OCEAN PINES – Three board members are calling for a special meeting to discuss this year’s election after it was announced votes for board candidate Rick Farr would be invalidated.
In an interview this week, Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Director Doug Parks said he and fellow board members Tom Janasek and Camilla Rogers have requested a meeting to discuss the possibility of a new election after learning Farr did not meet the requirements for candidacy, and as such all votes for him would be invalidated.
“Right now we are working to finalize the date and time,” he said.
The news comes days after Rogers announced issues pertaining to Farr’s ownership status had made him ineligible for election to the Ocean Pines Board of Directors. According to the association’s bylaws, candidates must be a recorded property owner within Ocean Pines on Jan. 1 of the year in which the election is held.
“Mr. Farr was initially determined to be eligible based on his connection with 21 Bird Nest Drive, the address he listed on his candidate application,” she said. “Based on all available documents, including county land records and SDAT, the initial determination that Mr. Farr was eligible to be elected was made in an error.”
In an online forum, Rogers said she learned of the issue last week after the general manager received an anonymous report. She said she and OPA’s legal counsel immediately contacted Farr and requested documentation to support his ownership status as of Jan. 1.
“OPA’s legal counsel followed up with several emails to Mr. Farr and Mr. Farr’s attorney requesting these documents,” she said. “On July 30, 2021 at 3:00 p.m., Mr. Farr provided a letter from his attorney confirming that he is the current Trustee of the Trust that owns 21 Bird Nest Drive. Mr. Farr later provided a copy of the Farr Living Trust. The letter and the trust document included no additional facts or opinions that would lead me to conclude that Mr. Farr was the owner of record of 21 Bird Nest Drive as of January 1, 2021.”
In a special meeting last Friday, OPA attorney Jeremy Tucker said Farr became a trustee of the trust on or after May 17, according to legal documents from Farr’s attorney.
In a statement this week, however, Farr said his name was on the trust prior to Jan. 1, 2019. He added he wasn’t given a chance to provide additional documentation before the association announced his ineligibility.
“I am disappointed that the announcement was sent disqualifying me by Cami Rogers on Saturday, July 31, 2021, when my attorney was still in active discussions with Jeremy Tucker and Cami Rogers,” he said, “and given that they did not send the email until 7:29 p.m. on Friday night to my attorney asking for further clarification I should have been afforded the time until at least Monday night to call this decision.”
According to a GoFundMe page set up this week to cover Farr’s legal costs, Farr’s attorney had sent responses to the association’s questions, as well as a legal opinion, on Monday morning. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fundraiser had raised more than $1,600.
“The association is splitting hairs on verbiage,” the GoFundMePage reads. “Rick Farr’s attorney stands by the fact that he is and was an owner prior to January 1. Because the board is not acting in good to resolve this issue that effects all of us who voted, we must now go toward litigation where a judge will interpret the trust. In doing so, we are going to seek an injunction to halt the election until this issue is heard before a judge.”
President Larry Perrone stood behind the association’s decision this week. In an interview Tuesday, he said OPA had received no new documentation from Farr’s attorney to reverse course.
“The decision was based on the documentation provided to us,” he said.
Rogers noted the Board of Directors reviewed several options last Friday and “determined that proceeding with the election but invalidating the votes for Mr. Farr was the best course of action.”
“If a Member has submitted or submits a ballot voting for Mr. Farr and another candidate, the Member’s vote for Mr. Farr will be invalidated, but the vote for the other candidate will remain valid,” she said in her statement.
Since last week’s announcement, community members have called on association officials to redo this year’s election, which has a deadline of Aug. 11 to return ballots. Several argued they had returned their ballot, only to learn they would get one vote instead of two.
Perrone said the board is working to schedule a date and time for the special meeting.
“There’s not a motion pending yet,” he added.