As concrete mixers churn out the next driveway in the Parkside subdivision, some residents are fuming over the idea of being forced to pay for damage in common areas.
Nearly a year after the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 141 homes in Parkside, the association wants to extract a special assessment of $1,700 from all Parkside residents, even those whose homes didn't burn, to pay for sprinklers, drainage infrastructure and other repairs.
"I know a lot of people are definitely upset," says a spokeswoman with Parkside at Mountain Shadows property manager Hammersmith Management, who declines to be identified by name. "No one in a million years thought this would happen."
It's the latest development in Parkside efforts to recover from the June 26 conflagration that claimed 80 percent of the subdivision's 178 homes.
Within weeks of the fire, resident Terry Rector, an attorney, discovered the board had failed to carry property insurance as required by the association's covenants to cover common-area improvements, including losses due to fire ("Neighborhood dissociation," News, Aug. 15). He says in order to opt out, another covenant required the board to obtain a two-thirds vote of owners, but that apparently didn't happen.
The association claimed it didn't own anything, although El Paso County assessor records show the HOA owns the cul-de-sacs. Then the HOA said the common areas weren't insurable. On Monday, the Hammersmith spokeswoman said the common areas that needed to be insured were insured, but she didn't elaborate.
Regardless, as of Monday, 16 Parkside homes were completed and 35 others were in various stages of construction, according to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. So the association needs to fund repairs, and they're asking members to approve the one-time charge to raise $302,600.
Fire damage repairs will cost $140,000 for the sprinkler system, $60,000 for drainage repairs, and $102,600 for curbs, concrete, a construction coordinator's salary, trees and vegetation. Apparently, the association hasn't been able to amass the money needed from its $113-per-month, per-home monthly dues (reduced to $40 for those who lost homes).
"I'm not comfortable paying it," says Beth Bushie, who lived in Parkside for five years before the fire burned her house. "They haven't shown us the actual data, like, 'Here's a list of things that are destroyed,' and, 'We got these estimates.' I think it's completely unprofessional they would just come up with it out of the blue."
Rector still wants to know why the board won't simply collect on a liability insurance policy the HOA carried to cover board and officer error for not holding insurance on common areas.
It's a question Bushie wonders about, too. "Every time someone tries to bring that up, the board says, 'Don't talk about it,'" she reports. "I'd be willing to say it was an honest mistake, and we wouldn't have to be mad at anyone. Just move on."
HOA members are slated to vote on the special assessment June 12.
Another special charge the HOA imposed April 1 — $2,000 for those submitting plans to the association's Architectural Control Committee — has already been rescinded. The fee, or "ransom," as Rector calls it, probably wasn't collectible anyway, because Regional Building official Henry Yankowski says there's no requirement the HOA's architecture committee approve of plans before they're submitted to RBD for approval.
HOA attorney Kelly Dude declined to comment via e-mail.