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September 16, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Half Moon Bay lawsuit pits marina against condos

A simmering dispute between the directors of the homeowners’ association of Half Moon Bay in Croton-on-Hudson and the marina dockmaster has spilled over in court.

Steven Plotkin, dockmaster and co-owner of a condominium unit, is suing the association’s directors for $1 million in Westchester Supreme Court, claiming he is not being allowed to use a swimming pool and clubhouses.

Their motivation, he claims in the complaint, is “a desire to retaliate against the marina and anyone associated with it because the marina challenged the HOA board’s authority.”

The lawsuit also charges two board members individually – Linda O’Neill and Eugene Kim – and the management company, Heritage Management Services Inc. in Somers. Attempts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful.

Half Moon Bay is south of Senasqua Park, along Haverstraw Bay on the Hudson. The HOA represents four groups: three condominiums composed of clusters of buildings with 278 apartments, as well as the marina “dockominium” with 173 boat slips. Common areas include two clubhouses, two swimming pools and tennis courts.

Marina and condominium representatives have disagreed over the years about how costs and fees should be allocated.

Last year, for instance, the marina sued the HOA over a new policy that limited access to association records by the two marina directors and blocked them from voting on some issues.

In that case, Supreme Court Justice Sam D. Walker ruled on June 29 that all board members need unfettered access to the records to fulfill their fiduciary obligations and that the two marina representatives have the right to vote on all matters.

“There has never been separate residential or marina powers,” Walker wrote, “because the HOA board makes all decisions collectively.”

In the new lawsuit, Plotkin claims that the board is still pressuring marina representatives in order to “obtain leverage” in future negotiations over the marina’s assessment for common charges.

Steven Plotkin and his brother Brian own Sunset Condo II LLC, the owner of a condominium unit. Steven Plotkin’s wife, Stephanie, owns another unit, and her parents own a unit. Brian Plotkin is one of two marina directors on the board.

In April, the board adopted a new swimming pool rule. Maria Elena DiBella, who was a party to the marina lawsuit last year, and Brian Plotkin were not allowed to vote.

Only people residing at Half Moon Bay, or guests accompanied by residents, could use the pools, under the new rule. Steven Plotkin, as a corporate owner, was denied a pool badge.

He claims that under the bylaws, corporate owners of apartments are entitled to access to common areas.

The new rule did not define residency, Steven Plotkin claims, and was applied selectively. Attorney Peter Schuyler of Kitson & Schuyler PC in Croton-on-Hudson says in the complaint that at least 30 apartments are owned by corporate entities, but Plotkin is the only corporate owner the rule has been applied to.

For instance, a board member who is a long-time critic of the marina got a pool pass, even though she does not own her unit, the complaint states. Another board member, who lives in Florida for much of the year, got a pool pass. Nannies have been issued pool passes.

Steven Plotkin depicts the pool policy as part of a “coordinated campaign of harassment against the marina” to divest nonresidential owners of their rights.

He claims that Kim uses the Hudson House clubhouse as a de-facto personal office in violation of an association rule and has challenged Plotkin in front of visitors, stating that he was not allowed to be there without Kim’s permission.

Plotkin is asking the court to declare that anyone who owns an apartment through a limited liability corporation be given access to all community facilities, as well as to award him $1 million in damages.

In his June opinion about the previous lawsuit, Justice Walker wrote, “It is unfortunate that the relationship between the HOA members have degraded to the point where it seems to threaten the management structure of the entire condominium development.”

He offered the court’s assistance in “getting to the bottom of these troubling issues.”

The board has appealed his ruling.