Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chickens will be allowed in Picardy Pointe

This is a follow-up to the previous post about the vote in Picardy Pointe to amend the covenants to allow or not to allow chickens in the neighborhood. That was the question!

The vote failed but you've got to see this communication that came from the PP Board of Directors. It's rather funny, funnier than the idea of allowing chickens here:

At a Board meeting several months ago, your Board discussed the Town of Cary’s pending approval of an amendment to the Town’s Land Development Ordinance that would permit the keeping of chickens within the city limits. Our discussion focused on the Picardy Pointe Homeowners Association’s (PPHOA) “Declaration of Master Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions” (“Covenants”), which currently would not prevent someone in Picardy Pointe from raising chickens in their backyard once the Town’s ordinance is approved. There was not a consensus on the part of the Board relative to this matter, but there was a unanimous belief that the matter was of sufficient importance that we had an obligation to bring the issue to the attention of every homeowner in the community so action could be taken, if desired, to “grandfather” Picardy Pointe before the ordinance went into effect thus preventing the raising of chickens within our community.

Accordingly, we acted to give the community-at-large an opportunity to vote for or against an amendment to our covenants. Last month you were invited to vote to add (or not add) a provision to the covenants to address poultry, farm animals and domestic pets. The amendment submitted to you for your consideration was chosen because it was language common to many other North Carolina HOAs. It was the Board’s decision to use tried and tested language rather than craft new language that might later be challenged.

Amending our HOA’s covenants requires an affirmative vote of at least 90% of the 197 homeowners in Picardy Pointe. To date, sixty percent of the community has responded by returning ballots. Forty-five percent of the votes cast opposed amending the covenants. Interestingly, this percentage mirrors an informal poll taken within the Board itself when this issue was first discussed several months ago. Based on this community response, the Picardy Pointe covenants will not be amended at this time, which means backyard chickens will be permitted in Picardy Pointe once the Town adopts its new ordinance.

David, Jeff, Drew, Sharon & Rob (The Board of Directors)

Considering only 20 votes against are enough for the any amendment to the covenants to fail (except when the Board changed the covenants to go from fical year of March 1 backwards to a calendar year of January 1 and refused to credit the HOA members with two months of dues), why waste money preparing ballots and the postage to present this amendment when an informal poll taken by the Board predicted the vote?

To the BOD's credit, polls about elections are taken all the time but we still proceed with the elections. But, as far as the language used to cover domestic pets as something tried and tested, how much money was spent on legal advise for that?

This is a typical approach by the Picardy Pointe HOA BOD. Maybe, resignations of all five would be best for the neighborhood except that chickens, if allowed by the Town of Cary, will be allowed in Picardy Pointe, so those five can stay. It gives annual humor to living here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Picardy Pointe BOD plays chicken with chickens

When the Picardy Pointe Board of Directors recently decided to discuss a pending policy of the Town of Cary allowing residents to keep chickens, the "sort-of" leaders of the neighborhood in which I reside took the issue one step too many. In doing so, the group of five, surely along with some legal advice, decided to go for a power grab instead of just dealing with the issue. They are playing chicken with chickens.

In an April 25 letter to the 197 homeowners, the BOD explained the Town of Cary's discussion and vote on a proposed Land Development Ordinance amendment that would allow pet chickens. Certain restrictions would apply if the the final vote by Cary Town Council at another meeting passes the Ordinance change. (The Council in April voted to move forward with the proposal, restrict residences to six chickens and require a $50 permit per residence but additional action is required for it to pass and become law.)

The Picardy Pointe BOD took a step towards restricting backyard hens in Picardy Pointe by proposing an amendment to the development covenants. But, acting as many legislators do, adding extra language to the proposed amendment, the BOD couldn't just propose to amend the covenants by restricting chickens, cows or other farm animals. The BOD went afoul and for the power grab, asking homeowners to give the BOD the "sole determination" over all pets including dogs and cats on homeowner property. The five members BOD would be able to decide if any pet is a nuisance and therefore could eject said pet from the neighborhood. Currently, the BOD can only regulate neighborhood "common areas" and not homeowner property. Now the BOD wants to control homeowner property.

Here's what the proposed addition to the covenants says: Section 9. Animals and Pets. No farm animals, livestock, or poultry shall be raised, bred or kept anywhere within Picardy Pointe. Domestic pets such as dogs, cats, and caged birds may be kept by residents of Dwelling Units, but only if such pets do not constitute a nuisance. All pets must be held or kept leashed or otherwise appropriately restrained at all times they are on the Common Area, and all owners of pets shall be held strictly responsible to immediately collect and properly dispose of the wasts and litter of their pets. Picardy Pointe further reserves the right to demand that an Owner permanently remove from Picardy Pointe all pets which create disturbances or annoyances that constitute nuisances, in the sole determination of the Board of Directors. The decision of the Board of Directors in such matters is conclusive and shall be enforced by the Association.

The Board of Directors could have simply stopped after the first sentence, restricting chickens and other farm animals (not currently restricted by the Town of Cary). The mailing was sent to all 197 homeowners and included a ballot that asked if we are for or against the change in covenants. It requires 90% affirmative vote of the 197 homeowners to pass. That's 178 "yes" ballots (90% of 197 is 177.3). This proposed amendment is unlikely to pass, and therefore Picardy Pointe would be governed by the laws of the Town of Cary which more than likely will be allowing chickens and which already has nuisance laws for pets such as dogs and cats. There is no reason to turn the pet authority over the a neighborhood committee of five who could arbitrarily decide if a pet is a nuisance.

The proposed amendment to the Picardy Pointe covenants doesn't make sense, but what the Board proposes in adding to its authority does make sense in relation to previous power grab by the BOD. Two years ago, at a annual meeting of the homeowners, attended by few, the Board proposed and passed an amendment to the covenants to change the Picardy Pointe HOA from fiscal year to a calendar year for collecting dues and establishing budgets. In doing so, dues and budgets went from March 1 back to January 1. Nothing wrong with that, but residents were not given monetary credit for the two months of HOA dues already paid for the two months that were swept backwards. At the time, the BOD didn't abide by the 90% vote rule and relied on attorneys to say that only a majority of those present at the annual meeting was required. So we were double billed. The BOD spent our dues to defend the action. That was smart. Huh?

An interesting note about the "chicken" vote: In the April 25 letter to the homeowners, the Picardy Pointe Board of Directors twice said the "Board has no opinion in this matter..." If it doesn't have an opinion, why take the proposed amendment to the length it did, not only governing pets on private property, but using its "sole determination" when deciding if dogs, cats and birds "create disturbances or annoyances that constitute nuisances?" Under that proposed addition to the covenants, the Board is asking for too much.

This homeowner/household is voting against the amendment and encourages at least 20 additional homeowners in Picardy Pointe to do the same. If the Picardy Pointe Board of Directors wants to get it right, just address the Town of Cary pending policy of allowing backyard hens. It's doubtful any residence of Picardy Pointe would opt to have chickens as pets but many homeowners have dogs and cats and probabaly do not want the BOD to decide the fate of those pets. It's time for the Picardy Pointe Board of Directors to quit playing chicken with chickens.