Some upset over Eagle-Vail policies | VailDaily.com

Some upset over Eagle-Vail policies

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – Eagle-Vail’s leaders say their new policies are designed to protect homeowners and promote transparency.

But some residents say the policies would give the community’s leaders way too much power.

As Eagle-Vail resident Tom Chastain puts it, the policies “smack of elitism and tyranny.”

The Eagle-Vail Property Owners’ Association has been working on a set of documents that spells out rules for things like public meetings and resolving disputes.

Community leaders say they are crafting the documents to comply with the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act.

Mike Connolly, president of the property owners’ association, said the association posted a draft of the policies on its Web site in mid-July and has been collecting feedback from members. He hopes to post a revised version of the policies on the Web site by early September. He expects the association and Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District to vote on the policies at their joint meeting Oct. 21.

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Some residents have been up in arms over the policies. Several have been trading comments about the issue through a Google group.

Chastain, 67, said his chief problem is a clause saying the board can deviate from the procedures at “its sole discretion.”

“The first time I saw that, I said to myself ‘What? This document isn’t worth the paper it’s written on because it says they’re going to take the power to do whatever they want to without asking us,” he said.

Connolly said the association’s attorney has since changed the language. He said the clause now allows the board to deviate from the policies in the event of a public safety or health issue that demands swift action. He’s not sure why some people insist the board is trying to grab power.

“For some strange reason, in Eagle-Vail, everyone seems to be primed to suspect the worst in terms of motives,” he said.

The wording the attorney picked for the policies is standard language many communities throughout the state have been using, Connolly said.

“We didn’t write something to purposely give us authority that people wouldn’t want us to have,” he said.

Another controversial policy has also been changed. A draft of the document forbid video or audio taping of public meetings for any purpose other than making the meeting minutes. Now, the policy allows the board to authorize taping of meetings, Connolly said.

Eagle-Vail resident Karl Krueger, 43, has been circulating an e-mail petition, trying to gauge support for having Eagle-Vail’s public meetings broadcast on Public Access 5. He said some people are busy with work or family commitments and can’t make it to the lengthy meetings.

“The best way to make everybody feel like there is transparency is to have the meetings somehow more accessible to people who can’t make it to those meetings at six hours at a stretch,” he said.

Krueger said it would cost about $3,000 per year to have the meetings broadcast. Connolly said he likes the idea and expects the board to talk about it at a future meeting.

“I think once and for all, it could be the best thing to defeat this sense, on the part of some people in the community, that the board is always up to something nefarious,” he said.

Another resident who takes issue with the policies is Carl Luppens, 57, an Eagle-Vail homeowner who lives in the community about half the year and recently ran for the metro district board. He said the policies would limit public input during board meetings and take away key property owners’ rights.

“They give complete flexibility and no accountability to the board,” he said.

Luppens said his top concern is that the policies, as he read them, strip homeowners of the right to go to court if they can’t resolve a dispute with the property owners’ association.

Connolly said that’s not how he reads the policy. He said the policy would require the homeowner and property owners’ association to participate in mediation or arbitration before going to court. He said the attorney has since changed the policy to require only arbitration before going to court.

In general, property owners’ association treasurer Tracy Walters said the policies are designed to protect the homeowners. Whereas the previous governing documents were silent on how certain issues would be handled, the new policies provide a framework for how the community leaders will handle various issues. That framework will provide more transparency and give residents an idea of what to expect, he said.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.