Anti-Wal-Mart yard signs began appearing last month in neighborhoods surrounding the 9th and Colorado redevelopment project in advance of a public meeting on the project. If your association is faced with a potentially unwanted development next door, what is the association's responsibility? Whether it’s a Wal-Mart or a Dollar General store, boards are often faced with suggestions from homeowners that the association oppose the development.
The association may be able to assist with preventing the development, or at least minimizing the negative impacts caused by the development, but before doing so, be sure you make an informed decision. You should consider the following:
- Funds to oppose the development are the same funds needed to support the ongoing operational and other common expense needs of the community. Make sure there is community-wide support for the opposition. Some homeowners may remain neutral or actually support the development, and those homeowners could strongly object to their dues being spent on opposition. Consider conducting a survey or holding an informational meeting to get the community pulse on the issue.
- The association’s involvement in political matters such as zoning issues for neighboring properties may be beyond the scope of the association’s authority. Check your governing documents for authority. Although they might not contemplate involvement in zoning or political matters concerning property outside the boundaries of the community, there may be authority to use the funds for the “general welfare” of the community. You may want to seek a legal opinion before committing funds.
- Even if the association decided not to oppose the development, the association could still stay informed on the matter and provide information to homeowners who want to stay informed and receive information. You may want to encourage owners to participate in the zoning process, attend city council meeting, etc.
Homeowners who oppose the proposed development are also free to retain professionals in their individual capacity for purposes of opposing the proposed development. It could be that the several voices of numerous homeowners will be heard more loudly by the municipality than the single voice of the association.