Holly Oaks Townhomes
DALLAS — The way Don Folkerth sees it, the 2010 fire that destroyed his Dallas condo unit and 10 others at Holly Oaks Townhomes unmasked serious allegations of ongoing conflicts of interest at the homeowners' association.
"My daddy said if it's black-and-white and smells funny, it's a skunk," Fokerth said. "I think we have the world's biggest skunk, is what I think.
His disgust started when he and others found the HOA's insurance policy would not pay to build out their units beyond the drywall. They had to do the work themselves.
As they looked deeper, residents focused on another issue: The Holly Oaks Townhomes Association Inc. spent $150,000 on the legal work and other legal fees to sue an owner of multiple units.
"Here is a huge lawsuit that a little homeowners' association shouldn't have undertaken, because it's a hardship on everybody," said Cheryl Smith, a Holly Oaks property owner and an attorney.
And then there was the quality and cost of the million dollar reconstruction of the 10 destroyed units.
Smith hired a consultant who found "troubling issues" with the workmanship, and found nothing to support "such a significant cost" of construction.
"Obviously, I'm very frustrated. I'm very angry," Folkerth said.
But owners and residents say the biggest problem with their HOA is this: Their property manager is a man named Jackson Potter. When he and the board hired a lawyer to try their case, they hired Potter's father, David Potter, an attorney from Texarkana.
And when Jackson Potter and the HOA board hired a construction company to rebuild the units, they hired a company run by Potter's brother and father.
Jackson Potter declined to be interviewed on camera for this story. Off-camera, he does have answers.
Potter said he and the board members hired Jackson's father, David, as their lawyer because he was the only lawyer who would take their case. He also said his father's construction company did quality work for Holly Oaks.
But Potter potter said if he had to do it again, he'd hire someone else, to avoid perceived conflicts.
"It once was a very nice place to live, and it can be again," Folkerth said.
This month, Folkerth led a successful takeover of the Holly Oaks board and fired Potter. But he'll still be seeing him around.
While Potter was still property manager at Holly Oaks, he purchased a unit — making him a member of the association he was paid to manage.