OCEAN PINES – A series of proposed bylaw changes will be discussed at a special meeting scheduled for next week.
On Monday, Feb. 7, the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors will hold a special meeting to discuss motions related to bylaw revisions.
The motions, submitted by Directors Colette Horn, Doug Parks and Frank Daly, propose revisions to several sections of the bylaws, including meeting notices, general manager and director responsibilities, and the resignation and removal of a director.
The board is also expected to consider motions related to the candidate verification process and candidate eligibility requirements.
“A motion has been added to the Candidate Eligibility Section under New Business that addresses the ‘owner of record’ definition in all of the sections of our bylaws in which it appears,” Horn said in a statement this week.
As proposed, the definition “owner of record” would read “the person(s) listed on the deed recorded in the Land Records of Worcester County as the owner of property (grantee/party in the second part) within the Subdivision to which votes are attributable. If a trust is listed on the deed recorded in the Land Records of Worcester County as the owner of the property within the Subdivision, then the Record Owner shall be the trustee(s) of the trust who is/are listed on the recorded deed to such property. If a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership is listed on the deed recorded in the Land Records of Worcester County as the owner of the property within the Subdivision, the Record Owner shall be an officer of the corporation, a living person who is a member of the limited liability company, or a living person who is a partner in the partnership as reflected in the relevant entity’s records.”
The board next week will also consider a revision that would require board candidates to be an owner of record of real property in Ocean Pines for a minimum of three years prior to the first day of January of the year in which an election is held, unless they have served on a committee or advisory board for a period of no less than one year prior to May 1 of the year in which the election is held.
“This motion is to clarify ownership and experience requirements for candidates running for the Board of Directors,” Daly wrote.
The board will also consider revisions to the candidate application process, as well as a revision involving candidate eligibility and pending litigation.
“A candidate may not be a plaintiff in an active lawsuit in a Maryland or Federal court, including on appeal, in which the Association or any of the Association’s Directors, named in their capacity as a Director, is/are named as a defendant,” the revision reads, “nor may the candidate be named as a defendant in an active lawsuit in a Maryland or Federal court in which the Association is the plaintiff, including on appeal.”
Many of the proposed revisions to be considered next week are in response to a recent lawsuit against the Ocean Pines Association and its Board of Directors.
Last year, four contenders – Rick Farr, Stuart Lakernick, David Hardy and incumbent Frank Daly – vied for two seats on the association’s board, though Farr was later disqualified during the voting process after an anonymous tip raised questions about his status as a homeowner of the address listed on his candidate application.
According to the association’s bylaws, candidates must be a recorded property owner within Ocean Pines on Jan. 1 of the year in which the election is held. The association contended Farr was not an owner of record, but a successor trustee to the property listed on his candidate application. Farr’s attorney, however, asserted he has been the “equitable and beneficial owner” of the property since 2000, based on his status as a beneficiary of the Farr Living Trust.
Following a months-long legal battle, Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Sidney Campen ruled Farr an eligible Ocean Pines homeowner.
In an opinion issued in January, Campen noted the association had no additional language defining the term “owner of record.”
“At the center of this controversy, is the meaning of ‘owners of record’ as referenced in the By-laws,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, ‘owners of record’ is not a defined term under Article I of the By-laws, nor is the concept defined in the Declarations of Restriction or the Articles of Amendment and Restatement.”
Campen also asserted the association had adopted an overly restrictive meaning of the term.
“If it is the desire of the OPA to require candidates to be named as owners in the land records of Worcester County, it should amend the By-laws to clarify the term, ‘owners of record,’” he wrote in his opinion.
The proposed bylaw revisions will be considered for referendum at Monday’s meeting. The board will also hold a public hearing on the proposed actions.
Monday’s special meeting will be held in a hybrid format starting at 8 a.m. Some seating will be available in the administration board room at 239 Ocean Parkway.
For more information, or to view meeting materials, visit oceanpines.org. A video will also be posted on the association’s YouTube page following the meeting.