Category Archives: Owners’ Rights

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
https://IHMyHome.com
Indian Hammock Owners’ Rights
https://www.facebook.com/groups/188079885581793

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

What I want to achieve and what I will use GoFundMe for.

What needs to be fixed

Indian Hammocks Hunt and Riding Club (IH) Declaration of Restriction and By-Laws were created in 1973 by the Developers, protecting the Developers’ interests and vision for IH.
Amenities that did not exist in 1973 are now essential and changed the way communities operate.
Since 1973 IH has transformed from a Hidden Weekend Retreat lots and cabins to mostly full-time and some part-time residences of an outdoor-oriented community.
IH Owners’ needs changed, and the Governing Documents need to be revised and updated to accommodate the technologies and demographic changes that took place since 1973.
The outdated documents and IH members’ apathy allowed the IH BOD to overstep their authority and caused erosion in IH Owners’ rights.  

What I want to achieve

As of November 2019, I am campaigning for IH’s Owners’ Rights and got to the stage where actions and finance are needed to achieve important goals.

I will use GoFundMe to benefit the IH members, desiring changes in IH outdated Declarations of Restrictions and By-Laws and looking for restoring and protecting the Owners’ rights in Indian Hammock.

These are the three issues/goals I intend to address.

1. Restore and Promote Owner’s rights on his Lot:

We already have three Governmental bodies imposing Restrictions and Laws, limiting individuals’ usage of their privately owned Lot.
We have Federal Laws, State Laws, and County Laws.
It makes no difference if one believes that there are too many of these Laws or not enough; we cannot change or remove any of these Laws or Restrictions by voting in IH.
I believe that we should not further restrict Owners on what they can do or can’t do on their Lot.
I believe we should not add more laws and restrictions in a fourth, lower governmental body, being IH Club and its Board of Directors (BOD).
The BOD should not be allowed to establish any Guideline, Law, or Restriction concerning an Owner’s Lot; we have enough of those imposed by the Federal, State, and County

Let remove the Laws and Restrictions imposed on Owners’ Lot by IH Club and the BOD.

2. Enforcement in Indian Hammock to be done by Okeechobee County:

IH does not have the workforce or the financial resources, and many times the BOD lacks the interest to enforce the restrictions and laws.
This fact creates selective enforcement, total injustice, and a high level of animosity and mistrust.
The management or any objecting Owner can refer all alleged violations to Okeechobee County.

3. Limiting the BOD control in the Common Area:

The BOD will have the authority to manage the common area.
The BOD should only administrate and maintain the common area.
The BOD should not be allowed to make any changes to the common area’s usage without obtaining 200 or more votes supporting such change.
The BOD Should not issue any law or restriction in contradiction to the Declaration of Restriction or the By-Laws.

What will be paid for by “GoFundMe”

A.  Obtain and maintain Email Marketing Software to keep supporting owners informed.
B.  Hire legal services to:
      1.   Research IH Documents.
      2.   Established the legal procedures to amend IH documents in the spirit of the above set goals.
      3.   Prepare proxies requests to obtain 200 votes for each required change.
      4.   Deal with the BOD to secure the amendments to the Declaration of Restriction and By-Laws.

Join me if you agree.

David Etzion
Lot 246

Amending the 1973 IH Governing Documents

IH Declaration of Restriction and By-Laws were created in 1973 by the Developers, protecting the Developers’ interests and their vision for Indian Hammock.

Amenities that did not exist in 1973 are now essential and changed the way communities operate.

Since 1973 Indian Hammock transformed from a Hidden Weekend Retreat lots and cabins to mostly full-time and some part-time residences of an outdoor-oriented community.

The needs of Indian Hammock Owners changed, and the Governing Documents need to be revised and be updated to accommodate the technologies and demographic changes that took place since 1973.

Considerations for the Revised IH Governing Documents:

Technologies:
Computers.
Internet.
Smart Phones.
Email.
Zoom.
Online Shopping.

Demographic changes:
Reduce interference of the BOD on owner Full-time and Part-time residences.
Remove restrictions that suppress the Owners’ sustainability.

Let start a polite conversation.
Suggestions, opinions, and ideas are more than welcome.

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

2020-10-19
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:
7.3.1.3 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

https://ihmyhome.wordpress.com

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.

Is there an enforceable “25’ Buffer” in Indian Hammock?

This argument is NOT about if “25’ Buffer” is good or bad Idea.
This argument is about is there is an enforceable “25 Buffer” in Indian Hammock or not.

The assumption of an enforceable “25’ Buffer” is based on Rule 11 in the Book of Rules.
Rule number 11 says:
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.

I was told that Rule 11 was voted on by the BOD and added to the Book of Rules in 2010.
I was told that the current version of the Land-clearing/Landscaping packet is identical to the August 19, 2007 version.

Page one of the Land-clearing/Landscaping packet contains the following statement:
“…The land-clearing/landscape packet was produced in accordance with the Declaration of Restrictions of Indian Hammock…”          
This statement is not true.
Rule 11 and the Land-clearing/Landscaping packet are in violation to the Declaration of Restrictions.

The Land-clearing/Landscaping packet violates the Declaration of Restrictions in the following  two paragraphs:
On page 3 paragraph 8. – the land-clearing/landscape packet says:
“A natural buffer of twenty-five feet must be left around all property lines. Property lines that have a utility easement in use should have a natural buffer of twenty-five feet beyond the easement.”

On page 4 paragraph 1. – the land-clearing/landscape packet says:
“…A buffer of twenty-five feet must be left around all property lines. Property lines that have a utility easement in use should have a natural buffer of twenty-five feet beyond the easement. It is the responsibility of the land owner/Member to ensure these buffer zones are kept intact during clearing.  Fines and/or the requirement to replace the vegetation can be imposed. Should this area be void of vegetation on your lot, additional landscaping material may be needed. It is preferable that this be the natural vegetation of Indian Hammock. If a fence is proposed, this buffer should work to complement the design of the fence.”

These two paragraphs must be rephrased to what they used to be, a guideline of what is desirable, not to be stated as if they are the “Law of the Land”
The Declaration of Restrictions does not contain a Deed Restriction that takes away the Owner’s Rights, or controls the vegetation in the “25’ Buffer” and gives this control to the BOD.

The Declaration of Restrictions already has a Deed Restriction that covers the Owner’s land near the lot’s boundaries; it is the 50’ No Build Zone.

Article VIII Section 3 says:
“No building shall be erected on any Residential lot closer than 50 feet to the front, side or rear lot line thereof…”

Nowhere in the Declaration of Restrictions is a “25’ Buffer” incorporated into the 50’ No Build Zone.

A 25’ Buffer Zone with vegetation restrictions can only be added to the Declaration of Restrictions by amending the Declaration of Restrictions, requiring a 2/3 majority vote of all Owners/Members

For more about Restrictions, Rules, and What is this fight about:

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.