BGIPOA and 5F sued over settlement agreement

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 12.00.49 PM (2)Twenty five years of dispute seemed to have been put aside — at least for a day or so.

The ink was barely dry on an agreement between the Boca Grande Isles Property Owners’ Association and defendants 5F, LLC, and 5F BA, LLC, when those three entities and several other parties were named as defendants in a new lawsuit — one that seeks to prevent BGIPOA and 5F from implementing their agreement.

That agreement would have allowed certain property owners on Three Sisters Island to build a road over lot 99 of the Boca Grande Isles subdivision. Lot 99, owned by 5F, is the location at which the two islands became connected in the mid eighties, according to the complaint, filed May 5.

The plaintiffs, Boca Grande Isle, LLC, Three Sisters Isle, LLC, Redfish Alley, LLC, and Osprey Alley, LLC, own lots 100 and 101 in BGI and three lots in the TSI subdivision on that island. The remaining 11 lots on TSI are owned by 5F, LLC and Mount Massive, LLC, both named among the defendants.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that Ronald Strich, though 5F, acquired lot 99 in BGI and eleven lots on TSI knowing that TSI could only be accessed by water, since the 2nd District Court of Appeals, in 1992, upheld a decision to nullify an attempted revision to BGI’s deed of restrictions to allow for use of lot 99 as a roadway.

“Nevertheless,” the complaint continues, “recognizing that if road access were allowed to (TSI) he would realize substantial profit from developing and selling his properties, Strich hatched a scheme, equal parts coercion and enticement, to convince BGIPOA’S Board of Directors … and … property owners to reverse their long-standing opposition to the use of lot 99 as access to (TSI).”

According to the complaint, he did this by acquiring submerged land around BGI (known as Sunset Flats) “in order to threaten homeowners with the loss of their docks and water access to Charlotte Harbor.”

There were several such lawsuits against homeowners in BGI, though in each case the riparian rights of the homeowners have been so far upheld.

BGIPOA sued 5F in 2014 because it needed to replace its bridge, and that bridge spanned submerged land owned by 5F.

As part of the recent agreement between BGIPOA and 5F to resolve the issue of road access to TSI, 5F would have paid $3 million (enough to cover the cost of replacing the BGI bridge according to those familiar with the project), had its property on TSI assessed annually to the benefit of BGIPOA, and transferred title of Sunset Flats and other submerged lots to BGI homeowners. In return, they would have been granted easement over BGI’s roads and bridge, and been permitted to build a road over lot 99.

The settlement agreement, according to BGI board member Steve Kieffer, was approved by a vote of 100 to two at a BGI property owners meeting.

In the first two counts of the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that BGIPOA has successfully convinced the court to recognize lot 99 for use only as a single family, residential lot and that 5F should be enjoined from using it for any other purpose.

The third count seeks to bar what it calls unlawful changes to the covenants and restrictions related to TSI’s development (i.e. allowing for road access).

The fourth count alleges an overreach and “self-dealing” by BGIPOA board members in, among other things, agreeing to authorize 5F to construct a roadway to TSI “for use by the Strich-owned lots … and not the lots owned by Osprey Alley, LLC, Redfish Alley, LLC, or Three Sisters Isle, LLC …”

The fifth count alleges the same overreach by Three Sisters Homeowners’ Association directors Ron Strich, Chris Johnson, and Jeff Deaterly, accusing them of enabling Strich “to extort money for access to the lots owned by plaintiffs …”

No date has been set for a jury trial, which the plaintiff demanded, nor are any defendants’ responses to the suit available from the Lee county Clerk of Court public records site.