The Vote, Simplified

Let’s break down and simplify what these three votes are all about in Glenwood Estates. If you want to review our By-Laws and Restrictions in full, visit glenwoodestates.org/restrictions.

This very process is proof that affecting change in our neighborhood is cumbersome, complex and at times confusing. If we have to undertake this process for everything on our homeowners' wish list, forward movement will take years. After all, votes such as this have been attempted and failed at least twice before. But by working together to eliminate these long-term barriers to change, our Board and Member homeowners can meaningfully partner to rewrite the rules together, better reflecting our needs today and in the future.

Let's walk through the three Revisions, step by step.

Revision 1 says:
I agree that as a homeowner in Glenwood Estates, I shall be required to be a member of the Glenwood Estates Homeowner’s Association (the “Association”) and agree that as of the date hereof, (i) I am hereby a member of the Association; and (ii) am bound by the ByLaws of the Association (the “By­Laws”), as hereinafter amended.

Why is this important?
This is the big one.

Those who sidestep our By-Laws and the dues detailed within (and often, our Restrictions) could cite the gray area of our current By-Laws, specifically Article III – Membership Dues, Section 1 which says:

“The membership of this association shall be open to all of the property owners of the subdivision, each member household shall be entitled to one vote and a majority of the members of the association shall constitute a quorum.”

As it stands, if membership “shall be open to all of the property owners of the subdivision,” then those who avoid paying dues may argue that they have opted not to be Members of the HOA since it is not explicitly stated that homeowners are required to be Members.

To address this, we must vote YES to require all homeowners to be Members.

Hypothetically, if you complained that your neighbor has three feet of weeds in his yard, shutters falling off his windows and a car on cement blocks in his driveway, our Restrictions Director would have a conversation with him. If he failed to correct the situation, we may get the Village involved if ordinances are being violated. Beyond that, if challenged in court, the violator might assert that he has not chosen to be a member of the HOA and is therefore not subject to our rules. Strictly viewed, our By-Laws speak about "members" and the Restrictions speak about "lot owners," but the danger lies in interpretation of the two separate documents.

As a Member, you are agreeing to follow the rules as they stand as well as the changes this vote is enacting. Please understand that if these measures pass, the Board will work with homeowners to define a grace period between this vote and the ratification of the new Restrictions we will craft together this fall.

This measure is about compromise. After a successful YES vote, we will send a survey to all homeowners to better understand their specific desires around the new Restrictions. We will then draft said Revisions. Finally, homeowners will again vote to formally ratify those amended Restrictions. 

The bottom line is that your YES vote for Revision 1 has the power to close a hazy loophole once and for all. It’s a 50-year oversight we must correct.

Revision 2 says:
I agree that all members of the Association shall be required to pay the annual dues as outlined in the applicable Restrictions of record and By-Laws.

Why is this important?
This one is pretty clear. Members of the HOA pay annual dues to support the subdivision. In the By-Laws, Article III, Section 2 says:

“The amount of dues shall be reviewed annually, and increased dues, or special assessments, at any time after the adoption of these by-laws, shall be assessed upon the approval of two-thirds of the members present at any regular or special meeting called to consider such increased dues or assessments. Dues for new memberships in the association after November 1st will be one-half the annual rate. Dues for social memberships shall be assessed at one-third the annual full membership rate. All dues and assessments are due and payable on or before thirty (30) days mailed notice thereof. Failure to pay same within said period shall be grounds for expulsion from membership in the association. Current full membership dues are seventy-five dollars ($75.00) per year per household.”

The social memberships mentioned are an original provision for rental properties that renters do not currently pursue.

Revision 3 says:
I agree that the By-Laws and Restrictions may be changed by a 2/3 vote of all attending members of a special meeting of the Association.

Why is this important?
Currently, only our By-Laws may be changed by such a meeting as indicated in Article V, Amendments:

“The by-laws as put forth in these papers may be amended by a two-thirds majority of members present at a general meeting of the association. Notice of the meeting and proposed amendments must be sent to all members ten (10) days prior to meeting.”

However, Restrictions changes – really the nuts and bolts of how well we take care of our neighborhood – require a much more complicated process that is cumbersome.

Currently, anything we want to add, remove or change whatsoever in our Restrictions carries a burden so challenging that we have been unable to enact any changes in 50 years. 

This is detailed in section 25 of the Restrictions:

"Covenants and restrictions; these covenants and restrictions are to run with the land and shall be binding on the parties hereto, their heirs and assigns, and all persons claiming by, through or under any of them for a period of 25 years from the date of recordation hereof, after which time the same shall be automatically extended for successive periods of 10 years, unless an instrument in writing signed by two-thirds of the then owners of lots has been recorded showing the change or changes agreed to by said two-thirds. Two-thirds of the property owners within the subdivision may at any time while these restrictions remain in force, form under the laws of the State of Illinois, a non-profit cooperative corporation without capital corporation stock, but with one share appurtenant to each lot in the subdivision. Such corporation stock, when formed, shall have the power to interrupt and enforce the conditions, covenants and charges set forth in this declaration. This restriction agreement may be modified and amended at any time the agreement is in force by suitable instrument executed and acknowledged by two-thirds of the then owners of the lots in said subdivision and duly recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for Madison County, State of Illinois.”

In 1966 when the first set of restrictions were drawn, there was one section of the neighborhood:  Glenwood Estates. In years since, eight additions were added (Additions 1 through 7 and then Sherwood on the Lake). As such – yet again – it gets hazy:  is today's requirement two-thirds majority of property owners overall or two-thirds majority of property owners in each addition?

As previously stated, similar attempts have been made to amend the issues we are facing today in years past. And in one instance, the Association had the necessary votes from two thirds majority of all property owners, but when voting tabulations were broken down further, the same majority did not exist within each addition. So what was first a voting threshold for just one section in 1966 has become the threshold for nine sections. The bottom line:  we are stuck with what we have until homeowners vote otherwise.

By voting YES for Revision 3, we overcome the single greatest obstacle for future change by aligning the vote criteria for Restrictions with current requirements for By-Laws changes - a 2/3 majority of Members present at a special meeting of the Association. 

For residents who worry that they may not be able to attend a special meeting, please know that you will receive at least ten (10) days' notice of any such meeting and that if you are unable to attend, proxy voting will be permitted.

Recapping:

  1. YES, I'm a Member and I'll follow the rules.
  2. YES, as a Member, I will pay my annual dues.
  3. And YES, I will have the power to help change the rules with my vote - proxy or otherwise - at a meeting that will be announced to all Members at least 10 days in advance.