LOP recall effort moves forward
The fate of the Lake of the Pines board of directors will be determined by a vote of the gated community’s membership now that a petition to trigger a recall election has been certified.
The effort has been emotional for several residents – many of whom feel that there is a widening divide occurring in the gated community and that some of the board members no longer represent the community. All sides are spreading rumors of vandalism and charging that their opinions and intentions have been neglected or misunderstood.
But the movement – which began over a proposed change to the “quiet hours” for recreation on the lake – has triggered two additional petitions that also attempt to tackle emerging concerns in the gated community.
“Having a few petitions out there is a sign of desperation by the people,” said former board member Darrell Brown, who supports all three.
“They can have their opinions, but it is particularly saddening to me to have to serve my community in a situation like this because the system is not broken,” said Board President Ralph Kendrick.
Kendrick said there is already a legal system in place that allows for the community to vote on issues – but it is opposite of what Dave Campbell, the author of the recall petition, and his supporters may want.
After the directors approve a new law, a petition can be circulated – similar to the recall petition – which would force the issue to be taken to a vote of the entire community.
“All it takes is 5 percent of the people and it becomes a major issue,” Kendrick said.
But for people such as Brown, this is just one example of a growing divide in the community where the board is no longer representative. “There is this huge variance between elderly people and the younger family types like myself who move up here to enjoy the amenities,” he said.
The board already relies on public input to make their decisions, said Board Vice President Carl Paquin. He was one of the two “no” votes on the recent change to the quiet hours rules, saying he felt he needed more clarity on the problem with wave-creating recreation.
“I feel like the board has tried very hard. Our board meetings are videotaped. I answer every phone call and every letter,” he said. “The board is listening.”
Not everybody agrees that a recall election is the right way to go.
“I think that my personal philosophy is that unless they have done something egregious or illegal, then we can wait until the next regularly scheduled election,” said resident Rick Kooi, who said he accidentally signed the recall petition but has since tried to remove his name.
He said he realized he wanted a separate solution to the problem of quiet hours and began gathering signatures of residents who merely oppose the new proposed law, which chops the hours of wave-producing activities.
Kooi said he and his supporters have gathered more than 300 signatures, but hope the sheer numbers will sway the board not to do the second reading of the law at their meeting in April, and force them to consider ways to better involve the community in decision-making by using things such as votes and surveys.
Campbell also authored the third petition, which proposes to return laws to the way they were three years ago. He said the changes that have been made since then were not approved by the members of the gated community.
But regardless, the recall election will go forward. The petition, which needed signatures from 5 percent of the membership – or 97 members – has been certified, Kendrick confirmed. There will now be a town hall meeting and residents will be issued a ballot where they can vote on whether to keep any, all, or none of the directors.
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