Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Robert Burnside on Wednesday ordered Gov. Jim Justice’s company to pay more than $ 6 million and legal fees to the Glade Springs Village Property Owners Association, at a total cost estimated at over $ 9 million.
The decision also gives applicants the right to exercise assessment privileges for the 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 fiscal years.
The bulk of the judgment ($ 6,073,692.18) relates to unpaid appraisals for the undeveloped lots owned by Justice Holdings, from the time Justice purchased the community of the golf resort from Cooper Land Development in October 2010 and until ‘on July 1. He must also pay an annual interest of 10 percent. on unpaid contributions from the date of “delinquency for each applicable contribution period, to be dealt with by a subsequent court order”.
Justice is also responsible for $ 545,000 for payments the GSVPOA made to Justice Holdings under a loan agreement that a former GSVPOA board had made. The new GSVPOA board, which has filed a lawsuit against Justice Holdings, terminated the agreement under a state law that does not require landowners to honor the agreements they an elected POA did not approve.
The plaintiff also alleged in court documents that the court appointed and, therefore, controlled the former board of directors of the GSVPOA.
Justice Holdings argued that under an agreement the GSVPOA made with The Resort’s former owner, Cooper Land Development, developers were not required to pay appraisal fees on undeveloped lots.
Cooper Land Development had created the POA.
A law of 1986, the West Virginia Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (UCIOA), gives the UCIOA the power to govern, train, manage, power and operate all communities of common interest.
In 2019, the GSVPOA argued that it was a UCIOA, while attorneys for Justice argued that it was not.
Burnside ordered that GSVPOA be recognized as UCIOA and that the developer should have paid for the evaluations on the lots from 2010 to 2021.
Lawyers for Justice Holdings said the defendant plans to appeal Burnside’s decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeal.
The move comes after two years of legal battles between Justice Holdings, which is the majority owner of The Resort at Glade Springs, and the newly elected GSVPOA board of directors.
The resort was first owned by Slab Fork Coal Company, who established it as a private resort and golf course in Daniels in the 1960s.
Elmer Coppoolse bought The Resort from then-owner Bill Bright. Arkansas-based Cooper Land Development saw an opportunity and purchased land around the complex.
After Cooper’s purchase, the GSVPOA was formed and began planning Phase 2 of a residential community for homeowners. The first wave of houses (Phase 1 and The Farms) had been established decades earlier.
The group sold lots to buyers who agreed to build houses in phase 2 according to very specific standards. The POA also built the golf courses, a swimming pool, a pavilion, a lake and other amenities.
The GSVPOA collects fees for the maintenance of the common parts of phases 1 and 2 and of the farms.
Common properties, including Green Belts, Roads, Chatham Lake, and Stonehaven and Woodhaven Golf Courses, are owned by the POA. The Glade Springs POA Board of Directors collects a general appraisal each year for each residence and vacant lot. The appraisal is used for the common benefit of owners, including construction and utility services, facilities and infrastructure, and “to repay developer’s loans for these purposes,” according to information from the website.
In 2010, six years before his election as governor, Justice bought the majority of the village of Glade Springs from Cooper Land. According to a 2010 report in Golf Inc. magazine, Justice Family Group purchased a 92.5% community interest in the 4,100-acre golf resort.
Justice also bought the majority of The Resort from Coppoolse through Justice Holdings, a family business that lists his daughter, Jill, as an officer.
Justice Holdings became the primary investor in The Resort, giving Justice the title of “filer” and making him responsible for appointing board members. He appointed a board of directors at GSVPOA which included Coppoolse and other Glade owners who also had business dealings with the law.
Through EMCO Hospitality, Coppoolse maintained the condominium and continued to manage The Resort.
Coppoolse and EMCO Hospitality have retained a 7.5% ownership stake and management of the property, which currently has at least 600 residences and more under construction.
In May 2018, Justice Holdings put Glade up for sale.
Coppoolse then reportedly told the owners that they would have to settle a $ 14 million bill that was owed and that in July 2018 the bill would start to bear interest, increasing the amount of unpaid debt each year.
The owners said they did not believe the report. They wanted to determine whether the GSVPOA or some other entity owed money to repay previous Tax Increase Funding (TIF) obligations and whether or not the POA owed the $ 14 million to Justice Holdings.
They elected a new board of directors, which filed a lawsuit against Justice Holdings, some of the former GSVPOA board members and others, in 2019.
Burnside also heard legal arguments between The Resort and the GSVPOA regarding a golf course maintenance agreement, with the GSVPOA taking over two of the Glade golf courses.