A plan to transfer annual operating costs of the Country Club of Arkansas development to its residents didn’t sit well on Thursday when hundreds of residents showed up at the meeting at a venue with a seating capacity for 50.
The Country Club of Arkansas, L.L.C. called the meeting and sent notification of it on pink postcards to property owners in the city’s largest residential development covering about half of the city.
Owned by developers Tommy Wright of Jacksonville and Jack Wilson, the announcement said an organizational meeting would be held to elect a property owners association board of directors but the plans never got off the ground.
Before the doors were opened at the small structure just off Country Club Parkway, property owners started lining up down the street for at least two blocks trying to get into the meeting.
After the meeting was shouted down, developers agreed to reschedule it for another convenient time at the Jess Odom Community Center, where more people could attend. Those plans have not been announced yet.
Sweltering in record 105-degree heat, tempers were short, and those who didn’t understand the need to have a POA and much less wanted to assume expenses from developers carried the day.
A Monitor reporter who found out from a property owner about the meeting only 10 minutes before it started tried to attend the meeting but was turned away after being told it was a private meeting and he wasn’t welcome.
But POA prospective members outside the meeting as well as those inside clearly made their concerns known.
In fact, the shouting could be heard within blocks of the meeting location as those able to get inside shouted down organizers.
People gathered outside could her residents inside yelling complaints about the limited seating and the plans for a POA.
Outside one property owner said, "If it costs me money — I’m against it."
Nancy Mitchell, another property owner, said the developers didn’t do what they promised to do.
"They were supposed to put sidewalks in themselves," she said.
About the prospects of starting a POA, she said, "For it to protect the property owners, we need to start over."
Another accused the developers of "pinching" homeowners.
"No way!" another property owner shouted. "Everybody wants a POA to pay their expenses."
A calmere resident said she might consider a homeowners association if it did something for the residents. She said when she moved there, she didn’t know anything about the POA.
John Todd, chairman of the Maumelle Planning Commission, who lives in the area and attended the meeting, said "Everyone agreed to establishing a POA when they signed their bill of assurance when they bought their home. They signed the paper, so they had to know."
Other residents said when they bought the property they had no idea the Bill of Assurance called for a POA.
It calls for it when the entire development is 90 percent built out.
One resident complained that the developers were invoking the POA clause now but that they haven’t lived up to their promises to keep the common areas clean and well-mowed, much less built the number of bike and walking paths promised.
He also said he had to call the city just to get the vacant lots moved.
One woman said residents not only needed a POA but should demand it. She said her own property values would decline if no one kept the common areas up.
Another resident, who recently moved to Maumelle from Lakewood, said she didn’t mind paying POA dues in Lakewood because they had a swimming pool and other amenities.
"They don’t have that here," she said. "Why should we pay dues."
A resident, who did attend the meeting, said they were told by developers that the annual expenses property owners would be expected to pick up cost around $40,000 a year.
Another was upset about a rumor that the developers wanted the POA through the residents to shoulder the cost for sidewalks, bike trails and the electrical cost of lighting up the Country Club Parkway.
City officials wanted to distance themselves from the heat.
The Maumelle Planning office said they had no copies of the development’s Bill of Assurance, even in a generic form.
Another property owner in the area said developers may rethink their actions once the POA is set up, and the POA board elected gets switched to a popularly elected board, which then places even more strict building codes and limitations on development of the 5-acre commercial land that adjoins the property.
He said attorneys are already drawing up those plans to impose new restrictions on the developers of the commercial property.
Another resident questioned if all the requirements had been met by developers to dedicate all of the required city streets to the city or if developers had obtained concessions from the city to not meet certain requirements.
Complaints were heard Thursday at the meeting that developers had hoped only a few people would show up to "rubber stamp" their selected board of directors, but developers refused to discuss the issue.