Bella Collina Property Owners, in Lawsuit, Allege Racketeering


One of Central Florida’s most troubled home developments, the upscale Bella Collina country-club near Clermont, was hit with a planned class action lawsuit by people who bought lots there until the development went dormant at the fantastic Recession.

The lawsuit alleges that the owners behind the Bella Collina company, including Palm Beach businessman Dwight Schar, actively sought to ruin land values so as to drive out bunch owners in order that they can repurchase the whole project at super-low prices.

Schar and his regional business partner, Randall Greene, aren’t commenting. A company backed by Schar called DCS purchased Bella Collina a lot, the Nick Faldo-designed golf program and also the $40 million clubhouse in 2012 for only $10 million.

They’d announced new sales would begin again in 2014, also announced the began building on almost 30 new homes in 2016, but there’s been little new structure visible on satellite photos.

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Lawyers representing the development have fired back into several court filings, arguing that the plaintiffs from the new litigation have already litigated and settled some of the disagreements, and that the lawsuit reflects a”shotgun” pleading and should be chucked out.

The litigation was filed by Orlando lawyer Tim McCullough on behalf of great owners James and Virginia Shelton, Brad and Lana Heckenberg, Bart and Kathryn Sutherin and others.

They argue that the programmers should have turned into the Home Owners Association over to the individual owners over 10 years ago.

The POA, with no member consent, then registered 400 deceptive lawsuits for the group of invalid special evaluations, which coerced great owners to surrender their lots,” the lawsuit states.

An answer from the developers registered in court states it’s all just sour grapes.

“Many had appreciated their property for many years without paying club or POA dues. They responded poorly when the POA pursued legal remedies to take the owners to pay their debts,” the developers’ attorneys at Shutts & Bowen wrote.

McCullough said that there are about 100 individual lot owners nowout of about 800 lots.

“There are problems that have been raised in the state court, but the state court suits weren’t a class action,” McCollough said. “Some of the lot owners are simply afraid to open their mouth. They may be slapped with a $100,000 penalty, which I think is illegal, if they don’t stick to the illegal deals at the settlement agreements a few people signed.”