on the attached Exhibit “B”. If you have any additional questions or need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Tony Pires

—–

Okay.

So what happened here is Lee County’s lawyer wrote to Gateway’s lawyer and said “Hello. I’m writing because there’s a discrepancy between a 2006 contract which says the Stoneybrook HOA owns and controls the roads there, and a 2010 memo by you (Pires) where you explain to Gateway that they own and control the roads. Which is it? Because if it’s Gateway then the 2006 traffic enforcement contract isn’t legal.”

Pires then wrote back and presumably re-iterated what he had said in a phone call, and attempts to say that a 2012 contract between the district and the HOA somehow retroactively granted the HOA legal authority over Stoneybrook’s roads, making the 2006 traffic agreement valid.

I’m not a lawyer, but you don’t have to be one to question how in the world a 2012 contract could create powers for an HOA board back in 2006.

And I’m not a Supervisor, but you don’t have to be one to realize Pires should have asked for permission before essentially serving up the roads to the HOA. After-all if Pires was successful in establishing parking enforcement this way, what else could Pires and the HOA use the 2012 agreement to accomplish? Why couldn’t the HOA take the agreement and run with it and do other things and just say “HEY. GATEWAY ARE THE ONES WHO SAID WE CAN DO THINGS LIKE THIS! WE’RE JUST GOING ALONG WITH IT!”

I’m sure Pires will downplay that he did not actually transfer legal authority of the roads, but that’s exactly what he tried to do. He tried to say Stoneybrook could enter in to a CONTRACT that gave JURISDICTION to the LCSO. It’s a big deal.

When you watch the video from the February 20 Gateway District meeting, you can tell Pires knows he’s done something he should not have. And this is it.

But what, if anything, will the current Board of Supervisors do about this?

Half the board members are afraid to talk about the issue altogether, no doubt wishing this publication would move on to something else.

But if you think about it, our coverage has mostly been reactionary to moves made by Fineberg, Pires and Stoneybrook HOA president JT Thomas.

Make no mistake, the reason Thomas banned our articles from the popular Stoneybrook Facebook page and brands the Sun “fake news” every chance he gets is for his own benefit. Thomas either knows or likely suspects this publication is fully aware that he and Fineberg are ride-or-dies when it comes to all this, so he wants to censor and discredit us. He’s probably puzzled why I focus on Fineberg since he’s been in the loop every step of the way.

Thomas even went so far as to claim at the most recent HOA meeting that the Sun has lowered house values in Stoneybrook by an average of $50,000 per home. That means according to Thomas (who is a realtor and thus professionally qualified to discuss home values), the Sun has wiped out $38,900,000 worth of home values in Stoneybrook.

But if Thomas were to follow the dominos back to the beginning, he would see that our coverage is just that – covering and exposing the actions of himself, his HOA and Fineberg, along with help from Pires. So if in fact home values have been lowered it’s the actions of Thomas himself that have caused the decline.

Did the Sun install the no street parking signs? Did the Sun issue fake parking tickets? Did the Sun collude with an LCSO deputy to get a real one written? Did the Sun lie to Lee County in a 2006 contract? Did the Sun then try to trick the county by forwarding a 2012 contract the county’s legal staff?

Thomas is seriously suggesting that the fault doesn’t belong on the HOA leaders harassing the residents and taking the numerous improper actions spanning the past decade — but rather the blame belongs on the outlet informing people about what the HOA folks have been up to. It’s not the fact the HOA leaders have been scamming you that’s the problem, it’s the fact that you now know about it.

Incredible.

Back to Pires.

I think it’s a 50/50 chance this is addressed at all. Supervisor Doug Banks (who lives in Stoneybrook and who I apparently owe $50,000) won’t touch it. Vice-Chairman Bill Guy might, but probably would prefer Tinkle mentions it. Tinkle asked for the topic to be put on today’s agenda, but was ignored. Tinkle (or any of the Supervisors) can bring the topic up on their own at the end of the meeting however.

I’m reluctant to do this, because whenever I suggest anything the board (who all read the Sun) tend to not do it just so they’re not seen as taking orders from a local gossip blog.

But as the Sun is committed to covering the actions of Fineberg and Pires and the goal is to have us stop, I would suggest that Guy, Banks and Tinkle make a motion that Pires is to no longer take any action specific to Stoneybrook’s roads without the full knowledge and approval (be it formal or informal) from ALL of the board members.

Furthering the goal of the Sun reporting on other issues other than Stoneybrook’s roads, the district board should also move that the staff remove the signs that the board members all know by now are invalid and for which the LCSO has said they’re not enforcing. And they never will, because they’re not MUTCD compliant.

Third, I am sick of Thomas lying to people saying all that he and the HOA are doing is enforcing a “Gateway Services rule” against street parking. I am calling on Tinkle to pose the following question at today’s meeting: Is there a rule? And if so can I see a copy of the rule?

And when it is stated that there is in fact NO RULE and never has been such a rule, the follow-up question becomes… then what are the signs for then?

Let’s start recovering some of that $38,900,000. Take the signs down and order Pires to stop thinking up his half-assed enforcement schemes that benefit Fineberg’s personal preferences.

Want this story-line to go away? It’s simple:

Don’t give the Sun anything to write about.

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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