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Subject: It finally happened - we ticked off owners
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TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/26/2017 8:22 AM  
It appears that we have ticked off enough owners that they are organizing against the Board.
How did we tick them off?
In my opinion, lack of communication.

Tales of woe for others to learn by.

A member approached the Board to complain about the condition of a traffic island and to ask if they could plant a tree on it. The Board listened, understood the issue and decided to rehab the island completely. We asked the member to chair a committee to check with various contractors and submit ideas. The board, at the same meeting came up with the following goals of any design:

• Aesthetically pleasing
• Minimizes or eliminates erosion
• Provides open areas for minor play and court picnics
• Discourages team sport play
• Does not contain pergolas or gazebos
• Allows for parking of vehicles around the island
• Minimizes tree branches overhanging vehicles parked around island
• Minimal maintenance (pruning) requirements


The committee provided proposals by our next meeting.
Unfortunately, none of the proposals met enough of the goals for the board to approve.

At that meeting, a member in attendance for a different issue provided his input to the proposals. The Board has now heard two extreme suggestions for the island. One to completely forest it the other to make it a playground. The Board was confident that the goals we established was somewhere in the middle and chose not to seek further input from residents but asked the committee to continue working on it.

At the following board meeting, updated proposals from the committee were provided that still didn't meet the goals. Rather then wait, the board came up with a simple design and based on funding, we couldn't complete everything but could move forward.

Per our contractors, the remaining trees on that island would all have to be removed in 2 to 3 years. Most needed removed now. The Board chose to remove all of them (as our rehab plan would work either way) now since funding was available. Our contracts for the island now included:

Remove existing trees, grind stumps
Grind roots, add soil and prep island for additional work
Hydro-seed entire island
Plant two trees (one maple, one crape myrtle)
provide watering for the trees for one year (we have no irrigation system)
Warranty on the trees (comes with the watering)

This is the communication error - We didn't tell the residents what we were doing.

Phase one hit and the residents returned home to find all trees on island removed.
Shock and emotions took over and they demanded all work stop and new plans be drawn up.
They also demanded a special meeting of the board to do this.
Vacations prevented a special meeting (no quorum)
However, The Board attempted to answer questions and said that nothing we had contracted for would prevent future work.

Unfortunately, emotional attachment often prevents simple discussion from taking place. One member (claiming to represent many who were copied on emails) threatened legal action and demanded documents. We have an attorney on the Board. To protect the Boards legal rights, we provided some documents (those legally allowed to have) but others were withheld (they were work product). This inflamed the issue. More emails flew around. In checking on work, I actually spent an hour with these residents who were not listening. They simply wanted to preach. I honestly felt I was in front of a lynch mob.

They did provide a design. See attached.

Keep in mind the Boards goals and that:
We are a town home development
the island is only 60' by 80'
Hardwood trees have a 35-40 foot crown at maturity (and surface roots)
Crape Myrtles have 25 foot crowns at maturity
The spruce trees have surface or shallow roots
The spruce trees grow to a height of 60 to 200' with a 20-25 foot canopy

We have 5 or 6 of the 20 lots showing up at the next board meeting. It will be an interesting one.

However, one member (we suspect the one who threatened legal action) made a complaint with the County. Now the zoning board is looking at the original proffer to see if the clear cutting (regardless that we are replanting or that the trees needed to go) is a violation. If a violation exists, it is a $200 fine and if not remedied within x days (haven't gotten a decision from them yet) an additional $500 is added to the fine.

So, for the lack of initial communication combined with emotional residents, the Boards hands our now tied waiting for a decision from the County. The County may or may not specify the number of trees along with the type of trees.

Unintended consequence - The whole board, including myself, is fed up and does not want to run again. Additionally, we have a group of residents who view the Reserves as one pot of money that can be used to put the island to how they want (vs. Reserves being allocated to specific things)and may very possibly be the next Board.


I'm open to advice but we realize our mistake (lack of communication).
Additionally, our hands are literally tied waiting for the decision from the County.
Mainly wanted to stress to others how important communication is with the membership.


Tim

Attachment: 182622468871.pdf

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6650


08/26/2017 8:41 AM  
Wow kind of been there before. It's like stopping a run a way train. How do you do that once it's left the station? My advice stay calm and eyes open. Take a moment to breath as the others are not. It's almost as if your the adult in the room with a bunch of crying children.

You know what? Sounds a bit crazy advice as most of mine is. I say take advantage of this energy/anger. Have a meeting at this area in hot debate. Put everyone in the eye of the storm. You can either decide to cage fight and toss the losers into the street to play or come together with a plan. People need to see not just drive by. Put the feet on the ground literally.

For me, I would have a "volunteer day". Where have a special cleaning project or work on a maintenance item. Anything to put people together for a positive thing. Do not think a potluck will do. This has to be a pull up your sleeves type of activity. Energy needs to be spent and eyes open to what can't be spent. Good luck!

Former HOA President
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:6802


08/26/2017 8:55 AM  
Tim

It seems the center of the storm is one person and I grudgingly admire him for getting the county involved. He stopped you all dead in your tracks.

You said you believe this to be a communication problem. Well the simple answer is to try and cure that with maybe an Informational Meeting. Lay out the plan, ask for suggestions, etc. Sell them on it. Forget the one person as they are only one person. Lay out your side and let the chips fall.

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/26/2017 9:13 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 08/26/2017 8:55 AM

It seems the center of the storm is one person and I grudgingly admire him for getting the county involved. He stopped you all dead in your tracks.




The problem with stopping us in our tracks is two fold:

1) there is a storm coming (HARVEY) and the island will erode (as nothing is there to limit erosion).
2) Additional costs - from the fine (if it is a violation) to the potential increase in costs to fix any erosion.

yes, it's an option and one they chose to take.
It's not an option I would have done as it wasn't the best for the Association as a whole.

The difference between looking out for what is best for the whole vs. best for a few.


Posted By JohnC46 on 08/26/2017 8:55 AM

You said you believe this to be a communication problem. Well the simple answer is to try and cure that with maybe an Informational Meeting.




This will occur at our meeting in couple of weeks.
At that meeting we hope to have the decision from the County.
We plan to inform those in attendance about any decision, the fact that a violation may very well remove any chance of input from the residents. The need to borrow from the reserves to pay for any additional work beyond what was already authorized which will result in less tree work being done in future years until the loan is paid back (as the tree line item is our only real variable line item in the operating budget). Worst case, this may delay milling and paving of the roads/parking area.

Hopefully some will be willing to listen and discuss the issue like adults.


Our elections are in October.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/26/2017 9:13 AM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 08/26/2017 8:41 AM

You know what? Sounds a bit crazy advice as most of mine is. I say take advantage of this energy/anger. Have a meeting at this area in hot debate.




I personally will not subject myself to such a meeting.

As I said, I felt I was in front of a lynch mob.
They haven't cooled off yet and are still not listening or willing to discuss.
They simply want to preach (at least my perspective) on how ticked off they are (we already understand that).

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6650


08/26/2017 9:52 AM  
Who was it that rode his horse in front of his troops and then lead them to battle? If it was Braveheart, may not want to go that route. He was beheaded and head put on a post. That definitely would NOT be "aesthetically pleasing" to put in that area.

Wait for the damage to occur then. I find people are more reactive than proactive. Sometimes you have to let things run it's course.

I once was facing a 10K fine from the city because my lawncare/ex-president were using an area for dumping yard wastes. It was NOT on our property. The property owner in the other subdivision reported it. Some of the debris was from an old utility project too. Most of us did not make that mess or were involved making that a dumping ground. Announced it to the entire HOA we were being fined 10K and we do not have 10K. Everyone may have to cough up $500 to $1000 ASAP. We had a 10 day window to clean it all up. I was able to get us another 10 day extension. Rented out a dumpster and got a few volunteers to come out to clean up. Some people saw us cleaning and found out why, joined in. I spend 2 - 3 days in the woods cleaning up a pile of wood sticks/yard debris higher than my head. One day I just went out and jumped on it all so it looked like we had made some headway when it looked like we had not touched it.

So yes I have been there and faced that crowd. It wasn't pretty and yes I did get hurt in the cross fire. Take a breath and a beer. It's going to need both to get you through this. Worst case? Your voted out. Wow would that hurt? LOL!

Former HOA President
AugustinD


Posts:508


08/26/2017 10:50 AM  
Tim, thanks for the report. It does help reinforce the importance of communicatons.

I know you work hard for no pay and do not deserve this.

Have any of the opposition stepped up to say she or he will run for the board?
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/26/2017 11:25 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 08/26/2017 10:50 AM

Have any of the opposition stepped up to say she or he will run for the board?




One has but that is the spouse of the spokesperson for the group so I question the motives.

Others have hinted but nobody has absolutly said they would run.

As of right now, 3 of the 4 currently on the Board said that they will not run again because of the residents reaction.

I am personally torn.

I don't really want to run again either. However, as stated earlier, I am concerned that if this group gets into power, the financial stability I (and those who worked with me) achieved may be compromised. Some within this group were on the Board before and failed to follow statutes. Example: VA Law first established the requirement of a reserve study in 2002. We did our first one in 2010 after I was elected to the board.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3355


08/26/2017 2:23 PM  
Ouch!!! Thanks for sharing so others can take note and learn.

Posted By TimB4 on 08/26/2017 8:22 AM

At that meeting, a member in attendance for a different issue provided his input to the proposals. The Board has now heard two extreme suggestions for the island. One to completely forest it the other to make it a playground. The Board was confident that the goals we established was somewhere in the middle and chose not to seek further input from residents but asked the committee to continue working on it.


From what you have stated IMO this is potentially where the mistake was made. On one side it could be lack of communication, but it was also a decision the BOD made. And you know me from the many years. . I tend to argue in favor of having membership participate when their money is going to be spent making large changes.

Posted By TimB4 on 08/26/2017 8:22 AM

However, one member (we suspect the one who threatened legal action) made a complaint with the County. Now the zoning board is looking at the original proffer to see if the clear cutting (regardless that we are replanting or that the trees needed to go) is a violation. If a violation exists, it is a $200 fine and if not remedied within x days (haven't gotten a decision from them yet) an additional $500 is added to the fine.

So, for the lack of initial communication combined with emotional residents, the Boards hands our now tied waiting for a decision from the County. The County may or may not specify the number of trees along with the type of trees.


My opinion one of two things possibly happened to cause this. 1) The upset owners did not feel their concerns were being heard and addresssed in a timely manner, or 2) a BOD member potentially made the mistake of telling an angry owner that it is the BOD's decision on what they could do with the property not the owners. I would have to admit if one of those two items happened to me I also would have potentially complained to the local government. Most people do not have issues with upkeep of a current area, but they absolutely want to be able to have input on large changes they will be paying to implement.

Posted By TimB4 on 08/26/2017 8:22 AM

I'm open to advice but we realize our mistake (lack of communication).
Additionally, our hands are literally tied waiting for the decision from the County.
Mainly wanted to stress to others how important communication is with the membership.


Advice ... have a cocktail and relax for a short while. In the meantime all you can really do is work hard with the County to expedite as quickly as you can. I am also with you regarding the types of trees as you do not want any which will be costly or cause future issues. Does your County have a preferred list of trees and plantings you can reference?
GeorgeR8
(Arizona)

Posts:116


08/27/2017 5:44 AM  
HOA's and trees. Always a problem as long as there are people who think a tree should never be cut down for any reason. They don't care if it will be replaced with a better tree for that location.
GwenG
(Florida)

Posts:488


08/27/2017 9:40 AM  
Why is the board surprised that owners are upset by their decision to take unilateral action and ignore the Committee established to come up with a plan? The lack of an agreed upon plan by the Committee resulted in the board bypassing the Committee to "go forward" with their own plan; one which never incorporated removal of the trees.

Janet is right on the money. I don't think the board should be surprised at the reaction. This is not just about lack of communication. The error here is more than just "failure to communicate". EVEN IF the board had communicated, owners would have been upset about removing trees.

Rather than pick up your marbles and stop playing a game that you decided in isolation, with an outcome caused by hubris and insensitivity, why not publicly admit the true character of your action; do the mea culpa and do better next time.

It appears that this board is serving the community well over a longer term and should not get their Hanes in an uproar about an outcome THEY caused and penalize owners who are objecting to the direction that board chose. It is a self-inflicted wound and you now are a ride-along. You have learned a valuable lesson. This short-term violation of trust is singular and reparable if the board demonstrates ownership for the eventual result and asks for forgiveness. Then, show that YOU care by running for re-election.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6650


08/27/2017 10:40 AM  
Another Bash the HOA? The Board always had the ability to overturn the committees recommendation. It's a known. There are reasons for this. Especially if you get a committee that thinks there is no budget. Next time would say we can not spend more than $1000 on this project. That is your limit and your job is to work within it.

I had a person who wanted to redo the clubhouse. We had no money for it. She tried to get me to approve the project without her going to the board. Was told by the ex-president all she had to do was talk to me to make it happen. He was a liar and con-man and knew better. So presented her idea and it was voted down by EVERYONE. A few months later, I quit and she became a board member. Surprise guess who got approval to redo the clubhouse? Guess what else happened? A special assessment to pay for all the things the new board went and paid for without having a dime.

It's a checks and balances system when boards can approve or disapprove a committee recommendation. You may have a committee or 1 person who refuses to realize there is a budget. Plus they may not see the consequences. The board is ultimately responsible and do represent the members as a WHOLE. A committee does not. I would rather my board take control of a project that may be out of control than a committee of a few.

Former HOA President
GwenG
(Florida)

Posts:488


08/27/2017 12:29 PM  
@Melissa: Not a bash any more than the original poster bashed his own board for failing to communicate. Check your own prejudices before you assume others have bad motives.

The OP was posted a cautionary tale to others. The message was communication. In this case, there was no compelling need to the board to act in "crisis mode". The board took action contrary to the project preference list it gave to the Committee it delegated the job to which called only for "minimal pruning". The board simply took over after the second round of committee proposals was not acceptable.

It was known at that time, per board discussion with other members' input, that this was a potential extreme community issue (from a forest to a playground!). Despite the warning signs, the board, without further input, went ahead with its own agenda and all hell broke loose when members saw the trees were gone! It can only be assumed that there was no motion made and acted upon at the board meeting to take this action.

If any Board wants to go its own way, it certainly has the authority to do so within the expenditure limitation under bylaws. In this case, apparently the board did NOT consult the Committee before going ahead on its own. The resulting uproar is acknowledged by the OP to have been due to its lack of communication (not to mention lack of sensitivity).

My input was to Own Up, Man/Woman UP, Mea Culpa to your Owners and don't blame THEM for your unhappiness with the decision that you (the board) made and refuse to run for re-election. This wound was truly self-inflicted. There is no justification to "victimize" the owners by refusing to play a rough game that you (the board) chose.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 1:11 PM  
Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 12:29 PM

The board took action contrary to the project preference list it gave to the Committee it delegated the job to which called only for "minimal pruning". The board simply took over after the second round of committee proposals was not acceptable.




To clarify, the committee's proposals (1st and 2nd round) did not meet the Boards goals, which were outlined in the RFP. Turns out the people on the committee wanted a forested island.



Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 12:29 PM

It was known at that time, per board discussion with other members' input, that this was a potential extreme community issue (from a forest to a playground!). Despite the warning signs, the board, without further input, went ahead with its own agenda and all hell broke loose when members saw the trees were gone!




That was one issue.



Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 12:29 PM

It can only be assumed that there was no motion made and acted upon at the board meeting to take this action.




You know what they say about assuming.

A motion was made to survey the residents of the street the island is on.
The motion was voted on and failed to pass.




Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 12:29 PM

In this case, apparently the board did NOT consult the Committee before going ahead on its own.




Wrong.

The committee was kept in the loop 100%


Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 12:29 PM

My input was to Own Up, Man/Woman UP, Mea Culpa to your Owners and don't blame THEM for your unhappiness with the decision that you (the board) made and refuse to run for re-election. This wound was truly self-inflicted. There is no justification to "victimize" the owners by refusing to play a rough game that you (the board) chose.





Perspectives are indeed interesting.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6650


08/27/2017 1:13 PM  
The OP is TimB. He is one bad mamma jammer when it comes to HOAs.

Former HOA President
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 1:19 PM  
Update:


We heard from the County.

The County did conclude that what was done and scheduled to be done for the Rehab (based on finances) was not in line with the proffer.

However, they are willing to hold off on a formal decision that a violation exists if the Board can move quickly (i.e. a couple of weeks) to award contracts to comply with the proffer design.

On Monday, we will obtain a copy of the proffer and, hopefully, the design.
I've explained the situation to the contractor and asked for a price list of trees with watering.

The interesting thing is that at the meeting, we will tick off more owners because this one owner completely took away their options. We now have to comply with the County - period.

Funding will likely come from the Reserves (borrowing).
This will affect other things as well.

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 1:39 PM  
Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 9:40 AM
Why is the board surprised that owners are upset by their decision to take unilateral action and ignore the Committee established to come up with a plan? The lack of an agreed upon plan by the Committee resulted in the board bypassing the Committee to "go forward" with their own plan; one which never incorporated removal of the trees.




It's best to ask questions vs. inserting facts not in evidence.

All plans from the committee also included clear cutting of the island.

As stated earlier, the reason the Board developed their own was because the Committee's were not meeting the requirements outlined by the Board.

Keep in mind that the plan I attached came from the residents not the committee.
The residents plan fails to look at the trees at maturity.
When asked that they please do this, the residents failed to reply (yes they did get our request) concerning the plan.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 1:41 PM  
Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 9:40 AM

Why is the board surprised that owners are upset by their decision




I'd like to add that we did the same thing on two different streets.

One side is complaining.

The other side is taking a wait and lets see how it looks approach.

Two completely different perspectives.
CarlJ2
(Texas)

Posts:103


08/27/2017 1:49 PM  
It's good to see you admit there was an error on your Board's part, Tim, I think most HOA Leaders would not do so. They would hide behind they authority and lawyers.
GwenG
(Florida)

Posts:488


08/27/2017 2:38 PM  
It is impossible for readers to have all of the facts; one must "infer" reasonably from the information offered. Because the OP is a seasoned "mamma jamma" board member, I reasonably assumed that the board made a motion on the Committee's plan am now informed that was not done in favor or a motion to survey a few residents near the island and that motion failed. So, there was never a motion to act on the island contract work. Right?

My concern is that the seasoned and effective board, including the OP, states that they do not want to run again and even express fear of having the old crowd back on the board. That, in my opinion, is not justified since the board created the problem in the first place and is howling "foul" because owners feel they were excluded from the decision. The committee process may have been messy and floundered around, but the board failed to publicly "take back" the project and proceeded as a shadow entity to contract with the tree removers unbeknownst to the owners.

Blaming the people who alerted the county is counterproductive. These people should not be victimized. They felt that they were not being heard--and they were right. The board's move, I believe, is to "over" communicate the future progress and plans, resurrect the Committee in a meaningful capacity, apologize to the members and proceed as necessary with the county.

The unanticipated hit on the Reserves will recover; the board should be concerned with reestablishing trust. It is not so easily recovered.

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 3:19 PM  
Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

Because the OP is a seasoned "mamma jamma" board member, I reasonably assumed that the board made a motion on the Committee's plan am now informed that was not done in favor or a motion to survey a few residents near the island and that motion failed. So, there was never a motion to act on the island contract work. Right?




Wrong again.

The Board, after rejecting the committees proposals for several reasons I will not go into, except that the plans did not meet the key goals (the quantitative ones, not the subjective ones) of the RFP, came up with a simple plan on our own and agreed to it. The Committee was informed and thanked for their time.

It was while the committee was working on plan revisions that the motion was made to survey the residents. That motion failed to pass.



Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

My concern is that the seasoned and effective board, including the OP, states that they do not want to run again . . .




Yep. I can't speak for others but I can speak for myself.
I spend 20 to 30 hours a month on Association business.
I was actually told by this group I should have put in more hours.
Mind you, nobody stepped forward to serve from that group.
Nobody offered to volunteer when the Board asked for help.


When I dedicate that amount of time, absorb the bookkeeping duties so the Association has another $4,200 to spend a year and, since I work overnights, spend the middle of my night working on Association business, one can get a little put off when told your not working hard enough for no pay.




Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

[The Board] even express fear of having the old crowd back on the board. That, in my opinion, is not justified since the board created the problem in the first place and is howling "foul" because owners feel they were excluded from the decision.




Questions:

Would you rather have an individual serve on the board who has no personal agenda or a group that has personal agendas serve?

Would you rather see those who failed to comply with State laws and the governing documents when they served get back in power or elect those willing to comply with the applicable statutes?

Would you rather see those who view the Reserve funds as one big pot of money to be used for what ever have control of those funds or have those who see the Reserves allocated to specific items control those funds?



Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

The committee process may have been messy and floundered around, but the board failed to publicly "take back" the project and proceeded as a shadow entity to contract with the tree removers unbeknownst to the owners.




What????

Where in the heck did you get that info from?

As I said, the committee was involved and informed 100% of the time.
Motions were made at were adopted or failed at open board meetings.


Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

Blaming the people who alerted the county is counterproductive.




Personally, I'm not blaming them. I don't agree with their method but I, and others, have often suggested to get the County involved if the Board wasn't listening.

In this case, the Board was listening.
I created a scale model of the site, including trees at maturity, so we can discuss it at the next Board meeting. The members who contacted the Board didn't want to wait. Demanded that the Board meet with them immediately (even though vacation schedules prevented a quorum from being achieved). They were the one's not listening (at least from my perspectives and, based on info I have, based on other members of the Board perspectives as well.)


Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

These people should not be victimized.




Please explain how they are victimized.

I honestly don't see it.



Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

The board's move, I believe, is to "over" communicate the future progress and plans, resurrect the Committee in a meaningful capacity, apologize to the members and proceed as necessary with the county.




Sorry, once the County got involved it doesn't matter what the residents want or what the Board wants. We are now being told what to do by the County.

Too bad that those members didn't think about this unintended consequence.

The Board will likely enter into contracts prior to the meeting with the members simply to avoid the fines. Will this be communicated? Yes, at the meeting where many of those who are attending are from that group. Will it be reported to the whole membership? Yes, at the annual meeting which will be held in October.


Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

The unanticipated hit on the Reserves will recover;




Well, that actually depends on who controls the funds doesn't it?

We also have milling and paving scheduled in 3 years. We already borrowed to address erosion. This additional borrowing may very well create the need for a special assessment. Again, an unintended consequence because some couldn't wait and discuss the issue. They are still in their preaching mode.



Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 2:38 PM

the board should be concerned with reestablishing trust. It is not so easily recovered.




You are correct. However, this is the end of the year.
We have two board meetings before the next election and our focus needs to be there.

1 of us have served for the past 10 years. 1 has served for the past 7 years. 1 has served for the past 4 years. 1 has served for the past 3 years.

Apathy from the membership combined with lynch mob mentality (at least that is my perspective) with that group has us tired. We have spent far too much time on this issue and will be spending more. Had the committee complied with the RFP, there would have been less issues. Had the Board surveyed the residents, there may have been less issues. Had the Board communicated better, there would have been less issues (but based on available funding, I think we still would have had some).
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:4162


08/27/2017 3:20 PM  
I see that Carl, by writing "most HOA leaders" is drawing exaggerated conclusions again based on rare examples.



Sorry about your troubles, Tim, and appreciate your sharing your story.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 3:28 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 08/27/2017 3:20 PM

I see that Carl, by writing "most HOA leaders" is drawing exaggerated conclusions again based on rare examples.




Well, that's all we can do.

All will go into a defensive stance when challenged (that is human nature).
Many will stay there.
Fewer will get past it and be open for discussion of the issues.
GwenG
(Florida)

Posts:488


08/27/2017 3:50 PM  
Despite what others may assume, I also appreciate Tim's story. It is a lesson to all board members but it should also be heard by members when they are passing judgement on their board. Boards are not perfect because they are human and they act in groups with "authority" that has been given to them. They are not professionals. They can and will stumble.

@Tim: you asked "Where did I get the board acting as a shadow entity..." You stated in your first post "At the following board meeting, updated proposals from the committee were provided that still didn't meet the goals. Rather then wait, the board came up with a simple design and based on funding, we couldn't complete everything but could move forward."

That is where it appears to have come apart. The board decided not to wait. There was no motion except to survey a few residents which was not passed. The board then took ownership, designed a plan and moved forward. My characterization of that was "acting as a shadow entity" because it reportedly was a complete surprise to the community who were of the impression that the Committee was still working on an acceptable proposal to the board. Was the committee notified that the board was now implementing its plan and, were they in agreement with the removal of the trees?

Board should autopsy the timeline and actions they took in this debacle and, if applicable, memorialize the learning/remedy in some fashion for future directors. One lesson for members is to pay attention and be reasonably engaged with their community at all times--not just when things go wrong and they want to strangle the board. As leaders, board needs to find a way to mend the damage and contain the cost of the mistake. For their part, members must forgive those who are doing the work of running their business (or suffer the consequences of "voting against".)

Perspectives...this is a quote I like:

I like my friends to be the hitters. The pitchers, they all have the same brain as I do. The hitters see the game from a different perspective.
Joe Mays
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/different_perspective.html
AugustinD


Posts:508


08/27/2017 4:13 PM  
Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 3:50 PM

Board should autopsy the timeline and actions they took in this debacle and, if applicable, memorialize the learning/remedy in some fashion for future directors.




So then the directors will feel better about themselves and not quit their unpaid, zero benefits, positions?

One aspect here surprises me: That the directors wish to quit because some group, inexperienced in HOA matters, said some not nice things. I do not understand why these highly experienced directors do not just hold their heads high, say they did the best they could, make good with the county, and at this point, ignore the dissenters. This will save the current directors energy.

Only one other person appears to be willing to serve on the board. Increasingly my own motto is, "Member Jones, as long as you are not willing to serve on the board, I do not care about your priorities nearly as much as I care about what I understand the HOA's priorities to be."
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 4:25 PM  
Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 3:50 PM

@Tim: you asked "Where did I get the board acting as a shadow entity..." You stated in your first post "At the following board meeting, updated proposals from the committee were provided that still didn't meet the goals. Rather then wait, the board came up with a simple design and based on funding, we couldn't complete everything but could move forward."




understood.

Things you are not aware of, that meeting was in June. We would not be meeting again until August (due to scheduling) and contracts needed to be awarded to give contractors time to schedule and time for the plants/grass to take hold. It took a month for the tree work to be done on the contractors schedule.





Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 3:50 PM

The board decided not to wait. There was no motion except to survey a few residents which was not passed.



Wrong.

Decisions are made by motion and voting.
I honestly didn't think I had to mention that.
Simply saying the Board decided implied motions and voting.



Posted By GwenG on 08/27/2017 3:50 PM

My characterization of that was "acting as a shadow entity" because it reportedly was a complete surprise to the community who were of the impression that the Committee was still working on an acceptable proposal to the board. Was the committee notified that the board was now implementing its plan and, were they in agreement with the removal of the trees?




Again, facts not in evidence.

As I said, the Committee was kept in the loop 100%.
As I said, the committee's own plans called for removing the trees (which had to be removed due to diseases, cankers, etc.)





CarlJ2
(Texas)

Posts:103


08/27/2017 4:30 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 08/27/2017 3:20 PM
I see that Carl, by writing "most HOA leaders" is drawing exaggerated conclusions again based on rare examples.



Sorry about your troubles, Tim, and appreciate your sharing your story.




Ouch, I can't even compliment Tim without taking heat around here.
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:2025


08/27/2017 4:34 PM  
Posted By CarlJ2 on 08/27/2017 1:49 PM
It's good to see you admit there was an error on your Board's part, Tim, I think most HOA Leaders would not do so. They would hide behind they authority and lawyers.



There is much truth to the statement.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/27/2017 5:46 PM  
Posted By CarlJ2 on 08/27/2017 4:30 PM


Ouch, I can't even compliment Tim without taking heat around here.




Carl,

I took it the way you intended it.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:6802


08/27/2017 6:28 PM  
Tim

You said:

The interesting thing is that at the meeting, we will tick off more owners because this one owner completely took away their options. We now have to comply with the County - period.

Keep this in mind when the issue is discussed. Say I am sorry the BOD/owners are no longer in charge of this. Place the blame at the feet of the person that called in the county. Bond with those that do like the county enforced plan as in I agree but we have to accept it.

Make comments like if So and So had not called in the county we would be where we are....being forced......but as he did....there is nothing we can do.
GwenG
(Florida)

Posts:488


08/27/2017 6:31 PM  
Now THAT is a mature plan!
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:1446


08/27/2017 8:54 PM  
Without knowing all the nitty gritty details I'd say the board gave it a pretty good effort. Didn't rush into a decision. Laid out guidelines for the project. Involved at least one committee. Asked for input and volunteers. No perfect proposal was developed so, after a few months and with deadlines approaching, the board made a decision. That's a board's right in most cases, anyway, and when no perfect plan emerged after many people put in many hours of work, the board made a decision. I know many boards will say, "we tried our best" when they did no such thing, but it certainly it sounds as though you went above and beyond. I think it's a given that no plan was ever going to please everyone.

Maybe they jumped the gun a bit on clearing the island, but nobody's perfect. Looking at the neighborhood it seems like there are a lot of trees in the area. I can't fathom why some people would get all up in arms over a few trees. It's not like they weren't going to be replaced. That seems ludicrous to me.

One of the other islands looks a lot smaller than the other two. I can't imagine the same level of detailed plans and preparation is required for that one. The truest statement in this whole thread IMO is where Tim says, "We have spent far too much time on this issue and will be spending more." It's precisely things like this that will grind you down, drain your energy, and sap all the enthusiasm out of you.

I wish you luck with this, Tim. From what you've described, if it was me, I wouldn't even want to hear about it anymore.

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/28/2017 2:35 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 08/27/2017 6:28 PM

Keep this in mind when the issue is discussed. Say I am sorry the BOD/owners are no longer in charge of this.




I agree that this statement needs to be said.

I wouldn't place blame on anyone. Just a statement of fact that the issue is now out of the Associations hands. Then move forward.
PitA


Posts:0


08/28/2017 5:12 AM  
sooooo,

after all the Ka-Ka is shoveled into the hole

the HOA is doing what should have been done FIRST


COMPLY WITH EXISTING COUNTY CODE
DouglasM6
(Arizona)

Posts:320


08/28/2017 7:41 AM  
Thanks for posting Tim. I learned a lot from this one.

If a member wants to plant a tree, let the membership vote on the action, and move forward accordingly.

All of this because of a one tree proposal?
PitA


Posts:0


08/28/2017 9:02 AM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/27/2017 1:19 PM
Update:


We heard from the County.

The County did conclude that what was done and scheduled to be done for the Rehab (based on finances) was not in line with the proffer.

However, they are willing to hold off on a formal decision that a violation exists if the Board can move quickly (i.e. a couple of weeks) to award contracts to comply with the proffer design.

On Monday, we will obtain a copy of the proffer and, hopefully, the design.
I've explained the situation to the contractor and asked for a price list of trees with watering.

The interesting thing is that at the meeting, we will tick off more owners because this one owner completely took away their options. We now have to comply with the County - period.

Funding will likely come from the Reserves (borrowing).
This will affect other things as well.





Why, exactly, is that not a GOOD THING ?
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/28/2017 10:56 AM  
Posted By PitA on 08/28/2017 9:02 AM

Why, exactly, is that not a GOOD THING ?




I suppose one could look at it that way.

Financially it puts a strain on the Association.

However, the issue is resolved (regardless if anyone likes it or not).
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:36


08/28/2017 12:08 PM  
TimB4,

I have read your posts over a lengthy time-span and I know that you are of good character and a real asset to your community. I understand that this situation has soured you on running for a board position again but I would give that some serious reflection. It seems to me that board service is something you enjoy doing. I see you as a person who takes a situation, analyzes it, explores solutions in a thoughtful and careful manner. It's rare to find someone with your strengths to serve on an HOA board. Your community would truly miss out.on a fine board member.

I am not surprised that some folks complained about what occurred. It's in some people's nature to create more drama than is necessary. I agree with you to admit the mistake, say it is in the hands of the county now and move on.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/28/2017 12:54 PM  
Update,

We got the site plan.
The county shows 13 trees on that little island.
Placement and species of trees must be per the plan.
We are currently getting bids.

We still do not know about fines. Initially a determination would be made later (i.e. if we moved fast enough, no fines). However, the inspector now calls it a site plan violation vs. a proffer violation. Hence, new protocols come into play and notice must be sent now.

Fines are $200 for initial violation and $500 additional every 10 days that the violation isn't completed up to a maximum of $5,000. We don't know if they will take a signed contract to resolve the violation or if they will insist that they physically need to be planted.

Plus we get to pay attorney fees because the County must send the notice to our Registered agent (who will simply forward the issue to us and charge a fee for that privilege).


The Board is already talking special assessment possibilities to pay for all of this.
PitA


Posts:0


08/28/2017 2:40 PM  
..... The Board is already talking special assessment possibilities to pay for all of this. .....


"..... all of this." being the Director's negligence re: failing to follow the laws of county in which the HOA is located.

No wonder the Members are 'ticked off'.


The primary mistake: Thinking

The solution: Read, absorb, comply with documents and the law.



Sorry, Tim, but y'all did the pooch on this one.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/28/2017 2:58 PM  
John,

Granted we should have done additional research (20/20 hind sight).
The fact that no other previous board did such research is not an excuse either.
Blame goes to all Boards since the development was turned over to the membership.

Is it this Boards fault? Yes, partially.

Based on the fact that none of the trees currently on the plan actually exist on that island (prior to the removal of trees this year), I suspect past Boards failed to check as well. It's simply not something one thinks of.

Realistically, unless one was in the business of construction or development, I doubt anyone would have thought to look.


Again, not passing blame. There is enough to go around to everyone.

Simply pointing out how important communication is.

Also, a clear illustration of unintended consequences of various decisions made by the Board and the membership.

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/28/2017 3:05 PM  
Posted By PitA on 08/28/2017 2:40 PM
..... The Board is already talking special assessment possibilities to pay for all of this. .....



The primary mistake: Thinking

The solution: Read, absorb, comply with documents and the law.




So, how much more time and energy should one invest into a volunteer, non-paid position?

I'm already spending 20-30 hours per month on HOA business.
Mainly because there aren't enough volunteers willing to step forward.
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:36


08/28/2017 4:52 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/28/2017 2:58 PM
John,

Granted we should have done additional research (20/20 hind sight).
The fact that no other previous board did such research is not an excuse either.
Blame goes to all Boards since the development was turned over to the membership.

Is it this Boards fault? Yes, partially.

Based on the fact that none of the trees currently on the plan actually exist on that island (prior to the removal of trees this year), I suspect past Boards failed to check as well. It's simply not something one thinks of.

Realistically, unless one was in the business of construction or development, I doubt anyone would have thought to look.


Again, not passing blame. There is enough to go around to everyone.

Simply pointing out how important communication is.

Also, a clear illustration of unintended consequences of various decisions made by the Board and the membership.




Explain to the owners just like you stated above. It sounds like a good presentation to the owners. You accepted some blame, are not passing judgement on anyone, explained that you are not In the construction or development business, and took responsibility for the communication. You also pointed out that blame goes to all Boards since the development was turned over to the membership.
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:36


08/28/2017 5:06 PM  
What is the County fining (or potentially fining) the HOA for? i'm not familiar with County tree enforcement codes. In fact today a contractor spent the entire day removing trees from an undeveloped lot in my subdivision. Or is this an entirely different topic?Just trying to learn something on tree planting and removal.
PitA


Posts:0


08/28/2017 6:12 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/28/2017 3:05 PM
Posted By PitA on 08/28/2017 2:40 PM
..... The Board is already talking special assessment possibilities to pay for all of this. .....



The primary mistake: Thinking

The solution: Read, absorb, comply with documents and the law.




So, how much more time and energy should one invest into a volunteer, non-paid position?

I'm already spending 20-30 hours per month on HOA business.
Mainly because there aren't enough volunteers willing to step forward.




When a 'volunteer' does not KNOW something then the appropriate expert must be hired.

Y'all wanted to change a previously approved common element.

Should have hired a landscape consultant.

Problem ? What problem ?
PitA


Posts:0


08/28/2017 6:13 PM  
Y'all think an expert is expensive ?

Now y'all know what a volunteer costs !

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/28/2017 7:03 PM  
Posted By BancsS on 08/28/2017 5:06 PM

What is the County fining (or potentially fining) the HOA for? i'm not familiar with County tree enforcement codes.




Site Plan Violation

One page of the site plan identifies the location and species of trees within the development
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/28/2017 7:05 PM  
Posted By PitA on 08/28/2017 6:12 PM

Y'all wanted to change a previously approved common element.





Interestingly, it was a member of that group of residents who simply asked for something to be done about the surface roots and if they could plant a tree that started this whole thing.
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:36


08/29/2017 4:39 AM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/28/2017 7:03 PM
Posted By BancsS on 08/28/2017 5:06 PM

What is the County fining (or potentially fining) the HOA for? i'm not familiar with County tree enforcement codes.




Site Plan Violation

One page of the site plan identifies the location and species of trees within the development



Sorry I missed that. You did explain that in a previous post.
PitA


Posts:0


08/29/2017 5:53 AM  
Site Plan Violation

One page of the site plan identifies the location and species of trees within the development


Perhaps, juuuuusst perhaps, the Board of Directors should look at the Site Plan before modifying said site.

The ONLY function of the BOD is to maintain and operate the common elements contained within the site plan.

D'OH
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/29/2017 6:30 AM  
John,

It's always good to have 20/20 hindsight.
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:726


08/29/2017 7:03 AM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/28/2017 12:54 PM
Update,

We got the site plan.
The county shows 13 trees on that little island.
Placement and species of trees must be per the plan.
We are currently getting bids.

We still do not know about fines. Initially a determination would be made later (i.e. if we moved fast enough, no fines). However, the inspector now calls it a site plan violation vs. a proffer violation. Hence, new protocols come into play and notice must be sent now.

Fines are $200 for initial violation and $500 additional every 10 days that the violation isn't completed up to a maximum of $5,000. We don't know if they will take a signed contract to resolve the violation or if they will insist that they physically need to be planted.

Plus we get to pay attorney fees because the County must send the notice to our Registered agent (who will simply forward the issue to us and charge a fee for that privilege).


The Board is already talking special assessment possibilities to pay for all of this.





Were there 13 trees on the island to begin with? Or was the site already not in compliance with the county plan?
Moreover, why in the heck does the county care what you do on a traffic island in a parking lot?
PitA


Posts:0


08/29/2017 7:46 AM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/29/2017 6:30 AM
John,

It's always good to have 20/20 hindsight.




Corporate directors should 'strive' for 20/20 FORESIGHT.

That is what we VOLUNTEERED to seek.

IMO: volunteers should be held to a HIGHER standard then employees as they WILLINGLY 'took on the task' as opposed to needing the $ and simply doing whatever the boss says
PitA


Posts:0


08/29/2017 7:48 AM  
yes, I know, by todays standards I am way outside the norm

however

what I say is good or best practice none-the-less




HOAs need less 'thinking / opining' and more reading / complying.
PitA


Posts:0


08/29/2017 7:49 AM  
..... why in the heck does the county care what you do on a traffic island in a parking lot?



Same care as the restrictions in the Covenants: APPEARANCE
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:726


08/29/2017 9:28 AM  
Posted By PitA on 08/29/2017 7:49 AM
..... why in the heck does the county care what you do on a traffic island in a parking lot?



Same care as the restrictions in the Covenants: APPEARANCE





Concern about the appearance of an island in the middle of a parking lot on private property? Sorry, I'm calling BS on that one.
Suppose for a moment that the DID care about appearance. What justification would be at the root of their concern?

PitA


Posts:0


08/29/2017 9:43 AM  
or:

Concern about the appearance of a (landscaping) island in the middle of a backyard on private property? Sorry, I'm calling BS on that one.
Suppose for a moment that the[y] DID care about appearance. What justification would be at the root of their concern?


TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/29/2017 1:40 PM  
Posted By DaveD3 on 08/29/2017 7:03 AM

Were there 13 trees on the island to begin with? Or was the site already not in compliance with the county plan?




Based on the type and location of the trees that were there, I suspect that work done by previous boards already had the Association in violation if one were to check.

Per the site plan, there were initially 13 trees on the island (35 years ago)

This year we removed the final 6 due to disease, cankers, infestations and because funds allowed for it. We were then preping the soil, hydroseeding and planting two trees.



Posted By DaveD3 on 08/29/2017 7:03 AM

Moreover, why in the heck does the county care what you do on a traffic island in a parking lot?




Just as the CC&Rs are a contract between you and your neighbors, the site plan and proffers are a contract between the County/City and the development.

The County doesn't go looking for site plan violations on properties that are as old as ours. I suspect that the County doesn't go looking for violations once the project is completed and signed off. However, they (like Associations) have a duty to investigate any complaint.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14509


08/29/2017 1:45 PM  
Dave,

Many municipalities have strict guidance on landscaping for developments because of EPA issues. This is why developers must have a plan on how they will replace the plants that were removed.

Example: Removed two trees to build home.
Trees remove x% of CO2 from air
The grass covered yard, foundation plantings, etc. will remove (lets say) 80% of CO2 that the 2 trees did. Hence, the builder needs to provide a plant or plants to make up or exceed that other 20%.
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:36


08/29/2017 2:08 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/29/2017 1:45 PM
Dave,

Many municipalities have strict guidance on landscaping for developments because of EPA issues. This is why developers must have a plan on how they will replace the plants that were removed.

Example: Removed two trees to build home.
Trees remove x% of CO2 from air
The grass covered yard, foundation plantings, etc. will remove (lets say) 80% of CO2 that the 2 trees did. Hence, the builder needs to provide a plant or plants to make up or exceed that other 20%.



I know you replied to Dave but this really interests me. We can just plant and remove trees wherever and wherever we want. I'm not used to that amount of county control. It will probably come someday in the not too distant future. Our county and Department of Natural Resources focuses heavily on water quality and wildlife management. Depends on where you live I guess.

So if the one owner hadn't contacted the County, the island would be in the process of being re-vitalized and no potential fines or legal costs would be levied on the HOA. Amazing! Such drama over some trees that were going to be replaced anyway. I can understand your frustration.
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