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Update: RA RELAC Referendum Gets New Rule

by Karen Goff — November 25, 2014 at 11:00 am 6 Comments

Lake Anne PlazaReston Association has changed the way the January’s referendum for RELAC users will work.

The RA Board voted last week to authorize a referendum for the 343 users of the RELAC air-conditioning system. It the referendum passes, it would give homeowners a choice in how they want to cool their homes.

The Lake Anne-area homeowners on RELAC are bound by the Reston deed to use the lakewater-cooled system, which was touted as revolutionary and quiet in the mid-1960s, but has been met with frustration by some users at its inefficiency in recent years.

RA said at first that two-thirds of the homeowners would need to vote in favor of referendum — which would release the owners from the deed, giving them the option to add, at their own expense, a different air conditioning system.

But upon further review, RA said on Tuesday that the referendum will pass with two-thirds of voters, not homeowners.

From RA:

The quorum for this referendum is at least 10 percent of the 343 members (in the Lake Anne area) eligible to vote. This is in compliance with Article VI, Section VI.2 (b) (15) as viewed in the light of Article I, Section I.2 (a) of the Reston Deed.

It was previously reported that two-thirds of all 343 members was required for the referendum to pass. However, after consulting with legal counsel, the association has determined that under the current Reston Deed, as amended, the required number of votes for the referendum to pass is two-thirds of only those members who cast ballots in the referendum. Votes must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 30.

Currently, the Reston Deed states that “In any residential cluster in which central air conditioning service is available to the lot line, no individual air-conditioning units of any type shall be permitted.” The recently board-approved ballot question will ask members whether that section of the deed should be revoked.

Last summer, 110 homeowners signed a petition asking RA for the referendum. RA last held a RELAC referendum in 2008. It was defeated 130-100.

  • Lake Anne Resident

    RA has made the correct decision here, now let’s give consumers a choice.

    • Eve Thompson

      There really wasn’t a decision for RA to make- The deed allows for a referendum to repeal or amend the covenant if those bound by that covenant get the required number of signatures on a petition requesting the referendum.

      RA’s role here is to uphold the covenant– it’s not a question of RA being in support of one type of AC over another, they’re required to uphold whatever is in the covenant. They don’t have a dog in this fight.

      • Greg

        Unless “they” are subject to the covenant.

        And the RA’s DRB has direct, if not complete, influence over types of air-conditioning apparatus, no?

        Precise language such as: “The size, appearance, and acoustical specifications of the proposed unit should be appropriate for its residential setting.”

        http://www.reston.org/LinkClick.aspx?qenc=ShZJAGgkmIpRZB%2BvNr88oS7t9g06YVP37NrdVE%2FBlVpllenLdK6%2FIyeAATLoq2qm8FmYDyQyvLo%3D&fqenc=HzT9ACzZbNs%3D

        • Eve Thompson

          The DRB is a separate organization from the RA Board- they will have guidelines with regard to location of AC units, etc but even that’s not controlled by the RA Board.

          My point here is that RA’s responsibility is to administer the covenant as it is described in the deed. If that includes a district AC system then they have to enforce that— if it doesn’t then they don’t. RA has no connection to the organization that runs RELAC.

  • Reston Watcher

    The RA statement says “It was previously reported….” Well, yes, it was reported that the requirement was 2/3 of the affected members because that’s what the RA board decided it was at their meeting last Thursday, upon the advice of their counsel who was there at the time, and who quoted what he said was the applicable language from the Reston governing documents. This statement by the RA board isn’t them correcting what has been “reported,” it’s them and their counsel reversing what they had previously decided because someone pointed out to them that the language in the deed clearly said otherwise. But given how confused most of them appeared to be during the meeting about everything they were doing, it’s not surprising that they’ve had to reverse themselves.

    If you could follow the meeting in spite of the bad sound on the video, you’d see that during the discussion of the assessment, they first removed from the assessment a $10 discount for people living in subsidized housing, so they could discuss and approve the main part of the assessment first and then discuss the $10 discount later. After going most of the way around the table discussing main motion, they decided to instead table the motion on the main part of the assessment so they could discuss the $10 discount first and then discuss the main part later. Someone then made a motion to get rid of the $10 discount, but then that motion was withdrawn, so it wasn’t at all clear what they were discussing, and at some point the chair had to go around the table asking every member what they thought they were voting on, with them ultimately, I think, going back to take up the main motion. I’ll admit that after all that and the bad sound, I got confused by what they were doing, too, and I’d have to suffer through the awful sound on the meeting video at least one more time to try to figure out where they ended up on the $10 discount.

    I guess you have to give the board points for perseverance in the face of ignorance, since even though the board members and the staff agreed that they didn’t know how the $10 discount originated and didn’t know how many members it affected, they were still willing to consider dropping the discount altogether without first enlightening themselves on those key points.

    Early on, one board member said she thought that $10 was “nominal” and wasn’t much help for RA to give to folks who lived in subsidized housing. A couple of people on the other side of the table wanted to comment at that time, but the chair insisted they wait their turn while he went around the table giving each member their chance to comment on whether $10 was or wasn’t a significant amount to give as aid to people living in subsidized housing. When they got to those two who had dared to try to comment out of turn, they pointed out that the $10 wasn’t actually going to the occupants of the subsidized housing as the other board members seemed to think, but was instead going to the owners of the subsidized housing who paid the assessments. Staff confirmed this rather obvious fact, so they had to start over with their discussion, now that they at least, a little, kinda, knew what they were discussing.

    My guess would be that the $10 amount was set long enough ago that it was a significant portion of the assessment (not that long ago, really), but with all the increases in the assessment amount over the last few years without any increase in the discount amount, it now appears “nominal.”

    As for their legal counsel, after watching the meeting, I was left with the notion that their interactions with their counsel went something like this:

    RA Board: Counsel, we’d like your legal opinion on whether the board can do such and such.

    Counsel: Do you want to do such and such?

    RA Board: Yes, we want to do such and such.

    Counsel: Well then, it is my reasoned legal opinion that you can do such and such. And if anyone disagrees, they can just go broke trying to sue you (unless something pesky that we can’t ignore, like the actual Reston deed, says unequivocally that I’m wrong).

    RA Board: Thank you, Counsel, for another of your well-reasoned legal opinions.

    • Cluster Tycoon

      Results:
      Gold goes to “the” for a strong showing of 62 times,
      Silver goes to comma with a decent effort of 36 shows,
      followed closely by “to” for 28 manifestations.

      Please, a round of applause for “the”.

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