Century Villagers sue investor for trying to rewrite rules

Nine unit owners in a Century Village condo building have sued another owner who they say has tried to wrest control of the building, change its rules and bring in renters, including youngsters not eligible to live in the retirement community.

The unit owners are backed by the 80-something developer of the complex, H. Irwin Levy, who promised in July that he would use his resources to protect them from Palm Beach Gardens investor Donald Kelly, who bought most of the units in their Sheffield O building and gained the voting power to preside over its association.

The kicker: Kelly, as association president, might have his legal expenses covered by Century Village’s officers and directors liability insurance.

“So we in effect are defending the black knight,” said David Israel, president of United Civic Organization, which oversees the sprawling, 600-building development. “It makes my skin crawl.”

Kelly previously declined comment on the dispute. His attorney, Richard S. Cohen, could not be reached for comment.

Kelly bought about 15 of the Sheffield O’s 26 condo units and obtained an interest in about two more. The suit, filed Nov. 2, alleges he wrongly contends he has the right to change the condo rules and lease out his units, which allegedly would reduce the value of the remaining units by more than $15,000.

“To the extent that Kelly purports to modify the condominium covenants and bylaws, such that they no longer guarantee the long-standing and established retirement neighborhood scheme, Kelly would deprive the affected unit owners of the very lifestyle they were promised when they purchased their respective units,” the suit says.

Changes to those covenants require approval from the other owners and of WPRF Inc., the corporation, controlled by Century Village developer H. Irwin Levy and his son, Mark, that manages the community’s recreation facilities, the suit says. Kelly doesn’t have those approvals, it says.

The lead plaintiff in the case, condo owner Nancy Salmi, 71, helped bring the issue to light several months ago, after investor Kelly sent her a letter saying he intended to buy her unit.

“I am in the process of taking steps to dissolve the Association of Sheffield O whereby all of the apartments that I do not own would be forced to sell to me at the Palm Beach County Appraisers value,” Donald T. Kelly, wrote to Salmi on March 2.

She was happy to learn in July that the investor — after Levy pledged to step in — dropped those plans. But the lawsuit says Kelly then went ahead and retroactively changed rules to legitimize renting his condos.

The lawsuit aims to reverse the rule changes and prevent forced sales at unfair prices.

Kelly’s alleged attempt to force sales, “goes beyond all bounds of decency and is odious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the suit says. His conduct, it says, has caused “severe emotional distress.”

The suit also alleges that Kelly breached his fiduciary duty to the Sheffield O Condominium Association. If that’s true, the liability insurance company might rule he is not eligible for coverage, says Joy Vestal, a member of the United Civic Organization board of directors.

Either way, says UCO president Israel: “It’s problematic over there: underage people, short-duration rentals — everything most of us came here not to have.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Parkland Shooting: Talks shift to arming teachers, FBI director takes some blame
Parkland Shooting: Talks shift to arming teachers, FBI director takes some blame

UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: Tiger Woods and Nicholas Thompson showed some love for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the 2018 Honda Classic.  UPDATE 1:05 p.m.: NRA leader Wayne LaPierre addressed conservatives at CPAC. He blamed mass shootings on the failures of “family, school security and even the FBI.”  UPDATE 1:00 p...
Here are tips on keeping a snake-free yard
Here are tips on keeping a snake-free yard

Forget about "Snakes on a Plane," we're more concerned with snakes in the yard. Even though snakes are nowhere near as prevalent as our irrational fears would have us think (assuming you don't live smack dab in the middle of rattlesnake territory), if you're a homeowner with a bit of landscape or yard under your direction, you may encounter...
Finalist for PBC schools superintendent withdraws his name, leaving 3
Finalist for PBC schools superintendent withdraws his name, leaving 3

Frank Rodriguez, one of the four educators in contention to be Palm Beach County’s next schools superintendent, withdrew his name from consideration just hours after being named a finalist. Rodriguez, one of the school district’s five regional superintendents, applied for the position last week and was one of the four high-level administrators...
POLL: Should teachers be allowed to carry guns in schools?
POLL: Should teachers be allowed to carry guns in schools?

During a listening session at the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump floated the idea of arming teachers and school staff who are “very adept” with firearms. The president followed up on Thursday with several tweets promoting the idea. Among them: “....If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has...
Father intentionally killed 5-year-old son, police say
Father intentionally killed 5-year-old son, police say

A father is in custody after police say he intentionally killed his 5-year-old son at a DeKalb County, Georgia, home Wednesday night. It was not immediately clear what led to the homicide or how the boy was killed. According to police, the child lived at a home on Rocky Pine Drive in Lithonia with his grandmother. His parents drove from California...
More Stories