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Subject: Amendment to the by-laws
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01/12/2006 10:20 AM  
If a homeowner presents to the board at the monthly meeting a proposal to amend the by-laws stating the board can not hold closed meetings for whatever reason, except when it is an executive meeting. I have the original along with the part we (as homeowners) need to admend, can the board disallow me from putting this out to a vote to the homeowners? Can they vote that I can not present the amendment?
We have our monthly meeting tonight and wanted to bring a copy of what we would like to see changed but worried it will get thrown out before we can make the homeowners aware of why we need to vote on this.

Board is having WAY to many closed door meetings.

If I am not going about this correctly, could you advise how to present an amendment?

Thanks to you all,



01/12/2006 12:57 PM  
BarbW, in Colorado it is state law what you are proposing, plus members have the right to speak at board meetings and notices of meetings must be posted publicly when possible.

You might want to ask the board to consider your request without the need to amend the bylaws. And you can request that your proposal to amend the bylaws be on the agenda for the next members meeting.

Good luck,


01/12/2006 2:07 PM  
Thank you, I will see what response we get tonight and give an update. Hopefully it'll be a positive one.
(North Carolina)


01/13/2006 6:13 AM  
Barb, let us know how this turned out. Sorry I didn't see this post earlier.

If you feel that your Board is having too many "closed" meetings, I can not challenge that, but would ask you to consider the following. If a Board is conscientious and very involved in the running of the Corporation (your HOA) as it should be, there will be an enormous amount of work to do. The more folks involved in that work, the harder it will be to come to consensus. The Board is elected to make special decisions concerning the running of the Corp. and must be trusted to enact those rulings responsibly. If not, then you vote them out of office. Keep in mind that a responsible Board may hold closed meetings to "get business done" and not to hide anything.

As mentioned above, any Board meeting (in NC as well) should be open to the membership and at one point in the meeting, the members must be permitted to talk. You can take that with a "grain of salt". A Board can meet as a workshop and no one needs to be invited. Or it can meet as a group of concerned citizens and nothing ever needs to be recorded, so the law here is easily circumvented. But the bottom line is that the Board members may not be bad just because they are holding closed meetings.

If your CC&R's allow for open meetings and you want to present an amendment, you may have to take an attorney with you if the Board doesn't permit it. Your Board meetings are probably governed by Robert's Rules of Order. If so, you have law on your side, but taking advantage of that law may take legal reinforcement.

I hope your situation worked out for you. There is no time, except at a "special meeting", that an amendment should not be presentable to the BoD, nor should the Board not want to receive it.

I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things . . . - Antoine de St-Exupéry
(North Carolina)


01/16/2006 7:17 AM  
I will tell you as a board member that what you are proposing isn't always possible, it is not advisable, and it can be detrimental. I seriously doubt any state laws require ALL board meetings to be open, though there may be a once or twice per year association at large meeting that is required. Other cases may allow for open board meetings, but that just means the board meeting is open for you to attend, not that you have a right to talk.

I say not "always possible", because community residents that attend such board meetings may force the meeting to be in a different location. We periodically have our monthly board meetings at a board member's house. I say "not advisable", because business needs to be accomplished. This doesn't happen as easily when the board meetings are open to the public and everyone and their brother has an idea or something to say about everything.

I say "detrimental" because it reduces the amount of work that can be done and there are things that boards need to be able to discuss candidly with each other without those conversations being open to the public. We recently had to discuss how we were going to help neighbors who'd just lost their husband/father. The details and personal information were something the board needed to consider, but it would have been a huge violation of the widow's privacy to open these up to the entire population of residents.

And NO - you do not have a right to bring anything to a vote of the residents. That's a violation of rules of order by which board meetings are almost always run. What’s the board for if anyone and everyone can run his own piece of the meeting? Submit whatever you want to the board. But if I were your board’s president, I’d not even bother presenting the idea to the board, much less the entire association. Until you come to me with a petition telling me that a majority of the residents favor anything, I would use my own judgment to not make my life as tough as you’d like it to be.

Now that I've given you the practical reasons, let me put it to you this way. YOU are the guy, the reason for the absolute necessity for boards to have private meetings. The mere fact that you think you should be able to force a vote on your whim, and the fact that you want to have every meeting be a public meeting so you can express your thoughts, shows the necessity for NOT allowing people to do just that.

There's always one guy who thinks that either he should be on the board or preferably, run any part of the meeting that he wants without taking responsibility for being on the board, tell the board what to do (usually spouting his rights), put things up for vote, and generally make a mess out of the meeting.

Board members also have lives and it takes hours if not days to put together a public meeting. In most cases, they don't need community input. They really don't need people who aren't on the board trying to run things. I’d do anything I could to keep your nose out of it, and if I couldn’t, I’d resign. No way do I have time to put together public meetings every month, and there is absolutely no way that I’d tolerate having my (volunteer) job being frustrated by people who had something to say about everything, wanted to put his whims on bylaws out for a vote (especially without any knowledge that he has a consensus), and all this with no responsibility to actually run things or be on the board.

If you want to run board meetings, take responsibility for it and run for board president. Until then, let the volunteers that run your board do their job. If you don’t like them or they are incompetent, vote them out. But let them do their job in the meantime. And be grateful for what they do. I am fortunate enough to be president of an association where the people regularly volunteer thanks and appreciation. It goes a lot further than criticism, whining, complaining, and trying to sidestep the board.



01/16/2006 8:04 AM  
SteveH, with the attitude you portray by your post, IMHO you either need to employ a good managing Agent to help with your "burn out" or if that is not your problem then resign your position.

It is not only possible but advisable to hold open board meeting, even when the law does not require it. Open meetings should be held even if only board members attend. As far as open board meeting being detrimental, do you consider extending the length of a meeting to allow owner comments as detrimental? Regarding your example the board goes into executive session whenever privacy is deemed necessary.

With regards to your statement "I seriously doubt any state laws require ALL board meetings to be open" did you check out my reference to the Colorado statute? Posters are here to learn.

The chair always conducts a board meeting and determines when and who gets the floor and for what period of time. A good agenda, board packet, and competent chairperson can conduct all business at a board meeting within 1 to 2 hours. The first half hour can used for comments by visiting members.

You are correct that only board members have a right to bring a motion and vote; but the board members should listen and be responsive to all members' requests. It doesn't mean the board has to agree. But let the board decide, not you personally.

Follow the golden rule,
(North Carolina)


01/16/2006 9:05 AM  
When our current board was elected, I, as President, petitioned the board members and they agreed, that all board meetings would be open. The meeting is run in accordance with RROR, Newly Revised, and the first part is for Board Members, only, with association members in attendance if they so desire. The last part is interactive between the board and the association, and the members are allowed to bring any topic to the table for discussion. The topic may be tabled if it is impossible to discuss it within time limits or other influences dictate a delay in discussion.

I found it very interesting that the new state laws which go (went) into affect 1/1/2006, require all board meetings to be open in North Carolina. A major step forward, IMHO.

I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things . . . - Antoine de St-Exupéry
(North Carolina)


01/16/2006 5:46 PM  

Sorry to disappoint you, but no burnout here. Just curious though how often you tell board members that you disagree with that they should resign. Amazing! What’s next… name-calling? You’re almost there with the inference in your reference to a “competent chair”. Pretty ‘Golden Rule’ of you there, Rog. That’s quite an attitude that you have.

You might want to reread… I said “ALL” board meetings. An executive session is a board meeting (though for a stated purpose in Colorado), and executive meetings are not open to the public, so I’m afraid you are wrong on the law in your own state. Even so, the laws you refer to are almost irrelevant, as Colorado statute is completely silent on the requirements for “notice”, therefore leaving it up to the bylaws. Consequently, unless bylaws specify notice requirements, it may as well be a closed meeting if that’s the way the board wants it. Further, notice may be given in inconsequential manners on some obscure BBS, thereby making the matter moot or at least inconsequential.

BTW… BarbW is not here to learn. She’s here to find a way to force her agenda to the neighborhood and bypass the board if they don’t do it her way. Did she circulate a petition? No! She hasn’t even discussed this with a board member! She plans to present it (code-phrase for “spring it on them”) at the meeting.

Here’s a flash Roger… though your HOA is evidently fortunate enough to have its own meeting place or can afford to rent one, not all of us are that fortunate. We are a brand new HOA in an old community that hasn’t had an HOA in 15 years. We do not have mandatory dues and the minimum rental we can get on a facility for one evening a month exceeds our ability to pay for it. There are a lot of HOAs in that position. I think I smell some elitism cooking in your kitchen.

Our board meetings are held at board member’s houses and often at a coffeehouse. The last time we had an open HOA meeting, we had 160 people out of 200 homes. So as for your statement, “It is not only possible but advisable to hold open board meeting…”, Nonsense! Even if I wanted all the residents in my home (and I don’t), my family room is only so big. You only speak for your obviously well-established HOA and from your own very limited frame of reference. Perhaps your comments of what is “advisable” and “possible” should only be made after removing your head from the sand, and realize that not every board is as fortunate as yours. Of course if you accomplish nothing at your meetings of any significance, I guess that would explain your reference to nobody showing up. Lots of people come to our open meetings when we have them.

RogerB: “the board members should listen and be responsive to all members' requests. It doesn't mean the board has to agree. But let the board decide, not you personally.”

SteveH: Uh, no! As well off as your board is Roger, you obviously have never been in a large HOA where you had to learn to do things correctly. In my old neighborhood of 4000, we used to get 150 ideas per week, most of them junk. Ideas need to come in, but they need to be filtered. Board members that let every piece of junk that someone thought of come before the board or allow any presentation to change the very structural foundation of the association (changing the bylaws) just because one person thought of it, would be completely lost in a large association and is wasting board time. It is incumbent upon the president to hear all voices, but also not waste board members’ time with irrelevant falderal from a single individual. Give me ten people that think a change is necessary, and then we shall look at it. But one person, nahah!

RogerB: As far as open board meeting being detrimental, do you consider extending the length of a meeting to allow owner comments as detrimental?

SteveH: Sometimes! Other times, not. Owner comments do not need to be made on every piece of board business. As we are still in relative start up mode AND we are actually accomplishing something Roger, not just taking care of routine business, it takes us 2 hours just to run through the agenda with board comments, reports, and questions. Don’t give me any of this “competence” junk. We are dealing with landlord homes out of compliance, homeowners out of compliance, setting up committees and briefing new chairs, dealing with accounting setups and legal questions, trash collection, traffic, crime, planning events, city and county issues, issues with families who have had tragedies and bringing the neighborhood out to help. We are dealing with promoting our neighborhood to Realtors, getting neighborhood sponsors, planning surveys, working up local business deals for our residents, promoting our resident business owners, honoring our resident public servants and soldiers, and we are working this together to form communities of service and the above with about 6 other HOAs. Then there’s the other 50 things I haven’t mentioned. We are also dealing with fundraising because we don’t have dues. You don’t have to worry about such things, do you Roger? It must be nice to be so much better than everyone else, though it would drive me nuts to have your kind of business meetings where nobody came and we only dealt with someone’s ugly mailbox or something so irrelevant.

But do know what Rog? We have no complaints here. We have public meetings twice per year and the residents couldn’t be more thrilled, even the ones whose suggestions we don’t consider. They know we are working hard and things improve daily.

I’ve gotta laugh Roger – evidently you just show up to the meeting and think that the blue fairy set it all up, did all the public preparations, and will shut it all down when you bolt out the door leaving it for someone else to clean up. Nice! Heads up Roger – Extending a board meeting is only part of the issue. Board meetings require additional preparation time when they are open, if they are going to be done right. We can only take the time necessary to accomplish the necessary things, pay the bills, and discuss new and old business. Dealing with every nitpicking Tom, Dick, Jane, or Barb who had a thought last week or wants to force a vote on something that annoys her only complicates the business at hand. An open board meeting might be your 1-2 hours because nobody shows or you don’t do it. But for many of us, it’s a full evening of setup, tear down plus the meeting, plus substantial prep time. Of course we accomplish things and our residents don’t consider it a waste of THEIR time to show up, so that might be the difference.

As for public discourse Roger, we invite that all the time. My WEEKLY email newsletter discusses every facet of the public side of our business and we ALWAYS invite public discourse on the Forums on the community website. That way, it’s public record, people have time to think, and it doesn’t require setting up chairs, or take up an entire night per month. It does however, allow for public debate but not arguments.

Do you do this Roger? Do YOU publish a weekly newsletter? Did YOU personally set up your HOA site complete with public forums as I did? Does it get hundreds of comments and posts per week and allow people to connect with each other by chat, connect with local business, post their jobs, garage sales, things they have for sale? Does your website ask for feedback for the board, ask for ideas? I bet we get a lot more discussion per household than you do with all of your wonderful open meetings that nobody comes to. Do you put your email out there and personally answer at least 50 emails per week from residents who have questions, thoughts, and praise?

If not, I think that perhaps you should hire someone to do this for you or resign, as you are evidently not doing things the way I would… Just kidding Roger! I don’t run around telling people I don’t know that they are burned out and need to resign. That’s your job.
(North Carolina)


01/16/2006 5:56 PM  
I found it very interesting that the new state laws which go (went) into affect 1/1/2006, require all board meetings to be open in North Carolina. A major step forward, IMHO.

It would be interesting if true. However, it's not. Here's the actual legal code as written:

"SECTION 15. G.S. 47C‑3‑108 reads as rewritten:

"§ 47C‑3‑108. Meetings.

(a) A meeting of the association shall be held at least once each year. Special meetings of the association may be called by the president, a majority of the executive board, or by unit owners having twenty percent (20%) or any lower percentage specified in the bylaws of the votes in the association. Not less than 10 nor more than 50 days in advance of any meeting, the secretary or other officer specified in the bylaws shall cause notice to be hand‑delivered or sent prepaid by United States mail to the mailing address of each unit or to any other mailing address designated in writing by the unit owner, or sent by electronic means, including by electronic mail over the Internet, to an electronic mailing address designated in writing by the unit owner. The notice of any meeting must state the time and place of the meeting and the items on the agenda, including the general nature of any proposed amendment to the declaration or bylaws, any budget changes, and any proposal to remove a director or officer.

(b) Meetings of the executive board shall be held as provided in the bylaws. At regular intervals, the executive board meeting shall provide unit owners an opportunity to attend a portion of an executive board meeting and to speak to the executive board about their issues and concerns. The executive board may place reasonable restrictions on the number of persons who speak on each side of an issue and may place reasonable time restrictions on persons who speak.
- That's the ratified bill, quoted directly from the NC legislature site:

As you will note, nowhere in that does it require that all board meetings be open. It first says that meetings will be held as provided by bylaws and at least once each year. The only qualification that it puts on there is that open meetings shall be held "at regular intervals", whatever that means.

Hold a meeting once a month or whatever, but if you were to have a once per year open meeting, that would satisfy the law. I don't see a thing in there about requiring all meetings to be open, do you? Or have I missed something?



01/17/2006 8:21 AM  
Congrats to you SteveH. You are listening to your constiuents, giving them feedback, and they are very pleased with your performance. I missed these critical points in your previous post.

FYI, here is Colorado statute 38-33.3-303 (2.5)(a):

I presume everyone knows that an executive session is not a board meeting, but can be a segment of a board meeting. With regards to your questions related to my limited frame of reference - it is based on serving on numberous boards in three states then serving as a managing Agent for over a 30+ year period; conducted meeting of 5 to 500 people; and always find free space to hold meetings. I've experienced competent Chairs conduct a meeting in less than 1 hour which other Chairs would take 3 to 5 hours.

Steve, you deserve a BIG THANK YOU for the numerous services you listed. How many hours a week and for how many years have you been doing this on a volunteer basis with no burn out?



01/17/2006 4:46 PM  
Well, at least there's communication. I can see both sides of the issue that seems to be a very hot topic.

I run an HOA of 300 homes. Basically, by myself. Everything from record keeping, to research, to website, to correspondence. My male constituents (4) are happy to let me because things get done...and done correctly. I work just like they do, have two little kids, and a spouse. It's tough but I am OK the responsibility I accepted with the 'job'.

It is a whole lot of work being on an HOA- and fielding what I sometimes consider ridiculous complaints. They seem to come exclusively from our neighborhood busybodies who think the Board works just for them. Yes- we 'work' for them , for free, because we care enough to donate our time. I sometimes lose it a little and put people in their place when responding to the 9th email regarding the latest non-issue that is reported. But, sometimes you have to. Someone has to have the last word.

I am also very aware of the need to be respectful of ALL of our members. I agree that the woman who wants to change the bylaws should do so in the proper manner. Maybe she doesn't need a petition- but talking to the Board first is a good start. Open dialogue to see the pros/cons. Even if they don't agree she will know why they don't and can go from there if other neighbors want the changes.

I answer every email and letter. We are required to have one public meeting per year. We do it at the library- or town hall- which is free as a not-for-profit corp. We have an agenda, we accept prior requests to be on it, and we open the floor to the public at the end of our meeting. We don't allow interuptions because we consider it disrespectful for one or two members to hijack the meeting from the floor and make everyone else listen. We conduct 99% of our meeting at our homes privately in ordfer to get business done. It is convenient for us, and as volunteers it works. No one seems to care in our community as long as things get done. We do hope to have more open meeting this year, but I know it will not be productive. Mostly, it's a PR tool. This way when people ask why something did/did not happen in a certain manner we can ask why they didn't come to the meeting a contribute. At our last ANNUAL meeting, with more than one notice, only 47 households showed up. Out of 300.
(North Carolina)


01/18/2006 3:47 AM  
According to our by-laws, changing one is not an easy task.
and is costly. We figure approx $700 for mailings voting forms.
etc. As for board meetings, As required by by-laws we post the
date and time of each meeting in our newsletter. This meeting is
open to residence. However we ask for members input (3-5 minute
time limit) at the beginning of the monthly meeting. We ask that
all concerns or comments be in writing, so our Secretary will have
a complete and correct copy for our records.
Our annual meeting is held yearly, in conjunction with our yearly
elections. Again the time and date is set by our By-laws. All
residence our notified at least 45 days in advance. We ask that
all concerns be in writing and they will be read to all attendees
at the proper time. At the end of the annual meeting, residence
have time to address the Board and attendees.
Very seldom do we have residence attend our monthly board meeting.
Most concerns our communicated to the board via e-mail, letters,
and phone calls.


02/22/2006 8:51 PM  
Oh my gosh!

I have been out of town since my annual meeting and had not had a chance to look at or respond to the replies I have received.
“Holy Toledo” did I hit the wrong button with StevenH. My apologies to the rest of you. In a sense, I appreciate his response because he has the same mentality of some of the board members I am dealing with; he made it obvious why I had written with my concern in the first place.
StevenH has me all figured out and what my intensions are, (giggle) this will not make sense to him but I just thought the rest of you might like to know that I was the past president and also served for several years as a board member. I gave up the position because I had a few too many board members that had the same intimidating ways of handling the homeowners. I wrote in my termination letter that I could do a better job for the homeowners outside of the board then to serve the board. (That’s how bad it was). The same people are always voted in wrongly. This is for you StevenH,” I still volunteer my time” in involving the homeowners to make a change for the better; against board members like you. (So there!!!)
I met with homeowners that have always wanted to express their views to the board but were intimidated by the current board; I assured them that they have every right to be heard and I will share my approach on how I making that change for the better.
Getting together with concerned homeowners that see we are having too many secret meetings involving decisions that should be expressed to the members and educating them on the By-laws and Covenants, makes for a stronger group.
Announcing where and when the meetings will be held are appropriate, according to our documents, if nobody shows? Good for you, (StevenH), but I have never missed a meeting since I left the board and this has created the “secret meetings” because “they” know I know what’s up and I do not “intrude” with comments because I know what the rules are at the meetings but I do want to hear what’s up with my money and the others. They tend to give the same excuses as StevenH why “secret meetings” are needed. Doesn’t make it right, StevenH……. Funny!!!!! (smile)…..

Our annual meeting went quit well because we had many more homeowners attending; understanding that this is when they are allowed to show concern for how their investment is being handled by “volunteers we hope we can trust” and will actually obey their fiduciary duty. I, with five other homeowners, volunteered to be on our nominating committee for the year 2007. This was the first time it’s ever happened because the board never knew they had to vote in a committee at the annual meeting. This was the best approach we felt to take without upsetting the applecart. So, at this time we have not tried to amend anything. One step at a time.

We, the nominating committee, have the right to interview homeowners and find the expertise needed to run our HOA with concern for the board and homeowners alike. YAHOO!!!!

We heard the “we volunteer all our time” syndrome at the annual meeting and I suggested they offer some of the commitments to the committees of homeowners who may not care to commit to the demands of serving the board but would love to be involved in a committee. The response was, “well we have done that before and no one ever responded.” Well, my response was, maybe that’s because you run an association with the leadership mentality of StevenH and they are afraid to. Just kidding Steven but you do deserve it. :0) Anyway, the board agreed to open up for committees. It’s working…. working with the homeowners…….. :0) they are truly human. Makes me happy……..I found that my decision to leave the board worked.

Final note: Thanks to all that have responded to my question and I feel we have made great progress of working with the board (not against it) and “being on the nominating committee” we will have a community that works together towards the same goal.

A “special thanks” to StevenH for demonstrating why a website as this is definitely needed and I hope the members in “your” association are allowed to read this. Take a chill pill…….

I will gladly add to this article with pros and cons of my goal to plan a workable community of 173 homeowners living happily together “with” the board. I have lived in my association for 16 years along with my “new” found educated homeowners and hope to live here in my retired years in harmony; creating a class #101 living in HOA. (smile)
Thanks again to all……


02/23/2006 5:39 AM  
I've read all of this thread with great interest. There are two things I notice about SteveH's situation:
1.There is no wonder that everyone in your association is HAPPY; anytime you have a choice about paying dues or not and can slip into the shadows when hands are raised to volunteer, you are certainly not going to complain, and you are going to be very happy to let everyone else do the work--it's the same principal as not complaining when you didn't vote. So, what does you HOA vote for? How do you control who gets to vote if no one pays and everything is by fundraising? I don't like dues, and I don't like the bills, but even private schools have tuition and THEN fundraisers. While I agree that having donations voluntarily does keep out a lot of the arguments, it also probably causes issues such as "well, I donated or fundraised the most--so I have the most say so". Could that be what's going on here? AND 2. My assn. does have dues; EVERYONE pays them, or gets filed on for foreclosure eventually, BUT, since we all pay dues, we all should have a say in how our assn. spends those dues, and in how it's run. That's a big SHOULD! Right now, because of apathy on the part of half of the 400+ homes and in not voting to keep their board even and fair, our board has tipped the scales to the side of sponsoring, providing for outsiders in select interest groups, allowing for outsiders and the inside select interest groups to take over the facilities, i.e., clubhouse, pool and tennis courts, etc. The homeowners pay for the third use of the clubhouse--outsiders pay NOTHING. Do you think that I think someone besides the SWIM TEAM should be able to speak up and say something at at MEETING? Your d___ right I do! If boards are going to disallow discussion, then disallow it ALL, but they have allowed 15 minutes from homeowners, and it does no good because 8/9ths of the board are swim team parents now! Does this sound like an HOA to you anymore? I've been on the board, but do you think being outnumbered is productive when those people are on the wrong board to begin with? Congratulations on doing this for free; they couldn't pay me enough to put up with the corruption and still worry about getting sued individually. Most of our members consider that it's cheaper to pay our dues than to have to pay an attorney and go thru litigation just to get a say and have rights. But also consider, that's why some people are working on their own and feel they have to carry the entire load on their shoulders. Sounding off...


02/23/2006 7:52 AM  
BarbW, congratulations! Great results!

"I, with five other homeowners, volunteered to be on our nominating committee for the year 2007. This was the first time it’s ever happened because the board never knew they had to vote in a committee at the annual meeting. This was the best approach we felt to take without upsetting the applecart. So, at this time we have not tried to amend anything. One step at a time."

"the board agreed to open up for committees. It’s working…. working with the homeowners…….. :0) they are truly human."

"I feel we have made great progress of working with the board (not against it)"

Thanks for sharing your effective solution,
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Amendment to the by-laws

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