Every vote counts, so please make an effort to return your ballot by this saturday, October 1. You may:
Download a new one right here if you have misplaced yours.
Mail it to the Glenwood Estates Association, PO Box 433, Glen Carbon, IL 62034
Drop it off or place it in my mailbox at 42 Glen Echo
Ask me to pick it up from you. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618.288.2921
Give it to your Street Captain
History has shown that it has been necessary to make changes to even our most sacred national document, the US Constitution, from time to time. The first ten amendments - the Bill of Rights - were ratified just 3 years after the Constitution. Yet, on an infinitely smaller scale, our neighborhood community has been unable to amend our rules for over 50 years. Why does it matter?
- Rules created for Glenwood Estates 50 years ago in 1966 for just 37 lots remain unchanged and now govern 276 lots in 9 separate sections.
- Gray areas, oversights and incredibly strict processes have prevented our neighborhood from making even a single update to these rules to better reflect our needs, placing us at a distinct disadvantage compared to any number of other area subdivisions.
- By working together, our homeowners have the power to overcome these challenges and help move our neighborhood forward.
The first development in Glenwood Estates was ratified in July 1966. At that time, two separate documents were created to govern this development: our By-Laws and our Restrictions.
The first document, our By-Laws, define the purpose of the Glenwood Estates Homeowners Association, its Membership and more. Since day one, the process for amending these By-Laws has required a 2/3 majority vote among Members present at a meeting of the Association.
The second document, our Restrictions, details the rules we are asked to follow as lot owners, including lawn maintenance, tool storage, street parking and other measures. Unlike our By-Laws, these Restrictions state that they may only be amended by a 2/3 majority vote of all lot owners in the subdivision. At the time that these Restrictions were created, “all lot owners” consisted of the owners of just that first development: 37 lots.
Since 1966, seven additions have been made to Glenwood Estates, plus Sherwood on the Lake. Five decades later, the exact same rules that once governed just 37 lots in one section now govern 276 lots in nine sections, a nearly 750% increase. Feel free to view the map right here.
How Past Oversights Impact Us
Our By-Laws offer a loose definition of a Member. They say “the membership of this association shall be open to all of the property owners of the subdivision.” The phrase “shall be open to” does not explicitly require homeowners to be Members. This oversight is highly irregular in Homeowners’ Associations and it provides an out for adhering to the By-Laws, including payment of dues that are essential to supporting our neighborhood as it ages and as costs rise. In an average year, between 15-25% of homeowners fail to pay dues.
Restrictions differ as they apply to all lot owners, not just Members. As such, lot owners are and have always been legally bound to the Restrictions. However, in rare occasions when Restrictions are egregiously violated and the situation escalates to a court of law, the concern is that the difference between Association Membership as detailed in the By-Laws and the lot ownership criteria present within the Restrictions is confusing and could be more open to interpretation than is ideal.
These issues have made consistent enforcement of By-Laws and Restrictions challenging and have rendered any updates to the Restrictions impossible for literally 50 years.
How We Can Set Things Right
An attorney specializing in Homeowners’ associations advised the Glenwood Estates Association to conduct a formal neighborhood vote. As noted, our Restrictions require the 2/3 majority vote of all lot owners to be amended, but a judge in the past interpreted that we needed 2/3 majority of all homeowners in each of the nine sections. This is an incredibly high threshold to meet, but we are pursuing it to eliminate potential for doubt or room for interpretation. This vote is comprised of three Revisions.
- Revision 1
A vote in favor of this revision eliminates the out within our By-Laws by requiring all homeowners to be Members of the Association.
- Revision 2
A vote in favor of this revision agrees that all Members of the Association shall be required to pay annual dues.
- Revision 3
A vote in favor of this revision aligns the voting criteria for changing Restrictions with that of changing By-Laws: a 2/3 majority of attending Members at a meeting of the Association.
Arguments Against These Updates
Some are uncomfortable permitting Restrictions to be amended through a two-thirds majority vote of those present at an Association meeting, citing concerns that they do not want a small minority of voters representing the entire neighborhood. However, everyone will have an opportunity for their voice to be heard. First, as is currently noted in the By-Laws, notice of the meeting and proposed amendments must be sent to all Members ten (10) days prior to meeting. Secondly, proxy votes will be legally acceptable for those unable to attend. In short, there will be no surprises.
Others have argued that we should first propose detailed amendments to our Restrictions before this vote. Unfortunately, we have failed for over 50 years to amend even a single restriction because of the incredibly stringent voting criteria currently required. Consider the complexity in just passing these three Revisions and the fact that our Restrictions currently contains 26 items. If we are so challenged to pass these three revisions, how feasible is it for us to employ this same process to amend over eight times as many? History has proven that we cannot expect progress by using criteria in place that was first created for just 37 homes. Unless we can bring clarity to Membership and simplify the voting threshold, any change now or in the future will remain impossible.
Some opponents are also concerned about stricter enforcement of our current Restrictions immediately following this vote. They have voiced concerns about the removal of sheds, fences and other items prohibited by our current Restrictions. It is not the Board’s intention to take rash action. Currently existing structures or improvements which may be considered in violation of the Restrictions, as amended by an active and informed membership, will not be retroactively enforced and will be grandfathered in. It is not our intent to retroactively enforce rules; however, it is our intent to establish standards which more closely resemble the current needs and desires of our residents. As our community changes and grows, it is incumbent upon us all to define our new Restrictions by working together.
A successful vote in favor of these three Revisions provides Glenwood Estates with absolute clarity, accountability, greater financial stability and reasonable flexibility to evolve to meet our needs now and in the future. We have no idea what the future holds, but by clinging to criteria that have thus far prevented growth, change and evolution for our neighborhood, we are hampering its future.
In today’s world, there is great distrust and there are many bigger issues that we alone as citizens simply cannot solve. And change can be difficult. Many fear it. But this is an initiative created by neighbors to benefit neighbors. Our future now lies solely in our neighbors’ hands. Each of us must make a choice to either accept the status quo or to once and for all take the proper steps necessary to advance our neighborhood for the benefit of all, now and in the future.
Thank you for your careful consideration throughout this process and for your votes in favor of moving Glenwood Estates forward.
Glenwood Estates Association