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OP Bylaws examines candidate rule tweaks

Proposed changes would require board review, with final referendum approval

By Greg Ellison

(Jan. 13, 2022) Amending governing documents to clarify election eligibility requirements for candidates for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors was the focus of the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee meeting last Friday.

Committee member Steve Jacobs reviewed possible amendments to bylaws section 5.02 concerning candidate requirements, and said the changes were drafted in conjunction with committee member Keith Kaiser. He said the changes attempt to resolve conflicts in the declaration of restrictions and association charter rules for board elections.

“It struck us as worthwhile to have this be the principal section to refer to,” he said.

In addition to proposed revisions to section 5.02, Kaiser took lead on drafting a revised board candidate registration form.

“We were trying to find a way to address the whole list of things that people we’re bringing forward as considerations for board candidacy,” he said.

The proposals include amending section 5.02a to specify that candidates be listed as property owner on Worcester County land records and Maryland Department of Assessment taxation rolls.

Committee Chairman Jim Trummel said current bylaws provisions do not reference county land records.

Other language additions would restrict board candidacy of members whose property is owned by a corporation, LLC or partnership.

Jacobs said the matter warrants review by legal counsel.

Further additions include language to address the process for disqualification of board candidates.

Jacobs said the intent is for the association secretary, who oversees candidate applications, to inform the board of any controversial issues that arise during the election process.

“It gives the candidate the ability for notice and comment,” he said.

Committee member Lora Pangratz questioned the wisdom of assigning sole responsibility for candidacy matters to the secretary, proposing at least two board members investigate any issues pertaining to disqualification

“It’s putting a lot of responsibility on one person,” she said.

Trummel recommended drafting bylaws language requiring current board members running for re-election to recuse from voting on motions for disqualification of fellow candidates.

All committee members concurred on the suggestion.

Trummel also recommended deleting the term “owner of record” from bylaws language, suggesting to reference “member” for candidate rules.

“Member is used throughout the bylaws,” he said.

Turning to the revised candidate application form, Kaiser said the goal is to provide a more thorough registration procedure that lightens the secretary’s task list.

“For the property ownership issue … it would state if your name is not on the deed, it’s your responsibility to provide documentation to … prove that you are owner,” he said. “It puts it on the candidate and not on secretary to figure it out.”

Jacobs said the proposed revisions reflect most of the suggested changes that arose out of the lawsuit brought by Rick Farr after he was disqualified in mid-campaign during the 2021 election.

“If this was in the bylaws and had been followed some of the controversy could have been avoided,” he said.

The bylaws revisions will be forwarded to OPA Attorney Jeremy Tucker for review prior to the next board meeting on Jan. 22. Any changes to bylaws provisions would require a majority vote of residents through a referendum.

The next Bylaws Committee virtual meeting is Jan 21 at 1 p.m.