In a nearly unanimous decision, a group of twenty Woodbrook residents voted to restart the Woodbrook Community Association (WCA). The association became inactive on October 1, 2014 when its officers failed to call an election. The meeting, held at the Northside Library on Thursday, May 19, 2016, was organized by Woodbrook resident Audrey Kocher.
"I would vote that we form the association again because it really represents everyone and not just a few people," said one Woodbrook resident. "I strongly feel that you do need an association," said former WCA President Susan Reed. Woodbrook resident Dan Gould pointed out that re-establishing the WCA would require ratification from the neighborhood at large, not just from the people "in this room," he said. "Absolutely," said Kocher.
On the topic of neighborhood inclusiveness in the process, Reed was adamant. "If people don't show up and vote in any election their vote just doesn't count," she said. Woodbrook resident Jenny Mathews added, "This is not harming anyone, for us to have this community association, and anyone who thinks it is, doesn't understand what it's all about.”
"I would like to call this a kind of provisional Woodbrook Community Association," said Kocher, detailing her plans to gain support for the idea. "We need to revise the by-laws," she added.
Dan Gould asked if Kocher's plans contemplated annual membership dues as in previous incarnations of the WCA. "That would be up to the by-laws committee," said Kocher.
"For the people who live in the neighborhood who do not want to be represented by a central organization, how would you handle that situation?" asked Gould. "My opinion is that people have a choice to be represented, if [they don't choose] then too bad," said Kocher, who also said that it would be the by-laws committee’s responsibility to make this decision.
There ensued a lengthy discussion on the rights of Woodbrook residents to opt out of being represented by a central organization. The general consensus was that if residents don't participate in the election process they forfeit their right to choose. Comparisons were made to federal elections in which those who don't vote lose their right to select their leaders. Only Dan Gould pushed back on this idea. "At least [federal voters] know there is an election," he said.
Beth Gould asked about how the new by-laws would be approved. "That's a little fuzzy," said Kocher, who went on to say that additional research on this issue would be required.
"I think you have to have some regulations; I'm concerned about property values," said one resident. "I've always wondered why people are so opposed to covenants of some sort that have to do with how you keep up your property," said another. "[It's] because to implement [the covenants] people have to spend money on their property and they don't want to, or they don't want to be forced to," said Gould.
Woodbrook resident and legal expert Peter Roane said, "Go ahead and form a voluntary association. Get as many people as you can to join and present it to the County as no, this is not a homeowners’ association [with] covenants that run with the land that are in the deeds and all that. It is purely voluntary, but then cite to them this represents, I don't know, 159 out of the 200 some homes in the neighborhood, so we speak for that.” "I could support that," said Dan Gould.
"What's the point in electing officers if nobody is doing anything?" asked Beth Gould. "We had no representation, we [only] had officers on paper," she said. "I agree," said Kocher. "We have got to appoint active leaders and hold them accountable," Kocher added.
Roane volunteered to prepare a new set of by-laws for the association. Other residents volunteered to deliver flyers and to set up a new electronic communication network for the neighborhood.
Referring to the funds held by the previous WCA, Kocher said, "I don't want to use it until there is some formal organization."
Concerning Ms. Kocher's plans to survey the neighborhood about the new organization, Dan Gould asked if the survey respondents will be required to sign a document indicating their support for a new WCA. "Yes, I think [they would sign] something that says they are interested in [a new association] or would support one, but that's not the same as a vote," said Kocher.
Click below for a recording of the meeting. The recording starts at about minute 34 of the meeting following an update on neighborhood news by Ms. Kocher.