News 5 Investigates

Jan 23, 2014 3:04 AM by Andy Koen

News 5 Guardians: Renegade HOA delays action on flawed bylaws

FALCON - The members of the Woodmen Hills Filing Number 11 Design Review Council board of directors postponed taking formal action to bring their bylaws into compliance with state law during their monthly meeting Wednesday night at Falcon High School.

The News 5 Guardians previously exposed how the existing document excludes homeowners from membership within the association, prohibits them from electing of board members and gives no written due process protection for homeowners to challenge covenant violations. All are examples of violations of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA,) which governs homeowners associations.

However, the Design Review Council and its attorneys claim to be exempt from the law because they collect less than $400 in annual dues. They say such a low assessment technically makes them a Limited Expense Planned Community.

We searched property records and court filings and found the Design Review Council aggressively collects on their $100 annual assessments. Between December of 2007 and November of 2013 they filed 225 liens against delinquent non-member homeowners. The council sued 126 of those property owners and began foreclosures on five of them. Chris and Amanda Wright had to move out after losing their foreclosure case back in July.

After our series of investigative reports aired, board member Micah Howell emailed a statement asserting that homeowners within the Design Review Council are invited to attend board meetings.

"We operate with transparency," the statement reads.

Yet when the News 5 Guardians arrived to cover the board meeting, we were confronted by Howell, board president Joshua Killet and their attorney Jerry Orten. They told us they were holding a private meeting for homeowners and that we could not attend.

Homeowners associations are exempt from having to hold open meetings under the CCIOA law. We explained that because the Design Review Council told us they are exempt from CCIOA that we intended to stay.

The board asked the homeowners who were present to vote on the issue and a majority decided that the meeting should continue with News 5 and other members of the media in attendance.

The board then gave the homeowners a chance to speak their minds. Ron Pace asked the board to immediately change their bylaws to comply with CCIOA. He pointed out that the existing bylaws give the board the authority to amend that document at any regularly scheduled meeting.

"My request is this; it's real simple, you can amend the bylaws right now. All it requires is a convening of the board which is here right now, the rest will fix itself," Pace said.

The board was given a copy of amended bylaws that a previous board had prepared in 2010. Former board president Jennifer Helland was intimately familiar with those bylaws because she had written them along with a new version of covenants.

She expressed frustration with the apathy shown by homeowners in the Design Review Council because they failed rally the 67 percent of homeowners needed to vote to implement new covenants.

"I invested time, along with some of these members and former members to try to get these new bylaws and covenants adopted," she said. "They failed, and they failed because the homeowners failed to respond to the vote."

However, the bylaws (not the covenants) are what restrict homeowners from being able to vote to change that document. The issued died without a board motion to consider a change.

Board member Howell said he wanted to notify homeowners of any proposed changes before acting unilaterally.

The board did vote to hire Orten, Cavanaugh and Holmes LLC to be their full time lawyers. They had previously been retained to simply take delinquent homeowners to court to collect on debts.

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