Homeowners war over director
By JOSH ZIMMER, Times Staff Writer
TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- Give Stan Hafers this: He knows how to attract attention.
Hafers is the subject of a controversial petition in Morganwoods Greentree, a 290-home subdivision off Hanley Road north of Hillsborough Avenue. Depending on whom you talk to, he is still a member of the subdivision's homeowners association board of directors or has been ousted.
Hafers, whose troubles with the homeowners began a few months ago, is fighting a petition drive to remove him from office.
His opponents say they collected enough legitimate signatures from a majority of homeowners, and at a heated Dec. 10 meeting voted to kick him off until someone can show the petition is illegal.
Hafers, who says he never has seen a copy of the petition, says he is being treated unfairly and refuses to step down from the nine-member board without a fight. He has hired Tampa lawyer Elizabeth Hapner, and is threatening to file an injunction to keep his position.
"I don't feel I should step down," he said.
Friends on the board are rallying behind Hafers, who had nine months remaining on his three-year term. It's up to the board to appoint a replacement, secretary Jane Navarro said, but members took no action.
"Something's fishy," said board member and supporter Alice Dillon.
A blunt-spoken, federal government buildings inspector who lives in a nearby subdivision but still owns property in Morganwoods, Hafers has spent the last few months in the middle of a political storm.
He led the association's architectural review committee for eight years, and pushed the board to install a controversial siding material called Drivit. Detractors said the siding was ineffective and too expensive.
A majority of board members -- pushed by homeowners -- voted two months ago to rescind the contract and remove Hafers from the architectural review committee.
Hafers and his supporters also thought he angered people by complaining about unpermitted additions to some homes in the community. Current board member Diana Allen was among those cited.
But Allen and others reject any allegations of personal vendettas.
"None of the board members have any animosity toward Mr. Hafers," said Allen, who voted to remove him from the board. But Hafers will not back down. He continues to push for Drivit, saying manufacturers have made improvements and that opponents misrepresented the cost by $565,000.
He read a letter from Hapner at the last meeting in which she said the petition violated the association's bylaws. Demanding a copy of the petition so the names can be verified as legitimate homeowners, she said Hafers' opponents would either have to vote at a publicly advertised meeting or tender proxies proving they are homeowners.
According to association attorney Steven Mezer, the board has nothing to worry about. The petition process is legitimate under state law, which supersedes the association's bylaws, and the signatures were verified before the meeting, he said.
He said he would give Hapner a copy of the petition if she asked for it.
"They don't take these things lightly," Mezer said of board members. "They're following the law."
-- Josh Zimmer covers Keystone/Odessa, Citrus Park and the environment. He can be reached at 269-5314 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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