The efforts of a group now known as the Past Presidents’ Preservation Project (P4) are focused on supporting the election of additional qualified candidates to the Fair Oaks Ranch Homeowner’s Association (FORHA) Board of Directors (BOD). This stemmed from Board decisions since 2018 that included a $4 million-dollar parks improvement plan; a doubling of the annual assessments, and the rejection of 658 FORHA Member proxy signatures to establish an independent, comprehensive By-Laws Review Committee. Although some of the 2018 and 2019 Board Members and residents expressed concerns about the proposed plans, the Board proceeded. P4 is trying to bring new Board conservative perspectives to FORHA plans for the benefit of the total membership. The following summarizes the details since 2018.
In 2018 the BOD announced their $4-million dollar, multi-year parks improvement plan to add: basketball courts, pickle ball courts, aquatic splash pads, a children’s rope structure, public bathrooms and more to our two existing parks; one of which is in a flood plain and occasionally under water, the Boots Gaubatz Park. Due to the dissenting negative feedback from homeowners the BOD then decided to survey the homeowners. Per the BOD minutes of the September 4, 2018 Regular Board meeting, “The survey results will be used to inform the Board prior to their vote on the assessment increase at the October 2nd meeting.” Subsequent analysis showed the survey and the BOD analysis appeared to be flawed and that a plurality did not approve, yet the BOD apparently misrepresented the results and announced overwhelming support for their plan, with few modifications.
Before informing the homeowners of their plan, in February 2018 the BOD voted to approve construction of a children’s playground rope structure in Vestal Park. According to FORHA the rope structure cost $180,000 dollars to build.
A grass roots movement of concerned homeowners, led by four past Presidents of FORHA, came together to address the unnecessary spending and huge increase in homeowner assessments. The group is now known as the FORHA Past Presidents’ Preservation Project, or P4. The group circulated a proxy petition which was presented at the November 2018 Annual Homeowners Meeting. The group presented two motions at the Annual Meeting that passed by an overwhelming vote of 658, which represents approximately 20% of the total membership, to 175. This clearly showed this was not a small group of like-minded concerned homeowners. The first motion was to amend the by-laws by limiting increases to the annual homeowner dues assessments and the annual budget to no more than 10%. The second motion was to establish an independent homeowner By-Laws Review Committee (BRC). This second motion was agreed to by the BOD as noted in the minutes of the November 6, 2018 Regular Board meeting, “The President announced that a bylaw review committee will be created for a comprehensive review of the FORHA bylaws to be completed by March 31, 2019. The review will be conducted by a joint committee of three directors and three non-directors, plus a non-director committee chair. All non-directors shall be appointed by past presidents of FORHA. The joint committee will be set up no later than the January 2019 FORHA Board meeting.”
The BRC was to review and make recommended amendments to the 4th Amended By-Laws by March 31, 2019 for consideration and vote by the whole FORHA membership. The Board delayed in naming their three Members to the BRC and required those selected by the past four Presidents to be interviewed and accepted by the BOD. The BOD announced the chairman could not vote, even to break a tie, and then, as if the Board held veto authority, required the finished product of the BRC to be submitted to the BOD for review and approval, before a vote of the whole FORHA membership. This destroyed the independence of the BRC and the four Members selected by the past Presidents resigned from the BRC. Thus, the BOD thwarted the will of the majority vote of the FORHA membership. The BOD refused to allow the past Presidents to select replacement Members to the BRC, and then selected replacements of their own choosing. So, in effect, the BOD wrote the amended by-laws that govern their own operations and authority.
During the summer of 2019 the BRC held open public meetings to solicit input on their draft 5th Amended By-Laws. Members of P4 spoke-out to identify errors in the draft that violate state law and business code, but this input was rejected and no changes were incorporated into the final draft that was presented to the Members for vote.
On August 6, 2019 the BOD passed a resolution that restricts homeowner rights by directing the exclusive use of a proxy form prepared by the BOD. The BOD was notified in writing by legal counsel that neither the by-laws nor Texas law allow the BOD to dictate the form of proxies. The BOD corrected their resolution, but despite this the BRC continued to include this illegal provision in their version of the 5th Amended By-Laws.
The members of P4 prepared an alternative homeowner version of amended by-laws which controls Board spending; requires homeowner approval of the annual budget and dues assessments, and adds homeowner oversight of the BOD, and transparency. This alternative homeowner version of the 5th Amended By-Laws was circulated to homeowners with a proxy form. The 391 proxy votes were submitted at the Special Members Meeting that the BOD announced for October 16, 2019. The purpose of this meeting was to vote on their 5th Amended By-Laws as prepared by the BRC. This Special Members Meeting was not properly conducted. No motions from the floor were accepted and it did not allow for any Member discussion. The P4 spokesman was not permitted to speak to introduce the alternative homeowner version of the 5th Amended By-Laws for consideration and discussion and was then threatened to be physically removed from the meeting. The 391 proxy votes were deemed “illegal” by the FORHA attorney and were not counted, disenfranchising 391 homeowner votes.
Subsequently members of P4 submitted a request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to the Bexar County District Court on November 19, 2019. The purpose of the request for TRO was: to restrain FORHA from enforcing their defective 5th Amended By-Laws adopted by the vote on October 16, 2019; to restrain FORHA from denying the voting of the duly obtained Member proxies; restrain FORHA from holding any further Member meetings in violation of the 4th Amended By-Laws, and request a review and revision of the legal errors in the 5th Amended By-Laws. The Judge found merit in the plaintiff’s request and ordered the Annual Meeting scheduled for November 20, 2019 be canceled and deferred until the Court could review the entire 5th Amended By-Laws. The Judge noted some revisions were potentially in violation of state statues, and the 391 proxy signers had not been properly represented.
On July 21, 2020 another court hearing was held in the Bexar County District Court to establish ground rules for the upcoming FORHA Annual Meeting and election of Board Members scheduled for August 4, 2020, and the inclusion of proxy votes due to expire August 7, 2020. The P4 attorneys argued that the election ballot of November 2019 had changed as candidates had dropped-out and was no longer valid for the August 4, 2020 election. There have been several hearings with the Court and the attorneys from both sides. The Judge announced a Temporary Injunction would be issued as both parties had agreed to void all ballots and proxies for the 2019 Directors election, re-notice the meeting and canvas for candidates, and reschedule the 2019 Annual Meeting and associated Board of Directors election to be held on September 17, 2020. Throughout this time the BOD has failed to act in good faith with all the FORHA membership, nor in compliance with the FORHA mission statement to “be good stewards of the homeowners’ common properties and funds.”
Integrity Transparency Fiscal Restraint