OCEAN PINES – A second reading on proposed revisions to the association’s candidate verification process has been postponed.
In last week’s board meeting, Ocean Pines Association President Colette Horn withdrew a second reading to amend Resolution M-09, which relates to the Search Committee and board candidate applications.
While amendments to the resolution were introduced in January, Horn told board members last week she would withdraw the second reading after board members voiced their opposition to a revision allowing the secretary to grant additional time to correct or complete candidate applications.
“I don’t think we can give the secretary the authority to extend the due date,” Director Larry Perrone said. “I think when these applications come in, if there’s a question, it should be addressed directly. The due date is the due date. If we take that position, I think it opens us up for a complaint being made if someone decides to put their application in too late.”
In January, Horn presented the board with proposed revisions to Resolution M-09, Section 8, which outlines the candidate search responsibilities of the association secretary.
The amendments would require the secretary to use Worcester County land records or State Department of Assessments and Taxation records to verify a candidate’s property ownership. The revision would also require the secretary to include their reason for rejecting an application when notifying applicants of their acceptance or rejection of a candidate application. The secretary must then submit the list of eligible candidates to the Elections Committee, and the list of eligible candidates and their registration form would then be released to the public.
The proposed amendments also allow the secretary to grant an extension to the due date of the candidate application should any additional information be required.
Horn told board members last week the amendment allowing an extension to the due date was proposed by Director Doug Parks, who argued candidates could need additional time to seek additional information requested by the secretary.
“Your language states that the secretary can determine if an extension to the due date is warranted,” Horn told Parks last week. “I don’t have a problem with that, but we do need to make sure the due date does not extend beyond May 31 in order to get the list of candidates to the Elections Committee by the first of June. So I would want to add that language.”
Parks said he had objections. Perrone, however, said he objected to the entire amendment.
“I see no reason why the information that has to be provided can’t be provided timely,” he said. “Once the applications come in, the secretary does have some time to determine who is eligible and who isn’t eligible. I don’t think I can support this because I’m concerned about what could happen again in the future from a legal standpoint.”
Parks said he agreed there was some ambiguity, but said the intent was to give applicants time should they need it.
“There could be a condition, through no fault of their own, that the information that was requested couldn’t be provided in time,” he said.
Horn added the current resolution provides five days between when applications are due and when the list of approved candidates must be submitted. She argued the proposed revision would give the secretary more time.
“That’s not a lot of time for the secretary to work with someone and gather that information, particularly depending on what days of the week those dates fall on,” she said. “So I lean toward pushing the due date out further or allowing for a drop dead due date to be specified in the resolution for the purposes of gathering more information.”
“Is that rife with speculation? Of course it is,” he said. “I just think there’s a little bit of flexibility, not to the point where it puts us at risk but it recognizes that there might be conditions that would warrant a consideration for extension. Now, it should be the exception not the norm.”
Perrone, however, asserted the amendment only created more ambiguity.
“I think the whole idea of what we’re trying to do here is shift the responsibility for providing the qualifying documents and information from the secretary to the candidate,” he said. “And if that candidate doesn’t provide that information and it isn’t easily correctable, that’s unfortunate.”
After further discussion, Horn agreed to withdraw her motion to revise Resolution M-09 to give the board more time to discuss the proposed amendment. She also withdrew an attached candidate application, which also featured revisions.
“I think we ought to go back to discussing this, looking at this, and in the March 23 meeting we need to be prepared to approve changes,” she said of the revised application.
The second reading of revisions to Resolution M-09 came weeks after a Worcester County Circuit Court judge ruled 2021 board candidate Rick Farr an eligible Ocean Pines homeowner. Farr was disqualified during the election process last year after an anonymous tip raised questions about his status as a homeowner of the address listed on his candidate application.