Category Archives: The Duty to Act within the Scope of Authority

The Club’s BOD thinks it has the EXCLUSIVE Authority on the Owners’ Lots.

Earlier this month, I contacted the members of our BOD to discuss Rule 1-1. None of the seven BOD members came forward to support my “radical idea” that …The members have the exclusive responsibility and Authority in the management and maintenance of their lots and the club shall have exclusive responsibility and Authority in the management and maintenance of the Common Areas… should replace  Rule 1-1 …The club shall have exclusive responsibility and Authority in the management and maintenance of the Property, including Common Areas…

On the contrary, in her  February 9, 2021  email, the BOD’s President advised me as follow: …“You are proposing that Rule 1-1 be changed to The members have the exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance of their lots and the club shall have exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance of the Common Areas”  You are correct that the Board can change the Rules. However if the rule was changed as you have proposed then it would not be consistent with the Declarations”…

The deafening silence of six BOD members and the President’s response represents the BOD’s wrong and illegal interpretation of the Declaration Of Restrictions.

Unfortunately, the Club’s BOD is under the delusional belief that they, the BOD and not the Owners, have the Exclusive Authority on the 299 residential lots. Or the BOD prefers the “power grab” its illegal interpretation, and Rule 1-1 will allow it. None of these two possibilities is acceptable, and no effort should be spared until Rule 1-1 is changed or removed.

Fellow Owners, your silence is an acceptance that the  BOD, not you, has Exclusive Authority on your lots. Join us in demanding that the BOD relinquish its illegal “power grab” as declared in  Rule 1-1

David Etzion

Lot 246

Rule 1-1 and Interpretations to the Declaration of Restrictions

The Declaration of Restrictions is the Club’s most important legal document.
When the BOD and Owners argue about the Declaration of Restrictions, each side presents his interpretation of the Declaration of Restrictions.

One must evaluate if any interpretation is illegal and in conflict with Federal or State law; an interpretation that conflicts with Federal or State laws cannot be considered.

I do not have a problem with the Declaration of Restrictions; I have a problem with the Club’s BOD illegal interpretation as presented in Rule 1-1 in the Book of Rules.

The BOD’s wrong interpretation of the Declaration of Restriction goes against Federal and State property laws and cannot be considered.

The Declaration of Restriction states:
“the Club was expressly created to have exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance of Indian Hammock Hunt and Riding Club (the “Property”),”

My interpretation is as follow:
When the Club was created in 1973, it held all the deeds to the Common Areas and the 299 numbered lots; therefore, this statement did not contradict any Federal or State laws.
Each time the Club sold one of the 299 numbered lots to an Owner, the Club also transferred the exclusive responsibility and authority to the Owner, the new holder of a Fee Simple deed to the lot.

Suppose the Declaration of Restrictions’ goal is for the Club to retain forever the exclusive responsibility and authority on the 299 numbered lots, as Rule 1-1 implies. In that case, the Declaration of Restrictions should have said, “the Club will have exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance of Indian Hammock Hunt and Riding Club (the “Property”).” and the Club will not be able to sell the numbered lots. The Club may be able to rent them to Members, and the Club could not transfer any of the deeds.

This Rule 1-1 is the most critical issue in IH; it represents BOD’s attitude that cannot be tolerated by Owners and must be speedily removed from the Book of Rules.

The BOD must consult its lawyer before brushing off the Owners’ interpretations; if this issue is not settled amicably, then an impartial legal firm should be obtained by the disputing Owners and the BOD. Not following this route will lead to Owners being forced to litigation, a painful and costly exercise for the Owners, not so much for the BOD members.

Fellow Owners, please let me know if you agree and ready to discuss our options.

David Etzion
Lot 246
Indian Hammock Owners’ Voice
Indian Hammock Owners’ Rights

OWNER vs. MEMBER and “Book of Rules” Rule 1-1

When one buys a lot in Indian Hammock, he becomes an OWNER. He holds a “Fee Simple” deed to his PROPERTY.

Each OWNER undertook to become a MEMBER in Indian Hammock Hunt and Ridding Club (the CLUB).

When an OWNER becomes a MEMBER in the CLUB, it makes him subject to the CLUB’s administrative rules and regulations; it also gives him RIGHTS in the CLUB’s PROPERTY, the COMMON AREAS
On the other hand, being a MEMBER in the CLUB does not give the CLUB any RIGHT in the OWNER’s PROPERTY.

Federal and State Property Laws protect the OWNER’S EXCLUSIVE authority in his PROPERTY.
The OWNER’s RIGHTS are only restricted by the County zoning and usage codes and the CLUB DEED’s RESTRICTIONS.

In December 2020, the CLUB’s BOD adopted Rule 1-1 in its Book of Rules, stating the following: “The club shall have exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance of the Property, including Common Areas”

Rule 1-1 transfers all of the OWNER’s RIGHTS in his PROPERTY, granting them to the CLUB’s BOD.

The following is the legal definitions of EXCLUSIVE:
“Shutting out; debarring from interference or participation; vested in one person alone. An exclusive right is one which only the grantee thereof can exercise, and from which all others are prohibited or shut out. A statute does not grant an “exclusive” privilege or franchise, unless it shuts out or excludes others from enjoying a similar privilege or franchise.”

I call on OWNERS to join me in motivating the BOD to immediately remove Rule 1-1 from the current Book of Rules.

David Etzion
Lot 246

Response to IH BOD proposed version of the “Book of Rules.”

Dear Board of Directors (BOD)
The following is my response to your latest proposed version of the “Book of Rules.”

Page 4.
General Rules:
1.1. You don’t have the “exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance” of my lot 246, which is part of “the property.”
I have such responsibility and authority.

1.2. You are missing the main point; this is the place to make a statement:
No rule shall apply if it contradicts or violates the Declaration of Restrictions.

1.6.10 “Rules and regulations adopted by the Board” does not regulate activities on my lot 246. Only the Declaration of Restrictions and the By-Laws do.

Page 7
7.3 Unattended Status: Total nonsense. You can’t block my access to my Lot 246; I am entitled to free access 24 hours, seven days a week each day of the year.

Page 8
8. Driving Privileges.
Driving is Owner’s Right, subject to Florida Laws.
No BOD can take away my right, and replace it with a “privilege”, to drive from the gate to my lot 246.

Page 11
Property Use:
11.1 This is an admission and announcement by the BOD that they will continue to ignore and violate the Declaration of Restrictions when the BOD allows itself to do so.

The BODs are “struggling” to justify that in contradiction to currently existing rule 27, they violated the Declaration of Restrictions and entered into a contract for picking palmetto berries; they have done it in 2019 and again in 2020.

Adding the words “for the financial benefits of the club” has no meaning or weight, BOD, you govern within the power limitations instated by the Declaration of Restrictions, or you are a renegade BOD fabricating laws to amend the Declaration of Restriction without obtaining 2/3 of the owner votes.

11.2 The BOD states that the Declaration of Restrictions forbids Berries Picking but makes a rule that allows Berries Picking.

Page 11
13. Animal Restrictions
13.1 The BOD is adding a Restriction camouflaged as a Rule.
This Restriction can’t be enforced without amending the Declaration of Restrictions with the required 2/3 owners’ votes

Page 12
15.1.7 If the Tenant is not allowed to use Indian Hammock amenities (see page 13 paragraph 15.3.1), why should the owner also give away his right to use Indian Hammock amenities?

Page 14
Paragraph 16.
This issue is covered in The Declaration of Restrictions.
It should not be rewritten here.

David Etzion
Lot 246

The Declaration of Restrictions is the Law in Indian Hammock.

The Declaration of Restrictions is what its name implies, Restrictions, taking away some of the Individual Owner/Member’s Rights, in order to create a livable Community.

The Declaration of Restrictions contains all of the Deed Restrictions and it is the only document a Deed Restrictions can be placed.
Deed Restrictions cannot be amended, added, or removed without being voted on by the Owners and getting a 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The Declaration of Restrictions also contains those Guidelines, Rules and Regulations which cannot be added to, removed from, or amended without being voted on by the Owners and getting a 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The Declaration of Restrictions protects the individual Owner/Member’s rights by establishing that any future restriction on individual Owner/Member’s rights can not be done without being voted on by the Owners and getting a 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The Declaration of Restrictions Article XII – General Provision; Section 3. says: “The Club, by two thirds (2/3) vote of approval of the membership, may modify, amend or add to this Declaration of Restrictions.”

The 2019 Florida Statutes 720.306; Section (b) says: “Unless otherwise provided in the governing documents or required by law, and other than those matters set forth in paragraph (c), any governing document of an association may be amended by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the voting interests of the association.”

The Declaration of Restrictions only gave the Board of Directors the authority to create Rules and Regulations relating to administration and management, as long as those Rules and Regulations are not in conflict with the Declarations of Restrictions.
Only such Rules and Regulations can be voted in by the majority of the Board of Directors.

What is this fight about?

Let us start with definitions:

Restrictions – Individual Owner’s Rights that Owners agreed to sacrifice in order to create a livable community. Restrictions should be kept to the bare minimum; only 2/3 Majority of Owners’ vote can add, remove, or amend a restriction.

Restrictions are part of the Declaration of Restrictions.
Example of a Restriction is the “50’ No Build Zone” in the Declaration of Restrictions, Article Viii Section 3:
“No Building shall be erected on any Residential lot closer than 50’ to the front, side or rear lot lines…”

Rules – Managerial, Administrative and Operational Regulations that do not take away Individual Owner’s Rights.

Rules can’t be in conflict with the Declaration of Restrictions or the By-Laws.
Rules are suggested by the BOD to the Owners for discussions and are voted in by the BOD. Rules are part of the BOD Book of Rules.
An example of a Rule is the “Establishing of Committees”  in the Book of Rules 1. General paragraph 2.1
“The Board shall at its first meeting of the New Year, establish by written resolution its committees for the coming year (“Committee or Committees”) and the role of each Committee”

What are we fighting for and why.

Over the years when the BODs did not believe they would get the required 2/3 Majority Owners vote, chose to pass Restrictions disguised as Rules, and incorporated them in the Book of Rules.
This practice illegally shifted Power and Rights from the Owners to the BODs.
The goal is to restore this power and rights back to the Owners by forcing the BOD to cancel those illegal Rules; alternatively, the BOD can try to get the required 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The goal is to Restore power and rights back from the BOD to the Owners.

It will require time, effort and perseverance as the BODs will fight back using all their assumed power to maintain the gain in power they have achieved.
With time, using information channels that were not available when Indian Hammock started, we will be able to get transparency and information that is not easily available now, share it, and get enough Owners involved in order to shift the power and Rights back to where they belong.

The Notorious Buffer Restriction #4

Indian Hammock’s BOD, in violation of the Declaration of Restrictions, put a 25′ Buffer Deed Restriction into the Book of Rules.

The process was slow and took many years, and it was carried out in stages by a few BOD.

The following information was obtained from longtime residents of Indian hammock.

Sometime in 1998 the idea of a 15’ Buffer was put by the BOD, as a non-enforceable Guideline and recommendation to the Owners/Members.

Over the years from 1998 to 2007 this non-enforceable Guideline was extended from 15’ to 25’.

In 2010, the BOD chose to add these Guidelines as “Enforceable Instructions” to the Book of Rules via Rule 11; creating a “25′ Buffer Deed Restriction”.

One may suggest that this was an “Honest Mistake”.
Others suggested that the BOD was aware of the fact that getting a 2/3 majority vote from the Owners/Members, in order to add a 25′ Buffer Deed Restriction to the Declaration of Restrictions would be a “mission impossible”.
The BOD decided to change the 25’ Buffer idea from a non-enforceable guideline to something they might be able to enforce.
The BOD put it to the Owners/Members “consideration” and then voted it into the Book of Rules, to become Rule number 11.

Rule number 11 in the Book of Rules says:
11. Building
11.1 The Club’s Land Clearing, Landscaping and Building Guidelines, adopted as Rules regulating clearing and construction by the Board August 19, 2007, are incorporated herein by reference as a rule.

This is all the information I received in my 2017 “welcome package”.
This is all the information the new owners are receiving today.
The details of the above mentioned “2007 Guidelines” do not appear in rule 11, or anywhere else in the Book of Rules.

Some Board Members tell me that they are the same Guidelines that are included in the current Land-clearing/Landscaping packet.

A 25′ Buffer Guidelines were just established in February 2020 by the Ad Hoc Buffer Committee and if they are going to become part of the Land-clearing/Landscaping packet they will be, according to the BOD, enforceable instructions, not just Guidelines.

The Notorious “Buffer Restriction” #3

I ask the Chair of the Buffer Ad-Hoc Committee, the Committee Members and the Owners/Members to consider the following:

Declaration of Restrictions
Article VIII – Building Control
Section 1:
“Refusal of approval of plans and specifications, location and plot plan, by the club may be on any ground, including purely aesthetic grounds, in the sole and absolute discretion of the club.”

Section 2:
“The plans and specifications shall contain a plot plan with adequate provision for landscaping, including the planting of trees and shrubs and the preservation of uncleared, natural areas.”
“Landscaping as required shall be completed at the time of completion of the building, as evidenced by the issuance of a certificate of occupancy by Okeechobee County

In this last paragraph, the Club granted the Policing and the Approval of the landscaping and “buffer” to the Okeechobee county.

The Certificate of Occupation issued by Okeechobee County is the Owner’s proof that the Owner fulfills all of his/her Obligations to the Club in regard to Landscaping and Buffers, as done by the certificate date.

As per Article VIII; The BOD has a lot of power and authority to enforce Landscaping Plans, but only in the early stage when the Owner/Member submits his/her Building application package for approval.

After the Building application package is approved by the club, with or without any of “the good stuff”, it is a “done deal”.

The BOD has no Authority to say: “We don’t like your Landscaping and Buffer, as done on the date of your Certificate of Occupation, and now you need you to redo it”.

The BOD can’t change Article VIII of the Declaration of Restrictions “on the fly” and “at-will” whenever it wishes to.

Having a discussion about “what plants should be included, how large they should be, how they should be placed, how many plants should be replaced, etc.” and submit “recommendations” to the BOD, is practically suggesting Rewriting/Amending the Declaration of Restrictions which describes in length how the Landscaping including the Buffer is handled.

The Notorious “Buffer Restriction” #2

In my previous posting I asked the question:
When and how did this “Buffer Restriction” get voted on to become the law of the land?

In an exchange of opinions on our Facebook group Indian Hammock Owners’ Rights I directed this question to the President of our Board of Directors who is also the chair of the Buffer Ad-Hoc Committee.

I did this in advance of the first Buffer Ad-Hoc Committee meeting of February 2, 2020.

The Purpose of this Buffer Ad-Hoc Committee was described as follows:
“When a buffer is replaced, we do not have a good description of what plants should be included, how large they should be, how they should be placed, how many plants should be replaced, etc. The purpose of this committee is to create a proposal for the BOD, which defines what needs to be done to replace a buffer”

I believe that we have here two possible scenarios.

  • There is a legal, enforceable Buffer Restriction.
  • There is a guideline/suggestion of what is a desirable Buffer, one that will automatically be approved by the Architectural Review Committee.

These are two completely different scenarios, leading to two completely different sets of suggestions to be discussed.

The first scenario more than likely requires legal advice in order to make such definitions or suggestions enforceable in a court of law.

In the second scenario any suggestions must be extremely friendly to the Owner as they will be only suggestions, not enforceable by a court of law.

Instead of providing an answer to my question, the President of the Board of Directors responded “the assumption going into the meeting is that the 25’ buffer is a legitimate rule within the building restrictions”

This response is unacceptable to me for the following reasons:

  • Nowhere is a 25’ buffer mentioned in the Declaration of Restrictions or the By-Laws.
  • The only place a “Buffer” starts appearing is in the Building Application Package that the Owners are asked to submit to the Architectural Approval Committee before doing any work on their lot.

The “Buffer” issue caused in the past and is causing now a lot of animosity and mistrust between the Owners/Members and the Boards of Directors.

So here is my question again, mostly directed at our current Board of Directors and its President.

When and how did this “Buffer Restriction” get voted on to become the law of the land?

The Notorious “Buffer Restriction”

There is a Buffer Ad-Hoc Committee meeting on February 2 at 3:00PM in the Lodge

This is a very important meeting, open to all of the Owners/Members and I plead with each of you to come and take part in the discussions, no matter if you agree with my personal opinion or not.

My Opinion:
Before getting into the “nitty-gritty” of the notorious “Buffer Restriction”, one must better step back and look at the big picture.

Indian Hammock Declaration of Restrictions is the Indian Hammock “Law of the Land”.

Each Owner/Member should respect and obey the Declaration of Restrictions, as much as each USA Citizens should respect and obey the Constitution of the United State.

In order to place my argument in a clear way, I need to start with another restriction, a valid one, legally taking away Owner/Member’s individual right to do what he wishes on a portion of his private lot.

I am referring to the “50’ no-build zone”. (which is even greater than what the Okeechobee Building code requires)

I am quoting from the Declaration of Restrictions Article VIII “Building Control” Section 3.

“No Building shall be erected on any Residential Lot closer than 50 feet to the front, side or rear lot lines thereof.”

This “50’ no-build zone” is a “Law of the Land” in Indian Hammock.

On the other hand, there is nothing in the Declaration of Restrictions about a “25’ Buffer”.

This “Buffer Restriction”, call it a rule, requirement, regulation whatever one wishes to; Is a Restriction that takes away the Owner/Member’s individual right in regards the vegetation on a big portion of his/her lot

There are other sections in the Declaration of Restrictions that will force an Owner/Member to maintain and keep the vegetation on his/her lot to a high standard, so it will be a pleasure to look at from the roads and the common areas, but there is nothing about a “25’ buffer”.

So, the question to ask is:

When and How did this “Buffer Restriction” get voted on to become “the Law of the Land”?

Is it legally the “Law of the Land” or is it only an unenforceable recommendation, no matter how good of a recommendation it is.

Only after, and depending on how, this question is answered, it makes sense to continue with the “nitty-gritty” or stop this discussion about a “Law of the Land” that may not exist.