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OP Bylaws talks candidate criteria details

By Greg Ellison

(Dec. 23, 2021) Potential tweaks to qualification criteria for Ocean Pines Board of Directors candidates were examined by the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee last Friday.

Committee Chair Jim Trummel said member Keith Kaiser recently conducted research on comparable HOAs’ rules.

“A couple of committee meetings ago … the issue of determining owner of record first came to us to consider,” he said.

After hearing Trummel suggest that revising candidate qualifications could involve further issues, Kaiser delved deeper into the subject.

“I was curious what other HOAs have for candidates,” he said.

Kaiser subsequently compiled a list of qualification criteria found consistently in a number of organizations.

“The first issue related to owner of record,” he said.

While the requirement was commonplace in many instances, it took a back seat to residency rules.

“More emphasis was put on living in the community,” he said. “All of these documents I reviewed that brought it up preferred to prioritize residency over ownership.”

In other instances, property owners who primarily lived elsewhere were looked upon as investors.

“An investor is going to have a different context within which to make decisions than a resident who lives in Ocean Pines,” he said. “The motivations could be different.”

The percentage of ownership was typically not deemed crucial.

“As long as you can prove you’re an owner of record, either whole or in part, that box gets checked,” he said.

Other commonly cited candidate rules included prohibiting spouses or property co-owners from simultaneous board service.

Convicted felons were also frowned upon.

“It seems reasonable to consider if the board candidate themselves has a felony record,” he said.

Other criteria commonly excluding candidates included residents engaged in litigation with the homeowners’ association.

Kaiser said indoctrination training or signed documentation pledging to abide by governance rules was also cited by a number of organizations.

Trummel noted current bylaws provisions require candidates to be an owner of record by Jan. 1 of the election year.

“Someone who only owned, but maybe not lived here, from Jan. 1 to May 15 could qualify,” he said.

Trummel said requiring residency for board candidates would involve amending governing documents.

“Living in the community versus ownership as a practical matter, that’s going to be hard to revise,” he said.

Board liaison Colette Horn, who was a part-time resident when initially elected, said the rule change would have prevented her candidacy.

“On a personal note, changing that would have disqualified me as a candidate,” she said.

In terms of governance document processes, Trummel said declaration of restrictions outline criteria for being an association member.

“In bylaws, being a candidate for the board is expressed as being a member,” he said. “Quite frankly, ‘owner of record’ should be replaced by the word ‘member’ but that’s a separate subject.”

Kaiser said amending candidate rules could likely be accomplished without changes to the declaration of restrictions.

“The DORs specify what a member is but … does not specify what the requirements to be a board candidate are,” he said.

Kaiser said altering bylaws provisions for board candidates would likely enhance the membership concept.

Committee member Lora Pangratz suggested including a requirement for board candidates to serve on an advisory committee prior to running.

Trummel recommended members revisit the topic during a future meeting to assure consensus prior to offering proposals to the board.