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Plantation battle drags on, heats up

A proposal by the Boys and Girls Club to build a permanent facility started a community debate. Now the debate has gotten personal.

By TIM GRANT

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001


CARROLLWOOD -- As a community debate in the Plantation of Carrollwood drags on, allegations of harassment have entered the fray.

Homeowner and real estate broker Mary Jo Kail said the Plantation management is harassing her. A member of the homeowner association board said that Kail frightened his wife.

An attorney for Plantation recently wrote a stern letter advising Kail not to contact board members outside of scheduled board meetings. Kail considers the letter another form of harassment.

"Why are they paying my money that I'm paying for dues to go to Plantation's attorney and draft a letter against me?" she said. "It's my money they've spent."

Kail also is troubled by two deed restriction citations she has received and two complaints she said property manager Tom Jones placed to her employer at Century 21 Real Estate.

Two of the community's eight board members, Greg Marshall and Hillsborough Sheriff's Deputy Bill Sanders, have signed the lawyer's letter, stating they want no contact with Kail. Board members Joe Thompson, David Cutting and Corinna Santiago, have said they will not sign the letter and feel it is unnecessary. The others have not expressed an opinion either way.

Much of the turmoil stems from a proposal by the Boys and Girls Club to build a permanent facility in Plantation.

Kail has led a crusade to oppose the project, which she feels is an unnecessary, long-term burden on Plantation. She has raised other complaints about the community management as well.

But Kail went too far last month when she visited Marshall's residence while he was not home, Marshall said.

"My wife proceeded to try to close the door and Mary Jo Kail imposed her body in the door and was being pushy," Marshall said, adding that his wife, who is legally blind, "was scared."

Kail said she went to Marshall's home only to deliver some material. She said she visited other board members' homes to drop off the same items.

"This is complete lies," Kail said. "They're just making this up. I did not put a foot in the door. I just stood there and dropped off some papers."

Kail said she did not visit the home of Sanders, the board president, because she knows he would object.

Jones defended the board members' right to privacy. "These people are volunteers and we're fortunate to have them," he said, explaining why Plantation's attorney was contacted. "They shouldn't have their private life invaded. It's the association's responsibility to respect their privacy."

But Kail believes Jones invaded her privacy by complaining to her boss at Century 21 after she listed her office phone number in a letter in the Plantation newsletter, and attached a Century 21 cover sheet to a fax to the Plantation management office.

Kail also said her two recent deed restriction citations -- about overgrowth and yard debris -- represent more retaliation. Jones, in response, said the deed restriction citations were routine. And he said he contacted Century 21 because he was concerned she might be using community issues to promote her business.

- To reach Tim Grant call 226-3471.

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