Coral Springs--Residents to Fire Department--"Close the gate please!"
Open gates stir tiff in Springs
By Sallie James
Posted October 4 2003
CORAL SPRINGS · Police and firefighters responding to emergencies in the upscale, gated Grand Isle neighborhood have been put on notice: Lock the gates when you leave, or don't come back.
Miffed because an electronic security gate to the private community was left unlocked three times in six months, the homeowners association is blaming rescue personnel and threatening to lock them out if they don't shape up, according to a letter sent to Coral Springs City Manager Michael Levinson.
"The Grand Isle Community would like to put you on notice that if this happens again, we will discontinue your access to the community and also issue you a fine," warned the Sept. 19 letter, signed "Board of Directors, Grand Isle at Wyndham Lakes H.O.A."
The ominous-sounding letter has left Levinson fuming.
"It's so ridiculous. It's unbelievable. The audacity to say they are going to discontinue our access to their community," Levinson said.
It's also not possible, said attorney Gary Poliakoff, an expert in homeowner association law.
"If the police have a reason to enter, they don't have a right to bar them," Poliakoff said.
In addition, the association also has no authority to collect any sort of fine, Poliakoff said.
The 88-home neighborhood west of Coral Ridge Drive and north of Wiles Road is peppered with two-story homes that sell for upward of $300,000.
Grand Isle resident David Jones, a homeowner association board member, said that if the association has to file a lawsuit and take the matter to a judge for compliance, it will.
"I am aware of no law that would allow them to keep us out when we are responding to emergency calls," said Coral Springs deputy attorney John Hearn.
Police Chief Roy Arigo said police and firefighters have keys and are supposed to relock the gates after they leave. Arigo conceded they may occasionally forget.
Fire Chief Donald Haupt Jr. said that if the gates were relocked after every vehicle, response time would be affected.
Barring police and fire personnel from a neighborhood is something that would not sit well with insurance companies, Hearn said. Hearn is sending the homeowners association a letter warning of the liability issues at stake.
Sallie James can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-572-2019.