Archived Story

Saddlebrook arrangement is unfair

Published 10:06pm Friday, March 14, 2014

To the editor:

Homebuyers at Saddlebrook Estates on Kings Fork Road are being subjected to an outrageous homeowners’ association proposition.

Before city officials approved this subdivision, I believe they required the developer to set aside a portion of the development, ostensibly as an open-space land area for future residents to enjoy as an amenity, pursuant to Suffolk’s Unified Development Ordinance.

But instead of the space being made available to homebuyers and their children to enjoy, the developer’s representative, acting as sole director of the Saddlebrook homeowners’ association since its creation, promptly leased virtually all of the association’s open-space common area to a private corporation.

The subdivision residents’ so-called open space is being used as a private commercial horse farm and riding stable, and nobody but its paying customers can use it. And since the riding stable’s customers are virtually all nonresidents of Saddlebrook, the neighborhood’s many children are now relegated to playing in the streets, instead of having a playground area within Saddlebrook’s supposed common area.

Why would Suffolk’s Planning Department allow Saddlebrook’s open-space common area to be converted to a private business use with no apparent benefit to homebuyers?

Homeowners are required to pay approximately $400 in dues annually per housing unit — now approaching $60,000 per year in total — for the property’s use and maintenance, but members can’t actually use their common land and farmhouse.

The City Council, the planning department and the Planning Commission should take a closer look at Suffolk’s subdivision approval policies to assure they really benefit residents.

To make matters even worse, the city recently advertised the association’s common-area property as being up for judicial sale, because the lessee allegedly owes past-due property taxes.

How can the developer legally remain in sole control of “our” homeowners’ association eight years after residents began moving into this development?

Jim Decker

Suffolk

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  • dollyb12

    This is one of the main reasons we want to move out of Suffolk. What you describe is horrible. I would even consult with a lawyer if I were in your shoes. Why should you and I pay to clean up someone else’s mess, or even be forced to deal with the stench, horseflies, etc.? First and foremost, we believe it is a health issue but we cannot get anyone in Suffolk to admit this and take control of the situation. Instead, they turn the tables on us and suggest that WE handle the situation. In other words, Suffolk CAUSES problems. We don’t address concerns face to face with neighbors anymore because people are so touchy and quick to explode these days.

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  • Chris

    Jim,

    The City Planning Department does a lot of things that violate the UDO, as you are finding out. You can appeal to the Zoning Administrator Patricia Southard but she is already allowing developers to violate the UDO. Suffolk Courts will also rule in favor of the City regardless of the facts in the case. Your best bet is to organize and contact state and federal representative to intercede on you behave.

    Chris

    Suggest Removal

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