Tagged: Bylaws/covenants/rules project
May 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm #4087
I find myself agreeing with Jim Croker’s May 11th posting regarding the bylaws/covenants/rules project….especially as it pertains to any extensive revisions to the Restrictive Covenants. Janice and I have owned in Atlantic Watergate since 2001. The issue of updating the restrictive covenants have come up before. As we have found in the past, properly adopting a valid change or amendment to the terms set out in restrictive covenants can be a tricky proposition. For many of us long-term owners, a change in the restrictive covenants is equivalent to ‘changing the rules after the game has begun’.
I am not a lawyer, but I believe that part of any change to restrictive covenants should include an assessment as to whether any of the present owners entitled to a covenant would lose any practical benefit of substantial value. It is my belief that changes to certain of the setbacks and right-of-ways outlined in the present restrictive covenants impact value to which present owners are entitled.
Therefore, I agree with Jim that we should start with determining whether the community wants amendments to address particular issues and proceed to draft and vote only on amendments that the community has already supported.
May 17, 2020 at 5:17 pm #4088Faith GoldsteinParticipant
When I added an elevator for handicapped granddaughter in the ten foot easement I had to go to County Board of appeals .
May 17, 2020 at 5:18 pm #4089Amanda TooneParticipant
Very well put Bob. I absolutely agree.
May 17, 2020 at 5:51 pm #4090Jean KrafftParticipant
Thanks for sharing, Faith. I am sorry you had that ordeal. I am glad you let everyone know.
May 17, 2020 at 5:54 pm #4091Jean KrafftParticipant
Bob, well written. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
May 17, 2020 at 6:55 pm #4092Adena AdlerParticipant
I can’t find the original May 11 posting, but I agree with Bob’s comment, and I share his concern that changes to the restrictive covenants might negatively impact property rights and values. There are pages and pages of red-lined edits addressing very technical issues that I don’t feel comfortable evaluating and assessing myself–I’m not a property law attorney. Every time I get these long and complicated proposed revisions, I feel like I need to hire a lawyer to review them and advise me on whether I need to be concerned. Particularly in these surreal times, having to pore over complex proposed changes to our governing documents that might impact our property values isn’t an added stressor that I welcome. I appreciate the time and energy that board members seem to have spent on this, but I’m not comfortable evaluating the impact of these changes on my property myself, and I really don’t want to have to hire and pay for an attorney to do this for me.
May 18, 2020 at 2:06 pm #4093Michael RenshawParticipant
We have started down the slippery slope of tailoring our community to the rental side of the Summer Season. If the board has issue with the bad behavior of the renters, which I know I do, add requirements for addendums to the rental contracts that restrict as much bad behavior and potentially dangerous activity as possible. However, I am in full agreement with Bob as it pertains to the owners and the existing restrictive covenants and bylaws.
May 20, 2020 at 7:53 pm #4114Miriam LloydParticipant
I also agree that unless we clearly understand what the specific issue is that needs to be corrected, the bylaws should not be amended. I am particularly concerned about the “R-1, R-2” designation of properties and giving “R-2” unit owners different rules than “R-1” owners and changing the set back definition to include structures that the county would allow for some owner but not others. This seems quite discriminatory and, while I’m not a lawyer, since it is discriminatory and a change from the rules in affect when the owner purchased the property, I suspect that it would leave the Community open to lawsuits from homeowners who need to rebuild or want to improve their properties. It is obvious the board put a lot of time, thought and expense to this, however, unless you can clearly explain what is broken and what you are trying to achieve and the majority community agrees upfront to change the bylaws to reflect that, I would hope we wouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken.
May 23, 2020 at 5:51 pm #4134Brad MandelParticipant
Dear Miles Weigold, Diane Rosenberg and Karen Castle,
You are the main folks in charge of the bylaws and building committee. I am not a lawyer so i don’t understand much of the legal jargon on the website about our bylaws. I and many members of the community want to know what you want changed and why. The big question is would the changed bylaws allow us to rebuild our homes as is should we get hit by a massive storm – yes or no?
May 23, 2020 at 7:11 pm #4135Miles WeigoldKeymaster
Tower Shores Owners,
The committee working to update the Governing Documents of the TSBA completed our work earlier this week. As a reminder, the Governing Documents consist of the Bylaws, Restrictive Covenants and Articles of Incorporation. We focused on only the Bylaws and Restrictive Covenants; the Articles are static and no changes are needed. The Bylaws define how the TSBA is set up. The Restrictive Covenants define how the TSBA operates and what is/isn’t allowed. The proposed revisions to the Bylaws and the Restrictive Covenants were sent to the TSBA Board for their review and approval. Once approved, they will replace the documents now on this website under “Homeowners”. Email notification of the posting will be sent to all owners.
The documents will be in the same three column format as those currently the website. We feel this is the best way to present the proposed changes and the easiest to review. The columns are “original document”, “proposed changes” and “rationale for change”. We are asking all owners to review the proposed changes once posted and to offer comments. The goal is to finalize both documents and have owners vote to approve at the next Annual Meeting in the Fall.
To the points made in previous posts above: The committee is made up of Tower Shores owners who are just as interested in protecting owners rights as is everyone. To Miriam’s point, this language was changed in the most recent version; see below. To Brad’s comment, these documents are not “legal jargon” but the documents that “run with the land” for each property in Tower Shores. The format of the documents will should make clear “what is being changed and why”. The Restrictive Covenants, not the Bylaws, clearly define what is and isn’t allowed re: rebuilding and setback requirements.
Specifically regarding rebuilding should it become necessary, the proposed language, not yet approved by the TSBA Board, reads in part: (G) In the case that a building on a designated R-1 or R-2 Lot is not in conformity with these setbacks at the time of the adoption of this version of these Restrictive Covenants, it will not be considered to be in violation of the Restrictive Covenants. Furthermore, the existing setbacks will be considered the setbacks for that lot, and if damage were sustained as to require re-building, such setbacks shall be honored. R-1 and R-2 lots are 90 of the 92 lots in Tower Shores. The remaining two are commercial lots where Matt’s Fish Camp is located.
The committee looks forward to careful review and approval of the proposed changes by all owners and to responding to any and all questions.
May 24, 2020 at 1:06 pm #4136
Thank you for your response, and thank you for the selfless efforts of yourself, Diane Rosenberg, Karen Castle, Matt Krafft, and Tom Seamon on the committee. I remain concerned regarding this “wholesale changing” of the Restrictive Covenants. I am unaware of the specific issues that the committee is addressing that “requires” a revamping of all of the Restrictive Covenants. As you can tell by the multiple postings regarding this issue, many owners remain confused by the need for the extent of the changes. I would like to restate some of Jim Croker’s comments from his May 11th posting because I believe they are very relevant to this project, but Jim posted to a different subject:
“With respect to the existing proposals, I think they are objectionable in numerous respects and unnecessary in most, and I am aware of a number of other owners that object to various aspects of the proposals as well (and the entire project). As everyone who has been a Tower Shores owner over the last decade knows, we have had various Boards submit proposed amendments to the bylaws/covenants/rules. The community has never asked the Board to undertake these projects. While there may be some silent support, each time there have been substantial objections. My recollection is that at one meeting there was a vote passed not to spend any more money on the project (which may or may not have been ignored by the Board). I don’t think that the problems have been a function of membership of the Board. I think that if any small group of us decided what we might think the bylaws/covenants/rules should be, we would not be aware of the perspectives and special circumstances of many other members of the community. I am not opposed to improving our bylaws/covenants/rules, but rather than continue this iterative process of having the Board prepare proposals that do not reflect community guidance or support and redoing the proposals after the objections roll in, I think we should start with determining whether the community wants amendments to address particular issues and proceeding to draft and vote only on amendments that the community has already supported.”
As Jim states, if there are objections to individual covenants, lets determine whether the community wants amendments to address those specific covenants and proceed to draft and vote only on amendments that the community has already supported.
July 12, 2020 at 1:23 pm #4673Adena AdlerParticipant
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
July 12, 2020 at 11:22 pm #4678
I appreciate Adena’s write-up. It is in depth, well thought out and, by and large, consistent with the feedback I’ve received from multiple other Tower Shores owners.
I am confused as to why this issue continues to be on the agenda for the July 13th Board Meeting. I was a listener on the conference call that was the last Board Meeting. When the bylaws/covenants/rules project was addressed during that board meeting I thought that I understood Ken Hunter’s comments and guidance to the committee to be to focus only on “required changes”…recognizing that there had been multiple issues raised in the Forum and in other discussions regarding the confusion over why the need for extensive changes. As Adena has addressed, if there are objections to current individual covenants, lets determine whether the community wants amendments to address those specific covenants and proceed to draft and vote only on amendments that the community has already supported.
July 13, 2020 at 12:44 am #4680James CrawfordParticipant
I’ve read through the proposed changes to the Bylaws and Restrictive Covenants, as well as TITLE 25 – CHAPTER 81. Delaware Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act – Subchapter I (perusing state & federal laws wherein the first half is devoted to definitions is a painful experience). While the proposed changes TSBA is pushing don’t strike me being out of line, I think a good approach to any major change is: “Don’t Rush to Failure.” If all TSBA plans on doing tomorrow night is deciding whether these changes should be put to community vote, that is good and my informal vote is YES.
If memory serves me, this is not the first time such changes have been proposed. Those efforts, while well-intentioned, came to a bad end primarily because the community did not understand the changes — what they were; why it was important to make them; the positive benefits of the changes; and finally, any down-side that might result from failing to adopt the proposed new rules.
My advice to TSBA, FWIW: Slow down. Take the time to explain your rationale, and answer the many good questions asked, such as those of Ms. Adler.
July 13, 2020 at 3:00 pm #4683Diane RosenbergParticipant
All: please attend the call tonight as well as read my respond to Adena’s email. We have removed any restrictions to rebuilding your unit to simply abiding by Delaware/Sussex County law. The documents were not compliant, out of date and unable to enforce any provision without filing a lawsuit. We wanted to remove that as the only option without adding fines. It is difficult when a community of different style homes, lifestyles, wants and needs never agree. But if you look at the current documents, proposed edits and understand why there are changes, you will see that the changes are nominal and minimal as to your ownership.
Feel free to contact me today to ask questions, or discuss a section that you do not understand.
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