March 6, 2014

Complex reverses direction, says pets can stay

Some pets at Dunes Pointe Plantation have gotten a reprieve from a rule that limits each household to two pets.

Some pets at Dunes Pointe Plantation have gotten a reprieve from a rule that limits each household to two pets.

Those pets above the limit that have been living in the complex will be grandfathered and will be allowed to stay, according to an email sent to owners Wednesday by Earl Collins, K.A. Diehl’s property manager for the condominiums.

“This will be a one-time situation and remain in effect until the pet passes or leaves the property for some reason,” Collins wrote.

The news spares Sheila and Sherm Bertrand from having to decide which of their three, 14-year-old miniature poodles will have to go or where the Bertrands will get the money to pay a $100 a day fine for keeping all the dogs.

It also should ease the pressure on Todd Fisher, president of the Dunes Pointe Property Owners Association, and change the opinion of many who have commented on social media that he and other board members are heartless pet-haters.

Fisher said the board he leads was just trying to follow the rules of the complex when it ordered in January that the rule be enforced. Bertrand, the board’s immediate past president, believes the current board deliberately undid actions taken by the board he led in some sort of vendetta against him.

Bob French, a board member under both presidents, said some Dunes Pointe residents are feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys, and he doesn’t know what will end it.

And while the rules are now clear, it is anything but clear just how they got that way.

Fisher and Bertrand each have copies of a 2008 rule on pets for Dunes Pointe as well as the minutes of the Sept. 25, 2013, board meeting that differ in key ways that are critical in determining just exactly what has happened.

Fisher agreed, however, that all the documents otherwise appear the same, including the typeface and format. Fisher said that the conclusion he would draw from the differences is that the documents were changed at the management company, which recently gave him copies they have on file.

Collins, with the management company, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. Fisher said that Collins has only recently become the property manager. The former manager left Diehl in December, he said.

The copy of the 2008 pet rule that Bertrand has states that each unit is allowed to have three pets in exactly the same place that Fisher’s copy says only two pets will be allowed.

Additionally, Bertrand’s copy of the rule says that no pets that weigh more than 35 pounds will be allowed. Fisher’s makes no mention of a weight limit and replaces that reference with a statement that pet owners must present proof of vaccinations and a picture of the pet when they apply for $10 pet tags required at Dunes Pointe.

In the copies of the Sept. 25 meeting minutes, Bertrand’s copy says that the board changed the three-pet rule to a four-pet rule. Fisher’s copy makes no reference of that action.

Both copies say that the 35-pound limit was lifted.

French, who is identified as having seconded both motions, said Thursday that he never seconded a motion at the meeting about a limit on the number of pets.

He said he had a doctor’s appointment in Murrells Inlet and had to leave the meeting.

As there were only three of five board members present, he said that his departure meant there was no quorum of board members left at the meeting and no vote could have been taken on the number of pets.

Bertrand said that French is not telling the truth about what happened at the meeting, but the minutes that Fisher got from Diehl say, “All further discussion was tabled due to Mr. French leaving the meeting.”

Fisher said the current board decided to reinvigorate enforcement of the 2008 pet rules because residents’ adherence to it had become lax. For instance, he said that residents were sharing their pet tags with other people. He said he at first beat back pleas to grandfather excess pets because the complex’s bylaws did not mention grandfathering.

But, Bertrand countered, neither did they prohibit grandfathering.

Bertrand said he has been talking with a lawyer about the situation. The threat of a lawsuit apparently convinced Fisher this situation wasn’t worth a courtroom slugfest.

“I’m not going to spend my association’s money fighting this kind of battle,” Fisher said. “I don’t care about that 14-year-old dog.”

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