Important Member Meeting March 26th
Dear Stella Maris Homeowners:
As you may be aware, we could not pass the two proposed amendments at the annual meeting this year because we did not meet the voting requirements. Our Articles of Incorporation and Declaration of Covenants require that 2/3 of the voting interests approve an amendment in order to change the language in our Articles. Therefore, we must have 34 of our 50 residents vote in favor of the amendment. This can be done in person or by proxy vote. As a reminder, only one vote per residence is counted.
Since we were unable to pass the amendments at the Annual meeting, the Board of Directors voted at the March 5, 2019 board meeting, to hold a Special Membership meeting on March 26, 2019 at 10 am in the Egret Room at the Port of the Islands hotel. The purpose of this meeting to is vote on the two amendments.
As the Board president, I personally ask you to attend this important meeting. If you cannot attend please submit a proxy vote. Your vote is critical to keep our Association running and moving forward for the benefit of all our residents.
The actual language changes to both amendments will be mailed out to you. However, I did want to give you background on each of the amendments.
The first amendment would be to Section 8.3 of the Articles. This amendment addresses the maintenance of lawns and common areas. Currently 8.3 simply states that the Association must take care of lawns and the landscaping in the common areas.
Over the years there has been a misunderstanding of what is meant by “lawns and the landscaping in common areas.”
We believe, and our outside counsel agrees, that the language is clear:
1. The Association must take care of all the lawns, both private and common.
2. The Association must take care of the landscaping in common areas only.
The current language does not state that the Association must take care of landscaping (shrubs, trees, bushes, etc.) on private property.
However, the Board has adopted a policy of taking care of residents private landscaping and we entered into a contract with Big Cypress for lawn and landscape maintenance. Only Trees on common areas are included in the agreement. Trees on private property have always been the responsibility of the homeowner.
There is one exception to Trees. The Board may require that a homeowner remove a tree where it is a hazard to any building or the property of another resident. If the homeowner refuses to remove a tree, then the Board can have the tree removed and bill the resident. For the protection of our residents and property this is currently allowed under the documents.
Since the Board adopted the policy of maintaining the landscaping of private residences a future Board could decide they no longer want to maintain the landscaping on private property. Right now, this is completely up to the Board.
Purpose to the proposed amendment:
1. To include landscaping maintenance of private residences in the bylaws so that a future Board cannot decide to stop the practice of shrubbery and plant maintenance for private residences without a full member vote.
2. To better communicate the responsibilities of trees and the process for tree removal. (As I explained above the proposed language does not broaden the rights the Association already has.)
3. To address landscaping in enclosed areas. The Association does not maintain any landscaping in enclosed areas. (This is currently in of documents and the amendment does not change current practice.)
4. To allow owners to maintain their own yard to the extent that they wish. However, they cannot opt out of their share of paying for the Associations lawn and landscaping fees. (This is current practice and does not change existing practice. You may do your own landscaping and may choose not to do your landscaping at any time.)
5. To highlight that material changes must be approve. (This is currently required so there is no change to current documents.)
6. To allow residents to place stones and other material in the thin strip of grass between driveways with ACC approval. Currently the document language only allows grass everywhere but on walkways and driveways. Right now, the language does not allow stones and other materials instead of grass.
The Second Amendment addresses Section 11.12, Mail Boxes. The amendment will change the responsibility for mail box replacement and maintenance from the residents to the Association.
1. To create a uniform, clean and neat appearance to all the mail boxes in the neighborhood;
2. To provide a cost effective, maintenance free mail boxes for all residents;
3. To eliminate to need to send constant reminders to residents for mail box painting and maintenance;
4. To replace the current metal mail boxes with a cooler, more durable, heat resistant mail box.
I hope this letter helps clarify what the proposed amendments seek to change. The Board and the Documents Committee are in favor of passing these amendments. We believe that both amendments will better communicate the responsibilities of the Association and its residents.
I look forward to having each of you attend the March 26th meeting by proxy or in person.
Cindy Beauchamp, President, SMMHOA