1971 the start
George Cota, a native of Vermont and owner/operator of a summer camp, had decided to seek investment in Florida. He formed a partnership of several people, the largest investors being himself and Bob Mathews“ They selected and purchased a large piece of land in Lake County just east of the Mount Dora city limits. Rezoning of the land from agriculture to mobile home zoning was effective in June 1971. Mr. Cota arrived on site August 1, 1971. Land clearing and mowing of the central portion had already been started.
Bob Matthews died in October 1971 and Cota was joined by his mother, brother, and son-in-law, all of whom assisted in the planning and work“ The necessary engineering having been completed and streets laid out? ground was broken in April 1972.
The first mobile home was owned by Mr. and Mrs“ I. Selinsky who moved in, May 1, 1973. A convenience store, where the present office is located, was opened to its first customer May 28, 1973. The area set aside for RV's received its first tenants, Mr- and Mrs. Edward Dempsey of Brussels, Wisconsin, whose son, Neil Dempsey, joined Mr. Cota as manager of the park and of sales. As the park prospered, Gary Wilson joined Mr. Dempsey as a salesman.
The plan called for about one hundred hook-ups for RV's in the area near wolf Branch Road. The front portion of the park, including all lots to the dividing line of the drainage
creek, was to be for people with children and was described as the "family area". The balance of the lots were to be held for an adult area for retired people. Mr. Cota's office was in the same building as the store. He had completed construction of a good well and sewer system with lines available to hook-ups, and a 150 foot TV antenna with cables to most lots. Sumter Electric and the telephone company installed underground lines, and roads were completed to give access to all anticipated lot growth in the reasonable future of 1973 and '74.
There was a 24' wide mobile on a lot near the intersection of Brookside Circle on Stacey Drive, which was used as a temporary clubhouse. Mr. Dempsey purchased a pool table and a ping pong table which were placed in the clubhouse. The triangle bordered by Stacey, Lamplight Circle, and Brookside Circle (which was then called Clubhouse Drive) was the planned location for the adult recreation center with clubhouse, shuffle board, tennis courts, swimming pool, etc.
Four of the residents, Larry Leonard, Phil Hailey, Don Brown and W.G. Carpenter formed a Homeowners Association in the fall of 1974. All residents were invited to join. Bylaws were agreed upon and, to raise a working fund, dues were set at $12.00 per year with a $5.00 initiation fee.
Officers elected were: Leonard, Chairman; Carpenter, Vice Chairman; Bailey, Secretary; Brown, Treasurer. During 1974 business slumped and mobile home sales became very slow. Although Mr. Cota had no intention of selling the park, he was approached with an excellent offer and sold to Max Gitomer in October 1974 for one million, excluding the commercially zoned property fronting on 4&1 and another piece fronting on Lake Loch Leven.
Mr. Gitomer soon changed a number of things. He removed the old clubhouse and placed a new one at the park entrance, closed the RV park, and removed the mobile sales office which had been across from the present office.
The county commissioners were approached regarding a change in zoning to a real estate subdivision. Mr. Gitomer received approval to plat and sell lots in the outlying surrounding area. He then approached current residents to purchase their lots; however Cota had specified in his sales agreement that all life-time rental leases were to be honored. Gitomer secured approval from most of the residents, who then purchased their lots. He agreed to honor rental contracts for those desiring to continue the rental lease.
Then Gitomer over extended himself by setting up a real estate sales program by which he advertised not only promotion of the mobile park, but a promotion to give him access to a cash flow by selling first mortgages on hundreds of lots in the outlying acreage which was platted and registered. Cota held a mortgage on the land but Gitomer, nevertheless, sold first mortgages on each lot, telling the buyers that the lots were in demand and would be sold quickly. The value of the lots was represented as $7500 and up and the first mortgage was sold for $3500, with interest of 12 to 14% to be paid monthly until sold. He sold many mortgages but only paid the interest on them for a few months and when besieged by the mortgage holders, he disappeared. Mr. Cota had to assume operation of the park again. He had received enough money to cover that portion of the land including the developed area of the entire acreage known as Unit III and took clear title to that.
When Cota repossessed in May 1976 he promptly began to form a condo operation. In the beginning it was called a condominium by the commissioners, but was not truly so. It is properly a nonprofit corporation; each lot has an equal share in all common grounds and buildings, pool, shuffleboard, roads, etc. we also share equally in all expenses and responsibilities. The agreement was that the resident/owners would not take over these responsibilities until five years had elapsed from effective date of recording with the State of Florida and all terms settled.
In October 1978 Cota sold the park to William Bradley, but again repossessed from Bradley in October 1979. The park was finally purchased again in December 1979 by Jordan J. Hypes.
September 28, 1982 was the date that had been agreed upon as the fifth anniversary of the recording of documents of our corporation. Mr, Hypes refused to supply the corporation with a budget for the operation of the park. After a number of attempts to meet with him and discuss our take-over, we felt required to seek legal advice. A group of owners each contributed $50.00 to meet legal expenses. The first attorney selected was Gordon Savage of Leesburg, but he did not act as fast as some thought he should, so the committee was instructed to dismiss him and look for another. The committee, Halter Stoffel, Edith Pigot and W.G. Carpenter paid visits to several local law firms, deciding to ask Lou Tally of Tally, Tally and hcCabe to represent us.
After several meetings between Mr. Hypes, his attorney, our representatives, and our attorney, it was agreed that Hypes would continue to collect all fees and manage the park
until we could get our plans and budget set up in order to have officers and funds to operate. A meeting was called for January 25, 1983 for all homeowners to vote on the temporary budget and elect officers, The budget was approved as offered; the new officers elected were Jordan Hypes, Harry Pinckney and Paul Hoops.
Service organizations were selected to maintain the common grounds and the swimming pool. Repairs were made on the clubhouse roof and air conditioning system. The pump and some tiles were replaced in the pool. Many residents are contributing work and time to spruce up the grounds and improve the clubhouse. At the end of the year it was found that certain sums must be set aside for future expense of repairs and maintenance. The monthly fee set by Hypes at $14.00, and now collected by the corporation, was raised to $16.00 to meet these obligations.
At the corporation meeting of January 1984 the new directors elected were Harry Pinckney, Paul Hoops and Al Wolfe; the new budget was approved. We are now in our second year, with the future looking very bright.
Whether or not it ever becomes an asset to our corporation it should be a matter of record that in the course of negotiations between Gitomer and the county commissioners it was demanded by the county that:
(a) Another entrance be built on the east boundary of the property, off wolf Branch
(b) The new entrance, to be called Sunrise B1vd., was to provide access to the east
side of Unit III and the lots Gitomer was selling north of Unit III.
(c) The agreement with the county required that, in addition to the money paid to the
bank, Gitomer also place an agreed amount in an escrow account in the bank.
The escrow account was to protect the county and insure that money would be available when the time came to construct the road. The account is still in the bank, but the county is unwilling to release it to us, fearing legal action from other interests outside of Unit III.
N.G, Carpenter -- The early history was told to me by George Cota.
As outlined in the Corporate Bylaws, the powers of the Board of Directors are limited to Fiscal and Common elements management. The Board Members cannot become involved in disputes of a personal nature, such as disagreements with neighbors, the developer, or utilities. These must be handled just as they would be in any municipality, through an attorney of choice.
It should be noted here, that any Homeowner is entitled to place him/herself as candidate for an office on the Board of Directors of the Dora Pines Unit III Corporation, in advance of the annual meeting and elections, held on the fourth Tuesday of every January.
To further explain the change of Park ownership, Harold Morris, Walter Stoffel, W.G. Carpenter, Paul Hoopes and Harry Pinckney, were influential in easing the transition of Dora Pines Unit Ill, from developer to resident ownership. Three of the above persons each pledged $500.00 for e total of $1500.00 to purchase insurance, and pay Sumter Electric Company for meter changeover.
A few residents felt we should not take over the administration of the Park, but instead let Mr. Hypes continue on as usual, collecting the fees for maintenance, and administering, as he had in the poet. At that time, water and sewer were not metered, so any amount of water could he used on a flat rate basis.
Since operating independently from 1983 on, we have progressed to a point of being a financially sound non—profit corporation, and consider our park a unique entity.
This history of Dora Pines was given to me by the Carpenter's. I hope it may be of interest to all and give a better understanding for the time and effort of those of us involved for the development of DORA PINES ASSOCIATION UNIT 111. Harold Morris