The dissension is mounting in The Villages at Rancho El Dorado.
“It’s getting really ugly right now,” a resident said this week.
As of Friday, the community will be without an onsite management company after Associated Asset Management of Tempe turns out the lights at the clubhouse office.
At the same time, four of the five members of the HOA board who announced in late June they would step down will apparently rescind their resignations and have signaled their intention to make an appointment this week to fill the fifth seat, recently vacated by Robert Sperry.
The agenda for a special board meeting at 6:30 p.m. today via ZOOM includes an item for the “Rescinding of Board Member Resignations.” Listed below are the names of Tony Crisostomo, the board president, and directors Greg Hatch, John Martinez and Mick Barlow. Two other directors, Nina Insalaco and Rose Garcia, did not resign and will remain on the seven-member volunteer board.
In a posting on The Villages message board Monday afternoon, Crisostomo announced his rescission:
“After serious consideration, soul searching and tremendous support from the Villages, I am rescinding my resignation from the board of directors of The Villages at Ranch (sic) El Dorado, effective immediately. Thank You all for your support.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if the resignations can be pulled back.
One resident, in reply to Crisostomo’s posting, asked “how can you just decide to withdraw your resignation when it was already announced and accepted?”
A second agenda item for the meeting is listed to “Appoint Open Position on the Board Vacated by Bob Sperry.” It lists three names: Brendan Walsh, Victoria Kuchinski and Peg Chapados, the former HOA board member and former city councilmember.
But Chapados said in an email late Thursday morning that she had withdrawn her name from consideration. She declined to answer further questions.
AAM decided in June to move on from The Villages after 16 years. Its exit is effective Friday, but under state law the firm will continue to provide minimum services, including collecting fees and paying bills, for another 30 days or until the community hires a replacement management firm.
In a letter to residents in its July newsletter, AAM executives pointed to recent dissension between some residents and the HOA board and management company as a reason for its decision.
But AAM will no longer provide onsite management. As a result, it is expected that some services, such as pool maintenance, will not be done until a new management company is hired. The HOA board plans to change the locks at the community office on Friday.
A search committee has conducted due diligence on 12 management companies, which have a Friday deadline to submit their bids to take over at The Villages. The committee will respond with counterproposals.
Among the candidates are firms already managing other HOA communities in Maricopa.
At tonight’s meeting, the board also plans to suspend all standing committees except for the architectural review committee until a new management company is hired and “board action is taken to resume committee activity,” according to the agenda.
That action would leave the board unable to authorize emergency action to handle flooding, for example, some residents say.
There has been growing unrest in the development in recent months as some residents started questioning things that were being done without board approval.
“AAM got way too comfortable and didn’t feel like it had to work as hard,” said the resident close to the situation, who asked not to be named. “And the Villages got way too comfortable with AAM.”
There was not enough oversight, this person said: “People started questioning things happening without being approved. That’s where things started to spiral out of control. Other things were not being taken care of. When people started looking into things further, they were told, it’s none of your business.”
Some of those questions were being asked within the HOA board, the source said.
Residents of The Villages, which has nearly 2,000 homes, pay $285 quarterly dues. The HOA has about $2.5 million in reserves.
AAM’s exit came after InMaricopa.com reported on two controversies in the community involving residents, the board and AAM.
Bryan Ott, a veteran and new Villages resident, shared his account of a June 17 run-in with AAM manager Diane Zavala at the community clubhouse office. According to Ott, Zavala grabbed his cellphone and refused to give it back. Police were summoned to the clubhouse – twice – on a report of a threatening man but no charges were filed in the incident. Ott called the incident “appalling.”
Earlier, Heather Walter shared her family’s experience of being locked out of the community’s pools because she and her husband work on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic at a Phoenix-area hospital. AAM subsequently lifted a health screening requirement for residents from the HOA’s “Reopening Plan” so that amenities could be used if a Waiver and Release of Liability form was signed.
AAM declined to comment on both stories when they were published.