Driftwood Keys residents almost have their day in court

HANSVILLE — A verbal disagreement between two factions of Driftwood Keys residents has landed both sides in Superior Court.

On Sept. 19, four residents of Driftwood Keys in Hansville continued their effort for a court ruling as to whether the Driftwood Key Club legally has the authority to enforce payment of annual dues by placing liens on properties.

The question remains unanswered. The court agreed to a continuance; another hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 1:30 p.m.

The residents, Sharon and husband Michael Feola, Linda Smith and George Willis, combined forces in the effort. Court documents state the individuals do not use the club’s amenities — paid for by annual dues — and they think it’s unfair to pay them.

The documents state Driftwood Key Club placed liens on all their properties. A lien is a monetary encumbrance of a property paid by the time it is sold, said real estate agent Sonny Woodward with John L. Scott in Kingston.

Homeowners associations do have the authority to place liens on homes and properties, Woodward said.

“Obviously it depends on the strength of the homeowners association, depends on who’s in charge and how they enforce the rules,” he said.

Woodward said homeowners associations wind up in court frequently and it depends on the courts interpretation of the association’s written rules — referred to as CCNRs.

“The courts are pretty strong in favor of the CCNRs because that’s what affects everyone. When you buy a property in a coveted subdivision you agree to those conditions,” Woodward said. “What it really boils down to is how CCNRs are enforced and how strong the board is.”

Gerald Kearney, the Kingston attorney representing the four Driftwood Keys residents — said his clients are not able to comment until a court decision is made.

According to court documents, although the Feolas objected to paying dues they did so anyway because they were so low and it wasn’t worth the court fees.

The Feola’s bought their property in 1998.

Mike Bookey, who served on the Driftwood Key committee as chair of architectural control until August (he also is the manager of the Port of Kingston) said club operations fund dues were recently increased for the 2008/2009 year but weren’t increased before that since 2001.

“At the same time inflation and rising fuel prices had increased the cost of operations greatly,” he said.

The board motioned to increase the dues from $380 to $481.50 annually (about $8.50 each month) to cover current expenses. Every decision to raise dues takes a vote of the 599 property owners, he said.

“The majority of DWK members voted to increase operating fund dues. No other fund dues were increased,” Bookey said. “Everything takes a vote of the membership. I don’t use the Kitsap County Library and never have the police come to my house but I pay for it in my taxes because I choose to live here. Hey, it’s called democracy. That’s my attitude.”

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