Gemmill steps down as HOA president to head off recall

By Curtis Riggs | June 25, 2008

Lawsuit, $103,000 property liens at issue
CAREFREE – Town Councilman Bob Gemmill resigned as president of his homeowner’s association last week to head off a drive to recall him from the HOA leadership post at the Carefree Foothills subdivision.

Gemmill, a first-term Carefree Town Councilman and a prominent downtown property owner, has had a stormy relationship with many of the residents in the 72-lot development on the north side of Carefree Highway. An attempt by the HOA board to outsource the community’s architectural control committee led to a raucous community meeting in March where Gemmill received much of the heat from an angry group of residents.

The recall effort did not come until a couple of months later, however, when residents learned their HOA had lost a lawsuit filed by John Vanyo, a resident who was seeking to extend access beyond his Carefree Foothills property. Residents were angry the HOA board did not disclose the loss in the lawsuit for a month and that $103,000 liens were filed on their properties because of the judge’s decision.

A group of homeowners calling themselves Concerned Carefree Homeowners collected enough signatures to qualify for a recall after the non-disclosure of the loss in the lawsuit and the recently filed liens, which were discovered by a homeowner who was applying for a loan.

The timing of the release of information about the lawsuit will be discussed in a community-wide meeting on Wednesday, July 2 at 7 p.m. in the Carefree Town Council chambers. Carefree Subdivision Committee member John Crane, who was vice president of the HOA board, has assumed the board presidency until an election can be held.

Gemmill wrote in his June 14 letter of resignation to the board that an HOA “can only function properly if its members agree on their goals and how to reach them.
“Unfortunately, the consensus on which we have operated successfully in the past has been shattered by a small group whose interests are clearly not in the interests of the majority of members in our HOA. The disruptive and antagonistic behavior of these people prevents us from making any progress in dealing with the real issues that face us.”

The Concerned Carefree Homeowners group thanked Gemmill after his resignation for “taking this step toward ending the contentiousness and unpleasantness we have been experiencing.”

Many in the community have been critical of the HOA board’s decision to hire two outside attorneys to appeal the decision in the Vanyo lawsuit.

“I do know that adding lawyers to the mix often adds contentiousness. They certainly add to the expense,” Carefree Foothills property owner Hale Starr wrote in a June 12 e-mail to the HOA board.

Schwan said the advice of two outside attorneys is being sought because of the “highly unusual situation” at Carefree Foothills. Subdivision declarant Jack Anderson still controls the subdivision’s architectural control committee and there is disinformation in the community about the decision in the Vanyo lawsuit.