Collins Village Homeowners Association

Lawrenceville, Georgia

President
President’s Message, June 10, 2013

Hello Neighbor,

Lots of effort was put forward to get clarity on whether or not this community would support a change to the voting requirements of covenants and inspiring CVHA to move forward with the work required to make this happen. It was disappointing to discover that CVHA had 25 accounts past due in January 2013 making this the worst HOA dues response ever for this administration. CVHA was stopped dead cold in our tracks!

The CVHA Annual Fee is inexpensive and quite low compared to other HOAs. At $125 a year or $10.42 a month it is easy to budget for. CVHA even offers a split payment plan to those who need it. And yet we still have problems with home owners not paying the fee. CVHA volunteers are your fellow homeowners working for free. None of us want the additional burden of playing bill collector chasing down money.

While it appears most homeowners will support amending covenants providing a near unanimous response, there will be those who cannot vote due to a balance due on their account and those who simply will not respond. To move forward on this measure CVHA requires some wiggle room beyond the 66 votes required for passage. CVHA needs 77 fully paid accounts to take action.

Please pay your HOA Fee timely and help us get CVHA back into the present!



President’s Message, September 27, 2012

Hello Neighbor,

For 2012, payment notices were sent out timely along with a special Statement of Account for 5 homeowners who are in arrears for more than two years. Yet this has been the worst year for payment and there are currently 25 homeowners who have not paid the 2012 Dues. As in the past, this situation is another educational moment for CVHA.

CVHA has plans to proceed with the amendment to change voting requirements from 75% to a simple majority of 51% to amend covenants in the future. There has been solid support amongst homeowners to pass this. Covenants clearly state that only homeowners with a current paid in full account are eligible to vote but it does not in turn reduce the total number of votes required for passage. If we were to proceed with a vote today, and if it were even unanimous, it would not pass because 30 homeowners cannot vote, leaving 57 eligible votes, 9 votes below the minimum of 66 required for passage. Even if we change the voting requirements for passage of future amendments it will not change the balance of available votes required for passage.
   
Therefore, CVHA needs to modify the amendment to also include language that changes whether or not a homeowner is eligible to vote. One option is only those homeowners with a current paid in full account are eligible to vote. Using our current example of 57 eligible votes, 29 votes would be required for passage.  Another option is to remove the requirement of a current paid in full account to vote. That takes us back to a requirement of 44 votes out of 87 lots for passage as we have discussed in meetings and as presented on the CVHA web page.  This will be the primary topic of discussion for the Annual Association Meeting scheduled for November.



Presidents Message, January 1, 2012

Hello Neighbor,

The ACC section was missed when the covenants were legally updated and remains in a crippled state. Enforcing compliance is difficult and expensive for CVHA. The 1987 By-Laws need to be legally updated along with a modification. This topic has been part of the last two Annual Association Meetings. Unfortunately removal or repair of the ACC requires 68 votes either way and is a legally expensive and time consuming process.

The 75% majority (68 votes) for passage is a tough burden for any homeowners association but that is what the original 1987 covenants stated so it remained intact during the legal update. Making matters worse, we can statistically expect about 15 lot owners to not participate in any of this. That leaves 72 lot owners and all it takes is 5 to block passage. Either ACC modification can easily rally 5 lot owners to block it.

Clearly the majority of homeowners and CVHA are imprisoned by this 75% majority requirement which is a brick wall to changing anything, leaving us stuck in 1987.

The only reason the legally updated covenants passed in 2010 is because nothing of substance was changed allowing lot owners to remain in their comfort zone. While CVHA remains stuck in the homeowner associations of 1987, modern covenants have changed due to lot owner non-participation. Modern covenants have reduced this requirement to a simple majority of those attending meetings or those who submit voter cards. Some take it even further; any vote not cast by a lot owner is considered a vote of approval for any measure. This was a major point of dissent when the last administration tried to pass all new covenants which included this current norm. Dissent was understandable because a small minority of lot owners can change the rules and regulations for the majority. CVHA is currently on the opposite side this dilemma where a small minority of homeowners can prevent any changes which the majority prefer.

The only way CVHA can get out of this 1987 voting prison, move forward and evolve, is if the 75% majority requirement is changed. The Board will be pursuing a modification to change this to a simple 51% majority of lot owners reducing the total to 44 votes to pass any measure. The majority requirement modification will require 68 votes to pass. Yet with passage it is far more likely that the ACC problem can be resolved either way along with anything else in the future where there is majority support!

The Board has decided to concentrate our efforts to pass this modification first. With successful passage the Board will return to getting the ACC and By-laws modifications passed.

Thanks

Richard Fisher



Presidents Message, November 4, 2011

Hello Neighbor,

The legal case over the additional driveway has come to an end after 17 months of trials and tribulations through the legal system, lawyers and the state. It has been quite an education and discovery for the Board. Many have wondered about this case and why it was pursued. Some wanted the additional driveway removed and some did not care.

Some homeowners like having a homeowners association and some do not but in the end,
you are a member of a Homeowners Association.

Every lot owner of this association has agreed to the covenants of this association whether by choice or legal requirement. The covenants contain rules and regulations to control behavior and aesthetics (aesthetics falls under the ACC). The covenants allow any individual lot owner to pursue legal enforcement of that agreement by any lot owner in violation, using their own resources. The covenants is also an agreement between lot owners to pool their financial resources and assign that responsibility to another entity, Collins Village Homeowners Association - CVHA. Therefore, every Board Director has a legal obligation to fulfill the requirements of the covenants or face personal liability via a lawsuit by any lot owner for not doing so.

In this case, a lot owner did not file an ACC Request to install an additional driveway before starting the project in May 2010, creating the first violation. An ACC Request was filed after the fact. The five ACC members voted unanimously to deny the request providing another solution to address the lot owners concerns. The lot owner did not make a counter offer to find an agreeable solution and instead completed the additional driveway, creating the second violation. The five ACC members unanimously voted in August 2010 to pursue compliance and have it removed (a unanimous vote is required to deny any request or pursue legal compliance). It is upon the Board to administer the ACC decision. Based on the facts of the case and available funding we were reasonably obligated to proceed. The discrimination complaint changed that outlook and as of May 2011 the Board sought settlement. Everything that happened was fulfilled as required by covenants under the best of circumstances.

Both Lee Ann and I remain grateful to the ACC volunteers and having a fully staffed ACC to make these decisions, fulfilling the spirit of the covenants that the Board and ACC be separate entities creating a separation of powers. Nonetheless, if there are not any ACC volunteers then the Board Directors are required to fulfill this ACC responsibility for the association.

For those who wondered why the Board pursued compliance to have the driveway removed the answer is simple; we were legally obligated by the covenants to do so. All it takes is one lot owner to make us personally liable by filing a lawsuit for ignoring those obligations.

The ACC requirement of the covenants is precisely what generated the violations and CVHA obligations. The unexpected combination of a legally broken ACC section and discrimination complaint is what caused the Board to pursue settlement rather than compliance due to legal expense. Because the broken ACC section makes enforcement tricky and difficult it stands to reason this was the first legal test of the ACC section. In all my discussions with past volunteers not one has shared the legal loopholes and consequences that were uncovered in the ACC section. I don’t have access to all the administrations since 1987; it is possible these legal difficulties were discovered many years ago but never addressed.

This case is unique because the lot owner in violation was also a Board Director. Unlike Modern By-Laws, ours from 1987 provide nothing to remove a Board Director for willfully being in violation of covenants. Yet another discovery of a legal loophole.

Removal or repair of the ACC section and legal update and modification of the By-Laws remains the focal point for this administration.

Thanks

Richard Fisher



Presidents Message April 2, 2011

Hello Neighbor,

Here is an update on CVHA activities.

The legal case concerning the additional driveway remains, Brenda Neal is still a Board Director, and the legal process continues; there is nothing more I can share since all of this is still pending.

CVHA is currently working with the Commons Committee on front entrance improvements, specifically, replacing the weed grass turf around the main entrance with new sod along with a weed and fertilization program to keep it that way. We await a final budget proposal to make a decision.

My life has changed completely. My industry, and therefore my business, has been on the skids for some time now and the last two years were awful. Due to that I decided to pursue a new career requiring intense education for a number of months. The repair and service sector of Mastertech has been closed and the phone disconnected in March. It will be some time before I have a paycheck and until then my time must be spent on this pursuit.

The main task this year was to contact all of you to fix or remove the ACC section. Once that is decided, we will legally update the By Laws along with that proposal and our covenants will finally be complete (full details in the President Message following this one). Unfortunately I have the leading role at CVHA when it comes to the covenants yet I do not have the time to get this project moving forward. Until that changes it will be business as usual taking care of the day to day operations of the front entrance, ACC and CVHA.

I would like to thank all the CVHA and ACC volunteers for their continuing commitment and support of your home owners association.

Thanks

Richard Fisher
President



Annual Association Meeting, State of CVHA Report, November 8, 2010
(editors note: the following has been edited to include topic titles for future reference)

Hello and welcome to the Collins Village Home Owners Association Annual Meeting!

I want to thank each and every one of you for attending this meeting. I would also like to thank all of those that volunteered in January; Lee Ann Sipe and Brenda Neal for serving on the Board and Chad Seefeldt for taking on the office of Treasurer recently; Melvyn Hughes, Rhonda Shulty, Chis Morehead, and Joe Benias for serving on the ACC and my wife Beate Fisher for taking on the role of ACC President. Recently the Board formed the Commons Committee and I would like to thank Chris Morehead and Sandy Gardner for serving. Please lets all give them a hand!

Rebuilding CVHA
The last time we were all together was January. A lots happened since then and most of it is documented on the community website under the Homepage and President tabs. This has been a year of endless discovery full of trials and tribulations. CVHA did not come with an owners manual to guide this Board. The first thing the Board discovered is CVHA needed a ton of fixing!

The following is not a judgment, only an observation. This Board received 2 card board boxes of records covering most of the last 8 years. The records themselves consisted of individual binders containing records for that individual administration. There was no consistency between these, with all of them providing a personal version of record keeping and running CVHA. There was no singular corporate record of The Minutes, the most important record, nor the corporate seal required by the Secretary. It appears CVHA has never filed a yearly corporate tax return. I would like to thank the Seefeldts for going through those records. They removed the important stuff and organized that into a standard business file box. The board has yet to revisit what remains to determine what needs to be kept versus thrown out.

This Board has rebuilt the corporate record. There were only a few pages in the form of Minutes. The Board passed numerous administrative resolutions concerning the internal day to day operations of CVHA. After reviewing records of the past administration, this Board passed an ACC resolution concerning fencing for those homes bordering Collins Hill Road, as was clearly intended. This, and the new covenants, are located under the Covenants tab of the website for your records. The Secretary is now in possession of The Minutes with a new corporate seal.

I put together a file box for the Treasurer and purchased a deposit stamp. I put together a file box for the President containing mostly records and documentation for the front entrance.

Per the by-laws of CVHA insurance is required yet we didn’t have any. I acquired a new policy that also included liability coverage for the officers.

When we left the meeting in January, there were two burning questions for the volunteers; one was whether or not the covenants were still active.

I contacted our lawyer and requested a legal review. Indeed, the lawyer discovered there had been a lapse on a 20 year time period yet how that affected this association was rather ironic. This community still had an association and legally binding covenants. CVHA still had all of its fiscal responsibilities along with the responsibilities to enforce covenants. The only element that was broken was the ability for CVHA to legally assess the association due.

This Board saw no reason for this community to review and consider completely new covenants as the prior administration had pursued. The spirit of our covenants was sound. Indeed, most of the rules and regulations already fall under Gwinnett county code. We decided it was best to keep what we have and get it legally reviewed and updated providing the easiest route for homeowners to accept them.

That turned into another pile of work discussing covenants with the lawyer, reviewing amended covenants for the community, setting up the website to document all of this and finally creating and sending out a voting card. Unfortunately less than half the community responded forcing the Board Directors to visit neighbors door to door for a few weeks to finally get them passed.

The front entrance had not been maintained. We replaced some lamps that were out and also the marquee light fixtures which had naturally degraded with time. A few months later the Board formed the Commons Committee to guide us on maintaining and beautifying the front entrance. We had the front entrance irrigation system checked out, turned on again, and added a rain sensor to try and keep the water bill in check. We also had a ton of pine straw installed to control erosion and improve the overall appearance on Collins Hill Road.

In June, Brenda Neal was removed as Treasurer and I assumed her office until the end of September. While I certainly didn’t need the additional work, as the chief administrator this turned out to be a huge plus. The treasury now uses the common Microsoft Word along with XL spread sheet programs to record the finances. CVHA now has a 95% correct master list of the community along with phone numbers. A yearly spreadsheet was created to track expenses in real time just like a real business. A statement of account form was created. A deposit form was created. Our closing letter was modified and improved. The water and electric bills are now on automatic withdrawal leaving the treasurer with a monthly payment for front entrance maintenance and the various payments that show up through out the year. In early October, the Treasury was passed over to our new Treasurer, Chad Seefeldt.

Consider what I am about to say as food for thought, a reflection of what this Board has been through and what’s been accomplished. Based on all of that work and effort alone, this Board is seriously wondering if a management company is not in the best interest of this community! At this time we’d like to see what running CVHA looks like once were back on cruise control and we’re very close to accomplishing that. Yet our main concern is if future administrations will maintain all that we’ve worked so hard for?

The Legal Swiss Cheese of Our Old 1987 Covenants (no longer binding)
In late May, the Neals installed the form for an additional driveway in violation of the covenants and then poured that driveway in violation of the ACC ruling declining their request. Making matters worse, Brenda Neal is a Board Director and at that time was the Treasurer. This incident occurred prior to the amended covenants being filed and is therefore legally binding under the previous covenants. At this time the lawsuit is still pending and we can’t discuss it.

Yet that is our reference point for the other burning question the volunteers had; whether or not our covenants were really the mess the prior administration claimed them to be or if this was simply a case of mismanagement?
 
Throughout this lawsuit, our lawyer informed me of one problem after another, because our old covenants are chock full of legal swiss cheese, which in legal speak is defined as ambiguous legal language. Just as the prior administration had stated, enforcement is difficult. These sessions always ended with a direct comparison to the new covenants arriving at that million dollar question; is this problem gone with the new covenants? And in each case, except for one, those problems were history. An example of this is liens. All of us probably thought a lien was on the property, well, not exactly. For the old covenants the lien was indirectly tied to the property and directly tied to the individual as a personal debt. With this form of lien, payment may never come and the individual could carry this debt for the rest of their lives. With the new covenants, a lien and all other judgments are now directly tied the property. That means no matter what, someday, due to the sale of that property, CVHA will be paid the balance on dues, late fees and legal costs, just as everyone always expected.

Due to this lawsuit a new and unexpected problem surfaced; what can the other two Board Directors do when another Board director is in violation of the covenants? The answer turned out to be not much except for their removal as an officer. To this day, Brenda Neal remains a Board Director yet she is no longer participating in Board discussions, on her own volition. Yet that removes her input and vote as a representative of the community.

And that brings me to the main topic of this meeting, the ACC, and a sup topic, new By-laws for CVHA.

Proposal to Amend the ACC Section
The ACC section is the one item that managed to slip through the cracks during the legal review due to a misunderstanding. The good news is our lawyer has offered to correct this at no further charge. The bad news is to fix it requires another round of voting on amended covenants.

You should have a copy of the ACC section in your hands. Some owners may not have one so please share yours once you’re done. This is a great example of the poor legal construction of our covenants, what I call legal swiss cheese, what lawyers call ambiguous legal language. At the top is what we now have and the bottom is the proposed amended version. For the current version at the top, the tripping point is the phrase that appears in about the middle, in bold.

It says:
or in any event, if no suit to enjoin the addition, alteration or change has been commenced prior to completion thereof,

For those of us who thought this meant CVHA and the ACC has thirty days to deal with any changes, that is not the case. Due to the phrase, the 30 days are lost and it is completion that all of this turns upon. Indeed, as I sated to the lawyer, if that is true then that interpretation nullifies the ACC. What purpose does the ACC even serve under those conditions! She didn’t disagree! Which was followed by a c’mon, we all know what the intent was. She said yep, but that’s what happens when you have ambiguous legal language in a contract.

This is a critical issue of enforcement related to legal arguments of contract versus legal arguments of equity. All of us have a contract with each other; it’s called the covenants. And if there is a violation, CVHA is the first entity we all look to for enforcement. If the language of that contract is legally correct, then any violation is considered a legal argument of contract, easily enforced in a court of law, and CVHA recoups all its expenses. The legal outcome is known in advance, before going to court for enforcement. In our case the legal language is not correct, putting this association in the dire position of going to court under a legal argument of equity. That means the legal outcome is unknown and highly unpredictable. Elements of the contract which protect the fiscal resources of CVHA no longer apply. Which means CVHA is unlikely to recover attorney fees and court costs.

One example is a homeowner who can paint their house purple in 24-48 hours. It’s unlikely the Board or ACC will be aware of this activity. Once either of us is informed, it’s likely too late because the project has already been completed. If we can catch it in time, this puts our lawyer in a position of having to drop everything to get an injunction filed that day. Therefore, anything that can be done to a home or landscaping in the course of 24-48 hours will be very difficult to prevent or correct. This would fall under a legal argument of equity if CVHA were to pursue a lawsuit.

Another and very different example is the Neals driveway. CVHA could have prevented that provided we would have been educated on our legal swiss cheese. The form had been installed yet it was about another 2 weeks before it was poured. All CVHA needed to do was file an injunction prior to it being poured and with that CVHA would have retained a legal argument of contract making enforcement easy. So on the flip side, anything that takes numerous days or weeks to complete is easy to prevent and enforce.

Therefore, for the Board to enforce the ACC section, it’s now in the dire position of having to file a law suit or injunction immediately upon the discovery of any unauthorized changes to the structure and landscaping of a lot prior to completion, to fully protect a legal argument of contract for this Association. Under such conditions the Board will not contact the homeowner prior to such action. This in turn creates a potentially adverse relationship between the volunteers of CVHA and the homeowners. Indeed, who would want to volunteer for the ACC under these conditions?

As the President and a homeowner, I find this not only unacceptable for myself but for any future administration. We are a community of people, and the first step should always be the Board or ACC working with the homeowner to reach a satisfactory conclusion without running to lawyers. Such action should be reserved as a last resort.

I look forward to your support to modify this section so it can legally mean what we all expect it to say. I also recommend increasing the time frame for Board, ACC or homeowner legal responses to 90 days rather than 30. This allows ample time for discovery of ACC infractions and discussion with a homeowner to correct the matter before pursuing the last resort of legal enforcement.

The alternative is to remove the ACC which I don’t recommend. Yet as an administrator, ACC member or homeowner of this Association, I’d rather have the ACC legally binding and protecting all our rights in a reasonable and timely manner, or just have it removed.

Update The By-laws and Add an Amendment
Along with correcting the ACC, the Board would also like to take this opportunity to clear up the By-laws and add an amendment. At this time, we’re still operating off the 1987 version and it’s full of confusing language about the builder that can now be removed to the benefit of everybody for understanding their contract. The amendment would allow the other two Board Directors to remove another that is in violation of the covenants. Now, bear in mind, a Board Director being in violation is not the problem and can be easily rectified. The problem is what happens when a Board Director chooses to ignore the violation and not comply. For the Neals driveway ACC violation, that turned into a lawsuit creating an unnecessary burden of time and effort for the volunteers, and legal expenses for CVHA. It’s only reasonable that a violation taken to this level of activity clearly creates a conflict of interest for that Board Director serving the community, and an adverse relationship with the volunteers and some homeowners. Such actions create a reasonable question of whether or not that Board Director will uphold the covenants during other deliberations of the Board. On top of that, due to this incident, the remaining Board Directors had a number of discussions and voted on decisions for this lawsuit, all the while lacking the input and vote from a third Board Director. We hope the community will support this amendment.

With that, I open the floor to the homeowners. Our first topic of discussion is the ACC section and your thoughts to support this amendment to fix this problem or your thoughts to remove the ACC from our contract. Questions are welcomed as well. After that, I would like to get your feedback on the amending the By-laws as presented.

(for more details on what happened at this meeting and the Board meeting click on the Homepage tab)



Presidents Message October 3, 2010

Hello Neighbor,

The notice for the Annual Association and Board Meeting should be received sometime next week and all homeowners involved in this community look forward to your attendance.

The main topic for the Annual Association Meeting will be the ACC. While the Board requested a legal review and update of the covenants earlier this year I am very disappointed to tell you that did not fully happen as expected. While the main concern of assessing dues was repaired it has been discovered that legal language remains making ACC enforcement difficult. Due to this misunderstanding, the attorney has offered to correct this matter and perform a full review as was requested at no further charge. Unfortunately that also means the Board and community must go through another round of passing amended covenants.

This is a critical issue of enforcement related to legal arguments of contract versus legal arguments of equity. As it stands, due to the original ambiguous legal language used for the ACC, the Board is in the dire position of having to file a law suit and injunction immediately upon the discovery of any unauthorized changes to the structure and landscaping of a homeowner prior to completion, to fully protect a legal argument of contract for the Association. Under such conditions the Board will not contact the homeowner prior to such action.

As the President, I find this not only unacceptable for myself but for any future administration and as a homeowner. We are a community of people, and the first step should always be the Board or ACC working with the homeowner to reach a satisfactory conclusion without running to lawyers; such action should be reserved as a last resort.

Therefore, I look forward to your support to modify this section so it can legally mean what we all understand it to say. I also recommend increasing the time frame for Board, ACC or homeowner legal responses to 90 days rather than 30 so ample time is provided for discovery of ACC infractions and discussion with the homeowner to correct the matter before pursuing the last resort of legal enforcement.

The alternative is to remove the ACC which I do not recommend. Yet as an administrator, ACC member or homeowner of this Association, I would rather have the ACC legally binding and protecting all our rights in a reasonable and timely manner, or have it removed. I suspect most of the homeowners feel the same way.

Looking forward to seeing you at the meeting,

Richard Fisher
President



Presidents Message August 21, 2010


Hello Neighbor,

The Board sent out the Annual Association News Letter, along with the Association Dues form and questionnaire, the first week of July. Numerous decisions were to be made for the Annual Association and Board Meeting based on the response to the questionnaire.

The Results
Some lot owners did not fill out the form and some did not return the form with their payment. Along with that, 43 lots have not paid the Association Due and of course that means no questionnaire responses. At this time we are unlikely to receive any significant return of forms that would change the results we already have.

As of August 21st
44 accounts were paid
36 forms were returned
22 responded (equals a 25% response out of 87 lot owners)

Statistically we have something to work with. If half or more supported an item it is likely over half the Association will also support that item.

Rules or modifications you would like to discuss further

1. Board can cut the grass on any property that is in violation of county code
13 approved

2. Board can trim the grass on any property that is violation of county code
12 approved

3. Board can clean up the fall season debris on any property after December 1st
11 approved

4. Board can pressure wash any structure showing mold and mildew
13 approved

5. Covenants can be amended by a 50% plus one majority.
9 approved

6. An announcement sign posted at the front entrance for 2 weeks to visit the community website is considered legal notice of association business
9 approved

7. Increase the Violation Incident Fine
12 approved

8. Driveways cannot be widened nor can an additional driveway be installed.
14 approved

Who should be responsible for reporting violations
1. Each individual lot owner should be responsible for reporting violations
16 approved

2. The Board and ACC should be responsible for reporting violations
10 approved

3. An outside neutral party should report violations to the full extent of the law and covenants
7 approved

Reservations for the Annual Association and Annual Board Meeting
22 lot owners would like to attend for a total of 33 people

Going Forward
That leaves us with:

1. Board can cut the grass on any property that is in violation of county code
2. Board can trim the grass on any property that is violation of county code
4. Board can pressure wash any structure showing mold and mildew
7. Increase the Violation Incident Fine
8. Driveways cannot be widened nor can an additional driveway be installed.

The problem is such amendments will require the approval of 66 or more lot owners to pass. The Board set the bar for attendance at 50 or more lot owners to discuss these amendments further and possible changes to them. Such a response from the members would have inspired us to take on this additional burden. The next step would have been creating a committee, having the suggested changes or additions legally codified, and approved once more by that committee. With that approval, the final step would have been the process of collecting votes on the amended covenants. Due to the poor response to the questionnaire and that only 22 lot owners will try to attend the Annual Association Meeting, the Board will not pursue these amendments any further at this time.

While it seems the members of this Association may not care, our observation during April and May going door to door for amending covenants points to members being very busy and this Association is a very low priority in their lives. When directly confronted, nearly all members were more than agreeable and approved the amended covenants. Using that reference point, I do think these amendments could pass but that will require a concerted effort of visiting with homeowners to discuss, educate and get feedback on what is likely to pass and what will not. The Board remains open to forming a committee to do that provided there are enough homeowners inspired to volunteer. The best time and place to show the Board and fellow members that this is possible will be at the upcoming Annual Association and Board Meeting. The date will be announced soon on this website and an invitation mailed 30 days or more in advance to all lot owners. If you want change, then please discuss these items with your neighbors and see if you can rally more members to attend the meeting!

Who is Responsible for Reporting Violations for Enforcement?
The Board was pleased that this burning question received the greatest response. Most lot owners circled one but some chose 2 and some chose all three in their response. 16 lot owners (potentially 72% of all lot owners) agreed that:

Each individual lot owner should be responsible for reporting violations.

The other two choices were under 50%. With that result, this Board has determined it will stick to the plan of lot owners being responsible for reporting violations.

Thank you for your time,

Richard Fisher
President



Presidents Message, May 26, 2010


On May 24, 2010, the Board recorded the last vote for the proposal to amend covenants recording 72 votes in total.

Final Tally
70 YES
2    NO

The amended covenants have passed and will be recorded in The Minutes of the Corporation and the Clerk Superior Court of Gwinnett County. A complete version will be posted to the community website for your records over the next 30-60 days.

On one hand this was a public relations victory for the Board and the community. Due to the perceived lack of action by the past Board over the last 1-2 years, many homeowners were unsure of the standing of the Association or the Board. Three weeks after sending out the voter cards only 32 were returned (a total of 36 cards were received by May 24th). The Board had no choice but to walk the neighborhood and manually collect the rest of the votes. While this was time consuming, many of the homeowners needed clarity from a Board Director and this personal attention to make their decision. For others it was a clear sign that the Board cared and this Board was active. For the Board it was an opportunity to hear the everyday concerns of homeowners about the community.

On the other hand, passing these covenants is no real victory for the community since nothing was changed beyond legally updating them. The rules and regulations of these covenants served one primary purpose in 1987; to protect the builder from the individual actions of homeowners that could negatively impact curb appeal and market value over the short span of 5 years. The covenants were designed under the premise that lot owners were buying a new home in a new subdivision and would voluntarily practice pride of ownership. The builder's covenants did not address the natural problems that would come as the landscaping and structures of each lot age and decay requiring maintenance, repair and replacement along with the financial burden that carries. The builder's covenants did not address the change in culture that would come as new homes were eventually sold as used homes attracting a different type of lot owner along with investors seeking a good buy on potential rental property. The builder’s covenants did not address lot owner apathy and lack of participation in their Homeowners Association making any proposal for beneficial change extremely difficult if not impossible to pass with only 87 potential votes.

As a whole, the curb appeal of our community has slowly degraded over the past 15 years. Yet this is the sole purpose of your Association; to keep property values and curb appeal high! The rules and regulations of our covenants do not have any language dealing with the issues of an aging and mature community. Today, a well maintained lot has another worn out and/or poorly maintained lot nearby, acting as an eyesore to potentially reduce value or discourage interested buyers.

The real challenge that stands before this 23 year old community is finding the will power to introduce and pass some additional rules and regulations that will enhance the curb appeal and market value of each lot with the least amount of financial burden!

This is a prime time for the community to seriously consider changing the covenants! About four years ago all of us received an education on what modern covenants look like. While many of us thought they granted far too much power to the Board, almost half of the community voted yes, making a clear statement that they seek change. At this time we now have an attorney willing to write custom covenants which is what made the amended covenants we just voted on possible. We have a new Board of Directors with new energy to deal with this topic. Due to circumstances this Board has received an in depth education on our covenants and what needs to be addressed to allow beneficial change. Looking at the big picture, we are in a great position to discuss how we can enhance the curb appeal and market value of this community.

This will be the main topic for the annual Association Meeting. Details will be included in the Association Due mailing for June.

Looking forward to your participation,

Richard Fisher
President




Presidents Message, March 25, 2010

Hello Neighbor!

The following is the first chance I have had to make a formal statement to the Association. Please bear with me as I cover the Board meeting in January.

On January 13, 2010, there was a meeting of the Collins Village Homeowners Association (CVHA) at Collins Hill Highschool. All homeowners were mailed a notification of this meeting in early December. Only 20 homeowners showed up to participate (with other family members in attendance).

Mark Pago, current president, and Rich Lindee, current ACC (Architectural Control Committee) member and current Secretary, gave us the option to either elect a new Board and ACC or they would legally dissolve the CVHA and the covenants. There was plenty of discussion concerning the perception of past performance of the current board and ACC along with the Board’s perception of the lack of participation by the community. Based on my recollection of 18 years here, I suspect both sides had a valid point depending on the topic being discussed.

The new covenants as proposed by the Board over a year ago were discussed. The Board felt during their administration that the original covenants lacked clear definitions of community behavior and property maintenance responsibilities along with lacking any teeth to enforce the standards that do exist. While the new covenants did address these concerns, all the sections granted additional powers to the Board allowing it to change the definitions and responsibilities at will. The Board reaffirmed this was not a power grab and the new covenants are nothing more than current boiler plate language provided by lawyers and commonly used by  homeowner associations.

Mark Pago stated that the burden upon the Board could be eliminated by hiring a management company but the dues would easily double to $250 per year. Many of us considered this proposal. Taking such action still requires a CVHA Board making decisions, acting as liaison between the community and the management company. Mark also pointed out that he was left to tend with this burden alone and splitting it up amongst a full Board would ease the load. Either way, the Board made it clear that they were resigning their position or dissolving the CVHA.

According to the Board and other homeowners at the meeting, Board members of the past and present have been harassed by members of the community to take action upon another member of the community. This harassment comes in the form of repetitive phone calls (some late at night or even 3AM), verbal discussion and emails, based upon an expectation by the homeowner that the Board is entirely responsible for policing the behavior of a neighbor or the maintenance of a neighbors property and they expect action to be taken as soon as possible on their behalf. Clearly, it is uninspiring to volunteer when potentially putting ones privacy and daily well being at risk.

After this lengthy discussion, Rich Lindee reinforced the purpose of the meeting and requested the 20 homeowners make a motion to dissolve the CVHA or one or more of us step forward and begin the process of creating a new Board and ACC. Needless to say the prior discussions were not inspiring to take that step; on the other hand, preventing the loss of the Association was. I volunteered to be the temporary President for 15 minutes and asked for nine of my fellow neighbors to please step forward. I asked if any of the four other Board volunteers would put their name forward for President and it became clear that none were interested so I accepted the position. My thanks to all who stepped forward to participate. I would like to especially recognize Lee Ann Sipe for having the courage to volunteer twice for the Board considering her privacy and well being was negatively impacted as President in the past (she declined the position of President due to that).

The Board volunteers were:
Richard Fisher, President
Lee Ann Sipes, Vice President
Brenda Neal, Treasurer
Marsha Goodwin, Secretary
Chad Seefeldt, Board Director

The ACC volunteers were:
Beate Fisher, ACC Communicator
Mel Hughs
Rhonda Schulte Rosser
Joe Bienias
Dave Morehead

As President I thought my first step is to find out what my job is so I read our covenants in their entirety. I discovered that we can only have three Board members. After more discussion and reflection, the two additional Board Directors were notified of the situation and I requested they stand by as volunteers to assist the Board. Lee Ann Sipe accepted her nomination as Secretary and Vice President.

On January 19th, the new Board met with Mark Pago to discuss his administration and turn over the Board and treasury records.

On February 8th the Declaration of New Directors and Officers was signed.

Richard Fisher, President
Brenda Neal, Treasurer
Lee Ann Sipe, Secretary and Vice President

On February 16th the new ACC Members along with the CVHA President and Secretary met with Rich Lindee to discuss the ACC and turn over the ACC records.

On March 25th the website was updated to reflect the new Board and ACC Members. The website was altered and modified along with a new page, Rules & Regs, to provide clarity to each homeowner in this community. My thanks to Mark Pago, who knowing absolutely nothing about web sites, managed to put one up doing a decent job on top of it!

With that, I am pleased to tell you this community does have an active Board and ACC to support the rules and regulations of the Association. I will be posting another update in the next 30-60 days.

Thanks,

Richard Fisher
President

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