By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Aug. 23, 2018) Collections and contract negotiations were among the major tasks assigned to law firm Lerch, Early & Brewer of Bethesda, Maryland during the previous fiscal year, according to a presentation by attorney Jeremy Tucker during the Aug. 11 Ocean Pines annual meeting.
Tucker said his firm provided “a significant amount of legal advice, counsel and negotiation services to the association.”
He said that included dealing with human resources issues and looking over a newly drafted employee handbook, addressing issues with bulkhead contracts “that came up unexpectedly,” and negotiating an agreement with the Matt Ortt Companies to oversee operations at the yacht and beach clubs.
“That has been well-received by the membership. It seems to be going very well on many fronts,” Tucker said of the Ortt Companies.
He added that renegotiation on a new agreement with Mediacom was in progress.
The firm also helped with collections and, since Jan. 1, 2017, has collected a total of about $376,000, Tucker said. He said about $141,000 was collected since Jan. 1, 2018.
“What this and the prior board really wanted to create was an environment where there was accountability for assessments,” Tucker said. “I think everybody in the room would agree that you shouldn’t be shouldering the burden for somebody who is not paying and, so, that was one of the priorities that we were given … and we pursued an aggressive course of collection. And, fortunately, that’s been successful.”
Among the current tasks assigned to the firm, Tucker said, is reviewing “the drainage issue” of who is responsible for maintaining Ocean Pines drainage ditches. He said the firm would likely provide advice to the newly formed board during the next few weeks.
“As expected, your documents aren’t clear with respect to this particular issue and there’s ambiguities there,” Tucker said. “We are working to resolve them and figure out the best course of action.”
Finally, Tucker addressed the pending lawsuit filed by former director and interim general manager Brett Hill against the association board and Director Colette Horn.
“This case arises out of Mr. Hill’s challenge of the decision that he was not eligible to be a candidate for the board of directors, for a reason or two,” he said. “Mr. Hill has taken the case to the circuit court. An answer has been filed by the attorney handling the case, as well as a motion to dismiss.”
Tucker said the matter had been forwarded to Ocean Pines’ insurance counsel.
“Your insurance company and appointed counsel is handling this, which is great because, for you all, it keeps the legal costs down, because the insurance company will pay it,” he said.
On a personal note, Tucker thanked homeowners, committee chairs and others in Ocean Pines.
“Thank you very, very much for all of the information that you’ve been able to provide to me. It’s been really a true honor to represent you and we hope to continue to do so in the future.”