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Thank you for your careful reading of the proposed covenant changes and your thoughtful comments. It was never clear to me what the impetus was for revisions to the covenants other than that the board was frustrated with their lack of an enforcement mechanism over construction occurring during the summer months and, other than Matt’s Fish Camp, the neighborhood was developed as residential properties and not residential and commercial, as originally provided in the 1950’s era covenants. The fundamental difference in the two areas (residential and commercial) is that in the “commercial district”, no set-back is required to adjoining units, except where a commercial district unit adjoins a residential area unit. (There are a number of separate homes behind the Atlantic Watergate tennis courts where there is no setback between the houses. The parking for these houses is provided on a side street. This construction (houses 1′ apart) would not have been permitted in the “residential” district.) Also, with regard to “Roads”, Ocean Road, as defined in the Covenants, runs from the south end of the development to Cove Road. North of Cove Road, the paved area is only a right of way, not a “Road” as defined in the covenants. This is why the pavement is narrower on this segment and the Atlantic Watergate buildings on Ocean Road are not set back 15′ from the pavement (the required setbacks for “Roads”).
The “Commercial District” consists of the first two lots along the highway and all the lots north of Cove Road. It should be of no importance to the community that the name “commercial district” exists. Anything to be built in the community must pass County requirements. There’s very little risk of anything “commercial” being built. And, to the extent it could be, somebody owns that right. There’s no need for the community to impose more restrictions, especially since doing so would impact existing property rights, which has a very doubtful legal basis (i.e., taking property rights without compensation).
I got involved with the covenants committee after receiving a draft proposal before the last membership meeting (May 2019) when I read the then proposed covenant revisions which would have reduced the building rights of ocean front owners from 10′ landward of their easternmost property line to 10′ west of the dune line (except the current footprint would be permitted). This struck me as a totally improper taking of property rights, so I got involved.
The other significant proposed change to the covenants is the shifting of “common area rules” (currently a function of the by-laws) to the covenants and the enabling of the board to impose fines. Both of these proposed changes strike me as bad ideas. Covenants should address what can be done with one’s property, common area rules (e.g. no fishing, glass containers or dogs on the beach) are better kept separate as a function of the by-laws.
Also, the issue of the board imposing fines is fraught with issues. In one case I’m aware of, a few years ago the board filed lawsuit against a resident to collect a disputed dues late fee of $50. (Yes, the board filed a lawsuit to collect $50 in dispute.) The resident, an attorney, promptly counter-sued, his case was dismissed, but as a result, the Association’s insurance was cancelled and we were forced to find a new (presumably more expensive) carrier. (Of course, the Association then dropped their case.) In other cases, the board has gotten us into, or nearly into, lawsuits over construction which extended into the summer months.
In the board’s defense, it is frustrating when people don’t follow rules adopted by the community. In my opinion, other than delaying the start of the summer building moratorium period from Memorial Day to mid-June I see no good reason for revisions to the covenants. The proposals were arrived at by a committee. The names at the bottom are only a listing of the committee members names and should not be interpreted as endorsement by all the members of the committee members of all the proposals. Thank you again for your thoughtful and detailed reply.