Residents oust members of homeowner association board

By Don Logana - bio | email

BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - Edgefield community neighbors in Bluffton showed their frustration Tuesday night in their vote. Residents have put a new neighborhood association president and security director in charge.

Many told WTOC they felt like they were being harrassed by the association and the tow truck company hired to enforce parking violations in the neighborhood.

Frustrations escalated Christmas Eve, when a man was tragically gunned down after an argument over a parking violation with a tow truck operator.

While some are happy with the change, others say recent issues have forced them to move.

"Yep. We're leaving with quickness," Jay Oxner told WTOC.

After a year an a half of living in Bluffton's Edgefield community, after moving from San Antonio Texas, Oxner and his family are packing up and moving to a different Bluffton community.

"We're not wanting to deal with all the murder and mayhem anymore," Oxner said.

The last straw for Oxner was the shooting death of Carlos Olivera on Christmas Eve, down the street from his home. An argument with tow truck operator, Preston Oates, over his minivan parked in the street escalated to gun shots and Olivera being killed.

"We're fixing to raise a family. We got a family on the way and we don't want to deal with those elements in our lives," Oxner said.

"The recent incident was just awful. I don't know if it could have been prevented. It probably could," Heather Bragg said.

Bragg has lived in Edgefield for three years. "I love it. It is a great neighborhood. It's unfortunate with the recent events. It's devastating," she said.

But, she says many neighbors have been unhappy with heavy restrictions on property owners and animosity has been escalating.

"A lot of the homeoweners here are almost being harrassed by the former board members," she said. "We already pay homeowner dues. Why should we be harrassed?"

"People are not allowed to park on the streets. We got harrassed when we were moving in because we had friends parked on the street helping us move in," Oxner said. "No flexibility whatsoever."

Oxner says the homeowner's association board was warned about Oates prior to the death of Olivera, who had a boot placed on his minivan while visiting his brother's home in Egdefield.

"That guy was a little scary to say the least. He tried to pull a gun on a couple of friends of mine," Oxner said of Oates.

Now, a new tow truck company has been hired, and Tuesday night, homeowners ousted the current board president and security director in light of recent events.

"A lot of the homeowners were unhappy with the former president and they elected a new guy," Bragg said. "I hope it is for the better. Time will see."

Last week, Preston Oates was indicted on the voluntary manslaughter charge in the shooting death of Carlos Olivera.

The Edgefield community now faces a potential lawsuit from the family of the victim.

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved.