New Albany Links residents are upset by proposed increases this year to their homeowners' association (HOA) fees, but they have to work it out with the HOA without the city's intervention, according to local officials.

New Albany Links residents are upset by proposed increases this year to their homeowners' association (HOA) fees, but they have to work it out with the HOA without the city's intervention, according to local officials.

Links resident Lawrence Cohen asked New Albany City Council for help on Feb. 21. He said the increased fees are a burden on homeowners.

However, council has no power over private agreements between residents and HOAs, Mayor Nancy Ferguson said, even though it often is asked to intervene.

"We are often approached by residents who would like us to negotiate with the HOA but we really can't do that," she said. "It's a private agreement between the homeowner and the association. There are certain rights (in the agreements) that we aren't really contractually involved in."

An estimated 400 people met with Links developer Joe Ciminello Feb. 22 to talk about the fee increases. Ciminello said the HOA needs to take over maintenance of 80 acres of open space in the subdivision, which currently is maintained by the New Albany Links Golf Course through an agreement with the HOA.

To cover the cost of the maintenance and to update the fees, which haven't been increased since the Links was developed in the late 1990s, the HOA fees will double. That means each household's dues will increase by $200, totaling $400 per year.

Ciminello said even with the increase, the HOA fees will remain the lowest in New Albany. He said HOA fees in the New Albany Country Club communities are more than $1,000 a year.

Links residents have no choice in the matter. Ciminello said he maintains two-thirds of the association's 1,838 votes. He said he will maintain the majority until the last property in the Links is sold. After that, his votes will be distributed to HOA members.

Ciminello had planned to cast all of his 1,226 votes in favor of the project during the Feb. 22 meeting but no vote was taken.

Cohen said so many people showed up to speak against the project, the vote was delayed. Cohen estimated half of the households in the Links were represented at the meeting.

Council member Stephen Pleasnick asked if the HOA agreement that each homeowner signed states Ciminello's voting rights. Cohen said the homeowners are aware of Ciminello's voting rights.

Council member Chip Fellows, who lives in the Links, said open space does not require much maintenance, especially spaces that are considered wetlands. He said the land transfer is a "win-win."

Cohen said after the Feb. 22 meeting that residents may consider working with an attorney if they cannot come to an agreement with Ciminello.

Ciminello said he will meet with neighborhood representatives in the next few weeks to try to come to an agreement.

"We're working on clarifying and bringing more people in to understand exactly what we're doing," he said. "We want to make sure people are aware and we may make adjustments based on feedback."

Ciminello also offered Feb. 22 to give each household a card for 10 rounds of golf, 10 visits to the pool or use of the golf club's tennis courts. It also provides a 10-percent discount at the club restaurant and pro shop.