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Homeowner faction loses steam

The once contentious Plantation group has lost its motivation and its members.

By TIM GRANT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 7, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- After an unsuccessful attempt to take over the homeowners board in Plantation of Carrollwood, a group of residents launched a monthly newsletter to air its concerns about community issues.

David Cutting, Mary Jo Kail, Margo Maseman and Corrina Santiago founded The Real Thing for Plantation Residents to "get the issues out to the people of Plantation," Kail said.

But after four issues, all of the original founders of the newsletter have resigned and the latest issue could be the last.

Plantation resident Jenny Lind Olin said she wrote the entire issue and was solely responsible for distributing the four-page publication in this community of 1,832 homes.

"All my staff has quit," she said.

David Cutting, the former leader of the group, recently married and he said his wife and the child they are expecting have become his priorities. Cutting has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit he filed last year against Plantation because he no longer has the passion to fight.

"Getting married has totally mellowed me out," Cutting said. "I've got nothing but love in my heart now. And when you've got love, how can you fight battles?"

Washing his hands of the lawsuit might not be painless. Plantation property manager Tom Jones said the association has spent about $4,000 defending the case and it will seek reimbursement from Cutting.

Cutting sued the homeowners association for damages to his health, alleging Jones and other board members harassed him. He also accused the association of causing his property values to drop because of management mistakes.

During its short run, The Real Thing addressed some hot topics. Among other things, it criticized Jones for dumping barrels in the community's lakes and removing reclinata palm trees from common areas.

"I think it was a lot of energy misdirected," Jones said. "The negativity they created far outweighed the positive."

Kail said she is no longer on the newsletter staff because she is "concentrating on other things." But she said the publication could be resurrected if needed.

"It's not dead," she said. "We just don't think there is a need to do it every month."

The four residents led a campaign last summer that stopped the Boys & Girls Club from building a permanent center in Plantation.

Cutting, then a board member, helped Kail, Maseman and Santiago campaign for seats in an attempt to pursue changes that would have included firing Jones and renaming the 25-year development. None of the three won election to the board.

Board president Greg Marshall said he wished the group had not been so contentious and divisive while making its points.

"The damage it has done to the association has been massive and will take a while to rebuild," Marshall said.

-- To reach Tim Grant call 269-5311, or at grant@sptimes.com.

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