The Superior Court of Arizona - Maricopa County granted a summary judgement “as a matter of law” in favor of Club West Conservancy in its suit against the former Foothills Club West Board for actions it took to assume rights related to the golf course land and to issue related amendments.
The facts of this case were so clear that the dispute does not need to go to trial.
The court said the Board “improperly annexed the golf course property” into the association because it did so without a supermajority homeowner vote (75%).
The court also said that their “actions in accepting transfer of the declarant’s rights violated Arizona law” when they did so in closed executive sessions.
The Court’s ruling also means that all amendments subsequently made by the previous Board to the Golf Course CC&Rs were illegal and are now voided. This includes the Board’s amendments that (1) allowed as few as 16 percent of homeowners (amongst a 31 percent voter quorum) to permit changes (such as new housing) to the land and (2) awarded the golf course owner membership and 41 votes in the HOA.
To be perfectly clear, the CWC has never been against HOA control of the golf land as long as it was done legally. To do it legally, the Court says the HOA must either own the land or annex it with consent of the owner.
In either case, the golf course CC&Rs would then become subordinate to the Club West Community Master CC&Rs, which means that all amendments to the CC&Rs (like changing the intended use of the golf course land) would require an affirmative vote by 75 percent of HOA members.
Given the turnout the community has shown in the most recent board election (about 30 percent of residents), this 75 percent threshold seems like a very high bar to achieve.
But there is very good reason why the community has such a high bar. Club West was created and marketed to home buyers around a beautiful, centrally located premiere golf course. It’s why many people moved here.
In fact, hundreds of people paid significant lot premiums to live right on the golf course ($60,000-$80,000). This beautiful piece of open space in the heart of our community was always the “club” in Club West.
Changing the “heart” of the community should indeed require a supermajority of community assent.
Getting 75 percent of residents to vote to change the use of this land (or purchase the land) would probably require a volunteer-led door-to-door campaign, but important decisions deserve widespread community participation.
Further, Club West Conservancy members are pleased to receive such definitive resolution to the situation so Foothills Club West community members can rest assured their HOA Board cannot take such arbitrary or capricious actions in the future without ever seeking homeowners’ input or consent.
Homeowners are protected by law and the community’s Master CC&Rs from an HOA Board excluding them from such decision making.
-Matthew Tyler is president of the Club West Conservancy.