Members Criticize Governing Documents

Members Criticize Governing Documents

At the Reston Association board of directors monthly meeting last week, members voiced complaints about changes in the draft governing documents.

Without discussion, the Reston Association board agreed last Thursday at its regular monthly meeting to the wording for the referendum questions for the governing documents.

The questions ask RA voters to approve or disapprove the changes the board has made the last several months to the governing documents, which codify the rules and regulations that govern the association.

At the same meeting, several RA members criticized changes the board has made in the draft governing documents.

Attending several previous board meetings, including last week’s, Ron Stock of Reston has repeatedly told the board he thinks the changes are going too far. "The Declaration, the Articles of Incorporation, and the Bylaws have all been completely rewritten," Stock said.

The result of the changes, Stock said, significantly increase RA’s power. "The Declaration gives the RA Board the authority to make rules that they do not have the authority to make at present," he said.

ANOTHER RA MEMBER, Michael Kogan, echoed Stock’s view. He thinks the changes show RA is trying to "big brother" the clusters of Reston. In addition, Kogan said that the board originally set out to simplify the documents, but now they are "too difficult to follow and too legalistic."

Kogan has also taken issue with the elimination of the assessment cap in the draft documents, especially since the board was split on the issue, voting five to three in support at its April 13 meeting.

Both residents, who also attended the July 19 governing documents working session when the board reviewed the latest draft, noticed that the board members had difficulty following the new rules set out in the draft.

"Watching you people, who are very familiar with the documents, struggle through them on July 19, one comes to the conclusion that the average member would not have a chance to understand the documents," said Kogan.

"It’s not easy for anyone," Stock said, "including RA Board members, to keep abreast of the changes in the proposed documents that are constantly occurring and to appreciate the radical change in governance that they provide."

Kenneth Andersen, another board meeting regular, has spent time reviewing the proposed documents and comparing them to the existing version. Andersen is concerned that the draft documents give "the board of directors and especially the Design Review Board broader powers while reducing the ability of members to participate in DRB cases."

BOARD MEMBERS responded by saying that the documents are still a work in progress and that they have several meetings planned this month to talk with and hear from community groups.

All six of the nine board members who attended last week’s meeting had a similar reaction.

"I want to thank the community for reading these documents," said Douglas Bushée, RA vice president, referring to the 70-page draft. "We are making changes as we get input from the community."

Stock suggested the board implement a 90–day freeze on changes to the documents prior to a board’s final vote and to the referendum. "Let’s give people a chance to find out what they’re voting on," he said.

Several board members agreed, but time is running out. The board is scheduled to vote on the final version of the documents on Sept. 22. Two weeks later on Oct. 7 the referendum is scheduled to be mailed to members.

For now the board will continue to hear from the community to determine if the documents need further changes. "We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to hear from the community," said Jennifer Blackwell, RA president. "These documents are not written in stone."