by John Steinberger | May 3, 2019 5:16 pm
Members of the Shadowmoss Plantation Homeowners Association (HOA) gained a sense of closure this week, as former Marshland Communities owner Karen Colie was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for wire fraud. Marshland was an HOA management firm that represented Shadowmoss and about 70 other lowcountry HOA’s and is believed to have defrauded the HOA’s of more than $700,000. The FBI began investigating the case in early 2016.
Shadowmoss HOA members have experienced a lot of turbulence since 2016, including contracting with management company Community Management Group (CMG), a regime of fines being levied for alleged covenant violations without due process, liens being placed on homeowners who were behind on annual dues or fines, and rounds of litigation. There was also upheaval on the HOA board. Meetings were frequently unannounced and closed to the 650 members not on the board. Concerned members circulated petitions for a special meeting in October 2016 and voted 347-5 to oust the existing board and replace it with a new one. That measure wound up in court proceedings.
After an extended legal struggle, a new board was seated in August 2017. While CMG’s contract remains in effect until December 2019, the re-constituted HOA board restricted the issuance of fines for most covenant violations and restored due process for homeowners. It stopped the practice of placing liens on homeowners who owed money and worked with them to make payments. The frivolous lawsuits were discontinued, and the law firm which represented the HOA was dismissed. One homeowner was fined $100,000 because the previous board claimed that the design for his garage was not properly vetted, although it was approved by the City of Charleston Design Review Board. HOA funds were used in defending the subsequent lawsuit. The turbulence has stopped in the quiet West Ashley neighborhood.
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