We have had a number of people questioning the value of mandatory membership and have asked for more information. In order to keep our readers informed, we are creating a new section to address this issue. It is our belief that Mandatory Membership is the cause of many of our problems, rather than a solution. This page is constantly updated and we urge you to return every couple of days as we refresh and add to this information. Read our sponsor's request to POA Chair Marc Bressler to bring this matter up for a vote by all the residents so that we might determine our own destiny. Thank you.
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What is Mandatory Membership (MM)?
Mandatory Membership is the policy that emanates from our Property Owners Association that mandates that every parcel must maintain a membership in good standing in the Delaire Country Club. The requirement is in the AMENDED DECLARATION AND ESTABLISHMENT OF COVENANTS AND RESTRICTIONS FOR MAINTENANCE. It is a deed restriction that runs with the land. We have found a very good and easy to understand general explanation of Mandatory Membership and its origin. While the author mentions Aberdeen, it could really apply to any club. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes to read.
When & why was Mandatory Membership instituted at Delaire?
Mandatory Membership became official in February, 2000 after more than 60% of the members voted in favor. They were told this was the best way to sustain the Country Club, thereby preserving the value of their homes. Here is the official document.
Who were the people who voted for Mandatory Membership?
That is an excellent question. Most of us have no idea. Most of those people are dead or have moved out of Delaire. They were fortunate enough to have been given a choice. Now we think that it is time to give our current members a choice. If Mandatory Membership is such a great way to operate the club, then there should be no question about putting it up for a vote.
What are the pros & cons of Mandatory Membership?
The biggest pro and the raison d’etre of Mandatory Membership benefits the Country Club Board. They have a captive audience that they can assess for almost anything they need, especially if they call it an operating assessment. Capital assessments call for a vote of the members, but our Board has illegally bypassed votes by using leases to acquire millions of dollars worth of capital equipment. Two examples are the hundreds of thousands of dollars for course maintenance equipment and new fitness equipment, recently acquired through leases.
Though we list the above as a “PRO”, it is actually a “CON” for the members. They are stuck paying for the ineptitude of a volunteer board that lacks the experience, skill set and capacity to run a country club community. Professional management with a deep bench and proven turnaround skills are needed at Delaire. Here is a list of five such organizations.
Mandatory membership is a huge drag on property values and the ability to sell one’s home. We have written many articles illustrating this.
The Club Board, in collusion with the POA Board has instituted an illegal Builder Program which removes parcels from paying full dues. There is no provision for this in the POA Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions. Mandatory Members are subsidizing builders, who turn out to be their competition when it comes to selling a home.
The Club Board has allowed Non-resident members to join the club for no initiation fee and dues which are about 50% less that Mandatory Members. They have no responsibility for capital assessments, nor do they pay the $410 monthly clubhouse assessment that all Mandatory Members must pay. How can it be that people who are heavy users of the club facilities don’t pay for it?
Being allowed to join the club at a 50% discount and no initiation is a huge slap in the face to resident members trying to sell their home. Read what an individual can do with the money they save by joining as a non-resident. We honestly cannot think of any good reasons for Mandatory Membership. The club should be run as a business and provide a level of service necessary to sustain the enterprise.
How can we eliminate the Mandatory Membership requirement?
All we have to do is get the POA Board to put it on a ballot and schedule an election. If more than 60% of the members vote to remove the mandate, then that’s it. Obviously there would be some period of time allowed for the Club to figure out what direction they want to take.
What do the courts have to say about this?
In a recent case involving the Fountains Country Club, the court ruled that just as members had voted in favor of mandatory membership, they could also vote it out. The decision was appealed and upheld by the 4th District Court of Appeal. In February, 2018, the Fountains residents voted 355-3 against Mandatory Membership. Read the article. The residents have a right to self determination.
What can homeowners do to help bring this to a vote?
Click the following link to send an email to POA President, firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him you would like to see this issue put up for a vote. The POA Board has a fiduciary responsibility to residents and they should allow residents to decide how they want to live. Just because a well intentioned, but misguided group spearheaded this system 20 years ago, there is nothing that says we can't change it.
What would happen to Delaire Country Club & the golf course?
Delaire Country Club and all its facilities could continue on as they do right now. It depends on what the board decides and their decision may require a vote of the members under certain conditions. We recommend bringing in a professional management company to operate and/or buy the club. Organizations that manage/operate Private Country Clubs have deep benches of experts in the fields of Club Operations, Agronomy, Food & Beverage, Membership Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, Procurement, Finance & Accounting, Design & Development, Risk Management, Information Technology and Legal. We imagine that most resident members would remain members, but new non-resident members would have to be recruited if dues are to remain affordable. Our volunteer leaders may have been great in their previous professions or areas of expertise, but no matter how well intentioned, they have demonstrated they do not have the skills necessary to effectively and efficiently manage a country club. Running this club should not be their retirement hobby. Dues need to be at parity for all members. Mark Zucker's contention that Non-residents, paying half the dues of a resident member and no initiation fee, are a benefit to resident members is nothing more than a pipe dream. Sure there would be some changes, but we believe they would be for the better and especially for the resident members.
What were the results at other clubs when members
had a chance to reject Mandatory Membership?
It is often difficult to get this issue to a vote because those in charge want to stay in charge. They use fear tactics and predict the demise of the club if Mandatory Membership is overturned. We can tell you what happened at two clubs when their members finally got the opportunity to vote. At Hamlet Country Club, over 98% of the members voted to overturn Mandatory Membership. At Fountains Country Club, the vote was 355 - 3 to end Mandatory Membership. Click the links to read the news reports. If Mandatory Membership is such a great way to run a club, then leaders should have no reservations about putting it up for a vote.
What would happen to the Property Owners Association?
It would continue to function as the manager of the residential properties within the boundaries of Delaire. Since some aspects, such as the security guards, EMTs and guardhouse are now paid fully by the POA, there would have to be some arrangement with the Club for equitable cost sharing of mutual interests.
How would this affect future Builder Agreements?
Builder Agreements would be eliminated. This would finally rid us of the conflicts of interest and corruption that currently exist in this area. When Mandatory Membership no longer exists, the builders could buy any parcel/home they want without the burden of having to pay tribute to the club. The builders would have to pay POA assessments, as they do now. They would also be subject to all the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions of the POA.
What would happen to the Grievance Committee?
It could simply be eliminated or it could be retained if the Club desires, but for Country Club issues only. Non-club members would not be subject to the Grievance Committee. If an outside operator were to buy the Club, they would institute their own policies.
What would happen to my "fully refundable bond"?
That depends on whether or not the club decides to continue operating as they do now or sell the club to someone else. If the club is sold, the sale price and settlement of our outstanding debt will determine if there is money left over to pay bondholders. Without Mandatory Membership, Regions Bank may call their loans and that would make a sale or recapitalization almost a certainty. That's another reason we should not take on any new debt. Whether you get your bond back or not should not be the primary consideration. You need to look at your total return on investment. Because of Mandatory Membership, some people must wait, literally, 3 or 4 years to find a buyer and then at a painfully low price. Elimination of the Mandatory Membership will broaden the potential buyer pool and bring you a quicker sale and a higher price. Ask yourself this question: Could I sell my house today for more money than I paid for it? Don't forget to add in all the renovation/improvements that you have done.
PAGE UPDATED AS NEW QUESTIONS ARE POSED
Please contact us with your questions and comments.
As questions and concerns arise, we will timely address them.
Come back soon for the updates.