OP Referendum Revisions

OCEAN PINES – Amendments to proposed referendum questions highlighted last week’s meeting of the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors.

Last week, board members voted to adopt a recommendation from the Ocean Pines Bylaws and Resolutions Committee to have legal counsel revise a proposed referendum question on candidate eligibility. The change, officials said, would disqualify members of corporate entities owning property in Ocean Pines from being a candidate in board elections.

“I think there is an inherent conflict of interest of a board member who would be the owner of a property under an LLC,” said Director Larry Perrone.

In March, the board held a public hearing on nearly 30 proposed bylaw revisions, which will be voted on in an upcoming referendum. Some of the proposed bylaw amendments involve candidate verification, candidate eligibility and a definition for the term “owner of record.”

At that meeting, however, Bylaws and Resolutions Committee Chair Jim Trummel came before the board seeking revisions to the definition for owner of record.

“The co-trustee and trustee of property would remain as eligible to run [for election] but not the corporate partnerships and representatives,” he said at the time. “The reason for this is that those representatives have an inherent conflict of interest.”

Back on the agenda for discussion last week, the board voted to accept the committee’s recommendation to eliminate corporations and similar entities as an owner of record of property in Ocean Pines. The board also voted 6-1, with Director Rick Farr opposed, to eliminate owners of corporations as eligible board candidates.

“How are we to say what their allegiance is to a corporation or to Ocean Pines?” he said. “I find that we’re disenfranchising some folks with that.”

Director Amy Peck, however, said she had no issue with removing corporate representatives as eligible candidates.

“I say we do that already,” she argued. “I had to give up working for Ocean Pines as an employee because it was seen as a conflict of interest being a director and an employee.”

President Colette Horn agreed. She said LLCs listed as property owners in Ocean Pines operated short-term and long-term rentals.

“Corporate entities provide tax shelters on profits derived from the use of the property, not the value of the property,” she said. “That is where the conflict lies.”

After further discussion, the board voted to adopt the committee’s recommendations, and to have legal counsel develop the appropriate amendments for the upcoming referendum.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.