I understand that tomorrow, July 13, the Board will be voting on whether the draft revisions to the restrictive covenants and bylaws should be put to a homeowner vote. I appreciate that a volunteer committee of homeowners has spent a lot of time and energy making these revisions, and that intentions undoubtedly were good. However, at least based on this forum thread, there seems to be nearly universal resistance to the numerous, technical, and difficult to understand changes being proposed. Many of us seem to be struggling to understand why many of the changes were made, why much of the old language can’t be left alone, and whether any of the changes will negatively affect us in a way that the old language did not. In view of this, I urge the Board to vote “no” on moving ahead with presenting these changes to the community.
Below are just a few questions and concerns that I have regarding the restrictive covenants:
1. Paragraph 2: In the section about removing sand from dunes, new language is added requiring not just DNREC permission, but also TSBA board permission. Of course permission must be sought and granted from state agencies, but why is permission from the Board needed? What specific problems have arisen where state and local laws protecting the dunes aren’t enough? Also, the way this is written, DNREC could allow the moving of sand, but the Board could refuse it for any reason. That may not have been the intent, but it could be the consequence.
2. Paragraph 3: Why was it necessary to re-designate all of the lots into R-1/R-2? Why couldn’t a simple, minimal edit be made updating the currently numbered lots as either commercial or residential? Throughout the document, there are now multiple references to the new R1/R2 designations, and in some cases properties are treated differently depending on the designation for technical reasons. This seems unnecessarily overcomplicated especially in the setback context.
3. Paragraph 5: Why the need to add all of the specific “including but not limited to” examples? The explanation “this still allows all structures, just not set-backs” is a sentence I do not understand.
4. Paragraph 5A: Changing the building setback line from 15 feet from the “road” to 15 feet from the “lot survey boundary” might have potential implications that I can’t evaluate because I’m not a real estate attorney. To a layperson, a “road” is different than a “lot survey boundary” Why is this needed? What problems have arisen from the current language? The explanation provided that the new language is “more accurate” isn’t helpful to a layperson.
5. Paragraph 5B, setting out different setback requirements for the new R1 vs. R2 lots: Again, I don’t understand why the old language is in any way problematic. Old language treated all lots similarly. New language draws technical distinctions between R-1 and R-2 lots. Per above, I don’t understand why new R-1/R-2 designations were made. Why can’t the language be left alone? What actual problem is this complicated language change solving?
6. The language about “grandfathering in” for the newly designated “R1/R2” lots that don’t conform is concerning. These are complicated, technical changes that I don’t fully understand. If substantive changes are being made from the current rules that require some kind of “grandfathering in” of violators, I’d like clarification on what those changes are. What is OK now that would not be OK under these new rules? If no substantive changes are anticipated, why is grandfathering language needed? If this is intended to cover situations where a property not compliant with the current (not new) rules must be rebuilt, why not simply say what you mean: that if a structure is lost and must be rebuilt, the footprint at the time of loss will be permitted regardless of its compliance with the rules in effect at the time of loss?
7. Why is renting parking spaces to anyone but owners prohibited? What problem has arisen that requires a formal change in the legal documents? Sometimes owners rent parking spots to directly to renters of other owners with overflow cars, if they have the extra space. This change would forbid that—you could rent to another owner but not directly to a renter. Why?
8. Adding a requirement that the Board approve all new construction, and having owners pay for this review, raises red flags for me. Construction should be compliant with all state and local laws/rules/restrictions, of course. I thought that’s what permits were for. How exactly is the Board going to determine whether every construction project is lawful, even if review is limited to compliance with our restrictive covenants? How does a volunteer Board have the expertise to do this? What kind of additional charge is this going to involve for owners?
9. The new language about minimum two parking spots—there is not currently any minimum parking space requirement for individual homes (the current rule addresses multiple dwelling units like the old hotel.) Although I think you would be crazy to have a house in our community with one parking spot, I chafe at the addition of another unnecessary legal restriction imposed on owners. Is there a problem right now with people building big houses with only one parking spot and having cars parked illegally as a result? We seem to have done just fine so far without the need to regulate this. Again, this seems like yet another “fix” where there is not a problem.
10. The clause about no grilling on the beach except for Tower Shores functions. The explanation given is to align our rules with the law. Do state and local law only allow grilling on the beach for community functions? If not, why are we prohibiting grilling on the beach for some functions but not others? Lots of people seem to grill on the beach, so this seems like an impactful change. Is it wanted and needed? Will this be problematic for rentals?
11. The clause about making owners liable if the Association institutes legal action. This raises red flags in my mind especially the way it is worded, with owners paying for any “enforcement action.” What if the Association loses the “enforcement action”? Does the owner still have to pay the Association’s legal fees?
This is complicated legal stuff. I understand that there may be a history of owners not complying with legal restrictions, and the unfairness of the rest of the community being stuck with the legal bills, but again, I’m not a real estate attorney, and I don’t know if this clause is normal, or could cause problems down the road.
There are other areas that I’m concerned about in addition to these. I think it would have been far better to focus on a few truly essential changes, rather than trying to completely review and polish the full document (and the bylaws too, which I haven’t even addressed here) and making so many changes that it is impossible for community members to review and understand them, which in my case has left me so frustrated that I just want to give a blanket “no” to any changes at all.
I’d be glad for any feedback from the board and committee on my concerns, and especially, feedback from the community about whether they are shared.
#2 North Beach Condos