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Administrators seek end to ‘balcony’ controversy

For Condo Esmeralda Owners

Potential financial crisis hangs over the issue

    New administrators of Condo Torre Esmeralda say it is imperative a controversy over balcony construction by two Vigilance Committee members be settled quickly. “Otherwise it could possibly become a big financial disaster (as much as $25,000 USD)”  said Carlos Suarez and Lothar Batt of B&S Associated.

They were hired by Esmeralda HOA Feb. 1 and inherited the balcony controversy. They were not involved in the construction project last June that has vexed some owners seeking answers in a flood of emails, say the administrators.

Reluctant to use names, the administrators said VC members who approved the work  had what they characterize as the “tacit approval”  of the former administrator who did not attempt to stop the project or mention any objection at the HOA annual meeting Feb. 1. Complaints of some owners have aimed less on what was done, but how it was done. (See report “Balcony Imbroglio” in previous edition of the Pelican Free Press for more details).

With a lack of documentation as evidence to show otherwise, some owners saw the contained approval process as a discourtesy to other owners, conflict of interest and deception in the absence of engineering and façade approvals by the assembly.

The VC tried to explain the process and the project during the Feb. 1 assembly but apparently failed to  satisfy the doubts of critics who flooded the new administrators with strident inquiries.

After researching Q. Roo and municipal laws, the administrators now say some things were done right and some things were done wrong. They say what is important now is for the owners to avoid a crippling financial crisis that could result from prolonged arguments after the fact.

They say if a continuing outcry were to cause the government to require a new set of plans for the building, it would cost about $25,000 USD. “The Vigilance Committee has asked us to mediate this disagreement with the aggrieved owners,  so the HOA can move on to other matters.” In the process, the balcony owners, say the administrators, have agreed to pay the extra maintenance fee (about $19 each USD a month) representing the square footage of the balconies, even though they believe the law does not require the extra payment. It is hoped, the administrators say, that it would assuage critics who have focused on the fee portion of the issue.

The administrators say they have been polling owners for their views of what it would take to settle the issue, allowing the HOA to move on to many other condo matters that need tending, such as painting the building. Among suggestions received from owners, they say, is to return the VC to its 3-member status by having one of the members retire. That option suggests it could signal an official end to what some perceive as the appearance of collusion on the board. It would also assert the parliamentary odd-number rule to avert  tie votes and improve credibility.

In the meantime, the administrators are asking aggrieved owners to tone down the rhetoric, accommodate the necessity to move on, and seriously consider the fee payment and apparent willingness of the balcony owners to make negotiated concessions.

The administrators say they will continue to ask more owners for their views on how to bring this situation to an end to avert lingering tension that could get in the way of progress.

“We are meeting soon with the vigilance committee members involved and will report the outcome to owners,” the administrators said.

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