Working with the HOA to change no-chicken ordinance

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by OmAnNom, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. OmAnNom

    OmAnNom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The time has come to tell our story and ask for help and advice...

    We bought our first home outside the city in a newly constructed housing developement in a 2 day window last December, you army families out there know what that's like...we were not informed of the HOA until after the final signing was finished. Come spring, my husband decided we needed 2 hens for our 1/2 acre of the world. We checked with city & county ordinance, which allow up to 6 hens. Thinking we were well within our rights, we raised our hatchlings. Then the notice came....

    Since we are the ones breaking the rules, we are working very hard to fight fair and work WITH the HOA to change the ordinance, but what do you do when they don't want to play by their own rules??? The neighbors we share a fence with, one of whom is the HOA President, don't mind the hens at all! They are kept very clean and are a quite breed. One of the 3 had no idea we even had them. That being said the president has been trying to work with us to change the ordinance, but the Secretary is dead set against allowing it & coincidentally is the one who "turned us in," (which creeps me out, because she lives on the other side of the developement and would have had to do some serious stalker recon to see them in our backyard) and keeps voting us down in the board vote. So now we have to get the vote of the people at a meeting September 8th. We need 75% of the 100+ homes in the development.

    Problem? Getting 75% of the homeowners to show up to make a vote to happen! Only 20 people showed up to the one and only HOA meeting where the board was "elected" when the developer handed over the HOA. Has anyone encountered something similar? What worked for you? I'm really tired of dealing with these people already. It's a military town, most neighbors will be gone in 1-4 years. We're here for 10 & have already invest a lot of time and money in our property. I don't appreciate being told what I can or can not do by one bitter army wife that can't even edge her lawn or weed her flower bed. What happens if we can't get the homeowners to show up to vote? One crazy lady gets to dictate the HOA ordinance? The HOA is supposed to be for all of us. Help.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  2. allieloveschickens

    allieloveschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe you could go around door to door and ask folks for their support, maybe bring some eggs or baked goods- I bet you could round up some support. Good luck!
     
  3. OmAnNom

    OmAnNom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just got my first egg today! Haha, I wish I had more to use as bribes! My husband is gone for work 200+ days a year, going door to door to 100 homes is going to be a massive feat for one... But that may be my best option [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  4. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think there might be some suggestions for how to organize on this web site: http://www.salemchickens.com/

    Good
    luck! Some people have completely wrong-headed pre-conceived notions about chickens and it's hard to persuade them when they don't want to listen. Hopefully you can arm yourself with statistics and photographs that show how clean and quiet a backyard flock can be. Many people I know have been amazed at how glossy and beautiful my chickens are - they expect filth and disease and are completely won over when they handle my birds and see how clean our coop is.
     
  5. mrsbos

    mrsbos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! As president of our HOA, I may have some helpful info. We too, cannot get more than 10 people out of 92 homes to show up at HOA meetings to vote, yet we have to have a quorum each year to approve our annual budget. The only way we ever get anything passed, is to use a voter proxy form. It is a form in which a person marks their vote, and then signs their name authorizing another person to present their vote at the meeting. Our board (+ some volunteers) goes door to door with these forms and has each household vote right then and there, and then they sign their authorization for the volunteer to turn the vote in at the meeting. We canvas the neighborhood gathering votes until we have the minimum number we need to pass something, and then we don't bother collecting any more. It's a grueling task, gathering votes, but the method might work for you. That way, you could also plead your case on an individual basis, and maybe dispel any concerns any neighbors had, and get them to vote in your favor.

    I know about the hassles of the HOA, which is the ONLY reason I'm president...to protect the welfare of my chickens. Our CC&Rs allow dogs, cats, "caged birds", and tanked fish, and do not specifically prohibit poultry, but I wanted to play it safe.

    Good luck! Your family serves our country.....you ought to be allowed to have a couple of chickens!
     
  6. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Read your state laws relating to HOAs (they may be called planned communities or something else, so check carefully). In Arizona proxy voting is illegal; however, absentee ballots are required. Also, a valid election must be held every year, meaning that whatever consttutes a quorum must vote, or the association must have a 2nd election. There have been many times over the last 5 1/2 years I have been on the board that I closely kept track of who had voted (not how--just that they had turned in a ballot in a sealed envelope), and kept calling and appealing to those who had not yet turned one in.

    Read your documents to see exactly what is required to make changes. Typically the board cannot change the CC&Rs, but can create and change rules. Think of it as the CC&Rs being similar to the Constitution, and the rules as being like laws passed by congress.

    One board member normally cannot prevent a motion from passing. Generally, it takes a majority of the quorum (usually a majority of the board) present for a motion to pass, and a lack of a majority for it to fail. Only if there are only two people voting can a single person prevent the motion from passing, so it sounds like you probably have other board members who are also opposed. Have you attended the board meetings? You probably have the right to do so, and also the right to formally address the board.

    You need to see what your documents and state law require for getting the measure on the ballot. A single request is not likely to do it, especially if you do not have the support of the board. With support of a percentage of the association (here it would be 25% for a 100+ association, 10% for 1000+ member associations) to force a measure onto the ballot or to force a special election.

    Also, consider running for the board--especially since you plan to be there for the long haul, unlike what you expect from many of your neighbors.
     
  7. OmAnNom

    OmAnNom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One board member normally cannot prevent a motion from passing. Generally, it takes a majority of the quorum (usually a majority of the board) present for a motion to pass, and a lack of a majority for it to fail. Only if there are only two people voting can a single person prevent the motion from passing, so it sounds like you probably have other board members who are also opposed. Have you attended the board meetings? You probably have the right to do so, and also the right to formally address the board.

    You're right. Apparently, the HOA president can not get any other board member to reply to anything she sends out. So the secretary is the only other one voting. There have been no board meetings since the board was established. I've asked that they hold one so that I can go address the board, but they haven't been able to organize one. The only reason there will be a meeting on the 8th is because I have pushed the issue for the last 2 months that they can not evict my chickens without giving Me the opportunity to appeal to either the board nor the people to take ot to a vote. They only communicate via email and the majority of the board never respond - according to the president. There is no way how they were "elected" was legal. I don't want things to get ugly but I really do want to force a fair election if this is how it's going to be. The secretary is creating several issues and trying to unjustly fine people for things the builders did while the HOA was in the hands of the developer (example: home builders constructed fences and she doesn't have record of them "asking for approval," even though all of our fences look exactly the same and the developer lost almost all of the original paper work). It seems like none of this is "legal" or has been handled correctly and I'm scared if everyone doesn't show up to vote on these issues things will never be set right, and "we the people" will never have voice.

    Lots of good advice and things to research. Thank you guys, keep it coming.​
     
  8. dretd

    dretd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ft Collins, CO
    Quote:You're right. Apparently, the HOA president can not get any other board member to reply to anything she sends out. So the secretary is the only other one voting. There have been no board meetings since the board was established. I've asked that they hold one so that I can go address the board, but they haven't been able to organize one. The only reason there will be a meeting on the 8th is because I have pushed the issue for the last 2 months that they can not evict my chickens without giving Me the opportunity to appeal to either the board nor the people to take ot to a vote. They only communicate via email and the majority of the board never respond - according to the president. There is no way how they were "elected" was legal. I don't want things to get ugly but I really do want to force a fair election if this is how it's going to be. The secretary is creating several issues and trying to unjustly fine people for things the builders did while the HOA was in the hands of the developer (example: home builders constructed fences and she doesn't have record of them "asking for approval," even though all of our fences look exactly the same and the developer lost almost all of the original paper work). It seems like none of this is "legal" or has been handled correctly and I'm scared if everyone doesn't show up to vote on these issues things will never be set right, and "we the people" will never have voice.

    Lots of good advice and things to research. Thank you guys, keep it coming.

    Wow, sorry for your troubles. That secretary is what gives HOAs a bad rap and your story is not unique, unfortunately. If it is important to you and you are not having any luck, you may want to at least consult a lawyer versed in this sort of conflict. It may save you a lot of time and aggrevation though lighten your pocket book a bit.

    Best of luck to you!
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  9. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Just to play devil's advocate, it sounds like there are a lot of legalities and formalities that were not followed, and the secretary may be trying to correct those issues.

    Nevertheless, things do appear to "be rotten in the state of Denmark."

    1) Do you have a management company?
    2) Do either state laws or your documents state the frequency of board meetings?
    3) How can board members be removed from office?
    4) Do you have or can you get the phone numbers for each board member?
    5) What does state law (and to a lesser extent) your documents say about the change over from the developer's appointed board to community elected board members?
    6) You seem to feel that the elected board was elected illegally; what are your concerns?
    7) How many board members are there, and do you know what the quorum is for board meetings?
    8) What state are you in (so I can see what I can find regarding your state's laws pertaining to HOAs)?
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  10. calista

    calista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You only need to knock on ONE door -- the bitter biddy who's thwarting you...

    < FANTASY TIME>

    Knock, knock. (You on her door.)

    She opens the door to you standing there with the Human Interest reporter from your local paper behind you, with a cameraman.

    YOU: Bitter Biddy, I'd like to talk to you about why you are so dead-set against backyard chickens as pets in our community when the HOA President isn't against the idea.

    REPORTER (putting mike under BB's nose): Yes, our readers would also like to know how you discovered the chickens when you don't live next door. Were you scared by a chicken as a child? Care to comment?

    (Cameraman zooms in...)

    That scenario, plus getting your proxies, should take care of things! [​IMG]

    I wish you luck and your story is another sad example of why so many people hate HOAs with the same passion I do.
     

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