Meadows and Ranches exited Dammeron Valley Landowners Association (DVLA) last year
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
The association-governed, common interest community industry, led by trade group Community Associations Institute (CAI) would have the public believe that the demand for living under HOA private government is high.
But the reality is that more and more buyers are avoiding HOAs, condominiums, and cooperatives when they can. And homeowners in established subdivisions are seeking an exit plan.
Dammeron Valley homeowners, dispersed among 15 separate subdivisions, are in that category. Concerned owners have launched an initiative, DVExit, as a grassroots effort to educate their neighbors on the process of removing themselves from DVLA for good. The group has organized petitions and votes to allow home and landowners the option to exit DVLA, one subdivision at a time.
The homepage of DVExit’s website highlights the latest voting results, indicating three more subdivisions have elected to exit the HOA.
Homesteads, Farms, and Farms 2A have officially recorded documents to terminate their memberships in DVLA. Last year, Meadows and Ranches did the same.
Seven other subdivisions also voted on the issue of whether or not to exit DVLA. According to DV Exit, two subdivisions did not meet the voting quorum. Five other subdivisions received a majority of votes in favor of exit, but did not receive the supermajority of affirmative votes needed as required by their CC&Rs.
‘DVExit,’ 3 of 10 Dammeron Valley subdivisions vote to leave homeowners association
Written by Julie Applegate (St. George News)
May 24, 2017
WASHINGTON COUNTY – Three subdivisions voted Friday to leave the Dammeron Valley Landowners Association after residents at odds with a developer joined forces for a “DVExit” initiative.
Over the past several months, the issue became so contentious that residents asked the Washington County Clerk/Auditor’s Office for help counting votes and for a neutral location to do so.
Of 10 subdivisions that voted on whether to leave the landowners association, three were successful and two did not receive enough ballots to proceed with a vote, according to information from the exit initiative.
Five subdivisions voted in favor of leaving the association but did not have the required majority of landowners needed.
“Many years of bad management and possible overreach by the developer has caused trouble,” Amanda Ballif, a resident of Dammeron Valley Farms 2A subdivision, said.
The Dammeron Valley Landowners Association is not needed to have a well-kept community
“The Dammeron Valley Landowners Association is not needed to have a well-kept community because the county codes are sufficient and can actually be enforced whereas the DVLA has got only one recourse – to sue neighbors.”
According to the FAQ section of the website, homeowners who do not vote are counted as votes that are not in favor of exiting DVLA.
Perhaps future votes will be organized in an effort to obtain full participation of all landowners in the voting process.
Dammeron Valley’s roads are maintained by Washington County. Water is provided by a private company regulated by the state of Utah. Fire and emergency response services are funded and managed by a Special District. So there is no essential infrastructure for DVLA to maintain.
Since there are no “hooks” obligating the HOA to maintain common infrastructure or provide essential services, the process of terminating membership in DVLA comes down to obtaining the requisite number of votes.
In this case, homeowners enlisted the assistance of the County in organizing a fair voting process and counting the ballots.
Why are homeowners voting to remove themselves from DVLA?
According to administrators of DV Exit, DVLA provides little benefit to homeowners in terms of enforcing standards and keeping the community looking good. County ordinances already govern many important matters with regard to safety and building codes, and the County has more authority to enforce those standards as needed.
Critics of DVLA claim that the board of directors does not represent the interests of its members. They say that the HOA board favors the interests of the developer, Brooks Pace, who continues to petition the County to construct 500 additional homes in Dammeron Valley. Homeowners that oppose new development are disappointed that they cannot rely upon DVLA to convey their concerns to the local Planning Commission. Therefore, it is better to disassociate with the HOA and speak for themselves on matters of concern, including new development proposals, water and sewer services, and more.
DV Exit homeowners are also opposed to incorporation of Dammeron Valley, currently being pushed by developer Brooks Pace. Apparently, they see no reason to incorporate, so long as their needs are adequately satisfied by the County, the Special District, and the private water company.
And, of course, there are the typical complaints of HOA members around the country: the association board lacks transparency, they do not listen to members, they spend more money that they collect in assessments, and misuse the reserve fund for ordinary operating expenses to pick up the slack.
DVLA is involved in several lawsuits, and homeowners that voted YES on the exit initiative would like to eliminate their joint liability to pay for litigation, especially if DVLA does not prevail in court, or is ordered to pay damages in a settlement.
Developer attempts to keep the HOA party going
Of particular concern to Dammeron Valley homeowners is the discovery that the developer is inserting language into CC&Rs of newer subdivisions that would allow Brooks Pace to dissolve DVLA in the event of incorporation, and then force future homeowners to remain members of a new HOA.
Kind of presumptuous for a developer to insist on keeping the HOA party going, even in the event of incorporating Dammeron Valley as a municipality.
Home buyers and homeowners need to keep on their toes, so they can be aware of underhanded tactics like this.