Pines Board Establishes System For Fining Violators

OCEAN PINES – Board members last week voted to establish a system for fining properties in continual violation of the community’s guidelines.

Last Saturday, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to establish a system for fining property owners who continue to violation the community’s guidelines in the sections of Ocean Pines that grant the board the authority to do so.

Director Colette Horn, liaison for the Ocean Pines Architectural Review Committee (ARC), said the request was brought forward in an effort to use enforcement tools that could minimize the time between notice of, and compliance with, outstanding violations.

“People who live in Ocean Pines full time are asking that the board use their powers of enforcement, limited as they may be, to compel enforcement in all of the sections,” she said. “I will also add there was an effort last year that we started the process of trying to change the declarations of restrictions in those sections that don’t have fining authority that would allow enforcement of short-term rental restrictions and potentially, in the future, to compel enforcement of the ARC violations and other rule violations in those sections using the power of fining.”

While not every section of the community includes the authority to fine property owners in its declarations of restrictions, officials say the motion would allow the board to penalize owners in sections that do authorize fines.

“It was noted by Frank [Daly, director], astutely, that many who are in continuing violation may not care about their voting rights and may not care about their ability to use their amenities,” Horn said. “Most people do care about a fine that would be imposed upon them.”

For his part, Daly said he supported the establishment of a fining system. However, he cautioned the board. He argued many homeowners did not trust an association board to levy fines.

“Overall, I would say that the number of properties here that are in disrepair right now don’t have a serious impact on the community, but they sure have a serious impact on the people around them …,” he said. “I support it for that reason, with the caution to move ahead in a very measured manner to develop trust, that you can use this new weapon you are asking for.”

Horn noted that the community’s guidelines were objective.

“Trust really rests on the degree of which a decision is made objectively versus subjectively,” she said. “We have objective criteria in our guidelines, we have objective criteria in the rulebook … The application of fines is meant to be an objective process. It’s a yes or no.”

Director Steve Jacobs questioned a fining system in sections where the declarations of restrictions do not give the board the authority to do so.

“My question is where the DRs are silent, can Ocean Pines, as a larger body, impose a system of fines similar to what’s in this resolution?” he asked.

Daly noted the board couldn’t fine in the sections where the declarations of restrictions don’t give the board the ability to do so. He added that legal counsel had also advised the board it could not recover legal fees when taking violations to court unless it was outlined in the section’s declarations of restrictions.

“We may want to check with our new counsel,” he said.

Association President Doug Parks said he wanted to consult the association’s attorney on the board’s ability to impose fines. He said he didn’t want the board to take actions it is not supposed to take.

“I believe the association has the authority to impose the fine,” he said. “The way in which we’re doing it is what I want to research.”

With no further discussion, the board voted 7-0 to establish a system for fining properties owner with continuing ARC violations in sections that authorize the board to do so. Those sections include Innerlinks, White Tail Sanctuary, The Point, Mumford’s Townhouses, Colonial Village North, Marina Village Condominiums, Marina Village Townhouses, Mumford’s Landing Single Family, Harbor Village and Triple Crown Estates.

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.