HOLIDAY ISLAND -- The Holiday Island Board of Commissioners engaged in a lively exchange Monday about the two lawsuits the community is facing , as well as changes to its amenity regulation to allow non-property owner golf memberships.
The lawsuit discussion was held because of attorney Matt Bishop's request for clarification on a settlement offer made by Table Rock Landing, which spelled out five points. At a Feb. 5 special meeting, the HISID board agreed on the first four points: that Table Rock Landing would pay for its golf, that its owners can purchase activity cards at the property owner rate, that HISID would pay $30,000 in TRL's legal fees and that TRL would relinquish its former request for commissioner election voting rights. The fifth point was that TRL would be assessed at the R-1 improved rate.
Bishop had recommended the board reject the terms because of a separate lawsuit, Bischoff v. HISID, which "contains an attack on the 2011 assessment which is similar to that of TRL," he wrote.
Bishop said Monday he was unclear on the terms of the settlement offer and seemed unaware that the board had voted on them Feb. 5. He also said that in a conversation with TRL's attorney, they had insisted on voting rights.
Commissioner Greg Davis urged the board to settle the suit instead of quibbling "over a few dollars" and said the Bischoff suit has nothing to do with TRL. He and other commissioners engaged in a heated debate about interest and penalties owed on the 2011 TRL assessment and on the status of assessing TRL at the R-1 rate.
Bishop said that an agreed-upon settlement can waive penalties, but if it goes to court, "it would be my position they owe that."
He said if the suit does go to court, it could cost another $20,000 in attorney fees and another $15,000 to $20,000 if there is an appeal, but that was only an estimate, out of his control.
He said both the TRL and Bischoff suits attack the district's assessment on similar grounds.
"If Bischoff is correct, you have no assessment at all, no money to assess. Bischoff is also attacking your methodology, and you have also tacitly acknowledged your methodology was wrong," he said. He added that what the board is calling "zoning" are only covenant designations, that the district does not have the authority to zone.
In the following discussion on Reg. 42, which adds classifications of non-property owner golf memberships, Davis objected several times to opening up the golf courses to non-property owners. He said it hurts lot sales because if anyone can play golf, there is no incentive to buy a lot, which results in no increased assessments to the district.
He said he had looked at round counts in the past when the golf courses were open to the public, and "it hasn't increased rounds or done any good.... If we allow non-property owners to buy memberships without ownership, that will be the worst thing we can do."
Commissioner Ken Brown countered that lots didn't sell when the courses were private, either. He said another real estate agent told him he had lost sales because of the negative publicity from the lawsuits, not because of golf. (Ed. note: to hear an mp3 of the discussion between him and Commissioner Ken Brown, click on the link in this story on our website at www.carrollconews.com.)
Property owner Chuck Olson, who said he owns a non-buildable lot, bought it because of golf. He said he compared the new fees for property owner and non-property owner membership.
"It looks I would reasonably come out about the same," he said.
The board made some changes to the wording in the Reg. 42 draft but noted that other changes had not yet been made. It also voted to remove wording about golf course marshals, as there is no money to pay them. It approved a motion to table final approval until a completely revised draft can be furnished. Davis voted nay on a motion to put the new fee schedule, with non-property owner memberships, back into the draft.
In other business, the board:
* Approved a motion to continue to table the Strategic Plan proposed by Chairman Ken Ames.
* Approved a motion to develop a plan to sell HISID-owned lots.
* Approved a motion to continue the contract with the sheriff's department on a month-to-month basis until issues about whether the district can legally contract for security are settled.
* Approved renewal of the annual Risk Assessment and Management Plan with Bancorp South Insurance Services.
* Approved a motion to table proceeding with a plumbing inspection program until a visit with the state plumbing inspector can be arranged.
* Heard District Manager Gerald Hartley report he will recommend the district purchase accounting software from CSA Software Solutions for an estimated total cost of around $14,000, which would include a payroll package. He also reported work will begin in the Clubhouse ballroom to remove mold, and that scaffolding will be up for five to six weeks.
The board will hold another regular meeting Monday, Feb. 25, at 9 a.m. at the district office.