By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Did you know that when you own property in common (or shares in the corporation that owns cooperative housing property), you have very limited control over how that property is maintained?
In association-governed, common interest communities, the board of directors or trustees makes most decisions about how much money to allocate to different maintenance and repair projects. The board also sets assessment levels, with authority to obtain additional financing (loans) or impose one or more special assessments to cover the cost of major construction projects.
Some, but not all, association governing documents do set a limit on the amount of assessment increases from year to year, and others may require a vote of membership to impose sizable special assessments. However, most boards can and do get around those limitations by spreading out assessment increases over several years.
Quite often, if a vote of membership is required, homeowners cannot agree on a single course of action. When the Association is unable to raise enough money to do the work, the project is deferred indefinitely or abandoned altogether.
Your governing documents might also require a vote of membership before the board can begin any capital improvement project, but may not require a vote to repair or replace any existing component or portions of common property. For example, if your board wants to resurface the pool deck, no vote would be required. But if the board proposes installing a brand new pool in a community with no existing swimming pool, that would most likely require a vote of members.
Likewise, your association must abide by health and safety codes set forth by the local government (city or county) or state regulatory agency. Your association board serves as the primary point of contact for local agencies. Owners may not be made aware of problems and proposed solutions until after the board has made an agreement with the local government agency.
The bottom line is that members at large might not be included in the decision process for issues the board sees as ordinary business or emergency repairs. And, even if members are consulted, there might be no agreement on the best course of action to take, resulting in no action at all.
For all of these reasons, homeowners may face unwelcome changes to their communities.
Three examples are featured today.
Parents buy into community for its grassy play areas, HOA decides to do away with grass
Oasis Community Management recently decided to save money by replacing a grassy lawn area with crushed stones. Now children in the community have no green space for playing outdoors. The Fox News video below reveals a relatively new playground surrounded by a sea of rock. Parents complain that the rough surface is no longer safe for children, not at all what they expect for their assessment dollars.
Some residents in San Tan Valley neighborhood upset over grass replacement at local park
POSTED: MAY 25 2017 09:17PM MST
UPDATED: MAY 25 2017 09:17PM MST
Fox 10 Phoenix
Green grass being replaced with rocks: sounds like a small change, but it is a change at one neighborhood park in the Valley that has some people upset.
According to the Homeowners Association that manages Sandwich Park, the grass replacement was done, as a means to save money. The once grassy park, which is located in the Castlegate community in the San Tan Valley, is now covered by 500 tons of rock.
Read more (video):
Condo association cutting down most of the mature trees
In Charlemont Condominium Association, a controversy is brewing over the decision to remove most of the palm and pine trees in the community. The board says the tree roots threaten utility lines, and that they want to eliminate pine needle debris. Condo owners recognize some of the trees pose a problem, but see no reason to cut down every mature tree and replace them with smaller trees that will never provide shade.
Tree removal angers neighbors in Henderson community
11:14 PM, May 25, 2017
4:42 PM, May 26, 2017
HENDERSON (KTNV) –
Neighbors in a Henderson community are fighting over trees, or a lack thereof.
Driving into the Charlemont Condo complex in Green Valley, you can clearly see changes are happening.
There is a dumpster in the front parking lot full of yard waste and landscaping rock filling several parking spaces.
Not everyone is happy about the changes.
“I cried the whole time,” Teresa Prater said of watching two large trees outside her condo.
This as she and other neighbors are working to stop the landscaping changes that led to more than a dozen trees being cut down.
“I understand there were a few that were dying, but they took out every single one,” Steve Whitaker said.
Read more (Video):
Neighbors cannot agree on how to pay to rebuild dam, state will require the dam to be breached for safety reasons, eliminating the lake
This familiar story is playing out in small lakeside communities all over North and South Carolina. Many homeowners cannot afford to pay to rebuild dams that have been damaged or destroyed in recent rainy seasons and floods.
Even if they had the money, Country Club Hills owners cannot agree on how to divvy up the cost for building a new dam. Owners that do not live directly on the lake think they should not have to pay for the repair, or they believe lakefront homeowners should pay more. Lakefront homeowners think the cost should be equally shared.
But the state cannot wait for homeowners to take action, and N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is prepared to breach the dam and drain the lake in the near future, in order to prevent catastrophic downstream flooding.
State orders Fayetteville dam breached as neighbors spar
The homeowners have failed to agree on how to pay to repair their damaged earthen dam. Now the state has declared an emergency.
By Andrew Barksdale
State regulators plan to breach a Fayetteville neighborhood dam because the owners have failed to make repairs after several warnings.
On May 2, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality declared an emergency that allows it to breach the 10-acre lake off Gables Drive in the Country Club Hills subdivision, which is off Country Club Drive near Ramsey Street.
The primary owner is the Country Club Hills Homeowners Association, a cash-strapped group that was unable to decide whether to repair the dam during a sometimes-contentious meeting. The group was planning to apply for a federal loan.
The homeowners’ plight is not uncommon in Fayetteville and around the state. Small, earthen dams built decades ago to promote residential developments can degrade over time — and some are irreparably damaged by a big storm.
In many cases, the homeowner groups that own the dams are loosely knit and ill-equipped to pay what can cost several hundred thousand dollars to bring an ailing dam up to modern codes.
Read more, with video clip of contentious HOA meeting: