Ocean Pines Citizens Oppose Petition Decision

OCEAN PINES – A resident-led effort to reduce the spending limit for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors continues this week.

Resident and former board member Slobodan Trendic announced this week that his advocacy group had engaged an attorney to challenge the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) decision that a petition he submitted last month was not valid. Trendic formed the advocacy group START (Strategic planning, Transparency, Accountability, Respect, Trust) in April and members spent the summer collecting signatures on a petition to lower the board’s spending authority. Though it was signed by 880 OPA members, the petition was deemed invalid because of its wording.

“The OPA board should honor the will of the association members and present the petition question to the entire membership for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote via a referendum,” a statement released by START on Tuesday reads.

Trendic said Marty Clarke, another former board member, had joined START as its treasurer and would be assisting in the effort to challenge OPA’s decision on the petition. Clarke says he doesn’t care about the outcome of the referendum but simply wants to ensure it happens since more than 800 residents support it.

“The issue that matters to me is the board ignoring the referendum that has been asked for,” he said, citing other petitions that have been ignored or declared invalid by OPA officials in decades past. “I don’t care about the outcome of the vote I just want it put to question.”

The petition, which was submitted at last month’s annual meeting, was declared invalid in an opinion from OPA’s attorney in late August. Nevertheless, OPA board member Steve Tuttle made a motion at Saturday’s board meeting to move forward with a referendum regarding the board’s spending limit anyway.

“The purpose of this motion is to give association members the opportunity to vote on whether the single capital expenditure level that can be approved by a board majority should remain at 20% or be reduced to 12%,” Tuttle said. “The effect is that the level of expenditure would be set by association members and give direction to future boards on single capital expenditures.”

The motion failed, however, as Tuttle was the only one of the seven directors to support it. His peers said the spending threshold itself was not the issue.

“I think it’s a trust issue plain and simple,” board member Tom Janasek said. “Boards in the past have spent extravagantly and the public hasn’t been informed.”

Doug Parks, OPA president, agreed. He said that even if the spending limit, which equates to roughly $1.7 million now, was reduced to $1 million, it didn’t mean the board would spend money wisely.

“Whether or not we can spend half a million, a million or two million isn’t really the issue,” he said. “The issue is are we doing it in a financially and fiduciarily responsible manner.”

They also pointed out that a referendum on the question would cost the association money. Board member Colette Horn thanked Tuttle for making the motion, however.

“It generated some really useful discussion,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.