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Thread: Homeowners association outreach?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Homeowners association outreach?

    Has anyone ever initiated an HOA outreach from their post in the local Planning Department?

    I was cosnidering this when I visited the HOA meeting for my neighborhood and realized that there is a great rift in the information that HOAs know about the Town and what the Town knows about the HOAs.

    I was thinking, as we are a small town and only have about 7 HOAs to deal (but that 7 makes up about 90% of the residential landscape), that I would "reach-out" and conctact their boards to faciliate a forum in which information can be shared.

    What I predict?
    -Either good communication or my message to fall on deaf ears.
    -My email account or the phone line being flooded with inquiries, complaints and comments.
    -Or maybe better information sharing and allowing the town to have a clue when covenants get changed so that we know when to stop our regulation and defer it to the HOA. (as is the case in home businesses in my neighborhood).

    Anyone done this? Any thoughts on information I should include? Anyone want to try it with me?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    My quick thoughts:

    1. Based on the size of your town, this approach may be possible. But are you opening a Pandora's Box if the 7 HOAs grow into 25 HOAs? That's definitely not something I would want to keep track of or be involved.

    2. I would generate a list of common issues that arise betwen HOAs and the local government, such as sheds, fences, solicitors, pools, etc. and then create a table that says "This is what the HOA allows and this is what the local governemtn allows.

    3. As the town employee, I would try and stay away from being the point person on all inquires regarding the various HOAs. If that's the route things seem to be going, run away. Isn't one of the supposed advantages of HOAs is that it allows for the local government to take a step back?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    3. As the town employee, I would try and stay away from being the point person on all inquires regarding the various HOAs. If that's the route things seem to be going, run away. Isn't one of the supposed advantages of HOAs is that it allows for the local government to take a step back?
    This alone is the "tightrope" that has been on my mind since this idea danced into my head. I do not want to open the door to become a hired scapegoat to attend every HOA meeting for each HOA as a punching bag. Therefore, I was looking to draft (carefully) to a letter outlining my role in this and my continued role in the future.

    Mainly I would like a forum where I could be asked an interpretation question of the municipal code, or maybe a contact for the HOA that I forward the Town Board or Planning Commission agenda to. Maybe a newsletter.

    There is much thought on my part here and I certainly welcome more comments as I explore this.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Resist this urge...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    Resist this urge...
    To be frank, I will need more than this. I love your correspondence LP but I find this attitude disheartening.

    The reluctance to conduct such a practice is one of the reasons why there are many disparities and conflicts between HOAs and Towns. I think that if a smalle medium of communication is facilitated and managed well that the two can exist in harmony.

    I may be new at this, but I have learned that people crave information. Even if it is an angry citizen, 9 times out of 10 he/she will appreciate straight talk and honest answers (read: just plain information) even if it is something they do not want to hear.

    I think that candid converseation between HOAs, Towns, and residents can help.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  6. #6
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I just think you are stepping into a minefield that you don't deserve, that's all -

    What I do is when the subdivision for a private road is before us, I make sure that the Association documents have a good process for dispute resolution as well as the usual care and maintenance of the right of way, open space and trash removal. and I make sure it's on the plat going to the Registry of Deeds so buyers know what they are getting into -

    what I see in my office is people coming to the town saying I pay taxes why don't you plow, why can't you tell my neighbor he's in violation blah blah blah! I just don't think it's appropriate for us to get involved with the 4th level of government except for the planning stage!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Oh MAN!

    While I was in Florida, each senior planner was required to attend each active HOA meeting held within the City (and sometimes outside). I had five primary HOA meetings to attend either quarterly or monthly, along with several condo association meetings. This added 2-3 night meetings each month to my schedule It would have been better to have the code enforcement officer for each area of the City to attend the meetings, since that consumed much of the discussion. It was useful to get information out to the public regarding land use issues. After having that experience, I think you might want to consider only attending if there is a purpose for the visit.
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    After having that experience, I think you might want to consider only attending if there is a purpose for the visit.
    This is something I will emphasize. Our Code Enforcement officer has filled this role and has attended only when needed.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  9. #9
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    While I was in Florida, each senior planner was required to attend each active HOA meeting held within the City (and sometimes outside). I had five primary HOA meetings to attend either quarterly or monthly, along with several condo association meetings. This added 2-3 night meetings each month to my schedule It would have been better to have the code enforcement officer for each area of the City to attend the meetings, since that consumed much of the discussion. It was useful to get information out to the public regarding land use issues. After having that experience, I think you might want to consider only attending if there is a purpose for the visit.
    I agree... PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

    A good option might be what we did in my fair city, help coordinate formation of a Council of Neighborhood Associations that has monthly meetings. They have bylaws, etc. as I recall. While they are mostly complainers, you at least get everything all at once rather than dealing with 7-25 separate meetings. It is also helpful for getting city information out to the neighborhoods. Ours is so well-developed that they actually host a candidates debate when City Council elections role around.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I think just a general information packet could be sent to each HOA Board outlining what the Town does/doesn't enforce, regulate or control.

    That way, when a complainer calls or stops in, you can direct them to the appropriate HOA and inform them that the HOA Board has been provided with the information.

    We even get people who complain to us and say they don't want their neighbor to get in trouble with the HOA, but would prefer that they get in troule with the Township. Why the hell does the HOA even exist then?

    I can appreciate what Zman is attempting to do, although in the size of my jurisdiction and with our staffing levels, it would be impossible to keep track of all the HOAs.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Perhaps that is turning into a forum through which I can get Town Planning information out to the HOAs. Another thing that I want to do is to get the MOST CURRENT covenant information from each HOA as well. We need them for our files.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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