Oct 13

A/C to Heat & Updated Meeting Dates Bulletin

Happy weekend, everyone!

Fall is officially here! The leaves are starting to change, and with it comes brisk mornings. There’s nothing quite like the sensation you get when you wrap your covers tightly around you to create that delightful dichotomy of a toasty burrito of you in a chilly world. It can make getting out of bed in the morning that much more difficult!

Depending on where your unit is located, and how likely you are to have had your windows open, you may or may not have realized the A/C has been turned off for the season. Notices were posted on the bulletin boards, but if you’re like me you might not have noticed at first.

We anticipate temperatures in the closed loop will have stabilized enough that we can turn on the heat by next Tuesday or Wednesday – we’ll post a notice once we do, but in the meantime, I’d advise you to either switch your thermostat off or to the heat setting. If you’ve lived here long enough, you’re likely already aware of the fact that this delay is necessary to avoid causing “thermal shock” (abrupt and uneven temperature changes in the pipes that can weaken and rupture them!)

Until then, stay warm, layer up, but please DO NOT USE SPACE HEATERS! While there are some obvious concerns about accidentally overheating something and causing it to catch fire, the larger concern is actually from the power drawn. Most space heaters draw a whopping 1500 watts of power, which is bordering on the maximum load of most electrical circuits here, and it doesn’t take much to accidentally go over the limit and pop your breaker. Unfortunately, because of how electricity works, it may well draw too much from the parent breaker down the line too, and knock out some of your neighbors as well – how rude! Luckily, breakers pop to prevent fires, but things don’t always go as planned, so it’s best not to gamble and take that risk, especially when the homes and lives of others are at stake! Now, you didn’t hear it from me, but they do make some very low power space heaters, like this one, at a mere 250 watts! I am not condoning this, but if you’re going to break the rules I’d much rather you do so while minimizing the risk.

Fair warning, we need work done on one of the pumps that drive the closed loop. We’d hoped to schedule this for the mid-switch interim, but there were apparently some complications. Instead, when they’re ready and able, we’ll have to briefly shut down the heat (for ~4 hrs) to make these repairs. We’ll update you with more as we learn it, but the impact should be minimal.

Lastly, I’m not sure how this slipped by, but somehow the previous meeting notice on the bulletin boards had several incorrect meeting dates. I claim temporary insanity. A corrected notice has been posted and is available here.

For reference, if possible, we attempt to schedule the board meetings to occur on the second Wednesday of every other month, with the exception of the annual meeting, which our bylaws dictate must be held on June 15th, or the next non-weekend and non-holiday.

The correct future dates are as follows:

    December 12, 2018
    February 13, 2019
    April 10, 2019 (Budget Meeting)
    June 17, 2019 (Annual Meeting)
    June 26, 2019 (Annual Meeting Makeup Date, in the event of a failed quorum)

Please remember, these dates could change to due emergencies and other complications. We’ll attempt to keep you in the loop if and when things change.

Oct 07

IMPORTANT! VOTE YES NOW! – Important Vote to Amend the Declaration on October 10, 2018

Owners, in simple terms, if you don’t like that some of your neighbors are skipping out on their condo fees with minimal repercussions, you’re going to want to vote in favor of this amendment to the declaration!

By now, all owners should have received a notification of the upcoming board meeting and the corresponding vote to amend the declaration in the mail. If you are an owner, but for some reason you didn’t receive a copy of the Proxy/Ballot, you can download a copy here. Fill it out, and then email, fax, attend the meeting, or snail mail it in to us ASAP (preferably any option other than snail mail)!

I’ll provide the text of the amendment at the end of this post, but first, I want to explain why it’s so important that you vote yes!

Per Maryland law, this amendment to the declaration will give the association the authority to give delinquent owners (over 60 days in arrears) incentive to bring their accounts current by allowing us to revoke access to certain common amenities, primarily parking and access to the pool. Owners who want to maintain their right to park on the property will bring their accounts current, or negotiate payment plans. This means more money in our operating and reserve accounts, which means we can more confidently move forward in our efforts to rehabilitate and revitalize the property and decreases the likelihood of dramatic increases to condo fees, or worse, a special assessment!

You should not have to suffer because your neighbor stopped paying their condo fees, and until now, the association could do little about it – it’s time for this to change! We want people to prioritize their home, just as they would a standalone home. You wouldn’t stop paying utilities, nor should you stop paying your condo fee. That said, if things are that tough, we’re willing to work with delinquent owners to come up with payment plans that will help them get current, and in the process reinstate some of those privileges.

Now for some more common questions!

Didn’t we already do this?

Kinda. Back when we first instituted a parking policy, we (and several other condominiums in Maryland that were in similar situations) included a component to do this. Unfortunately, the Maryland courts and political environment had dramatically changed from when most of these condominiums were established, and the courts unfortunately ruled against this. The courts insisted that the authority to institute such a policy had to be included in an association’s declaration.

Why didn’t we do this sooner?

Great question! We wanted to! Unfortunately, to amend the declaration of a condominium association you’d needed to get approval from over 80% of the membership – this is ridiculously hard to do! We have 206 units, so that would have required 165 owners not only vote, but vote in favor!!

What’s changed?

The Maryland Legislature finally started to recognize the problem so many condominium associations were having, and so they acted to amend the law! Now, effective October 1, 2018, if an association wishes to amend its declaration specifically for this purpose, the less insurmountable requirement is over 60% of the total eligible votes (124 votes) all in favor. That’s still a lot of votes, but it’s not nearly as difficult to achieve as 165.

What happens if we don’t get enough votes?

So, unfortunately, we probably won’t get the necessary votes by Wednesday, but a valid proxy is good for 180 days. That means we can continue to collect proxies and votes even after the meeting until we have enough. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do this before any proxies expire.

What happens if I’m late, behind on a payment, or become delinquent?

It depends, primarily on how long. The suspension will only occur after two things have happened, the first being that you are over 60 days in arrears, and the second is that you’ve been notified via a demand letter specifying a time period of at least 10 days to pay the delinquent assessment or request a hearing to contest the suspension. If it comes to a hearing, the board will typically consider reasonable payment plans and narrower suspensions (eg granting a single parking pass).


For those of you curious about the wording of the changes to the Declaration, I’ve included them below:

Section 20. Suspension of Parking and Recreational Facilities.
The Association may suspend a Unit Owner’s use of parking or recreational facility Common Elements when that Unit Owner is more than 60 days in arrears in the payment of any assessment due to the Association.

Prior to suspending a Unit Owner’s use of parking or recreational facility Common Elements, the Council of Unit Owners will mail the Unit Owner a demand letter specifying a time period of at least 10 days within which the Unit Owner may pay the delinquent assessment or request a hearing to contest the suspension. If the Unit Owner requests a hearing to contest the suspension, the Association may not suspend a Unit Owner’s use of parking or recreational facility Common Elements until it provides the Unit Owner a hearing in accordance with §11-113(b)(2) and (3) of the Maryland Condominium Act.

Additionally, the wording of the relevant changes to the Maryland Condominium Act:

Title 11. Maryland Condominium Act
Suspension of use of common elements
	(i) A declaration may provide for the suspension of the use of parking or recreational facility common elements by a unit owner that is more than 60 days in arrears in the payment of any assessment due to the condominium.
	(ii) If a declaration contains a suspension provision authorized under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph, the declaration shall state that a suspension of the use of common elements may not be implemented until the council of unit owners:
		1. Mails to the unit owner a demand letter specifying a time period of at least 10 days within which the unit owner may pay the delinquent assessment or request a hearing to contest the suspension; and
		2. If a unit owner requests a hearing to contest a suspension, provides notice and holds a hearing in accordance with § 11-113(b)(2) and (3) of this subtitle.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of the declaration or bylaws, the council of unit owners may amend the declaration to add or repeal a suspension provision authorized under paragraph (1)(i) of this subsection by the affirmative vote of at least 60% of the total eligible voters of the condominium under the voting procedures contained in the declaration or the bylaws.

If you’ve still got questions, you can contact Shea Management at (301) 986-4166.

Sep 04

General Updates and New Mailing List

Hello everyone!

We’ve migrated the handling of our mailing list to MailChimp! This comes at no cost to us, but it does remove some limitations we’d previously had. If you haven’t already, please make sure community@grandbelmanor.com has been added to your contact list to ensure you get every update.

For the more general news, the new roof on 3800 & 3802 is almost complete. We’ve had a rainy summer, and some other delays, but they should be wrapping up the final stages in the upcoming week or two, weather permitting. The parking lot should be returning to normal even sooner. Unlike in the past, this is a completely new roof, not another layer slapped on top to try to squeeze more life out of the old one. It was designed by an engineering firm which has also been overseeing the contractor and ensuring that they don’t cut any corners; it has been well worth it.

The other big news is that 3852 is continuing to move forward, if slowly. Asbestos abatement and removal has been completed; new windows should be coming in soon. I’m hoping to have even more good news soon.

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