Sunday, May 15, 2011

Property Owners Association Meeting Notes...

We've been out here since December and finally made it to the first meeting of our Property Owner's Association.  When we moved in, I had been told that the board of directors meets once a month and that they hold an annual membership meeting.  I called the management company and asked about attending the monthly meetings, just as an interested member but was told that unless there was an issue that I wanted to speak on, residents didn't normally attend the meetings.  Fast forward to earlier this week; signs were posted in the area advertising the meeting to be held at Eatza Pizza, so we attended.

The whole thing was awkward at first.  We just assumed that the meeting would be held in the back private party room, but when we walked back there, we found that some sort of Texas Minuteman meeting or some successionest thing was going on.  We then recognized a guy who I know from work and asked him about it.  He introduced us to the board members and invited to join them.  Having served on a BOD for an association, I really didn't want to just jump right into the meeting, especially since it seemed as though we were the only residents/non-board members attending.  Eventually, though two other couples showed up and we didn't feel as uncomfortable.

So the long and the short of it is, like any other board, these folks had an agenda of items to discuss.  They made introductions and us and the other residents all introduced ourselves to each other and the entire thing was very casual and free flowing.  I couldn't help but reflect on what a nightmare this would have been at our old HOA.  The board members freely discussed the business (excluding some personnel matters that were saved for "executive session") and welcomed the input of the few members at the table.  People seemed respectful.

There were a few interesting things that really stood out to me.  One was that the board had received complaints regarding a homeowner near the entrance to the subdivision who had a vehicle parked on the side of his house.  Because it is a corner lot, the vehicle is visible to anyone driving by on either street.  One resident questioned why anybody would care - the vehicle is on the homeowner's property and it should be none of anybody else's business.   I suddenly got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that things were going to get ugly, but instead, when a few board members pointed out that the intent of the deed restrictions was to maintain the appearance of the subdivision to keep home values up, and apparently abandoned vehicles did not help, the lady was satisfied and things moved on.

There were several Architectural Control requests - mostly revolving around people who had built something on their property and were now coming back to ask for forgiveness after the fact.  It was clear that the board and the ACC simply want people to follow the rules.  In one case though, a potential property buyer was requesting to build a big metal building as a work shop.  There was much careful discussion on this topic; were metal buildings allowed etc, and much quoting of the deed restrictions.  

In the end, I couldn't help but offer some advice from my previous board experience.  I simply stated that the decisions the board makes now on cases like this are decisions that the association will have to live with 25 years from now.  I was not advocating for or against the approval, but that the request to build should come with much greater detail so that the board can make an informed decision either way.  They did decide (whether due to my input or not) that they needed more information on the design and such before they could approve the request.

We were really glad we went - if only to meet the people who are on the board and some other neighbors.  It was a bit sad that there weren't more residents coming out to see the meeting, but my experience with our old association should have clued me into the fact that people really don't care about these types of things. Perhaps that makes us different.


Charlene said...

I've served on a condo board as secretary one year and as treasurer another. The only way to get owner participation is to discuss a change in fees or firing a popular employee.

Dave said...

Seriously, you just nailed it, Charlene.