Bylaws Discussion & Creation

To form the Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association, a set of bylaws needs to be adopted. The bylaws are the rules of the organization. It defines the purpose of the organization and the rules for getting things done. Bylaws are extremely important since they give an organization structure and integrity. Anyone who has much experience with social organizations knows that an organization that doesn't have or doesn't follow its bylaws will simply degenerate into mob rule.

We want everyone in the neighborhood to present their concerns and suggestions about the bylaws. To help establish neighborhood associations, the City of Fort Worth provides a sample set of bylaws. Please view the sample bylaws and post your comments below (or on the sample bylaws page). As suggestions roll in, we will form an edited version of the bylaws and post them here as well. At the October 21st election, we will vote to adopt the edited set of bylaws. We will make every effort to integrate all good ideas into the document. If contentious issues arise, we will vote to either adopt or reject those issues individually.

I encourage everyone who has an interest in the association to participate.

Click here to view the City of Fort Worth's sample bylaws.

Click here to view the current proposed bylaws.

8 comments:

deanne kearney said...

The boundaries of the Association are:

Properties along the shoreline of Lake Worth (lake) starting at the eastern boundary of the Fort Worth Nature Center (currently the first inhabited address is 7568 Love Circle, Fort Worth TX 76135) and continuing along the western shoreline to the address just west of Peninsula Club Road known as 9105 Watercress, Fort Worth TX 76135. The Lake Worth Sailing club representatives have asked to be excluded from the association, therefore 4064 Peninsula Club Cir is not included in the boundaries.

deanne kearney said...

Everyone at the meeting seemed to be fine with the no dues for members. This means no mailings, only electronic communication.

I suggest the following:
The annual dues for the Association memberships will be set as follows:
-Regular Membership - $0 yearly per household (free)
-Business Membership - $0 yearly per household (free)
-Associate Membership - $0 yearly per household (free)

Anonymous said...

Who pays for the website???

Anonymous said...

The site is free. You can start a new web site at https://www.blogger.com/

Michael Dallas said...

The proposed bylaws have been posted.

Tonie Brown said...

Recommendations for the Bylaws

Now that the organizers of the Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association have made changes to the website and their intentions clear we need to make sure that we are protected from any changes in those intentions from either the organizers, elected officers or future board members. We can write that protection into the bylaws at its creation. I believe that if these protective measures are taken now the association will meet with more cooperation in areas of common interest.

After looking at the sample bylaws I would like to propose a few alterations and adoptions.

I would like to start with the statement on the website. Under the Philosophy heading I like the statement, “It is open, free, and places absolutely no requirements on anyone - financial or otherwise.” I would like to see this in the bylaws.


Under the Purpose section we read, “Second, the association seeks to empower its members to address issues they may have with municipalities, entities, and individuals that affect the quiet enjoyment of their homes.” I would like some clarification on the wording, “individuals that affect the quiet enjoyment of their homes“ and “If a member is not able to resolve an issue with a municipality, corporate entity, or an individual, the Association leadership will become involved.”. Does this mean that if one neighbor has a problem with another neighbor the association is going to take action against the second party? Would the association speak to a municipality on behalf of the first party against the second party? Or does this refer to individuals as someone outside of the neighborhood membership?

I want to know because I don’t think the association should deal with issues between neighbors. And I would like to ensure that they don’t assume this responsibility in the future. I don’t want to see the association use it’s power of membership numbers to act on behalf of the group when in reality they are just satisfying the complaint of an individual
against a fellow neighbor. I believe to keep our focus on community wide issues we should write a provision to prevent this into the bylaws.

We should also include as a precaution a statement preventing the association from adopting any form of covenants, codes or restrictions.

As for Dues under the proposed bylaws Article VI, why can’t we write that we do not have any dues now and shall not have any in the future? I think the website stated it very well, “Association has no dues.” and “the association can remain free and open to all residents“.

To ensure that we remain a voluntary neighborhood association we should include this in the bylaws. The statement on the site could be used as a guideline. “We Are A "Voluntary Neighborhood Association" The Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association is an organization known as a "voluntary neighborhood association." The City of Fort Worth's web site states that, "A voluntary neighborhood association is an organization that represents all residents in the neighborhood and operates through an open, democratic process to improve or maintain the overall quality of life for all individuals within those boundaries. Membership in a voluntary neighborhood association is open to all the residents in the neighborhood but participation is optional. It has no legal power to require anything from residents."

Referencing Article V Membership: I would like to suggest that all persons 18 years of age whom reside within the boundaries be allowed 1(one) vote. As with a Presidential election for our Nation, husband and wife or other voting age adults residing in the same household do not always support the same candidate. We need to include a provision for absentee voting as well.

In Article XIV Dissolution: I propose this should be decided by a 2/3 vote of the entire membership(not just those present) and not the Executive Board.

Article XII Parliamentary Authority While many people are familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order some are not. Many people don’t feel comfortable with the format and might be hesitant to participate in debates or voting. While I agree it is a guideline to maintain order and schedules, I would suggest that in the interest to give all members a chance to be heard that the we adopt a standard practice to open the floor for questions before any vote.

Working together for the good of the entire community on issues that effect the entire community is one thing. Using an association to impose your own personal standards on your neighbors is another. I hope that the intent of this association remains pure and helpful as it grows. By writing some protection into the bylaws we can ensure that this remains a positive organization well into the future.

Thanks,
Tonie Brown

Michael Dallas said...

Over the past year, everyone that I have spoken with - Joe Waller of the Lake Worth Alliance, leaders of the City of Fort Worth, and other neighborhood association leaders - testify that neighborhood associations are hard to maintain and even harder to start. They provide no salary or direct benefit for those who toil the most while many of the residents enjoy the benefits with doing little and paying nothing. Because the association positions are thankless and hard work, they tend to be run by people passionate about changing their neighborhoods and the world for the better.

I believe that the Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association has been put together by good people wanting to make our neighborhood a better place. They see the coming challenges and have put themselves out front (some would say, "in the line of fire"). From my conversations with the good people in this area, I think the neighbors appreciate their efforts and support their hard work.

I sincerely appreciated Tonie Brown's effort. In fact, the issues she has written about have been on my mind. I share her concerns. I have seen, first hand, how an out of control social organization can ignor its bylaws and abuse people. In forming this organization, my goal is the same as Tonie's. I want the Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association to function to the highest benefit for all the neighbors.

In response to Tonie's ideas, I present the following proposals and concerns:

1) I see no problem adding the following phrase, "As a voluntary neighborhood association, the Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association has no power to place any requirements on residents living in the Scenic Shores area - financial or otherwise."

2) The issue of "neighbor vs. neighbor" has been on my mind as well. Like Tonie, I do not want to see the Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association become embroiled with issues between residents. I believe that these kinds of disputes weaken the association and its purpose. I propose adding the language, "non-member" before the word "individual" in the section on who the association will address (e.g. "“If a member is not able to resolve an issue with a municipality, corporate entity, or a non-member individual, the Association leadership will become involved.”). I don't anticipate that the neighborhood association will become involved with issues concerning outside individuals but I would nevertheless like to keep the door open should the need arise. Still, I agree that keeping the SSNA out of "neighbor vs. neighbor" disputes is wise.

3) See number 1. There is no need to restrict the assocation from forming "covenants, codes or restrictions." Covenants are created when a subdivision is formed. Codes and restrictions are the exclusive domain of the city. A voluntary neighborhood associaton has (by definition) none of these powers.

4) I like the idea of never having any dues. That's why I have worked so hard to use electronic communications to keep costs close to zero. However, I think it is unwise to unnecessarily hamstring the association's future. Future members of the association may have serious and valid reasons to have nominal dues. I propose that we add the verbage, "Dues may only be increased by a majority vote at a membership meeting." In the end, no one in the neighborhood will ever be required to pay anything to the association. Participation is voluntary. Anyone not wanting to pay dues can vote against them at the meeting or simply not pay them. (FYI: Most associations charge $10 to $20 per YEAR. Most of the money is used to cover the cost of printing and mailing newsletters to members.)

5) See number 1. We don't need to state that Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association will never go from voluntary to mandatory. It's not possible to change.

6) The issue of "how many votes per property" has been on my mind. (This issue bothered the founders of the United States. That's why we have the Senate with 2 votes per state and the Congress with votes based on population.) On average, each lake property has around 2 adults. Some have one adult. Some have more. However, consider the difficulty at the election when ten people show up stating that they all live at one property. Do we inspect the bedrooms to verify that they all live there? In an atmosphere of fairness and simplicity, I propose that we give each property one vote. It's easy to verify and enforce. After all, this is a "neighborhood association." Each property in the neighborhood (whether rented or owned) should be fairly represented.

7) In my experience, I have seen "proxy" and "absentee" ballots severely abused in small organizations. I've seen people walk into an election as "king-makers" by claiming to own a big handful of proxy (aka "absentee") votes. I suggest the following language for absentee voting, "Any member who wishes to vote but is unable to attend the election may provide his or her choices to the Secretary in writing before the membership meeting."

8) On dissolution, I propose adding the language suggested by Tonie, "or 2/3 vote of the actual membership." (i.e. "Scenic Shores Neighborhood Association may be dissolved with the majority vote of the Executive Board or 2/3 vote of the actual membership, provided that the disbursement of all monies and properties is acted upon prior to dissolution, and all liabilities and obligations of the corporation must be paid, satisfied, and discharged.")

9) In high school, I took a course on Robert's Rules of Order. My class became proficient in "making motions," "seconding," and so on. However, since that time, I have seen no organization (save the Congress of the United States), adhere strictly to these rules. While all small organizations that I know of "subscribe" to the rules, all play loose and allow everyone to have their say. For example, a common mistake is making a motion. The proper verbage according to Roberts is, "I move that..." not "I make a motion that..." I agree everyone should be heard and respected. However, I think that adding language to amend the bylaws about parliamentary procedure is tiresome and overkill.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions.

Michael Dallas

Michael Dallas said...

The proposed bylaws have been updated. Everyone may continue to make comments and suggestions. However, no more changes will be made to this set until the meeting.

Anyone wishing to make changes to the bylaws may propose the changes at the meeting by "making a motion to amend." The members will then vote on the changes. Once all amendments have been proposed and voted on, the bylaws will be voted on.