A federal court ruling released for public knowledge late last month is being declared a victory by a group of homeowners in the El Dorado condominium.
The decision favoring the dissident homeowners who filed an Amparo injunction suit marks a turning point in a seven-year legal battle concerning the administration of the condominium, though not necessarily the end of the war they have been waging against the developer and the company set up to manage common areas in the deluxe residential complex.
The El Dorado complex encompasses two separate condominium entities: Condo Unit One compromised of independent villa homes and Condo Unit Two corresponding to the tower apartments. Property owners in each unit are presumably represented by their respective administrators who sit on the Compound Condominium board responsible for administering common areas.
According to Santiago Kelley, legal counsel for Unit One, villa owners hold title to 67 percent of the common areas on grounds which include streets, green areas, the club house, swimming pool, gym and spa.
Laying out the legal dispute in a nutshell, it originated with a civil suit was lodged by around 20 of the 60 of the Unit One homeowners with the aim of gaining the rescission of decisions made in the ordinary and extraordinary assemblies of the Compound Condominium held in 2011.
Key claims of wrongdoing include the unilateral decision of developer Omar O’Rourke to name himself as Condo One administrator and maintain the position indefinitely past the one year legal term ending in 2008, and his designation of the private corporation Sicom Blue to administer the Compound Condominium. Among side issues are alleged illegal modifications in the condo bylaws, the change of permissible property use from residential to tourism purposes, and the imposition of unjustified extraordinary homeowner fees.
After years of back and forth wrangling by both sides in various courts, in November last year the First Collegiate Tribunal in Civil Matters of the Third Circuit granted the Amparo protection in favor of the Unit One plaintiffs. It further quashes separate Amparo suits filed by the development company Inmobiliaria El Tepalo and Sicom Blue. The finding only became public two weeks ago.
Kelley explained that the decision means the case has been sent back to the Ninth Chamber of the Jalisco Supreme Court with orders from the federal tribunal to declare the 2011 assemblies and decisions made therein as null and void. Essentially that puts the entire dispute back at square one and the final chapter in limbo.
The news comes at a critical time for O’Rourke, who is just getting construction of the second condo tower off the ground. The new building is designed to be operated as a five-star hotel under the banner of the Radisson Blu chain.
Speaking with the Guadalajara Reporter this week, O’Rourke and Thomas Wahl, vice president of Sun-Star Group that will manage the condo-hotel, gave their perspective on the situation.
They stressed that the Radisson Blu project is moving forward as planned. They believe that the legal battle is not entirely over at this point, but are awaiting a full analysis of the matter by their attorneys before proceeding with a possible appeal or other steps. They also insist that language in the condo owners’ property titles allows use for “temporary lodging” rentals, therefore permitting the hotel-condo concept.
They remain hopeful they will be able to end the conflict by negotiating a settlement favorable to all parties concerned.