HOA Hall of Shame catches up with Sun City Anthem President
Contact 13 recently inducted Sun City Anthem into the HOA Hall of Shame for preventing a resident from protecting herself and her pets in her own backyard.
In Chief Investigator Darcy Spears' first report, the HOA president dodged her.
But she didn't give up.
She tracked him down and demanded answers.
Darcy Spears: "Hey Jack, I'm Darcy Spears from channel 13. We've tried reaching you a few times. Can you talk to us about what's going on with the fence?"
Jack Troia: "No."
Sun City Anthem HOA President Jack Troia still doesn't want to talk about what he and fellow board members are doing to Doris Vescio.
"I'm just so upset today with this that it's hard for me to talk," says the 85-year-old widow, who goes by the nickname, "Penny."
She's been fighting with Troia and the Sun City Anthem board for more than six months over a fence she put on top of her backyard walls after a coyote nearly killed one of her dogs.
Penny is deaf without her hearing aids and counts on her dogs to alert her to noises at night.
"This is not a good thing for our community," Penny says.
Especially because she got approval from the HOA's Architectural Review Committee not once, but twice, to put up the fences.
Eight months later, they told her to take them down because they claim the contractor violated community rules by making them too tall.
She was also fined $100 a week by the board.
After our investigation began, she made one final appeal.
"I thought maybe that we were going to have some reasonable, sensible answers and the fines would be waived and I would be able to keep my fence, but that's not true."
The board did waive her fines and voted to let her keep the fence--but only for two years.
Then Troia called her in for a meeting after our Hall of Shame story aired.
"How were they explaining why this makes sense--this two-year stay of execution?" Spears asked.
Penny shook her head, answering, "He just said that we're all done, I had my chance before and we're not talking about anything different today."
Troia gave Penny a letter saying if the fence isn't down in two years, the fines begin again.
He also forced her to give him a letter apologizing to the board and waiving their confidentiality requirement regarding her case.
Spears: "You forced her to sign a waiver of the confidentiality so therefore you can talk about it."
Troia: "Darcy, I have no comment. I have no comment whatsoever. It's a matter that's subject to confidentiality."
Spears: "But you guys had her sign that letter releasing you from the confidentiality."
Troia: "End of story."
Spears: "So how is that the end of the story?"
Troia: "End of story. I'm going to lunch."
He heads for the community restaurant, but we're not done.
Spears: "Don't you guys think you should grant her a variance? I mean, where's the rule of reason or common sense in this case?"
Sun City Anthem's own rules say they can grant variances for special circumstances--such as topography, hardship or environmental considerations--all of which exist in Penny's case.
Variances also require approval of surrounding neighbors, which Penny has.
"The bottom line is they can just let you have the fence if they want to?" Spears asked.
"They could if they wanted to but they have voted negatively on that. It's over!"
Take a look at this.
Back in May, an inspector sent by the HOA to Penny's house recommended that the board allow her to keep the fence at eight feet.
Despite that, the ARC sub-committee voted six to one against the recommendation for fear of "setting a precedent."
"The only thing dangerous here is the coyote attacking Doris' dogs," points out Bob Sullivan, Penny's lawyer. "There's no precedent value in granting a variance. By definition, that's what a variance is."
Twelve other homes in Sun City Anthem have fences higher than the six feet community rules allow.
But on Penny's, they won't budge because it might mean admitting they were wrong when they approved it.
"They're more focused on their own egos and looking good and less concerned with the good of the community and the safety of homeowners," Sullivan observed.
"If you feel so strongly about your decision, why won't you stand behind it?" Spears asked Troia as he continued walking away.
Again, he offered no response.
"That's the way they play the game. It's his game. I'm just a victim in this," Penny says.
We take one more crack at him.
"Jack, don't you think your members deserve to hear a little something from you?"
It seems all he's interested in is lunch.
Sun City Anthem residents are ranting about Troia's antics in Internet blogs and emails sent to us here at Contact 13.
Their biggest concern is that they say he plans to run for the board once again.
He may be voted out there, but he'll forever remain in our HOA Hall of Shame.
On a side note, Contact 13 has learned the Sun City Anthem HOA has a much bigger worry right now than a few feet of fence.
They were just audited by the IRS and told they owe more than $1.3 million in back taxes and penalties on money they collected from residents and kept in a surplus account.
Action News is following the progress of several bills before the legislature that would address abuse of power in HOAs and return some rights to homeowners.
Look for future stories on that, and send us your nominations for future Hall of Shamers.
You can email Darcy at email@example.com.