Pines Board Revises Violations Policy

OCEAN PINES – Ocean Pines officials recently voted to revise the association’s policy and procedures for violations.

At its most recent meeting, the Ocean Pines Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt policy and compliance procedures for violations of the association’s declarations of restrictions and architectural review committee (ARC) guidelines. Officials say the revised policy not only streamlines the process for addressing violations but conforms with state homeowners association laws enacted in 2022.

“We’re having to come into compliance with the Maryland HOA Act,” said Director Elaine Brady, liaison for the ARC committee. “There were a lot of board responsibilities that were at some point handed over to the ARC committee, which really our DRs do not allow. So we’re just righting the ship on the violations and how they are processed and handled, along with the streamlining of that document.”

As proposed, the revisions to Resolution M-01 detail the procedures to be followed by the ARC committee, general manager and the board of directors when enforcing the association’s declarations of restrictions and ARC guidelines. The document essentially outlines the steps the association and alleged violator must take when addressing complaints and violations.

“It makes for a cleaner document,” Brady said.

The document also details notices that will be sent to alleged violators and the process for requesting a hearing. Director Steve Jacobs, however, said he was suggesting an amendment to the resolution.

He said he wanted to ensure any alleged violator is informed of their rights to have someone join them at the hearing and to request a closed meeting.

“All this is is information going to the lot owner,” he said. “I think it improves the process.”

Jacobs suggested the information be included in the second notice to lot owners.

Brady, however, said she believed such information should be presented after a hearing is requested.

“Once they do that, we will be notifying them of a date and time, and I feel it’s much more appropriate to be in that letter to them, or however we are communicating to them …,” she said. “I think the information is premature by being in the second letter.”

Bruce Bright, the association’s attorney, also took issue with some of Jacobs’ suggestions. While he agreed an alleged violator could have an attorney present at a hearing, he questioned the reasoning for having anyone else join them.

“If, because of a disability or language barrier, an alleged violator needs the assistance of a family member, a relative or even a translator, it can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis as these hearings are happening,” he added.

Bright also took issue with Jacobs’ suggestion regarding a request for a closed meeting. He argued that hearings should be open.

“My view is that these hearings should be, under the law, open …,” he said. “We don’t ever want to be suggesting to the violator that it is their choice whether to have these hearings in closed session or not.”

Ultimately, Bright said he wanted to ensure the procedures outlined in Resolution M-01 conformed with state law.

“My view is that the OPA should be as close to adherent with what the statute requires as possible and not go beyond that, and certainly not do less than that,” he said. “This should provide the rights that exist under the statute and really should do no more than that.”

After further discussion, Jacobs made a motion to amend Resolution M-01 to include his suggested revisions. The motion failed for lack of a second.

The board then voted unanimously to approve revisions to Resolution M-01 as presented on second reading.

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.