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Covenants – or not?

The Woodmen Hills Covenant Management Board and Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District are challenging a May 2009 ruling by an El Paso County district judge that invalidated the covenant board’s claim to enforce covenants in Filing 8 of the Woodmen Hills neighborhood.Chuck Warne, the plaintiff in the original case against the covenant enforcement, said he believes covenants are enforced by a few people who want to control their neighbors and hold on to the premise that covenants uphold property values.Warne has a strong following among his Filing 8 neighbors, but not all Woodmen Hills residents, or even all those in Filing 8 are ready to toss covenant enforcement out the window.Dawn Sutherland said she and her husband bought their home in Filing 8 a little over a year ago. They specifically sought a neighborhood with covenant enforcement. She said they were unaware of the lawsuit at the time they closed their home.”The thing that makes me the most furious is that when you moved in you knew there were covenants,” Sutherland said. “How can they now just go away?”In the ensuing months since the covenants ruling, Sutherland said she feels the neighborhood has gone downhill. She cited a household down the street from her that still hasn’t removed their Christmas lights from last year.”Covenants keep the pride of ownership,” Sutherland said. “I feel there needs to be the ability to enforce it.”In all, Filing 8 represents a small portion of the Woodmen Hills development and the WHCMB oversees most of the neighborhood with the exception of Filing 11, the Country Club Edition, which has a separate management board.About the boardTo shed light on their practices and purposes, the New Falcon Herald posed questions to the WHCMB. The following answers were collectively composed and sent in one e-mail by the five WHCMB board members: Charlie Camacho, Joseph Henry, Michele Foulks, Kathy Wennen, and Shawn Mullen.The e-mail is as it was sent, except for some changes for newspaper style.How was the covenant board formed?The board was formed over two years ago by the former developer (Rusty Green) and Warren Management who was the management company at that time. Warren Management conducted interviews and selected community resident volunteers who later formed the board of directors and the advisory committee.How are board members selected?Residents self nominate for the board of directors (five positions) or the advisory committee (six positions). When a resident applies for a vacated position on the board or the advisory committee, the resident’s covenant records are reviewed; and, if they are acceptable, an interview with the board of directors is scheduled. After the records review and interview, the board of directors will vote on the candidate. Upon assignment, the new member is required to read and become familiar with established ethics and by-laws. Applications are available online and at WHMCB meetings. Terms are as follows: president – two years; vice-president – two years; secretary – one year; treasurer – one year; director – two years. How is covenant enforcement funded?Until June, there was a $6.50 per month covenant fee. It is now being funded by the Woodmen Hills Metro District.How much is spent per year?The management company’s fee is $3.25 per home per month plus expenses, such as letters, mailing, postage, copies, faxes, etc.How does the covenant board communicate with residents?Meetings for the WHCMB for filings 1-6/8-10 are the first Tuesday of the month at the West clubhouse at 6 p.m. Residents are encouraged to join with questions. WHCMB strives to work with the community as the mediator between the property management company, Colorado Management, and the residents.What is the covenant board’s mission?Our goal is to foster a pleasant community where people are proud to live and take pride in their property. In order to reach this goal, a balance between established covenants and education thereof must be considered, while still fostering an aesthetically appealing community.What are some of your short-term goals to accomplish that mission?Continuing education is a priority as seen on the Colorado Management’s Web site. There, residents can sign up to learn more about the covenants, guidelines and design and review procedures for our community. We also have an open forum at each monthly board meeting where our residents can participate and express concerns regarding the established standards of covenant management.What role does the covenant board have in enforcing covenants?Each lot owner in filings 1-6/8-10 accepted the covenants when they purchased their homes in Woodmen Hills; they are attached to the purchaser’s title. The board does not enforce, we only oversee between the management company and residents.Can covenants be amended, deleted or added to? If so, what is the process?Yes. In filings 1-6/8-10 it would be very expensive to accomplish. Unlike other communities where there is one set of covenants for all; filings 1-6/8-10 have numerous sets and each filing would have to be changed and voted on by lot owners according to the terms of their filing.Describe the benefits the covenant board brings to the Woodmen Hills Community?The ability for residents to have a committee to meet with the management company when there is a question; to have 11 members of the community to help when questions arise, not just five members. Since the board and committee members are comprised of residents from several different filings, the board inherently provides perspective, but most importantly the board will bring experience in a vast majority of issues where conflicts can occur when operating with 11 different sets of covenants.Is the board fighting the decision on the Filing 8 lawsuit? If so, please explain the basis for the appeal. How is the appeal being funded?Since it is in appeal, the WHCMB cannot comment on this question.

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