The Beaver Ridge Board
[The Custers] put something out that said the other [board] members
have “independent minds.” I've never heard of an HOA doing that.
We met a kind couple that told us not to pay any attention to the
'dictatorship' rumors... 'it's just a normal place'. I’m sure they thought
[they were being truthful]. Now that we're here, we don’t talk to them much.
Owner, speaking of a pre-purchase experience
Some who bought at Beaver Ridge after the problems got out cited their faith in the executive board and "common sense". As one buyer put it: “It was obvious from asking around that [the HOA president] isn’t exactly a people person, but with four other adults [keeping him in check], how bad can it really get?”
Each of the other four board members at the association is actually a 'friend' of the president and three are safe votes for his agenda. His wife has no official role, but her involvement is described as "highly conspicuous." A contributor recounted his experience when trying to resolve a problem via a conference call:
“I was told that I could talk to members of the Beaver Ridge board, but I knew something was off when they wouldn't give me their names. The woman running the call kept cutting me off and responding on behalf of the others […] I knew there was only one woman on the board but about midway in I hear a second woman’s voice. I realized that the 'Queen Bee' wasn’t on the board! It was [his] wife. The whole thing was a big joke to them, like a high school prank.”
Critics say that the president’s wife acts as a sixth member who 'guides' the others into supporting her husband, particularly when he needs cover for controversial activities that might otherwise be recognized as counter-productive, wasteful, vindictive, and childish.
The board’s other woman has never voted against the president. Only one member is suspected of being impartial. Of the two 'in the middle', one is described as the president's "cheerleader" and the other as a man in his mid-30's who, until recently, lived with his mother.
A long-standing member said in an e-mail that the president generally uses "guilt, fear and a boatload of BS" to manipulate owners, but controls board members through flattery and sense of belonging: "The irony is that the more important he makes the 'volunteers' feel, the less important they actually become" (meaning the less likely they are to challenge him).
To be clear, no one is contending that these are bad people. Board members should still be applauded for offering their time (while others offer excuse). However, they are not "independent" in the sense that it is usually understood. The long-time president has never been denied anything that he has truly wanted and probably never will, regardless of effect on reputation and value.