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Subject: Ad hoc committee-not members of HOA
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PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/04/2021 2:33 PM  
The board recently appointed ad hoc committee to decide which trees in our association will be cut down. There are Jasmin trees, Plumerias, Gardenias, etc. Most are mature trees and were planted after hurricane Wilma in 2005.

Q: can board appoint a committee which includes our management company and a landscaper none of which are members of our Association. Please, can you help to clarify this question? Thank you.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11665


08/04/2021 2:41 PM  
I say yes they can as the BOD has the final say. Sounds like at least one good choice, the landscaper.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


08/04/2021 2:42 PM  
PetunkaM, please search your HOA's Declaration and Bylaws for anything they say about committees. Then quote here what is said.

Florida Statute 720 is silent on this point.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


08/04/2021 3:51 PM  
I have never seen any restrictions on committee members in any of the CCRs or Bylaws I have read over the past 13 years.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:300


08/04/2021 4:31 PM  
Our Board tours for about 3 hours each summer looking at each of our 1100 trees, with a tree arborist. We look at any that are diseased and need treatments, which tree canopy may need cutting back and which trees will need to be removed. The tree vendor then puts together his bid for tree maintenance and the Board makes a decision.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


08/04/2021 4:44 PM  
Wow, Petunka. How long has it been?

Our Bylaws say nothing about who may be on committees, but we do have a policy document that says only Owners may serve on committees except for the Social Committee.What do your Bylaws say, if anything, or maybe FL codes.

As a "committee," what authority if any does it have? Are there owners on it, too?

BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1108


08/04/2021 5:08 PM  
Unless your governing documents say otherwise, yes they can appoint outsiders. It makes sense to have people on a committee that have expertise. Generally, I would not make the manager a member of the committee but do not have a problem with them facilitating or attending the meetings for support.
LisaB21
(Texas)

Posts:9


08/04/2021 6:41 PM  
Just wondering what is your objection to the makeup of this committee?
PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/04/2021 6:52 PM  
Thank you for all your responses. These are healthy, beautiful trees providing shade and privacy and happily growing for some 10-15 years. Many of us hate to see them to be cut down.
Florida Chapter 617, which governs non-profits, states that committee MUST have two or more MEMBERS.(see below)

What do you think?


617.0825 Board committees and advisory committees.—

(5) Each committee must have two or more members who serve at the pleasure of the board of directors.  The board, by resolution adopted in accordance with and consistent with subsection (1), may designate one or more alternate members of any such committee who may act in the place and stead of any absent member or members at any meeting of such committee.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


08/04/2021 7:02 PM  
It looks to me like it says that to be a committee, there must be a minimum of two members. It doesn't say they must be members of an HOA. Do you think you can get on the Committee? Otherwise you and others who like the existing trees should band together and write to the Board, attend open, meetings etc. Perhaps the board should get a report form an arborist?

It seems to me that the trees are still pretty young to be removed. Are they on your reserve study? If so, what's their expected life?
PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/04/2021 7:13 PM  
Kerry,

maybe I am assuming the committee must be members of the Association and this is why I asked. At least three owners asked to serve on the committee but the President declined and stated that he already appointed the ad hoc committee. There was no board meeting to discuss it and vote on it. It was all decided by email, I guess.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


08/04/2021 7:31 PM  
Is the landscaper a professional, in the business of landscaping? If so, why is he or she giving up her or his precious time to serve on a HOA committee for no pay?

I do not like the possibility of a conflict of interest here.
PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/04/2021 7:37 PM  
Also a good point. The landscaper is a professional and maintains our grounds. He does noty not have the license to cut down mature trees he could possibly recommend a friend. His work, I assume would not take more than two hours.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


08/04/2021 7:46 PM  
Posted By PetunkaM on 08/04/2021 6:52 PM

Florida Chapter 617, which governs non-profits, states that committee MUST have two or more MEMBERS.(see below)

What do you think?


617.0825 Board committees and advisory committees.—

(5) Each committee must have two or more members who serve at the pleasure of the board of directors.  The board, by resolution adopted in accordance with and consistent with subsection (1), may designate one or more alternate members of any such committee who may act in the place and stead of any absent member or members at any meeting of such committee.
I think the word "members" in FS 617.0825 (5) refers to members of the committee (and not HOA members or HOA owners). This section is just saying that two or more people must serve on the committee.

Remember, FS 617 is the Florida Nonprofit Corporation statute. Plenty of Florida nonprofit corporations have neither owners nor members.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


08/04/2021 7:48 PM  
Posted By PetunkaM on 08/04/2021 7:37 PM
Also a good point. The landscaper is a professional and maintains our grounds. He does noty not have the license to cut down mature trees he could possibly recommend a friend. His work, I assume would not take more than two hours.
I think the landscaper ought to just provide a list of the trees he recommends be cut down. If this is outside the contract, then the HOA should pay the landscaper.

But your board is going to do whatever.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2599


08/05/2021 5:36 AM  
Re: the landscaper, a good one will be able to evaluate the health of the trees and which ones are suitable for their environment and location - something that many developers neglect, since they tend to plant whatever is cheap and grows fast, who cares if it dies in 10 years. These things ought to be considered when deciding which trees get the chop.

The average homeowner is unlikely to have the necessary expertise.

And FWIW, we used to hire a tree specialist to remove dead trees rather than our regular landscaper, per our landscaper's recommendation. The specialist had the necessary equipment on hand, rather than having to rent it, and was able to get us better pricing because he specialized. So no conflict of interest for the landscaper in our case.

Having the PM involved is a good idea so that this person can plan their workload (and be prepared to answer questions from homeowners who are outraged when their favorite tree comes down). An experienced PM will also probably been through this process before in other communities.

Bringing in outside expertise sounds like a good idea, not a bad one.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


08/05/2021 9:17 AM  
Say, Petunka, you could get a group of like-minded owners to cheap to get a certified arborist's opinion to submit to the Board.
PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/05/2021 10:39 AM  
Please let me clarify one more thing. The trees and much of the vegetation in questions were planted after 2005 when Hurricane Wilma devastated the property. Then board initiated replacing much of the vegetation including planting the trees. Board members along with several volunteers offered their time and money to save the Association money.

Now, the current board claims these planting on common grounds were unauthorized and therefore will be removed. Does it make any sense to you?

.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


08/05/2021 11:06 AM  
Makes no sense, especially since any statute of limitations would have expired by now, imo. Ae the Board's excuse for cutting down these trees in meeting minutes?

ARE the trees in your reserves study?

PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/05/2021 12:29 PM  
Makes no sense, especially since any statute of limitations would have expired by now, imo. Ae the Board's excuse for cutting down these trees in meeting minutes?

ARE the trees in your reserves study?
______________
Kerry,

I do not know what the statute of limitation in this case would be in Florida. Maybe 7 years? No BOD meeting discussing cutting down the trees. Also BOD hired an accountant and he does not show Reserve accounts at al. But, we are not required to have a reserve study.

I also like to mention that Florida 617 applies to ALL non profits and not only HOAs. Could, in this instance, the word MEMBERS mean Corporation members?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2599


08/05/2021 2:06 PM  
I agree with Kerry, this makes no sense unless those trees are an invasive species or are causing some kind of problem like roots in water lines.

What does "unauthorized" even mean - that they were planted without proper board approval? If so, that money is long gone - so now they want to spend even more money unnecessarily in order to "correct" something that can't be fixed?

The board needs to read up on the Sunk Cost Fallacy - which means basically that the fact you spent money in the past is driving your current decisions even if those decisions may not serve your interests now. A common example is dragging yourself to an event you don't really want to go to simply because you bought the tickets already.

TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17852


08/05/2021 3:49 PM  
It's always good to have trees evaluated for health of the tree and safety to others.

Trees can also be a very touchy subject for the development.

Have you considered contacting the board and asking if you could be on that committee?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11665


08/06/2021 7:09 AM  
Pet

Kerry asked the central question. What is the BOD's justification in wanting to remove some trees? Not your belief/desire but the BOD's reason.
PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/07/2021 10:13 AM  
Pet

Kerry asked the central question. What is the BOD's justification in wanting to remove some trees? Not your belief/desire but the BOD's reason.
________________________________

John and Kerry,

I really do not know because their arguments do change daily.

1 Unauthorized planting some 15 years ago. This statement is erroneous.
2. You can't see buildings from the street because some trees are getting taller. If this was the reason half the town would be tree-less.
3. We want all landscaping to be uniform. This would cost us a lot of money. And, I believe the membership vote could be required because it is "improvement". But the BOD does not see that way. Very confusing, right?

Two full time members offered to serve on the landscaping committee to get this issue resolved but to this date it has not been considered at all.

Should we Petition the the Board asking to appoint landscaping committee? Or, any other suggestions? Thank you for your input.


AugustinD


Posts:1920


08/07/2021 10:53 AM  
Posted By PetunkaM on 08/07/2021 10:13 AM

Should we Petition the the Board asking to appoint landscaping committee? Or, any other suggestions?
FWIW, the only powers I see the membership having on this are as follows:

FS 720.303 (2)(d)
"If 20 percent of the total voting interests petition the board to address an item of business, the board shall at its next regular board meeting or at a special meeting of the board, but not later than 60 days after the receipt of the petition, take the petitioned item up on an agenda. The board shall give all members notice of the meeting at which the petitioned item shall be addressed in accordance with the 14-day notice requirement pursuant to subparagraph (c)2. Each member shall have the right to speak for at least 3 minutes on each matter placed on the agenda by petition, provided that the member signs the sign-up sheet, if one is provided, or submits a written request to speak prior to the meeting. Other than addressing the petitioned item at the meeting, the board is not obligated to take any other action requested by the petition."

When is the next annual election? Instead of this petition, I think a better use of your group's time might be to seek election of directors that feel as your group does.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


08/07/2021 12:30 PM  
How does any owner know what the Board actually wants or says if nothing is in Board meeting minutes, Petunka?

Isn't a board meeting required for it to form a committee? Is there a committee, or not?

ARE trees on your reserve study?

I'm wondering if the landscaper is on the Committee, wouldn't they have a conflict of interest if the Committee votes to replace xx# of trees? They would, after all, benefit by getting to do the work?

Unless you election is really soon, Petunka, it looks like Augustin's find can help you a lot. If it's true, as you say, that many do not want those trees cut down, getting 20% of owners to sign a petition for this matter to be on an board agenda shouldn't be difficult UNLESS you have a lot of absentee owners. Just make sure you do it right.

The reason I don't think the "unauthorized planting of them" doesn't wash as no one has complained. I believe the doctrine laches applies whereby because many have presumably been aware of these trees, yet over all these years, no complaints. it's simply too late to make that kind of claim about their "legality."
PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/08/2021 5:40 AM  
When is the next annual election? Instead of this petition, I think a better use of your group's time might be to seek election of directors that feel as your group does.
_____________________________
How does any owner know what the Board actually wants or says if nothing is in Board meeting minutes, Petunka?

Isn't a board meeting required for it to form a committee? Is there a committee, or not?

ARE trees on your reserve study?

I'm wondering if the landscaper is on the Committee, wouldn't they have a conflict of interest if the Committee votes to replace xx# of trees? They would, after all, benefit by getting to do the work?

Unless you election is really soon, Petunka, it looks like Augustin's find can help you a lot. If it's true, as you say, that many do not want those trees cut down, getting 20% of owners to sign a petition for this matter to be on an board agenda shouldn't be difficult UNLESS you have a lot of absentee owners. Just make sure you do it right.

The reason I don't think the "unauthorized planting of them" doesn't wash as no one has complained. I believe the doctrine laches applies whereby because many have presumably been aware of these trees, yet over all these years, no complaints. it's simply too late to make that kind of claim about their "legality."
_________

Augustine and Kerry. Appreciate your excellent suggestions. Yes, am familiar with that provision in Chapter 720 and the fact the board could ignore our Petition. The elections are not until April 2020. There is no standing landscaping committee at this time. The Petition asks the board to appoint one. Unfortunately, we have only 20% of permanent residents. The rest are either snowbirds or investors. I truly dislike conflicts and arguing in a big way but am hopeful the members will get involved and stop this nonsense.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2599


08/08/2021 7:32 AM  
Posted By PetunkaM on 08/08/2021 5:40 AM
... snippage ...
_________

Augustine and Kerry. Appreciate your excellent suggestions. Yes, am familiar with that provision in Chapter 720 and the fact the board could ignore our Petition. The elections are not until April 2020. There is no standing landscaping committee at this time. The Petition asks the board to appoint one. Unfortunately, we have only 20% of permanent residents. The rest are either snowbirds or investors. I truly dislike conflicts and arguing in a big way but am hopeful the members will get involved and stop this nonsense.



There is your real problem. Conflicts, arguing, and apathetic owners are very common in HOAs, even in all-owner occupied HOAs.

Anyone wanting to change the direction of a community is going to need allies, and right off the bat the number of your potential allies has been reduced drastically. I assume that for most of the 80% of absentee owners, it's a matter of out of sight, out of mind - and that these folks won't want the added distraction of problems that aren't in their faces all the time.

With most HOA issues, it boils down to change it, live with it, or move.

I probably recommend selling and moving more than many of the regular posters around here. But in my experience, HOA owners tend to be the most content when their goals and habits align with those of most of the other owners. Yours don't, and this has virtually no chance of changing unless you become an investor or snowbird yourself. If you choose to stay in your community - and there may be good reasons to do so - then unless you're prepared for constantly fighting (probably unsuccessfully) with these issues, you need to assume that your choices are now down to live with it or move.

It's not that I think fighting isn't worthwhile. But you have to weigh the possible benefits of fighting against the odds of achieving your goals and the costs of doing so. Those costs are real - and homeowners can get so caught up in the fight that they forget to look at the hard facts underneath it all.
PetunkaM
(Florida)

Posts:1009


08/08/2021 8:04 AM  
Kathy,

you are so right! It is sad but real.
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