Q&A: Well, Well, Well

Q. Our condo court needs a new well. If it is put near the old one on common property, it would cost us $20,000. The person who lives closest to where the well would be built has hired a lawyer and someone on the board assured this homeowner that the well would be placed in a different area. The area that they selected will cost us $60,000 to have a well put in because it has to go under the court’s pavement. So basically we’re talking about $40,000 more to move it somewhere else still on common property but not near the unit of the person who complains. I feel that this is definitely not in the best interest of the community and a lawsuit could be brewing from that result. We reside in West Palm Beach. Can you give me any suggestions?

                                                  —Not Pumped

A. “In a condominium, the area outside of the unit is generally a common element, unless specifically assigned to a unit owner as a ‘limited common element,’” says attorney Russell Robbins of the firm Basulto Robbins & Associates in Miami Lakes. “There will always be some group of unit owners—we refer to them as NIMBYs (which stands for 'not in my backyard')—who are going to oppose any changes to the common elements which may impact their unit. If the association is replacing the pump and well with one of similar size and near the location of the original well, I doubt that such improvement would be considered a material alteration (a type of change that may require consent of the membership). The board generally can follow the ‘business judgment rule’ and make the change (so long as the pump station is not being relocated away from a board member’s unit and closer to another unit).”

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