Several homeowners are in a heated battle with their Waller County neighborhood developer, saying he is slapping them around, even after last year’s wildfire devastated much of the neighborhood.
Several resident’s of Remington Forest on FM 1488 in Waller County, claim that developer Michael Fitzmaurice has threatened them with foreclosure, while also running the development’s homeowners association illegally.
“If I would have known this homeowners association and developer were so crooked, I never would have bought here,” said resident Barbara McRann.
The residents say that Fitzmaurice, in his capacity as president of the homeowners association, has sent out letters claiming they are late on homeowners’ dues and is serving illegally on the board.
“He thinks we don’t have records that show we paid our dues and that he can do what he wants,” Debbie Sloan said. “He’s a convicted felon and he can’t serve on the board.”
Public records show that Fitzmaurice was convicted of numerous counts of fraud and grand theft in 1989, in Florida.
According to a new state law, which took effect last September, a convicted felon cannot serve on a homeowner’s board, if the board is presented with a paper trail showing the conviction.
“At the December homeowners meeting he admitted he was a felon,” resident Scarlett McFarland said. ‘Then in May he signed 45 or so letters demanding dues be paid, as president (of the homeowners association).”
The group said that they have requested to see the association’s books and that Fitzmaurice has refused to turn them over.
“I sent a certified letter, which I know he got because I received his signature, and it said I wanted to see the books,” Sloan said. “I never got an answer.”
The group then turned to an advocacy group, which helped them form a new homeowners association, which the current homeowners association is now challenging in Waller County courts.
The attorney for the original homeowners group, Nathan Steadman, told the Tribune that Fitzmaurice has stepped down from the board, due to the new state law, as did his mother. He said the neighborhood’s covenant, however, allows him to appoint three members to the board, while two are supposed to be elected by homeowners.
Residents say that those elections never occurred. Steadman disagrees.
“Many of the homeowners refused to participate,” he said.
Steadman said he works for the original homeowners group and not Fitzmaurice.
“I was hired by the board because they believe that two organizations cause confusion and they want the court to decide which one has legitimate power,” he said.
Steadman said that 35 homeowners in the neighborhood owe more than $51,000 in past due association fees.
“Three of the five people on this so-called new board are past due,” he said.
“We have proof and have sent Fitzmaurice proof of it,” she said.
Steadman said that no matter how displeased residents are with Fitzmaurice, that starting a new board is not the answer.
“The practical standpoint is that it doesn’t really matter which board is in charge, because (Fitzmaurice) can still appoint three members to either board,” Steadman said. “It may not be fair, but it is in the restricted covenant of the development that the developer gets more votes.”
McRann believes it’s all a power trip from a greedy developer.
“My first year here my dues were $300, the next $450,” she said. “I called and asked him how he could do this and he said ‘I can do what I want’.”
“At the end of the day, the summary of all of this is that it is a power struggle,” Steadman said.