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CCOC Decision Summary

#506-O, Kessel v. Kenwood Forest I Condominium (January 9, 2002) (Panel: Stevens, Huggins, Weiss)

A condominium unit owner (CO) filed a complaint against her condominium association (CA), asking to have the CA ordered to tell her next-door neighbor to remove a new fence and stairway that the neighbor had built but which had not been properly approved under the CA's procedures.

The evidence at the hearing showed that the next-door neighbor applied for permission to the CA to remove and replace a fence and outdoor stairs.The CO objected to this application, and the architectural committee chairman denied the application but suggested changes that could make it more likely to be approved.Nonetheless, the neighbor, apparently misunderstanding the situation, proceeded to construct the fence and stairs, and submitted an emergency application for them, which the CA approved.There were factual disputes over the extent to which the new fence was identical to the old one and the extent to which County Building Code provisions required the stairway to be different from the details approved by the CA.The CO continued to object to the new structures as in violation of the rules.The CA then ordered the neighbor to remove or rebuild the stairs, which he refused to do.Subsequently, the CA voted not to pursue the matter further.

The hearing panel concluded that the CA had not followed the procedures of its own bylaws regulating exterior alterations and misunderstood what its own rules required.Nonetheless, the final action of the board of directors to allow the work to stand was reasonable under all the facts of the case and was within the legal authority of the board to make.Under the decision of the Court of Special Appeals in Black v. Fox Hills North Community Association, 599 A.2d 1228 (Md. App. 1992), the decision of a board of directors must be upheld if it is authorized and there is no showing of fraud, self-dealing or unconscionable conduct.Therefore the panel ordered that the complaint be dismissed.

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