by Dana Fowle
Aired July 22, 2016
AUSTELL, GA -
Homeowner's associations often bring communities together, but when they don't they can create deep rifts. And that is what's happening in the case of a Cobb County neighborhood association.
Some of the homeowners in the Cobblestone Community Association got a lawyer, held a special election and voted in a whole new board. Sounds like that would be the end of it. But, it's still not over.
"We actually had an election April 30th. We invited our attorney to make sure we were following everything by the letter of the law," said Merinda Hutchings-Donovan, the newly elected board president.
In a letter to the years' long HOA president Blake Kenya, the new board informed him "your term expired" and demanded he turn over all of the "books, records" and "banking information."
"He decided to send his own letter that said, 'Oh no, that's not true,' Ms. Hutchings-Donovan said.
Yes. He sure did. Blake Kenya fired back calling the election "inaccurate" and "false."
The new president asserted, "It's a done deal."
On paper maybe, but not so much in practice, because when the Fox 5 I-Team talked to Blake Kenya he wouldn't commit to stepping down.
The newly elected board is tired of waiting, so they filed suit against Blake Kenya. The suit claims he continues to represent himself as the head of the Cobblestone Community Association and has "deposited and expended funds collected...from members of the association for unknown purposes..." They want him to walk away from the job and hand over all accounting and banking records.
But here's the problem, according to the new board's attorney, deputies haven't been able to find Kenya to serve him.
"We filed a lawsuit, but we can't even get it delivered to him," said Merinda Hutchings-Donovan.
The rift between these Austell homeowners and their neighborhood community organization goes back more than a year. We watched as a neighbor shouted roadside to Blake Kenya, at the time the sitting HOA president.
"Why don't you show up to the meetings with all the people? We're trying to vote you off," he said.
We were also there when frustrated neighbors met last November to talk about removing him from the board. Mr. Kenya tried to cancel their meeting, so a neighbor positioned himself under the sign to say it's still on. Then someone called police.
The neighbor explained what happened to the group.
"I just want everyone to know he's doing everything in his power to keep us from coming together."
And so here they are. A new board has been elected yet access to the Cobblestone Community Association's books is still out of reach. They don't even have the keys to the message board. They post handmade signs in their yards to deliver messages about meetings.
"We actually have to use this, utilize these signs. We have two, maybe three of these, actually have two or three of these," said the new president with one of those handmade sign.
And a basic question I asked Blake Kenya on the phone still goes unanswered....
"This is a volunteer position. Why won't you let go?"