More than 100 people are being threatened with foreclosure if they don't pay their homeowner association dues.
The Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association has filed liens against 107 lots since September 2012 for failure to pay assessments, said Hope Carmichael, a Raleigh-based lawyer representing the POA. About a third of those have been canceled after payment of dues was received in full.
Anyone who lives in the gated community of Fairfield Harbour is required to pay dues of $659 a year. But some residents are purposely boycotting the dues because they say the Property Owners Association isn't being transparent about how they're spending the money, said criminal defense attorney Lee Bettis, who is also the mayor of New Bern.
"These people have been saying look, we want to pay our dues, we realize we have to pay our dues, just show me what my dues are being used for," said Bettis.
Bettis represents 40 property owners being threatened with foreclosure from the POA. His clients don't have to pay dues, he claims, because Fairfield Harbour is actually two subdivisions with separate governing documents. He says those subdivisions are Fairfield Pointe on the southeastern side of Fairfield Harbour, and Treasure Cove on the northwest.
"The POA can collect those dues and use them separately but what they can't do is collect those dues, comingle them into one, and use them for whatever they want," said Bettis.
Carmichael denied the allegations, saying they have no legal validity.
"It's one property owners association. It's one subdivision, it's been operating legally for over 30 years," she said.
Carmichael says there are about 2800 lots, and most residents pay their dues.
"To me the property association is doing a good job, and when they moves in here, they understand what the requirements are," said Jo Ann Kerrick, who says she has lived in Fairfield Harbour for two years.
One thing both sides agree on is they don't want this controversy to end up in a lawsuit.
Carmichael says dues rose from $400 in 2007 to nearly $696 in 2012, an increase of about 60 percent. She says that's because the POA started using the money to pay for maintenance of the roads.
The annual dues have since decreased to $659.
3221 South Evans Street
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