The Forest Lakes Property Owners Association has dissolved after several years of legal strife, leaving no one in charge to enforce the subdivision's covenants.
In a July 3 letter to property owners, the remaining three board members announced their resignations, adding that no one else was interested in taking on the responsibilities.
Unlike most subdivisions, membership in the owners association was voluntary, and the organization didn't own common grounds or have the power to levy fees against property owners. It formed in the 1970s to enforce a set of covenants that residents approved by a two-thirds majority.
The association has been involved in a legal battle for six years with Myron and Louise Tolf about an alleged covenant violation.
The Tolfs built a carport almost 10 feet too close to a property line, a violation of subdivision covenants but not La Plata County setback standards. The Tolfs refused to tear down the $11,000 cedar-sided carport, and the homeowners association filed a lawsuit in June 2003.
The Tolfs fought back, and they now are expected to receive a judgment in excess of $100,000 for attorney's fees, said Bill Zimsky, who represented the association during later proceedings.
The association's letter to homeowners reads: "The lawsuit with the Tolfs will be completed soon with a judgment in favor of the Tolfs far exceeding any assets the FLPOA has."
It was unknown what legal recourse the Tolfs have to collect a judgment from the now-defunct, cash-strapped organization.
On Tuesday, Myron Tolf said he plans to explore every legal avenue he has to collect his judgment, even if it means suing members of the association.
"I'm going to pursue every avenue," he said. "They wrongfully sued me and caused damage. They caused me a lot of grief and damage for nothing. It's all because of a few people who felt they were above and beyond."
Forest Lakes is La Plata County's largest subdivision with more than 750 homes. It is located about six miles north of Bayfield.
Zimsky took issue with several legal rulings in the Tolf cases, including one that has allowed parties to collect attorney's fees even though the homeowners association was not organized under the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act, which regulates non-voluntary property owners associations in the state.
The Tolf's carport was clearly in violation of the association's rules, Zimsky said, but because of a legal technicality - the covenants were not properly submitted as evidence to the court - a judge could not use them in deciding whether the Tolfs had violated the associations rules , Zimsky said.
"It's unfortunate how it all played out," he said. "Really, nobody won."
Doug Savage, one of the three remaining board members, referred questions to the written statement issued by the board.
"The combination of the problems with the covenants and the fact that the HOA is a voluntary organization without any real or fixed assets makes it impossible for this organization as a whole to continue as currently organized," the statement reads.
"For a property owners association to be viable in Forest Lakes, enforceable covenants will need to be created," it says. "Until this happens, the development of Forest Lakes will probably be governed by the La Plata County Master Plan."