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CCOC Decision Summary

#263-G, Haddonfield Homeowners Association v. Tyra (September 29, 1995) (Panel: Savage, Burstyn, Price)

The homeowners association (HOA) asked for an order that the homeowner (HO) remove a storm door he had added without approval.

The evidence at the hearing showed that the HOA Declaration prohibited any change to the exterior of the dwelling without the prior approval of the HOA.  The HO was well aware of this requirement, having in the past constructed several changes to his dwelling and property with HOA approval.  In 1992 he added a storm door without asking prior approval.  In April, 1993, the HOA notified him that the architectural committee had met and decided the storm door violated the rules.  There was no advance notice to any other person of this meeting and neither the HO nor any other resident was invited to attend it.  The HO then appealed this ruling to the Board., and the Board scheduled a special meeting with the HO, the Board and the architectural committee in response; but the board gave no notice to the other community members of this meeting, which was held June 17, 1993.  After this special meeting, the Board, in November, 1995, notified the HO that it had voted to uphold the architectural committee's decision and ordered the HO to remove his door.  The evidence further showed that the HOA did not file its governing documents into the Homeowner Association Depository until June 17, 1993.

The hearing panel found that the HO had violated the Declaration by not applying for permission to install the storm door; however, it also ruled that the HOA's rules, regulations and bylaws were invalid as applied to the HO because they had not been properly filed at the time that the HOA's architectural committee ruled that the HO was in violation.  Section 11B-112 states that rules which must be filed in the Depository are unenforceable until properly filed.  The HOA could not begin to take action based on those documents until they were filed.

The hearing panel found that the HOA could have taken action against the HO based on its Declaration, which did not have to be filed in the Depository.  However, the HOA failed to give proper notice of the architectural committee meeting, and of the special board meeting, to the members, and by failing to do so it violated Section 11B-111, which requires that all meetings of the HOA be open to the members, who are to be given reasonable advance notice of them; by violating this law, the HOA denied due process to the HO as well as to other members who might be affected by its decisions.  "The right to an open meeting protects all of the parties against the arbitrary and capricious actions on the part of a few and may give rise to new and fresh information from parties familiar with or affected by the issues to be decided."

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