Posted By: Jeff
I am currently in a lot with mandatory HOA dues. I reviewed the CCRs and had some suggestions. Only the first one is a deal breaker for getting me to vote yes on the new CCRs. The rest are suggestions for things that might address some of the concerns expressed by others and a few technical suggestions.
1. Election of Board of Trustees
I didn’t see any mechanism for voting for the board of trustees. Looking through the minutes from the past year it appears that there have been multiple changes in the composition of the board, but I have not received notice to vote or voted on these changes. I really liked the board members who spoke at the meeting last month. However, I don’t believe the board should continue to be able to self select its own members without any vote by the membership. I would recommend adding a provision specifying notice and voting requirements as well as what positions will exist and the term of each position (i.e., the time between elections).
2. Electronic Proxy/Voting
I noticed some of the criticisms of the CCRs included concerns about the special assessment being approved at a meeting that people wouldn’t be able to attend. It would be helpful if people could submit electronic proxies and/or vote electronically. For example, a provision may require the secretary to accept email proxies specifying how a lot would like to vote and to vote those proxies accordingly at the meeting. (This might cover elections, dues increases, special assessments, etc.)
3. Board Compensation
It should be easy enough to include a provision prohibiting compensation to board members if that is a concern.
4. Rate of Increase of Dues
There was some concern about dues being increased rapidly from their 50% level. I have two proposals on how to deal with this. First, any increase in dues could require a vote by the membership of the HOA. Second, increases could be capped to the rate of inflation (e.g., CPI) or some similar measure. I believe the first of these proposals may be easier to administer.
5. Architectural Standards
To make the process more democratic, the CCRs could require that the membership vote on and approve the architectural standards. The CCRs could also specify that the architectural committee can only approve/deny applications according to the architectural standards in existence at the time of the application.
6. Variance Standard
Variances are entirely discretionary. To provide owners more rights, the standard could be that a variance shall be granted when it is not inconsistent with the objectives of the CCRs and does not unduly burden nearby lots or the community as a whole. (Note: The objectives of the CCRs are included in the A/B CCRs but were left out of the proposed draft.)
7. Appeals Standard
Appeals could have a similar or identical standard to variances. Also, the number of votes required to overturn could be set to 1/2 rather than 2/3.
There were some concerns about the mediation requirement. However, I believe these concerns confuse mediation, which only has voluntary agreements, with arbitration which has an arbitrater make decisions. Nonetheless, these concerns could be further alleviated by stating that no decision by the mediator will be enforceable without the informed consent of both parties.
9. Heading for Section 2.04
The heading for section 2.04 states, “Community Maintenance Fire Prevention Assessment.” This could be interepreted multiple ways. First, the heading might mean that the proceeds of the assessment can ONLY be used for fire prevention that maintains the community. Second, the heading might mean that the proceeds of the assessment can ONLY be used for fire prevention and community maintenance, which might not include trail maintenance. Third, the heading might not restrict use of proceeds. This should be made clear. If the heading is meant to restrict the use of proceeds, the provision should state so explicitly. If the heading is not meant to restrict the use of funds, a general disclaimer could be included at the end stating that headings should not be deemed to limit the corresponding provisions. (Also, “the HOA dues” should perhaps be “HOA dues” because it is unclear which HOA dues are being referred to by the word “the.”)
10. Animals and Livestock (3.25)
The minutes and posts on the website indicate that this was meant to allow chickens. But, the provision states “No . . . POULTRY, including . . . roosters, etc.” I think the provision still prohibits chickens. Chickens should be explicitly allowed and/or the word poultry should be deleted if you want to allow chickens. For example, the CCRs could specify requirements for chicken coops.
11. Setbacks (3.05)
The provision states, “No building shall be located on or nearer than twenty-five (25) feet . . .” I don’t know if the word building is defined. I think we have a lot of garages closer than 25 feet, but I’m not sure. Should garages be explicitly excluded from this requirement?
12. Driveways (3.07)
Also, should it be required that driveways accomodate two parked vehicles?
13. Accessory Buildings (3.08)
All accessory building have to be approved by the architectural committee. This provision should perhaps specify what standard the architecture committee should apply.
14. Finishing Materials and Colors (3.37)
Exterior finish materials and colors must be approved in advance by the architectural committee. This provision also should perhaps specify what standards the architectural committee should apply.