WASHINGTON COUNTY – Three subdivisions voted Friday to leave the Dammeron Valley Landowners Association after residents at odds with a developer joined forces for a “DVExit” initiative.
Over the past several months, the issue became so contentious that residents asked the Washington County Clerk/Auditor’s Office for help counting votes and for a neutral location to do so.
Of 10 subdivisions that voted on whether to leave the landowners association, three were successful and two did not receive enough ballots to proceed with a vote, according to information from the exit initiative.
Five subdivisions voted in favor of leaving the association but did not have the required majority of landowners needed.
“Many years of bad management and possible overreach by the developer has caused trouble,” Amanda Ballif, a resident of Dammeron Valley Farms 2A subdivision, said.
“The Dammeron Valley Landowners Association is not needed to have a well-kept community because the county codes are sufficient and can actually be enforced whereas the DVLA has got only one recourse – to sue neighbors.”
Two subdivisions, the Meadows and the Ranches, left the association last year, Dammeron Valley resident Dave Arenaz said.
The DVExit Initiative was formed to help subdivisions remove themselves from the “sinking ship” of the Dammeron Valley Landowners Association, Ballif said.
The DVExit Initiative website lists a host of reasons for the exit initiative, including allegations of questionable accounting practices and the sporadic enforcement of the codes, covenants and restrictions including architectural guidelines. Other issues relate to ongoing involvement in lawsuits which may put landowners at risk financially.
“Since the DVLA board has limited enforcement powers, they resort to intimidation or even threats of litigation. Often, they choose not to act at all and the results can be seen throughout the valley,” the website states.
Brooks Pace is the developer of Dammeron Valley and a principal in The Dammeron Corporation.
“The exit vote is democracy in action,” Dammeron Valley developer Brooks Pace said, “and while I’m disappointed in the results and the division in Dammeron, I do believe the community will come back together in the future.”
Brooks Pace’s wife, June Pace, is secretary for the Dammeron Corporation.
“The DVLA (Dammeron Valley Landowners Association) has been the backbone of Dammeron Valley for 40 years and helped create the beautiful community it is today,” she said. “There are many people who are very upset with the decision to exit.”
The homeowners association board has always been made up of volunteers who spend their own time to make the community a better place, she said, and the demands on the board have grown with the increasing number of Dammeron Valley residents.
“It may be timely to look at the organization with the idea of improving some things that aren’t working well,” June Pace said.
She said discontented residents knew there was a homeowners association when they moved there, and she wishes they had joined the board and been part of the solution rather than leading an exit movement.
However, all residents share the common ground of love of the land. “We can reunite as a community based on this alone,” she said.
Craig Meyocks lives in the Dammeron Valley Homesteads subdivision which voted to leave the landowners association.
“It’s nice to have it behind us,” Meyocks said. He believes the landowners association no longer serves a useful purpose for the Homesteads subdivision because it is already built out – no more lots are available.
“There’s still some subdivisions that are in the build-out phase, where there’s still a lot of lots to build on. I can definitely see the need for CCRs and governing documents (for them),” he said.
The Washington County Clerk/Auditors office supplied a neutral location for the Dammeron Valley vote count, Washington County Elections Supervisor Melanie Abplanalp said.
“They requested a neutral party,” Abplanalp said.
The vote had nothing to do with county elections and the County Clerk’s office did not retain records of the vote count, she said.
“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the county clerk’s office,” Meyocks said.
“They showed us how to count ballots so they were anonymous, so there wasn’t any question, you know, people’s votes were private and they weren’t compromised … they helped us out a great deal,” Meyocks said.
From the county’s perspective, a subdivision leaving a homeowners association has no effect, Washington County Planner Scott Messel said.
“(It’s) business as usual,” Messel. “Nothing changes. We still approve building permits, if there’s zoning enforcement … we still make sure that the subdivision meets our code.”
The exception would be if a subdivision owned private roads or open spaces; the county would need to make sure those are properly maintained.
Some homeowners associations have very low fees for the maintenance of minimal public spaces such as entrance signs and associated landscaping. Others have higher fees and more extensive responsibilities including the maintenance of private roads, open spaces, gates and clubhouses.
Anyone purchasing a home in a subdivision with a homeowners association, or HOA, must join the association.
Some HOAs have more restrictive rules than county or city ordinances, Messel said, but the county does not get involved in enforcing those rules.
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