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Residents can't oust board yet

Homeowners angry over day care center shutdown

SUWANEE - About 40 homeowners in Peachtree Manor met Tuesday night in a strategy session to remove board members of their homeowners association.

These angry homeowners accused the board of "abuse of power" by forcing a day care center inside the neighborhood to close so that a registered sex offender, who is a board member, would not have to move.

"We need to get this neighborhood in a different direction," said Roy Crissman, a Peachtree Manor resident.

Crissman asked for volunteers to walk through the 147-home neighborhood to get proxy votes for the next regular meeting.

Homeowners had called Tuesday night's meeting, held at the Suwanee branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library, to oust three board members. But they were notified by The Leuder Law Firm of Alpharetta, which represented the association, that homeowners cannot set the date for a special meeting.

The association's bylaws say that the board has until May 13 to set the date for a special meeting, which must be held between May 20 and June 12, according to a letter by attorney Daniel Melchi to the property manager of Peachtree Manor.

"Inasmuch as the petitions inappropriately declared April 24, 2007 as the meeting date, such meeting is invalid," Melchi wrote. "If various members nevertheless wish to assemble on that date, they may, of course, do so. Homeowners can assemble whenever they like. But such assembly is not a special meeting under Georgia law."

Homeowners want to remove association president Robert Bowns, vice president Mike Hunsaker and treasurer Robert Spahr. The board last month voted 4-1 to order Hyun Ah Kim to close her day care center, saying the business violated neighborhood covenants.

Earlier, Spahr, a registered sex offender, was notified by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department that he must move because he violated sex-offender-registry regulations by living within 1,000 feet of the day care center.

Homeowners said Kim has operated her home business legally for six years, and that the association only forced Kim to close her business because it affected Spahr, who has since moved to his brother's home in Ohio.

"If they go after anyone with a business, they will go after everyone with a business," said Derrick Andrews, who has lived in Peachtree Manor for six years.

Andrews said homeowners will need to find out whether the by-laws and covenants are the regulations that will determine if a day care center can operate and whether board members can be removed.

Most of those in attendance Tuesday night were decidedly in support of Kim. Homeowners said they didn't like the way the association handled the issue.

"I didn't even know we had a day care until this came out out," said Atiya Thomas, who said she supported her neighbor's right to run a business.

James Kirk said he came to the meeting to hear the issues. "What if the board had no agenda? What if they did what they thought was the right decision?" asked Kirk, the only person speak out in support of the association.