Friends, Neighbors, Gray Ridge-ians…
Division is a sad thing. Within a large group, there can be splintering into factions which can cause other types of trouble. Within a small group, division can be disastrous. In our small community we stare at an avoidable precipice. Avoidable because we really don’t need to go anywhere near it.
Please allow me to summarize our situation so that my ‘editorializing’ will come in proper context.
Gray Ridge has a Homeowner’s Association, and with it a set of standard covenants and by-laws. These covenants and by-laws were drafted through a law firm and adopted before Stone Martin bought this development. Presumably because there are some lots within Gray Ridge which Stone Martin does not own, they decided to honor and pass along the covenants and by-laws which already governed this community.
Upon reaching a certain quota of residency, control of the HOA was handed over from the contractor who had run it theretofore to the homeowners themselves. This transition took the form of letters being sent to all current residents informing them that if they would like to be involved with the HOA to apply and send resumes. Three people out of the nearly thirty homes here did that. Since the Gray Ridge HOA was designed to have a three member board, all three who applied were appointed to the HOA Board by the outgoing contractor.
The official handover occurred in mid-late July of 2012. Since that time, a few homeowners began bringing up concerns about some of the covenants. To make a long story short, things escalated (I am nominating the preceding sentence for Understatement Of The Year). We now find ourselves in a place where a handful of residents are seeking to remove the Board and/or dissolve the HOA and the Board has been forced to seek legal counsel to properly fulfill their duties to enforce the covenants.
The small neighborhood has become a rhetorical war zone with door to door letter bombing and online salvos being traded.
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife is one of the three women who is serving on the HOA. So, consider that my acknowledgement of viewpoint before I continue.
My request is that we, as a neighborhood, consider a few things…
- The current HOA board took ‘office’ in mid to late July… of this year. There has to be some understanding given to them as they explore and flesh out how best to enforce the covenants.
- Volunteering for and then being appointed (again, in JULY) to the Board did not automatically make these women into experts on our by-laws and covenants. It takes a little time to get a firm grasp on how this thing should work.
- By signing our contracts to build and live here, we agreed to be governed by an HOA and it’s by-laws and covenants.
- However, signing our contracts did not make any of US experts of the by-laws and covenants either.
- There are going to be some expected hiccups, misunderstandings or delays here and there. Remember that the members of the Board are not paid anything and are serving voluntarily. Doing HOA business is not their full-time responsibility.
- HOA’s are not tyrannical nor fascist nor un-American. Rather, they are simply in place to enforce a set of community standards that we all agreed to abide by when we closed on our houses.
- It is a bit presumptuous to believe that any one of us ‘knows better’ than the lawyers who drafted our covenants and by-laws. Perspective is important. They do this for a living.
- Our covenants are mild by objective standards
In closing, I simply want to try and appeal to the better angels of our nature. The current conflict will be over relatively soon. It is time to start looking at the big picture. My prayer is that we can put this behind us, and some years hence, look back and laugh at how we let a silly thing like satellite dishes lead to anger and bullying and harassment and unnecessary conflict. This is not an “us versus them” conflict. I ask forgiveness for indulging in clichés…. but…. there is no us and no them, there is only We. We, the residents of Gray Ridge, working our way through life together and in community with each other. Let us avoid attempting character assassinations of those who don’t agree with us. The idea here is to not harbor negative feelings or resentment towards anyone because we are all neighbors.
The bottom line is simple: the covenants will stand as they are for now, the Board will remain intact, and there will be peace in Gray Ridge once more. That is the endgame and only possible outcome of this current conflict. Moving forward, we will re-examine the possibility of amending some covenants, but we will do so in the proper way suggested by our legal counsel. In the meantime, playing a ‘gotcha’ game of pointing out inconsistencies is neither helpful, nor effective. Give the Board a break, folks.
I am not the type to letter bomb the neighborhood, so these words will probably not even reach any of my neighbors. But, inasmuch as this was an exercise in pointlessness, I still felt I needed to say these things. I leave these words to the whims of the Internet, may it do as it pleases with them.