2002

*~* 2002 *~*
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants

Summary of Pre-trial Hearing
at Berea Municipal Court
on January 23rd, 2002

An agreement could not be reached on a settlement to the rent strike.

Owners offered:
18% increase until September 2002 to be followed by a 6% increase for September 2002 to September 2003. They refused a multi 5 year settlement and commitment to remain Columbia Park forever.

Time Change:
Please note that the court procedings will start at 7:30 am. instead of 8:30 am. on Monday, January 28th, 2002.

500 passes will be available for members of The Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association member who wish to attend.

A friendly reminder:
Association members who attend the trial will need to conduct themselves in professional manner mindful that the German Center is an extension of the Berea Municipal Court while the trial is in process.

* * * * * * * * * *

Day 1 – The Trial Begins

January 28th, 2002
Columbia Park LandOwners vs. Columbia Park Homeowners

 Disclaimer: This page does not represent a transcript of any word for word testimony in the courtroom. It is my attempt to give you an overview of what happened and what I understood was said. If you are looking for word for word testimony, then you need to refer to the court reporter’s records.

Notes provided by Rita Smith.

Court called to order at 7:50 am.
Pledge of Allegiance followed by Magistrate Lazzaro cautioning all in attendance to conduct themselves with proper decorum.

Court business:
1) Motion filed by attorneys of Plaintiff (landowners).
2) Several pieces of defense evidence is excluded.

Jonathan Greenberg’s opening statements were directed to “no rent laws in Ohio”.

David Witt remarked “lawyers bring justice to an unjust world”.
Homeowners at Columbia Park did not purchase a slab of concrete – but security and peace of mind. Cases like these where a magistrate has intervened used common sense. Court must weigh the facts and decide if this situation is different. No law does not mean there should be not justice and compassion. The situation here is unique because there are few manufactured home retirement communities in Ohio.

Witnesses called for Defense by David Witt:
James Martin – owner:
gave a list of his education credits and business experience. Began investing in manufactured home parks 10 years ago. Now has 50 properties totaling 60,000 units in 9 states. Spent 2 and 1/2 years in discussion with Brookins to buy Columbia Park. Closed deal with Brookings on June 22nd, 2001. Feels it was a good acquisition for the team and that Columbia Park is one of the better parks in Ohio.

Dora Satterwaite: no cross exam
Betty Jo Wilson: no cross exam
Max Shindler: no cross exam
Rita Smith: no cross exam
Marie Lansky: no cross exam
(I arrived while this lady was testifying)

Marie Lansky is 79 years young and has lived in the park for 4 and 1/2 years. She works at Drug Mart in the Falls. Before the rent increase, she worked 5 hours a day/ 4 days a week. Now she works 7 and 1/2 hours a day/ 4 days a week.

Brenda King: no cross exam
is 67 years old and has lived in the park for 7 years. Her rent increase was $50 a month. She shops at the American Cancer Society Store for used clothes and does nails to earn extra money.

Pat Patterson: no cross exam
moved to Columbia Park 4 years ago. As President of Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association, has the opportunity to interact with a large segment of population who in her opinion are now fearful and uncertain of the future. Testified regarding managements offer of help to residents demonstrating a hardship. Application was 5 pages and required children’s names, bank account numbers, house title, car title and title to any other assets. Residents fearful of giving all this information. Personally fearful of future and her ability to continue to live in the park. Closed by saying homeowners are more than “pads” and are not animals to be cast-off. “Pads” is a term used by owners when referring to size of parks they own and evidently means the piece of ground where the manufactured home is located.

Chuck Palmer: testimony did not go forward
Janet Papash: no cross exam
a widow for 5 years, Janet has lived in Columbia Park for 13 years. Her rent was increased $63.50 /month. Feels overwhelmed by the large amount. Cleans houses to support herself. Keeps thermostat set at 55 degrees and uses no air conditioning in the summer months.

Joyce Crawford: no cross exam
a 71 year old resident who has lived here for 11 and 1/2 years. Her rent was increased by $46.00/month. Moved here because she felt it was quiet, safe and affordable. Now she is fearful and depressed.

Trial adjourned at 2:30 pm. Court will take up legal motions in the AM.

Our thanks to all the TV channels, news media, WTAM Radio 1100, and the Newspapers that attended the court proceedings today.

A special thanks to Channel 19/43 for their 10 o’clock evening news coverage on Sunday, January 27th, regarding the trial starting today. Both the Patterson’s and Nary’s appeared on the news feature and did an outstanding job of presenting our side of the story. We thank them!

Attendance by Homeowners’ at today trial proceedings was not very good. Perhaps many of you stayed away because you thought it would be too crowded. That was not the case and we need each and every one of you that can possibly attend to come and witness for yourself how evidence is presented and courtroom activities are conducted. Hope to see you tomorrow!!

Day 1
Court Room Photos

               

 Nate Marinchick
Reporter/Anchor
WTAM 1100 AM

 Television Cameramen
editing their video
at day’s end.

* * * * * * * * * *

Day 2
January 29th, 2002
Columbia Park LandOwners vs. Columbia Park Homeowners

Disclaimer: This page does not represent a transcript of any word for word testimony in the courtroom. It is my attempt to give you an overview of what happened and what I understood was said. If you are looking for word for word testimony, then you need to refer to the court reporter’s records.

Notes of Morning Session provided by Rita Smith.

Court called to order at 7:45 am.

Court business:
Plaintiffs made a motion to exclude 3 depositors from rent strike. Magistrate will make a ruling on motion in the afternoon.

Defense Witnesses:

Debra Arnot Heilman: from the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging. The Agency, funded by the Older Americans Act, is involved in anything related to housing for the elderly. Cuyahoga County has the largest number of aged. The GOAL of the Agency is to help people stay in the area. Serves over 3000 people a day in their homes by providing various services. Stated she was aware of 18 to 20% increase in rents at Columbia Park. Thru her experience, finds that a 2 to 4% increase causes people to panic. Agency tries to help in these circumstances. Usual Medicare increase is 2.3%. (Plaintiffs objected many times but Magistrate over-ruled most). Miss Heilman went on to say that our area is one of the most underserved in Cuyahoga County. Needed services are usually paid out-of-pocket for most citizens in need. A large increase in rent can lead to nursing home placement (Medicaid) but most here are not eligible.

Cross examination:
How many people in Columbia Park did you interview?
Answer: NONE but she reviewed financial incomes of residents in documents provided by Mike Foley.

Redirect by Mike Foley:
Asked about similar increases in Mobile Home Parks:
Based on a study done by AARP in Lorain County:
Twin Lakes average rent is $191.00
Colonial Lakes average rent is $200.00
Rent increases in $8.00 range. Twin Lakes and Colonial Lakes both have more to offer and are more modern than Columbia Park.

Mike asked: With regard to hardship: why don’t people apply for help? Answered that PRIDE was the main reason. Hardworking people don’t feel justified asking for service. Based on AARP study, a 9% rent increase would be the maximum seniors can tolerate.

Bruce Melville: presently with CMHA. Gave background credentials and previous work experience. Explained role as it relates to Section 8: Congressional Housing Act of 1974 which is an alternative to public housing. The purpose is to provide reasonable assisted rents thru private landlords. Rent burden (includes rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, maintenance and insurance expressed as a % of income) is a concept monitored and measured by Federal regulations.
Application of the rent burden concept applied to Columbia Park was challenged by Mr. Greenberg by asking how much experience Mr. Melville had in relation to mobile home parks to which Mr. Melville answered: very little.

Mr. Melville was asked to explain methodology of the study he conducted in Columbia Park. He explained that although a sampling of 30 is generally considered adequate, the Columbia Park study was done using a random sampling of 52 households.

Findings:
before the rent increase in September 2001, the average rent burden was already at 42%; after the rent increase the rent burden rose to an average of 45%. It is significant to note that 30% is a nominal rent burden and according to national standards, anything above 40% is burdensome.

11 households have mortgages giving them a rent burden of 46% before the increase which rose to 49% after the increase

41 of the 52 households without a mortgage: rent burden increased from 41% to 44%

of the 41 households without a mortgage, 32 had an average income of $1200 or more; their rent burden before the increase was 33%; after the increase: 35%

8 in the sampling were under the $1200 average income. Their rent burden was 54% before the increase and is 59% after the increase. A rent burden of such magnitude would indicate that their quality of life is severely impaired.

3 in the sampling were not yet paying any increased rent because they were still under their old lease

Fair Market Rents

The Federal Government publishes fair market gross rents (includes rent and utilities) in the Federal Register on a regional basis. Increases for our area:
1999: 4.2%
2000: 4.2%
2001: 5.7% (increased natural gas prices account for virtually all of this increase)

Cross examination:

Greenberg: did you ask how much savings, equity or other monies each person in the survey had?
Melville: NO

Greenberg: How many are in Florida?
Melville: Don’t have #.

Court adjourned at 10:00 am.
Proceedings will resume at 2:00 pm.

 ~ AFTERNOON SESSION ~

           

 Disclaimer: This page does not represent a transcript of any word for word testimony in the courtroom. It is my attempt to give you an overview of what happened and what I understood was said. If you are looking for word for word testimony, then you need to refer to the court reporter’s records.

Court called to order at 2:22 pm.

Court business:
Court ruled in favor of Plaintiff’s motion to exclude 3 depositors from rent strike.

Defense Witnesses:

Karen Straka: Olmsted Township Trustee serving community for 13 years. The duties of trustees include protecting the safety issues of residents. Stated she was aware of issues at Columbia Park because she received letters from approximately 200 residents of Columbia Park. After reading the letters she reached the conclusion that the rent increase was imposing a severe hardship for residents. The degree of hardship and lack of options for residents made it a community issue. Township trustees unanimously passed a resolution to support resident in proposed rent strike. She further explained that Columbia Park has always been considered a special area for Seniors because it represented a safe, affordable housing option.

NO cross examination:

Court recessed until 3:20 pm.

Doris Mathey:
Social Worker with 35 years of experience in the field of Aging. Presently the Director of the Mental Health Unit of the Benjamin Rose Institute.

Mental Health problems affecting the elderly include: depression, dementia, bipolar, anxiety disorders and combinations of any of the above. Mental Health problems car result from chemical imbalances as well as situations such as multiple losses of physical and mental capabilities and well as economic stability.

When presented with a hypothetical situation where rents were increased to 18-20% and asked if such a situation would cause mental health problems for Seniors, she responded that depression and anxiety could occur and would increase in those where the illness was already present.
Definitions:
depression= exaggerated blues with symptoms of sadness, crying, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time, overeating or loss of appetite.
anxiety= “what if” scenarios, blow situations out of proportion, feeling of foreboding and that something bad is going to happen
bipolar= alternating states of euphoria and depression.

Financial loss is more significant to Seniors who worry if they will have enough money to last the rest of their lives. Younger generation views things differently. Self-reporting of mental health issues by Seniors continues to be a problem because they are more private about health problems and personal finances. Many consider a mental health problem to be a defect.

Cross-examination
Did you interview any residents in Columbia Park?
Answer: NO

Are you familiar with any studies done on rent increases?
Answer: NO

Court adjourned at 4:10 pm.
NO COURT SESSION ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30TH

Next session: Thursday, January 31st at 8:00 am.

* * * * * * * * * * 

Day 3
January 31st, 2002
Columbia Park LandOwners vs. Columbia Park Homeowners

Disclaimer: This page does not represent a transcript of any word for word testimony in the courtroom. It is my attempt to give you an overview of what happened and what I understood was said. If you are looking for word for word testimony, then you need to refer to the court reporter’s records.

Side bar in progress when I arrived at 8:05 am and continued for an extended period of time during which Homeowners were held to a strict “NO TALKING” policy while the bailiff’s patrolled the room.

John Monroe:
We are concerned with only one issue here: is the rent increase unconscionable? No law suggests a rent increase can be unconscionable. No evidence was put forth that increases were unconscionable. The plaintiff moved for a “directed verdict”.

David Witt:
Law of unconscionablity permits court to decide. No one can document that a rent increase of $45 ever occurred previously in this State. Cited 3 cases where a judge ruled landlords acted unconscionably. This court has the capacity to decide unconscionability. Remedial laws invite courts to challenge them because every situation is unique.

Judge:
to Mr. Witt: You say law invites the court?
Is there any case law that says I can do that?

Mr. Witt:
In determining unconscionability the law says to consider three areas:
(1) setting of contract
(2) purpose of contract and
(3) effect of contract. This invites a wide array to be submitted.

Mr. Monroe:
No case cited by Mr. Witt relates to rent increases.

5 Minute Break

Plaintiff’s Witness:
George Allen: 22 years of experience in manufactured home communities. Authored textbooks, holds symposiums, writes a newsletter. Hired by owners to do a comparability study between rents and amenities at Columbia Park versus rents and amenities at other parks in the southwest area of Cuyahoga County.

Mr Witt made a motion to disqualify Mr. Allen. Motion denied.

13 communities were visited: 7 communities included in study
states he was very discouraged after visiting the 13 communities so Mr. Burnham took him to 2 other communities but doesn’t know where they were.

Stated that when he visits a park he looks at both amenities and features.

Defines amenities as: shopping center, medical building, gatehouse, clubhouse, street lights, no pets running loose, wide clean streets, off-street parking;

Defines features as: homes well kept with landscaping, large lots, streets clean, no dead trees and leaves cleaned.

<– PLEASE REFRAIN FROM COMMENTS –>

2-3 parks had onsite managers.

Some parks charge 1 rent for everyone while others have a range; both methods are acceptable.

Found no parks he visited compared to Columbia Park for the following reasons: smaller size, fewer or less amenities and features: no shopping mall, no medical center, no gas station, no gate house, narrower streets, no Trolleyville and just generally less homey.
Upkeep of the homes at Columbia Park were above average and most like those in Florida.

Water/sewer charges:
Historically, parks had a master meter. Changed to sub-meters where each home has their own meter and residents billed seperately.

Of the 7 communities included in report, 5 seperate out water and sewer so rent does not include those charges.
2 include sewer charge in rent which is what Columbia Park does. (WRONG!!)

When doing a comparison: you look at
Net Rent: water and sewer NOT included, versus
Market Rent: water and sewer included.

CONCLUSION:
Average NET RENT= $238.00

How many of the parks are less than $238.00?
Answer: 1 less

How many of the parks are more than $238.00?
Answer: 5 more

How many of the parks were 55 and over? None

Same analysis for market rent.
Average MARKET RENT= $297.00

How many of the parks are less than $297.00?
Answer: 2 less

How many of the parks are more than $297.00?
Answer: 4 more
That’s all, your Honor.
* * * * CROSS-EXAMINATION * * * *
of George Allen by Mike Foley:
George Allen’s: answers to Foley’s questions.

Hired by law firm representing the landowners at the cost of $1000 a day and billed for 3 days.

Survey of manufactured home parks done on January 3rd.

Testified that Columbia Park’s low rent was $270 and high rent was $330 with an average of $280. Used 2 different types of methods of averaging when analyzing numbers. For Columbia Park every rent total was included in the average whereas when determing the average for all the other parks only 2 numbers (high & low) were used to determine the their average rent.

Furthermore, Columbia Park does not include water and sewer charges in the rent so every # in your study can be disputed. You compared weighted averages versus non-weighted averages. That’s comparing apples to oranges instead of apples to apples.

Visted 2 parks with Mr. Burnham (owner) but doesn’t remember which ones they were or where they were.

Mr. Foley went into other areas of Mr. Allen’s activities as they relate to Manufactured Homes and the programs, classes and symposiums he provides for those interested in manufactured home parks.

Mr. Greenberg on redirect:

Verified with Mr. Allen that although Columbia Park was the nicest facility in the area, the rents were not the highest.

Judge called 10 minute recess.

John Chase Jr.: representing Tremont Realty Capital which specializes in finding financing for investors interested in manufactured home communities.

His responsibilities include looking at income and expenses and establishing the net operating income which then helps the lending institution decide on loan possibilities.

When he reviewed Columbia Park records he found expenses to income ratio to be very high. Expenses for park much higher than normal.

Determined new owner would be financing 80% and purchase price was inline with fair market values.

Used George Allen’s comparable survey results and determined that a new rent schedule would have to be implemented to cover debt service (mortgage payment) and needed improvements to property.

CROSS-EXAMINATION: by Mr. Witt
Payed $2000 and air fare by owners to testify.
If your information source was Mr. Allen and if Mr. Allen’s numbers are wrong then your information is wrong.
Assume residents can pay increase by the homes they live in and the vehicles in the driveway.

Mr. Brookins ran a quasi-welfare state operation. Overly liberal with his money. 58 on payroll. Low rents and too many employees. Mr. Brookins was too friendly with community. Not as aggressive as he should have been with rents.

Does not know if the impact of rent increase on residents was considered.

Did not agree that lower rents attract lower income but rather suggested that lower rents attracted shrewd buyers.

Adjourned with Closing Arguments starting at 12:40 p.m.

Day 3 ~ Final Arguments
January 31st, 2002
Columbia Park LandOwners vs. Columbia Park Homeowners

 Disclaimer: This page does not represent a transcript of any word for word testimony in the courtroom. It is my attempt to give you an overview of what happened and what I understood was said. If you are looking for word for word testimony, then you need to refer to the court reporter’s records.

FINAL ARGUMENTS

John Monroe for the Plaintiff:

Reviewed testimony of Mr. Martin, one of the owners. Testified to promissory notes, mortgage amount, rent analysis, rent classes and % of increases planned over 2 years.

Then you heard the emotional testimony from residents.

Defense Expert Witness Arnot: based her testimony on newspaper articles. No residents were interviewed. Not much of a witness.

Defense Expert Witness Bruce Melville: minimal experience with manufactured housing issues. Used a survey form he did not prepare which lacked much information such as: other assets. Claims residents freely gave information for survey. Lead council’s wife works with him.

Defense Expert Witness Mathey: spoke about depression and anxiety in general terms. No interviews of residents. No study related to depression and anxiety in seniors as it relates to rent increases.

NONE OF THESE WITNESSES HELPED DETERMINE OUTCOME

Plaintiff Expert Witness Allen: testified that Columbia Park is unique in it’s size and amenities. Compared net and market rents and demonstrated rents lower at Columbia Park.

Plaintiff Expert Witness Chase: Under Brookins, Columbia Park was a quasi-welfare state with high costs and low rents.

Thanked the German Club for use of facilities, Judge Lazzaro and Berea Municipal Court.

Asked Judge to look at the Law:
There is NO law that says rent increases are unconscionable.

Day 3 ~ Final Arguments
January 31st, 2002
Columbia Park LandOwners vs. Columbia Park Homeowners

 Disclaimer: This page does not represent a transcript of any word for word testimony in the courtroom. It is my attempt to give you an overview of what happened and what I understood was said. If you are looking for word for word testimony, then you need to refer to the court reporter’s records.

FINAL ARGUMENTS BY DEFENSE David Witt for the Defense:

Thanked the court for the historic oppurtunity to present this case. Proceeded to tell the following story:

There is a street in Cleveland called Kinsman. Few people realize that if you follow Kinsman out of the city that it goes all the way to Pennsylvania. Before reaching Pennsylvania, however, you come to a town in Ohio called Kinsman, the birthplace of Clarence Darrow. Clarence Darrow had 2 principals for winning a case:
1) feel it in your heart
2) find the tools to win
The collective testimony of the homeowners is unchallenged.

Look at business ethics versus personal ethics, instate versus out-of-state ownership and the concept of shame. It is my responsibility to convince you intellectually to decide in favor of the defendants in this case.

This court can look at the Ohio Consumer Protection Act because what we have here is a blended transaction involving service and lease. The Manufactured Home Law gives the court the provision of unconscionability.

This case asks the question: is rent like gas or food?
It is not. Manufactured houses are a regulated market. Food and gasoline are not a regulated market. Legislatures regulate these markets to prevent abuse.

Asking the court to look at unconscionability using the following framework:
CONSUMER LAWS:
1) prevent surprise and oppression when there is a desparity in bargaining power
2) in the presence of physical or mental infirmaties; protection is warranted
3) excessive prices: includes abruptness of increase. No example of a $40.00 increase offered by plaintiff.

MANUFACTURED HOME LAW:
Requires the court to look at 1) setting; 2)purpose, and 3) effect.

1) Setting:
Columbia Park is a 55+ community. Individual testimony points out financially fragile households. A rent burden of 40% is high and an increase up to 43-44% forces choices between rent, food and medicine.

Situation unique in that not pure homeowners/not pure tenants. Rather homeowners tethered to the land because they can’t move their houses.

The previous management represented Columbia Park as financial security fostered by modest increases never approaching 18%.

GOODWILL: Mr. Martin said GOODWILL is the untangible asset of prior owner.
It is also the relationship that existed between the prior owner and the residents. When you purchase goodwill, you purchase the history of the property.

Present situation represents a BAIT AND SWITCH situation.
Marketed as modest rent increases.
New owners purchased good will
Switched to excessive rent increases.

2) PURPOSE:
Mr. Martin talked about needing to pay mortgage. Claims that rents in park don’t meet market value but offers no evidence to justify that claim.

Doesn’t know what was used to compare prices.

Allen’s methodology wrong based on his own testimony. Frustrated because he couldn’t find any other parks like Columbia Park so he found 2 parks with Mr. Burnham.

Chase relied on Allen’s comparative study which was wrong. Wrongly assumed Allen’s numbers were correct.

Plaintiff’s question why so few took advantage of hardship program.
1) privacy: application extremely invasive
2) complicated with no defined formula
Management unable to explain how they determined who would and who would not get assistance or how much that assistance would be.

3) EFFECT:
The effect of the rent increase violated community values that led to formation of Homeowners/Tenants Association.
Followed by a unanimous resolution of the Trustees of Olmsted Township to support the Homeowners/Tenants Association.
Expert witness, Melville, tracks rent increases and testified increases in the 4-6% range which includes utilities were normal for this area.

People here are asking the Court for fairness not a handout.
As Darrow said:
1) feel it in your heart
2) find the tools!

MAGISTRATE LAZZARO THANKED LAWYERS FROM BOTH SIDES, THE COURT REPORTERS AND THOSE IN ATTENDANCE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL MANNER IN WHICH THEY CONDUCTED THEMSELVES.

His decision will not come quickly. He will take all the time he needs to carefully review the testimony and make his recommendation to Judge Comstock.

End of trial notes!!

* * * * * * * * * *

February 8th:
Message from Frank Pojman: Vice President,
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

No decision has been made yet by the Magistrate or the Judge. On Monday afternoon Judge Comstock asked both sides to sit down and talk to try and bring this to an agreeable settlement using a Mediator who the Judge asked to assist us.

David thought this was a good idea and asked me to put a task force together in the event the owners would want to do this. We are ready!

Here is a copy of David’ e-mail.

I got a call from Judge Comstock who is going to urge the parties to reconvene mediation later this week with someone who has done mediation in the Berea Court in the past, a fellow by the name of Vince Young, who I do not know.

I indicated that we would be happy to participate in that but that I thought that it was essential that Monroe’s client be at the table, that this business of just attorneys talking to attorneys was not going to be productive, so that’s where we are. He is going to take it to Monroe and get back to us.

I do not have anything specifically for you, but it may be that we are going to get into some kind of mediation which probably will involve a limited number of the park members participating and then taking back any possible settlement if there is one. This presumes of course that there is interest on the other side to do so. I don’t know that there is.

I do think that we hurt them in the trial. I think that for the first time they feel they have some vulnerability. The fact that the court is recommending mediation here after the fact is I think you can put all kinds of spin on that.

You can suggest that it means that there is an adverse decision to us and they want to try to avoid that.

On the other hand it can also mean simply they want to avoid any decision and maybe they are prepared to do a little muscling to try to pressure some settlement out of the other side.

I think on balance it is productive for us. I think we are in a stronger position now than we were two weeks ago. There is a real chance that we might prevail in this case and therefor it is worth pursuing. The other thing of course is mediation means we achieve a final settlement. (End of message)

On Tuesday afternoon, Attorney Munroe advised the Court that the owner’s refuse to negotiate. This could also go in our favor as this puts the ball back in the Judge’s hands.

* * * * * * * * * *

February 10th:
Message from Frank Pojman: Vice President,
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

To all Association Members:
We have received the decision from Magistrate Lazzaro. The Court has ruled in favor of the owners.

Your Council, met Saturday afternoon at 3:30 with David and Marty Gelfand, (Dennis K’s Attorney). We all were disappointed in the decision because we thought that maybe we touched the heart of the Magistrate, but to no avail. He went by the law. We kind of hoped the Magistrate would at least bring the increase down somewhat do to the fact the owner’s refusal by Mr. Munroe to negotiate face to face with a Mediator as was requested by Judge Comstock on Monday the 4th. There are issues that David will address that make the decision questionable, some of the items the Magistrate may have missed in making his decision.

Marty Gelfand said, WE DID NOT LOSE! There is no law for what we are fighting for yet. We stood up for our right’s in a small city Municipal Court. It appears this court believes that Seniors do not need protection from increased rents by owners as we have now at Columbia Park. We will be planning the next step to success. Park owners just can’t come in and do this. This issue is on it’s way to the state and national levels to protect all seniors NOW! Someone has to suffer to make new laws and unfortunately it’s us now, but we will continue to fight.

David will keep us advised on the progress of this issue. On Saturday, the new Cuyahoga County Commissioner was elected. He is Peter Lawson Jones, he was already advised of our needs by Mr. Kucinich. Your Association has already sent him a letter of congratulations and explained also where we want to be. If you would like to welcome his efforts you can mail him a note to:

Peter Lawson Jones
Cuyahoga County Commissioner
1219 Ontario Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44114

Please, if any of our neighbors are in need of the so-called assistance program by the owners and are going to apply for it, PLEASE, again advise them to show it to someone else in their family or their family attorney before they sign it. There was indication in court that park management has no idea how to explain it. Some residents who applied were very confused about all of the questions. If there is anyone in our community that would like to help our neighbors with these forms, please call, Frank Pojman @ 235-0679. Someone with a financial or legal background would be great.

Again, thank you for all your support and favorable comments that you have given to the Homeowners/Tenants Association through all of this. We will always be here for each other.

In closing, please be assured when something very important in this case happens you will be notified. If you need to call your officer’s, trustee’s or anyone on the council please do so between the hours of 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Thank you.

* * * * * * * * * *

February 11th:
Message from David Witt, Attorney for:
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

February 11, 2002
My Friends,

We have been advised by Berea Municipal Court of Magistrate Lazzaro’s decision with respect of the case Columbia Brook Park Mgmt LLC vs. Max Schindler et al., — the rent deposit case affecting you and your fellow residents.

Magistrate Lazzaro ruled in favor of management, holding essentially that the rent schedule at Columbia Park is not unconscionable; that the current rent at Columbia Park is still below average market rent rate. The Court also found is very questionable whether the manufactured home statute could be invoked to afford residents protection from a rent increase.

Magistrate Lazzaro seemed to suggest that a resolution of this situation should be found outside the courts. He wrote [it] is clear to this Court that something should be done, through proper avenues, to assist the Defendant-tenants and other individuals in similar circumstances.

Needless to say, I am disappointed with the Magistrate’s decision. He chose not to address the evidence presented regarding the reasonable expectations of the residents. He seems not to have considered the abruptness of the rent increase. His reliance upon comparable rents, as presented by management’s expert, is particularly troublesome given the fact the Court denied us the ability to present evidence at trial from 33 other park managers as to rent increases at other parks.

Where do we go from here? We have ten days in which to object to Judge Comstock who will make the final decision. We will certainly do so. In the interim, the rent deposit action continues. An appeal to the Court of Appeals is also an option to be discussed with your trustees.

It is important to keep in mind that this case is but a part of a larger process. Your Association continues to press forward with efforts to place ownership of the park in the hands of a not-for-profit organization. In some sense, the limited defeat here only helps to advance that effort.

The good fight goes on.
Sincerely,
C. David Witt

* * * * * * * * * *

February 21st, 2002:
From: Frank Pojman, Vice President,
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

Subjects: Trial Update, Rent Checks and Rochester Story

To all fellow members:
Just a small update on what is happening as of February 21st. David and Mike have completed the objections to the trial which had to be turned over to Judge Comstock by the end of business day Tuesday. If I were the Judge, I would over turn the case, but I’m not, so we’ll just have to wait for the Judge’s decision. We should have an answer by the end of next week.

We are also going forward with a rent collection for March.
*** Please note: changes of dates and times for rent collection ***
Dates are as follows:

Sunday March 3rd, 1 to 3 PM
Tuesday March 5th, 1 to 2 PM
Wednesday March 6th, 7 to 8 PM
Even if we have a decision before these dates, you will still need to come to the social hall to pick-up your receipts from the February deposit.

Please feel free to give your council some input as to where you would like us to go from here (and keep it nice) as we move forward. We have received a lot of positive feedback to this point.

We will most probably have a Homeowners/Tenants Association meeting in about 2 or 3 weeks and it will be for MEMBERS ONLY so please locate your membership cards as they will be checked at the door.

This next story appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper in Rochester, NY. If you would like to thank David Tyler for wanting to show our plight to the residents of his fine town, you can e-mail him at: dtyler@mail.democratandchronicle.com

MOBILE HOME PARK OWNER IN RENT FIGHT
David Tyler
Democrat and Chronicle
(February 21, 2002)

A local company that owns mobile home parks finds itself in the middle of the largest rent strike in Ohio history. About 800 residents of Columbia Park, a 55-and-over community in Olmsted Township, a suburb of Cleveland, have been withholding their rent since September.

The residents are upset because Columbia-Brookpark Management LLC, based in Pittsford, raised their rents an average of 19 percent when it bought the park last year.

While residents own their homes, they pay rent on the land. In some cases, rents went from $230 a month to $280, said Michael Foley, executive director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization, which is assisting park residents in their strike. “They’re barely making it,” Foley said. “People just couldn’t afford it.”

On Feb. 8, a municipal court magistrate ruled the owners were legally able to increase the rents. The magistrate recommended that the residents’ rent, which had been held in escrow by the court, be released to the park owners. A judge will have the final say after reviewing the magistrate’s report.

But park residents are also trying to convince Cuyahoga County officials to claim the 1,076-home park through eminent domain. That would allow residents to run the park as a cooperative. Columbia-Brookpark is a partnership of several local investors that owns about 10,000 mobile home pads in six states including New York. The company did not return calls seeking comment.

John Monroe, a Cleveland attorney who represents the owners, said even with the increases, rents at the park remain below market value. “They’ve had the benefit of a bargain for a number of years,” Monroe said.
Monroe said the owners offered residents a hardship provision in leases, but only 10 residents applied.

Monroe said he doesn’t believe county officials will attempt to take the park through eminent domain. “We’ve not received any notification from the local jurisdiction that they are interested in it,” he said.

But Frank Pojman, vice president of the Columbia Park tenants association, said he thinks county officials will support the move. “We have the backing of our township trustees,” he said. “We want to control our own destiny.”

George Miles, president of the Ontario-based Park Resident Home Owners Association, a mobile home resident advocacy group, said stiff rent increases are becoming more common, particularly in communities that are for seniors only.

“There needs to be some sort of stability to rents,” Miles said. “Some people end up just walking away from their units because of increases.”

His group is lobbying New York officials to impose some form of rent control for the state’s 250,000 mobile home park residents.

Ohio also lacks rent control, Foley said. Columbia Park resident Betty Jo Wilson, 76, said she is having trouble absorbing the $50-a-month increase. “I don’t know where I’d go if I had to leave,” Wilson said. “I’ll keep fighting as long as I can.”

Thank you as always for your patience.
Frank Pojman and Your Council

* * * * * * * * * * 

March 5th, 2002:
Message from Frank Pojman: Vice President,
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

Judge Comstock has ruled. He agrees with Magistrate Lazarro’s ruling in favor of the Park Owner’s.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Judge Comstock writes:

We were not entirely surprised by a decision made by a small city municipal court and as it appears afraid to set a precedent in this landmark case. One has to question whether the safety of our residents is being compromised when they are forced to choose between paying for rent or for food and/or health care. Resident after resident testified in court stated this was the choice they had to make.

A decision for an appeal will be forthcoming. Our residents have indicated the direction they want to go to be successful on this issue.

We have also had conversation’s with member’s of Cuyahoga County Commissioners Office in pursuant of Eminent Domain. We have presented Monday March 3rd over 500 letters and lists of signatures showing them our residents support for us to move forward more will be sent as we are still collecting our rent checks to be deposited to the court for March . Our owner’s have to know, we are not going to let up on these issues.

Our residents have to be secure knowing this Columbia Park will be here forever and protected by unscrupulous park managers who are taking advantage of our vulnerable senior population. The only way that is going to happen is when we have ownership of Columbia Park.

WE WILL BE AT OUR SOCIAL HALL AT 1:00 PM TODAY 3/5/02 FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO GET RESIDENTS REACTIONS TO THIS DECISION.

Thank you for past and future support.

* * * * * * * * * * 

March 14th, 2002
WHAT: Special Homeowners Meeting
WHEN: 10:00 am. for Areas 1, 2 and 3
02:00 pm. for Areas 4, 5 and 6
07:00 pm. for those unable to attend during the day!
WHERE: Social Hall
WHY: Moving case to Court of Appeals

Notes from 10 am. meeting.
The meeting was called to order by Frank Pojman, our Vice-President.
Pat Bittner led us in prayer followed by the “Pledge of Allegiance”.

Special Announcements: Rita Smith is on LOA due to the very poor health of her mother. Our condolences to Betty Gorman whose husband died yesterday morning. God bless you, Betty!!

Mike Foley gave a short presentation regarding the pros and cons of taking our case to the Court of Appeals. He also answered Homewoner’s questions.

Each Homeowner received an envelope with a ballot inside on which they could mark their decision. Sealed envelopes were to be deposited in the boxes at each door.

Meeting adjourned at 11:35 am.

* * * * * * * * * * 

March 25th, 2002
Special Homeowners Meetings

5 meetings held throughout the day
Purpose: Case Consolidation Ruling

Judge Comstock has ruled NOT to consolidate the individual cases of residents in the appeal. (This case was treated as ONE CASE in The Berea Court and should go up to the 8th Court of Appeals as ONE CASE.) This decision requires each homeowner who wishes to participate in the Appeal process to pay their own court costs. However, our attorney’s are optimistic that the Appellate Court will overturn Comstock’s ruling and require only one filing fee.

Five meetings were held today to accommodate all of the Homeowner’s who chose to participate in the Appeal at the meetings on March 14th.

The new ruling by Judge Comstock was explained and Homeowner’s were advised that if the decision to NOT consolidate our case was not reversed, each homeowner would be required to pay $25.00 to Berea Municipal Court and $100.00 to the 8th District Court of Appeals. Homeowner’s will decide individually how they will proceed. There will be another Hearing at Berea Municipal Court on GOOD FRIDAY, March 29th, at 3:30 PM. PLEASE TRY TO ATTEND.

* * * * * * * * * * 

March 26th, 2002:
Message from Frank Pojman: Vice President,
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

OUR SENIOR RESIDENTS HAVE SPOKEN!

It took three meetings on March 14th to advise all of the residents who have participated in this issue since the memorable September, 2001 of their options for going forward with an appeal of Judge Mark Comstock’s ruling.

OUR RESIDENTS HAVE SPOKEN BY AN OVERWELLMING DECISION OF 96% FOR THE APPEAL. They also backed up their decision with donation’s to cover expenses of our attorney’s.

It was also announced that C.David Witt and Michael Foley would also continue to be our council for the appeal process to show that the Magistrate Lazzaro and Judge Comstock made a wrong decision in this case.

At all of the meetings on March 14th it was amazing what our out of state owners/landlords have created here. The residents want justice and want to be able to spend their lives with affordable living and peace of mind that we will be here as COLUMBIA PARK, FOREVER. Our seniors are an amazing group of American citizens who have led productive lives and many have been involved in wars to protect the very freedom we are fighting for here in Columbia park. They have vowed to fight for their rights and to be left alone in their retirement years and follow through on plans they have made. Also, they have vowed to protect their neighbors who have to make the decision of eating, taking medication, seeing doctors etc.

Sure our rents were raised to market levels and sure we were getting a bargain from the previous owner. The Brookins family had compassion for their senior residents and raised rents only as needed 3-5% as history has shown to maintain a beautiful Columbia Park, second to none in the state of Ohio They gave motivation for all residents to maintain their yards to the highest standards and beauty also as history has shown.

The Brookins Family, as was quoted by owners expert witness John A. Chase, Jr. in the trial. He characterized the park’s former ownership as a “quasi-welfare state”. The owners he said, were overly liberal with their rent levels, “sloppy” with expenses, and not aggressive in raising rents, compared to other manufactured home park owners. This could be another definition for COMPASSION.

The Columbia Park Homeowners Tenants Association has always through this entire process had a plan in place to respond to Judge Comstock’s recommendation to get together face to face with the owners. The owners have refused.

LATEST UPDATE TO ADDITIONAL NEWS FROM JUDGE MARK COMSTOCK.

Court documents show without a doubt that residents were denied presenting crucial evidence to this case many times from being brought forward, but Judge Comstock appears to believe he is doing the right thing by ruling on March 19th denying us a new trial.
Judge Comstock has also ruled not to consolidate the individual cases of residents to appeal. This case was treated as one in Berea Court and should be treated as one to the 8th Court of Appeals. The effect of this decision appears to impose additional court fees and additional burden on our senior residents since each household will be treated as an individual case with individual court costs. Good business sense? Through our attorneys we will revisit the issue with the Court of Appeals. Our attorney’s are optimistic that the Appellate Court will take this case in a different direction – – – requiring only one filing fee.

On GOOD FRIDAY, March 29th at 3:30 PM Judge Comstock will make another decision in regards to the ongoing rent strike. He will make a decision if the rent strike should continue during our appeal process and how much if any additional money will be released to the owners.

Five meetings were held on March 25th to accommodate all of our family’s who chose to appeal at the meetings on March 14th. Residents were advised of the new action by Judge Comstock. Although they were in awe and disbelief, they were also advised that if this decision to consolidate was not reversed, it would cost each homeowner $25. to Berea Municipal Court and $100. to the 8th District Court of Appeals.

Another hurdle for many proud senior’s. They showed by a resounding decision of 70% to go forward many of which paid their money to appeal, should it be needed. It’s better to pay now, than 6 to $700.00 over a year’s increase. Sadly, the family’s who need to appeal the most are the one’s who don’t have $125.00. This appears to be a form of discrimination against our seniors.

Many residents, and who are veteran’s who have fought in many wars will be in attendance to continue to fight this one on GOOD FRIDAY @ 3:30PM at the Berea Municipal Court.

WE HOPE YOU WILL ALSO BE IN ATTENDANCE TO CONTINUE SHOWING AMERICA WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE IN CLEVELAND AND AROUND THE COUNTRY.

WE HAVE VOWED NOT TO GO AWAY!

PS, OUR OFFICERS, COUNCIL AND RESIDENTS HAVE EXPRESSED INTEREST IN TELLING THEIR STORIES TO ANY MEDIA PROGRAM. COULD PROVE TO BE A VERY INTERSTING.

* * * * * * * * * * 

March 29th, 2002. (Good Friday)
Hearing at Berea Municipal Court

The courtroom was filled to capacity with approximately 30 more Homeowners out in the Hall. When members of News Media arrived, Homeowner’s gave up their seats so that the News Media people could stay in the courtroom. Our thanks to reporters from the NewsSun, Plain Dealer and Radio Station WTAM for attending the court hearing.

Once again, we sat and waited for what seem an endless amount of time waiting for the judge and lawyers to make an appearance. Judge Comstock was kind enough to appear twice and explain to Homeowners that the lawyers were negotiating in his chambers.

Mr. Witt and Mike Foley announced that the sides had reached an agreement on several areas and recommended that Homeowner’s consider accepting the following offer:

Rent Strike Stops: All funds held in escrow by the court would be released to owners. Starting in April, Homeowner’s will pay their rent directly to the office.

(Witt and Foley feel that Judge Comstock is leaning toward granting the Landowner’s request for release of funds and for the court to order the end of the rent strike. No surprise here. He’s going to give them everything they want anyway.)

Landowner’s will provide a security bond in the amount of 40% of the amount in dispute for the protection of Homeowner’s.

Cases will all be consolidated. Those who elected to go forward to the Court of Appeals and paid $125.00 will have their checks returned. Our Case GOES UP TO THE COURT OF APPEALS AS ONE CASE instead of 552 individual cases.

Our secondary case relating to the Social Hall is scheduled to be heard in a couple of weeks. In return for dropping that case, the Landowners will pay Witt’s legal fees of $4000.00 which he would have received by winning that case. The Landowner’s agree that The Homeowner’s Association may continue to use the Social Hall.

Management remains responsible for any and all legal costs incurred at the Court of Appeals.

APPEAL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND GOING FORWARD !!

Motion made and seconded to ACCEPT the offer.

Voice vote carried the motion.

Hearing was adjourned. We all went home to think about what had happened and hope we did the right thing.

* * * * * * * * * * 

March 29th, 2002:
Message from Frank Pojman: Vice President,
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

On Thursday March 28, 2002, Ken Burnham began passing out to residents a letter urging us not to proceed to appeal in our rent strike case.

To be honest I continue to be amazed by their arrogance and conceit. For the owners to suggest that they welcome “the opportunity to work with you to continue the fine tradition of Columbia Park”, flies in the face of the history of the 9 months they have owned this park. From the first meeting they scheduled to today, they have been unwilling to budge one inch on reducing the enormous rent increase. During the course of the preperations for the trial, we and our attorneys, continued to press for a negotiated settlement to no avail. They would not move from their position of not changing the rent increases. At the trial, David Witt suggested to the Magistrate that he pursue a Court sponsored mediation to again attempt to settle the case. The owners refused. At the trial Mr. Martin showed up for two hours to give his testimony, then cared so little about the case or the testimony of the residents that neither he nor any of his co-owners or agents again showed up for the remainder of the three day trial.

In his letter, Mr. Burnham pretends to be concerned about our financial participation in the lawsuit, likening our participation to owning a boat, which he says is like a black hole. Well, I’ve never owned a boat, and most likely never will own a boat. Most of us in the park, I would hazard a guess have never owned a boat. Personally, I can’t afford to own a boat and doubt that many others in the park can as well. I, like many others in the park, can barely afford to pay the increased rent that Mr. Burnham and his partners forced on us. If Mr. Burnham and the owners are so concerned about our financial well being then they can get rid of the huge rent increase from last year and negotiate a reasonable rent increase.

Secondly, the letter from Mr. Burnham attempts from his perspective to explain the law to us and why he believes we cannot win on appeal. Mr. Burnham is not to my knowledge an attorney. He does not live in Ohio and is not familiar with Ohio law. He is a landlord whose self interest is in making money off our rents. The reason we are appealing this case is because we believe that Judge Comstock’s decision was wrong. It was wrong because he would not allow us to bring in evidence of rent increase histories from other parks to compare to Columbia Park, or to compare total rents to the rents at Columbia Park. It was wrong because he would not allow us to depose the past owners to seek financial information and the details of the contract for sale between the Brookins family and the new owners. It was wrong because despite not allowing this important evidence, we presented enough evidence to show that the rent increases were unconscionable as a matter of law, and that rent is a term or a clause in a rental agreement, which can be found to be unconscionable.

Mr. Burnham’s letter is an attempt to break the unity, which we have developed over the past 9 months. It’s a classic attempt at divide and conquer. Let’s not let him do this. Of the total 779 residents eligible to participate in the appeal, 748 have chosen to do so. If, in the unlikely scenario, the Court of Appeals does not grant our motion to consolidate the cases into one, 552 of us have scraped, begged and borrowed the $125 appeal fee together. This is truly amazing.

We have conducted ourselves in as honorable a fashion as any large group of people could do. We have been strong and principled throughout these affairs. The residents of Columbia Park are a special group of people. Let’s not allow management’s tactics dissuade us. It may take some time, but in the end we will prevail.

* * * * * * * * * * 

March 30th, 2002
Letter from Attorneys Witt & Foley

Dear Friends:

We want to bring you up to date with regard to the results of the hearing in the Berea Court yesterday. The initial purpose of the hearing was to determine whether the rent deposit action would continue while the case is on appeal. Ultimately, a compromise was struck that dealt, not only with rent deposits but also with other outstanding issues.

In a lengthy informal discussion with counsel for each side prior to the anticipated hearing, the Judge indicated he had a strong inclination to disband the rent deposit action while the case is on appeal but that he also believed that you, the residents, were entitled to some financial protection in the event the residents’ case was successful in the appellate court. The Judge’s view strongly influenced the discussions that followed.

The following agreement was achieved upon the recommendation of your attorneys and with the approval of the leadership of the Homeowners’ Association:
The rent deposit action in the Berea Court is terminated effective immediately. Rent for April and thereafter will be paid directly to the management office by each and every resident. Rents now on deposit with the Berea Court will be released to management.

Management will post a $150,000.00 bond with the Berea Court assuring that if the residents prevail on the underlying claims, money will be there to provide a rent refund. If this case remains unresolved at the court of appeals through October 2002, the residents reserve the right to petition the court for a larger bond.

Management agrees to the consolidation of the approximately 750 cases before the court of appeals. The appeals will be tried as one case. This represents a savings to the residents of $90,000.00 in possible court costs. The recently collected $125.00 checks to support anticipated court costs will be returned to each resident who supplied such payments. All of the residents who wanted to participate in the appeal will now be able to participate.

A related second case involving the use of the social hall was scheduled for further hearing on April 17th, 2002. You will recall in that case, at an earlier date, your attorneys were able to obtain an injunction, on a temporary basis, to assure your continued use of the social hall. The second case was completely settled at the the March 29th hearing. Management agrees to permit the Association use of the social hall as long as management continues to operate the property. Management agreed to pay $4000.00 in legal fees.

Did we get everything we wanted? No. That is the nature of settlement discussions. Did we win some important concessions? Absolutely. Each resident will be able to participate in the appeal without significant financial burden. Was it a reasonable compromise, especially in ligh of the Judge’s expressed views? Both you Association and your attorneys believe this is an arrangement we can and do support.

THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT WE NEED TO STRESS IS THAT THIS CASE IS ALIVE AND WELL AND HEADED TO THE COURT OF APPEALS FOR WHAT WE HOPE AND BELIEVE WILL BE A FAVORABLE OUTCOME. TERMINATION OF THE RENT DEPOSIT ACTION DOES NOT MEAN TERMINATION OF THE CASE. INDEED, THE ARRANGEMENT STRUCK MEANS THAT EVERY RESIDENT WHO WANTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE APPEAL PROCESS WILL BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE APPEAL PROCESS.

Lastly, let us address some frequently repeated questions.

When will the appeal be heard?
We can’t say for sure. The record needs to be prepared. Each side will file written briefs. There will be oral argument. The court will not rule immediately after the hearing. Our best guess is that the process will take 6 months to a year.

Can management raise the rent again?
Technically, management could and can raise the rent at any time but the best deterrent to such potential increases is the fact that this case remains alive and well in the court of appeals. It serves notice on management that future increases would probably mean future litigation and quite possibly a resumption of the rent deposit action.

What effect does any of this have on the eminent domain action?
It has no effect. Eminent domain is a seperate issue not before the Berea Court. Progress continues to made with Cuyahoga County government in the effort to pursue eminent domain.

Sincerely,

C. David Witt/Michael Foley

* * * * * * * * * * 

April 2nd, 2002:
Message from Frank Pojman: Vice President,
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association

To all my friends, neighbors and members,

This letter to all of you is from me and me alone. What happened on Friday, March 29th, 2002 in Berea Municipal Court had mixed emotions for me. My most important reason for going to court was to preserve the rent strike as that is what was on the agenda. Whatever happened behind closed doors, we will not exactly know, as both parties were kept apart in seperate rooms with Judge Comstock going back and forth. After about ninety minutes of discussion the Judge was showing signs of releasing all of the money and ending the rent strike.

David and Mike had noticed this indication of stopping the rent strike and releasing all of the money which the judge could have done the day the trial ended. This is when the appeal issue came into play. If we were to agree to ending the rent strike, would Judge Comstock reverse his order of seperate cases and consolidate as one case for all? Yes, would mean all families can benefit from the rollback should that happen. Also, Judge Comstock would agree that our residents should have money available immediately after the appeal. He ordered owners/landlords to post a $150,000 appeal bond for us. (see David and Mike’s letter)

We had a possible hearing to be scheduled for the near future with NO GUARANTEE that the seperate case issue would be reversed in our favor. If you recall, all of the discussion we had at all five meetings on March 25th at the Social Hall were to find a way to make SURE all residents who chose to appeal would be able to do so, especially the residents that did not have the money, 196 families and those are the ones who need the rollback the most.

Unfortunately, there are some members that disagree with the decision that was made. Just to clarify, my decision was based on what was given to me at that particular moment in time. I wasn’t happy about ending the rent strike but this was a way to help our neighbors and was one of many YES votes for and no NO votes against, from all of the people that came to court. Sure, we could have said no and taken our chances later. I’m not a gambling man and if I were, it would only be on sure things. This was a SURE thing, 100% GUARANTEE, to appeal as a group with all of my friends and neighbors. I made my choice. Now, all 748 families can appeal.

So in closing, I appreciate all of your support, encouragement and most importantly your prayers through this entire campaign and will still need them as we move forward. I’m asking all of you to send me a note by April 10th, expressing your feelings to the decision that was made on Good Friday. With me being one of your leaders in this campaign, with your council, need to know from all of you, if that decision was or was not the right one. This is you association and we need feedback from you to make it work and make future decisions to benefit us all.

* * * * * * * * * * 

May 9th, 2002
Homeowners Meeting at the Social Hall
9:00 am. for Areas 1, 2 and 5
2:00 pm. for Areas 3, 4 and 6
7:00 pm. for those unable to attend during the day!

The meeting was called to order at 2:05 pm by Pat Patterson. Pat Bittner guided us in prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rita Smith called the roll and read the minutes from the last meeting held on March 25th, 2002.

Pat Patterson made the following announcements:

745 Homeowners are included in the appeal. If in doubt, all those who payed their March rent to Berea Municipal Court are included in the appeal.
Justin (Biff) Whittaker is the new Trustee for Area 1 replacing Bill Rudnickas
Our Vice-President, Frank Pojman, had by-pass surgery 3 weeks ago.
Brenda Kocevar, Rent Collection Chairman, had surgery last Monday and is presently recovering.

Frank Pojman addressed the issue of Betterment Committee versus Homeowners Association as representatives of Homeowners. Betterment Committee does not have the trust of residents.

Homeowners Association is now recognized by the State of Ohio and has been issued non-profit status.

Ed Patrick, Treasurer, read his report and filed it for audit.

Wanda Rudary, By-Laws, reviewed recent changes to Association by-laws.

Brenda Kocevar filed the following report regarding the rent collection. From September 2001 to March of 2002, the Rent Collection amounted to: $1,500,384.20. That’s one million, five hundred thousand, three hundred eighty four dollars and 20 cents. Expressed her thanks to trustees and helpers at the monthly rent collections.

Ann Palmer, Membership, reports 1089 members as of 5/1/02 representing 762 households. 144 less than last year due to deaths and move-outs.

Chuck Palmer, reported that on March 14, we were asked to contribute to attorney fees for the appeal. 745 households elected to join the appeal. 33 households declined. 611 households donated money and 54 pledged to support the appeal but have not sent in their pledge money. If you are one of the 54 who has not payed the pledge, please do so at your earliest convenience. Thanks.

Duane Frayer, HOT News, reports that delivery of the last issue was the best ever and thanked all his workers. A shed has been donated for the Food Collection. Shelving is needed, is someone has some available that they would like to donate.

Rita Cox, request that we notify her if we know of any deaths or move-outs. She can be called at 235-6626.

Meeting turned over to Mike Foley who addressed 3 issues.

1) appeal
2) eminent domain, and
3) state issues

Appeal:
745 Households are participating in the appeal.
We went from the largest rent strike to largest appeal
David and Mike will be going to a conference at the court of Appeals on Wednesday at 3 pm. They will send a memo to the executive committee to keep them informed of what occured at the meeting.

Eminent Domain:
David and Mike have had 3 meetings with the highest level of administration at the country. The real estate person for the county has attended all the meetings. Prosecutor’s office said the county can proceed with eminent domain action based on public purpose.

County Commissioners directed residents make an offer to owners to purchase the park. Jennifer Witner made the offer to the owners. The owners are still considering our offer. Haven’t accepted or declined it as yet. Our offer does not include BrookPark or the strip mall.

United Church Homes, our bankable partner, has sent their financial information to the owners.

If owners come back with NO answer or too high an asking price, then the issue goes back to the county commissioners.

State issues:
Lee Aldrich is chairman of PAC (political action committee) here at Columbia Park. Other groups are present in Ohio and ripe for organization.

Ohio VISTA office is working on state housing issues.

HB 520 is presently being debated in the House in Columbus. This bill, if passed, would allow park owners to declare a manufactured home abandoned if home is unoccupied and rent is not payed for one month. Jim Buchanan of Ohio Legal Services will work against passage of this bill. Mike Foley then opened the floor to questions.

Ohio Manufactured Homes Association is a powerful lobby group here in Ohio that represents the interests of park owners and home manufacturers. The newest member of the group is our very own, Gordon Adams.

Meeting ended at 3:05 pm.

* * * * * * * * * * 

Homeowners Meeting at the Social Hall

Areas 1 and 2 at 11:00 am.
Areas 3 and 4 at 2:00 pm.
Areas 5 and 6 at 7:00 pm.
You may attend any meeting convenient for you!

The meeting was called to order at 11:00 am by Pat Patterson. Pat Bittner guided us in prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rita Smith read the minutes from the last meeting held on May 9th, 2002 with no corrections or additions.

Our guest speakers, Marty Gelfand and Mike Foley, arrived and Pat turned the meeting over to them. Marty was first to address the group. He congratulated The Homeowners/Tenants Association on it’s FIRST Anniversary. He reviewed past events and future prospects. Assured Homeowner’s that Dennis Kucinich closely follows the happenings at Columbia Park.
Mike Foley spoke about his efforts to organize Manufactured Homeowners at the state level. He is submitting a proposal to VISTA on Monday. His proposal will provide VISTA volunteers to visit manufactured home parks throughout the state of Ohio, instructing them on “how to organize” themselves into Homeowners Associations.

The eminent domain issue is ongoing. On August 8th, United Church Homes will have it’s Board Meeting. They will make an offer to the owners of Columbia Park. If the offer is accepted: purchase of the park will proceed. If the offer is rejected: the Cuyahoga County Commissioners will initiate Eminent Domain.

In June of this year, the Cleveland Tenants Organization was involved in a tenants dispute in Lakewood. New owners increased rents in an apartment building there. An 84 year old lady’s rent was raised $150 a month. One Councilman wrote an ordinance to cap rents. The ordinance came before City Council and was defeated 4-3 vote. Most of the residents of that apartment building are relocating. Unlike Columbia Park Homeowners, they DO HAVE the option to relocate, we DO NOT.

Treasurer’s Report:
Pat Patterson announced that our Treasurer, Ed Patrick is recovering from surgery. Brenda Kocevar will replace him as Treasurer while he recovers. Report read, accepted and submitted for audit.

Welcoming Committee:
Marion Wolf has been appointed Chairman of the NEW Welcoming Committee. Along with her assistant, Carol Reiff, they will visit new Homeowners and invite them to join the Homeowners Association.

In August, the Cleveland Tenants Organization will sponsor a Tenants Workshop at the Ramada Inn. Frank Pojman has accepted a position on the Executive Board of CTO.

Telephone Committee:
Rita Cox needs volunteers for the phone committee. Anyone interested, please sign up to help her!

Membership Committee:
Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association is 1095 members strong.

Food Bank: “Turn Caring into Sharing”
Mary Kubat will have a container at the side of her house for non-perishable food donations. Her address is: 3 Leah’s Way. Volunteers are needed to deliver items to our neighbor’s who need them. Please sing up if you can help!

Political Action Committee:
Lee Aldrich reported on the following activities the PAC Committee has been working on.

Bills pending in the Ohio Legislature.
SB44: Tax credits for Seniors on Ohio Tax Returns.
SB155: Freeze taxes for seniors on future school levys
HB520: allow park owners to declare a manufactured home abandoned if home is unoccupied and rent is not payed for one month.
HB290: Fair Drug Pricing (Frank Pojman will address)
HB4: Passed. Use Buckeye Card for discount on drugs.
PAC Committee members met with leadership of our local AARP Chapter. They made no response to our request for help.
We have contacted George Miles, President of a New York State Group of Manufactured Homeowners. He offers an organizational kit. No response has been received to our request for information.
Homeowner’s need to get more involved in Township activities by attending Township Trustee Meetings. Meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Thursday each month. Our goal is to have at least 4-5 Homeowners of Columbia Park at each meeting. If you are interested in attending township meetings, please sign up with Carol Reiff.
PAC Committee is working on organizing a “Meet the Candidates” Night. Details will be announced when arrangements are finalized.
Frank Pojman explained the following 2 bills now pending in the Ohio House.

HB290
SB127: modeled after one in the State of Maine.
These House Bills will lower drug costs by allowing the State of Ohio to negotiate with drug manufacturers for better prices. UHCAN of Ohio is a group currently trying to bring about universal health care in Ohio.
What’s the problem? 2.2 million people in Ohio are in need of affordable prescription drugs. If they purchased the same drugs in Canada, they would save 60%.

Why the problem? other governments negotiate drug prices or regulate them (ceilings). Manufacturers have a large lobby who would have us believe that high prices are the result of research and development of new drugs. The fact is, they spend more on advertising than on Research & Development.

What’s the solution? Universal Health Care.
HB290 and SB127 went into Committee where it has been stalled.
A coalition from both parties was developed but was not able to budge this bill.

A ballot initiative is now planned. It is a long and difficult process. It requires 3% of voters signatures. In Ohio, that is 100,000 signatures.

A petition drive will be launched by UHCAN of Ohio at the end of this month and they hope to gather the 100,000 signatures needed to get this issue on the November ballot.

We need to put pressure on legislators to back this bill. Frank urged any Homeowner interested in helping with the petition drive to put their name on the sign-up sheet.
Columbia Park Homeowner/Tenants Association strongly supports passage of the Prescription Drug Fair Pricing Act (HB 290; SB 127) which would:

Provide a prescription drug card to all Ohioans who do not have prescription drug coverage or are grossly underinsured;

Give the state the authority to negotiate substantial rebates from drug companies and discounts from drug retailers, then passes the savings on to participants;

Provide the state with tools to help persuade drug companies to negotiate in good faith;

Pay administrative and other costs out of the negotiated rebates. Thus, there is no cost to taxpayers.

Pat Patterson announced that new leases would probably be coming by July 20th. If and when your lease arrives, please DO NOT call your Trustee or the Association Officers. They would have gotten theirs also. Please watch Channel 6 or wait for a call from the Phone Committee for any emergency Homeowner meetings. DO NOT sign any leases.

David Witt has filed a 45 page brief with the Court of Appeals on behalf of Columbia Park Homeowners. Management attorneys have filed for more time which the court will probably grant.

Frank Pojman introduced a new form he developed to deal with: Concerns to Management. It is a method that Homeowners can use to transmit problems or requests to Management and have a written copy for their own records. Forms will be available from your Trustee.

Lakeview Terrace
Pat held up a brochure from a Manufactured Home Park in Streetsboro. Not only do they offer incredible ammenities but lot rents are extremely reasonable. $280 for inside lots, $285 for corner lots and $290 for lakeview lots. They offer 2-year leases with increases based on the CPI (Consumer Price Index) in Ohio. If the CPI goes up 2%, your rent increase is 2%.

Meeting adjourned at 12:20 pm.

* * * * * * * * * * 

August 13th, 2002
Homeowners SPECIAL Meeting at the Social Hall

Area 1 at 9:00 am.
Area 2 at 11:00 am.
Areas 3 and 4 at 1:00 pm.
Area 5 at 3:00 pm.
Area 6 at 7:00 pm.
You may attend any meeting convenient for you!

Bring a pen and call your Area Trustee if you need a ride!

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Pat Patterson. Pat Bittner guided us in prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Brenda Kocevar, substituting for Ed Patrick, read the Treasurer’s report. No corrections or additions.

Mary Jane Whalen, Nominating Committee, announced that nominations for officers for next year will be taken at the September 12th meeting.

Mary Kubat, Food Bank, thanked Homeowners for their generous donations. Asked that anyone who needs assistance with food items to let her or their Trustee know. A delivery team is ready to deliver food items to those that need them.

Pat Patterson announced that another Homeowner (5th one) called to let her know that due to rent increases they would be moving to subsidized housing.

Pat, Brenda and Frank presented a workshop at the Tenants Association meeting and our Association was presented with a award for our rent strike accomplishments.

LEASES:
Homeowners who received new leases were told that the decision whether or not to sign the lease was “their call”. If you choose to sign the lease be sure to also sign a “reservation of rights” letter and include it with your lease.

APPEAL:
Our case will be heard by a panel of 3 judges. Our appeal is based on 2 important factors.

1) important testimony was denied
2) Berea Court’s jurisdiction is limited to $15.000. Plaintiff’s sued for $25,000. Case should have been dismissed or moved to Cuyahoga County.
Appeal Court Judges are expected to rule that the case be retried by the Berea Court.

Next Wednesday starts Heritage Days in Olmsted Falls. Judge Comstock will participate in the parade. It might be nice if some of Columbia Parks Homeowners expressed our feeling toward him in signs. Perhaps then he will know what we think of him.

Kucinich Portrait:
Jane Campbell, Mayor of Cleveland, has started a campaign to raise funds to finance a portrait of Dennis Kucinich which could hang with the other portraits of Cleveland mayors. Please drop your donations in the box at the front table.

NOTICE OF CONCERN:
Columbia Park Management has finally agreed to recognize the form the Homeowners/Tenants Association provides for communicating concerns/problems/issues to management. Please make a copy for yourself so that you can have one for your records.

FAIR DRUG PRICING ACT: The state-wide coalition is on track for passage of the the Fair Price Act except for Betty Montgomery. Our Secretary of State is sitting on the petitions and refused to sign them. Please call her at:
1-800-282-0515
Ask: WHERE ARE THE PETITIONS?

On August 27th, the coalition will stage a RALLY with petitions available for signatures or a PROTEST without petitions.

NEXT HOMEOWNER’S MEETING:
September 12, 2002 in the Social Hall
Voter Registration will be held. 65% of Homeowners are already registered but only 25% of the 65% actually vote.

EMINENT DOMAIN:
United Church Home met on August 8th. Interested in purchasing the park but has tabled any action until November.

Meeting adjouned at 2 pm.

* * * * * * * * * * 

September 12, 2002
Homeowners Meeting at the Social Hall

Area 1 and 2 at 11:00 am.
Areas 3 and 4 at 2:00 pm.
Area 5 and 6 at 7:00 pm.

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm by Pat Patterson. Pat Bittner guided us in prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jean Katitis, Assistant Secretary, read the minutes of the last meeting. Approved without any corrections or additions.

Brenda Kocevar, substituting for Ed Patrick, read the Treasurer’s report. No corrections or additions.

Wanda Rudary, substituting for Mary Jane Whalen, the Nominating Committee Chair, announced the following nominations for officers for 2003.

President: Frank Pojman no nominations from the floor
Vice President: Pat Patterson; no nominations from the floor
Secretary: Marie Lansky; no nominations from the floor
Ass’t Sec’y: Jean Katitis; no nominations from the floor
Treasurer: Brenda Kocevar; no nominations from the floor

Trustees
Area 1: Justin Whitaker
Area 2: Betty Gorman
Area 3: Don Wasserman
Area 4: Bob Noel
Area 5: Jim Carr nominated to replace Skip Weithman
Area 6: Ken Miller

ELECTIONS will be held at the November meeting.

UNITED CHURCH HOMES sent a letter to Homeowners’ Association stating their organization is very interested in Columbia Park.

LETTER from Mike Foley to John Monroe (attorney for management) was available at each table for homeowners to read and take a copy home.

LETTER from Mike Foley to Ken Burnham (investor partner) requesting meeting of Executive Council and Park Management to discuss Homeowners’ concerns.

WATER COMMITTEE: &NBSP; Pat asked for volunteers needed to serve on this committee.

VOTER REGISTRATION:
Homeowners who have not yet registered to vote were able to sign up at this meeting. Jury duty is no longer a component of registering to vote. Columbia Park has the potential for having 1500 voters! That’s powerful! Unfortunately, only 65% of Columbia Park Homeowners are registered to vote. Of the 65% registered; only 25% actually vote.

FAIR DRUG PRICE ACT:
Had been stalled on Betty Montgomery’s Desk. She has finally signed it and now 150,000 signatures are needed for the legislature to look at the bill. An additional 150,000 signatures will be needed to get it on the November ballot.

There are 2 Pharmacies that give Senior discounts.

Patients in Need
1-800-242-7013
$5.00 per prescription

Phizer Sharecard
1-800-711-2712
$15.00 per prescription
* singles with annual income under $18,000
* married with income under $24,000

SNOWBIRDS: Please register with Homeowners’ Association Snowbird Chairman, Phyllis Scorzino.

PAC COMMITTEE: Lee Aldrich announced the PAC Committee is working on Fall Elections & preparing for a:

MEET THE CANDIDATES NITE
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH
7 TO 9 P.M.
at the GERMAN CLUB
One hour will be set aside for written questions.
Candidates from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals will be among the speakers.

Although the meeting is open to all residents in the neighboring communities, a large turnout of Homeowners’ from Columbia Park is hoped for.

LETTER OF SUPPORT: A letter of support with accompanying signatures is being sent to a family in the Columbus area. They are being threatened with eviction because of attending a homeowners’ organizational meeting. They have hired an attorney and our signatures are to help them overturn the eviction procedings. Your signatures are appreciated.

NEXT HOMEOWNERS MEETING:

November 14th, 2002
Areas 1 and 2 at 11:00 am.
Areas 3 and 4 at 2:00 pm.
Areas 5 and 6 at 7:00 pm.

Meeting adjourned at 7:50 pm.

* * * * * * * * * * 

September 30th, 2002
Meet the Candidates Nite

7:00 pm. to 9 pm.
at The German Club

8th District Court of Appeals Candidates

Patricia Blackmon (D)
Anthony Calabrese, Jr. (R)
Robert Carson (R)
Sean Gallagher (D)
Thomas Pokorny (D)

United States Congress

Dennis Kucinich (D) represented by Marty Gelfand

State Representative – 18th District

Sue Adams (D) vs. Tom Patton (R)

Cuyahoga County Commissioner

Jimmy DiMora (D) represented by Mr. Rhines
Laverne Jones-Gore (R)
James Pilla (R)
Peter Lawson-Jones (D)

Thanks to Roz Tallarico, a member of The League of Women Voters for acting as the panel moderator.

Kudos to Lee Aldrich, PAC Chairman, for his outstanding leadership and organizational skills in planning this meeting.

NEXT HOMEOWNERS MEETING:
November 14th, 2002
Areas 1 and 2 at 11:00 am.
Areas 3 and 4 at 2:00 pm.
Areas 5 and 6 at 7:00 pm.

 * * * * * * * * * * 

November 14th, 2002
Homeowners Meeting at the Social Hall

Area 1 and 2 at 11:00 am.
Areas 3 and 4 at 2:00 pm.
Area 5 and 6 at 7:00 pm.

These are notes from the 7 pm. meeting.

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm by Pat Patterson. Pat Bittner guided us in prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Pat Patterson welcomed 3 new members to the meeting.

Minutes of the last Homeowners’ Meeting were read and approved at the 11 am. meeting; therefore not read at subsequent meetings. Approved without any corrections or additions.

Brenda Kocevar, read the Treasurer’s report. No corrections or additions.

Wanda Rudary, of the Nominating Committee, read the list on nominees for 2003 Officers and Trustees.

Officers
President: Frank Pojman no nominations from the floor
Vice President: Pat Patterson; no nominations from the floor
Secretary: Marie Lansky; no nominations from the floor
Ass’t Sec’y: Jean Katitis; no nominations from the floor
Treasurer: Brenda Kocevar; no nominations from the floor

Trustees
Area 1: Justin Whitaker
Area 2: Betty Gorman
Area 3: Don Wasserman
Area 4: Bob Noel
Area 5: Jim Carr nominated to replace Skip Weithman
Area 6: Ken Miller

Voice vote taken from the floor. Announced nominees are “duly elected”.
Announcements from: Vice President: Frank Pojman

The Columbia Park Homeowners’/Tenants Association was honored by the DEAF AND BLIND COMMITTEE OF THE NEW FREEDOM BUS TOUR. The bus stopped at Columbia Park to interview Homeowners’ regarding Human Rights Violations. Unconscionable rent increases are a Human Rights Violation. The Bus will return to Wash DC on Dec. 10th to celebrate Human Rights Day.

Petitions for AFFORDABLE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS in Ohio are available for signatures at the tables set up at the Entrance to the Social Hall. You MUST be a registered voter to sign. Even if you signed the petition on Candidates Nite, you may sign again. The original petitions were thrown out.

MIKE FOLEY of THE CLEVELAND TENANTS’ ORGANIZATION has enlisted the help of George Engle, a former executive with HUD responsible for buying/selling property, to assist us in negotiating with United Church Homes. During our Homeowners’ Meetings today, Mr Engle was preparing to present Columbia Park’s story to the UCH Board of Directors.

Once an offer is made to Management and they refuse it; eminent domain procedings will start.

Announcements from: President: Pat Patterson

MEMBERSHIP DUES: for 2003 are being taken at the table at the entrance to the Hall. Membership dues are $5.00 per person.

SNOWBIRDS: Please give Phyllis Scorzino [235-9846] your forwarding address so that she can mail the Newsletter and minutes of the meetings to you.

Duane Frayer, our Ho/T News Chairman, is ill. Please send your “Get Well” wishes to Duane at 53 Flagler.

PAC COMMITTEE: Chairman, Lee Aldrich [427-9722] was attending the Olmsted Township Trustees Meeting which was taking place during the 7 pm. Homeowners’ Meeting. Marie Lansky, PAC Committee member, read the following message from Lee.

THANKS FOR VOTING. Columbia Park had a 69% turnout of voters. It is only by voicing our opinion at the voting booth that we will become a political force. The PAC Committee has several projects planned. Suggestions for topics are welcome.
ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: HEAT AND PHONE
Marty Moser will be in the Social Hall from 9 am. to 12 noon on Friday, November 15th, for those Homeowners’ who would like information about Assistance Programs available for heat & phone service.

FOOD BANK:
Mary Kubat announced that the Food Bank is now serving 8 homes. Food items are plentiful. Please consider donating paper products and soap products (both laundry and personal).

THANKSGIVING DAY DINNER:
The Grand Pacific Junction is offering FREE Thanksgiving Day Dinner from 12 noon until 6 pm. NO RESERVATIONS are necessary. They will deliver either single meals or multiple meals FREE OF CHARGE. Please call 235-4777 for a FREE meal delivery.

KNITTERS/CROCHETERS
If you are available and interested in crocheting or knitting lap robes for the Veterans at Brecksvills Veterans Hospital, please call Mary Jane Whalen at 427-1685. Yarn is provided FREE.

COURT OF APPEALS:
On October 30th, oral arguments for OUR APPEAL CASE were heard in the 8th District Court of Appeals. The judges hearing our case are: Judge Blanche Karpinski, Judge Ann Kilbane and Judge Anthony Celebreese, Jr.
Their opinion will be handed down in 3-6 months.

DENNIS VAN DEUSEN: was introduced as the Homeowner who found the article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer outlining Managements filing with the PUCO to raise water and sewer rates. Mr. VanDeusen was given a “standing ovation”. Thanks Dennis!!!!!!!

ACTIONS TAKEN BY HTA:
:*: Congressman Dennis Kucinich contacted and responded by writing a lengthy letter to the PUCO outlining the reasons why a rate increase should be denied.

:*: Form letter provieded for Homeowners’ to sign.

:*: Homeowners’ have requested an oral hearing to be held in Olmsted Township

:*: Olmsted Township Trustees are passing a “resolution of support”.

:*: HTA is consulting an attorney who is an expert in PUCO rate matters.

:*: Jim Carr, newly-elected Area 5 Trustee, talked with Greg Dewhurst at PUCO and was given the following information:

* Brookins agreed to review service records at the time the Park was purchased.
* No rates can be established until records are reviewed.
* urged all Homeowners’ to send letters and participate in hearings
* pointed out that Columbia Park is different from most developments. Brookins never turned over the treatment plant to the utilities. We are, in fact, a public utility just like a city.

Pat announced she and her hubby would be leaving for South Carolina in the morning and would return at Easter. Bye Pat! Come back to us safely!

Meeting adjourned at 7:55 pm.

* * * * * * * * * *

Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association BY-LAWS

1. Name: The name of the organization shall be:

a. Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association.

b. The official mailing address of the Association will be the home address of the presiding President.

2. Goals: of the Association are:

a. to represent the collective interests of the homeowners/tenants of Columbia Park.

b. to maintain the park as a Senior Community.

c. to work toward keeping good relations between management and homeowners.

3. Membership: A voting member of the Association shall be any member who:

a. is a resident of Columbia Park.

b. who is a paid-up member.

4. Meetings:

a. will be held bi-monthly (6 meetings yearly) at the Social Hall or other location on the second Thursday of the month pursuant to Robert’s Rules. Times will be posted for all future membership meetings.

b. Decisions of the membership will be made by a majority vote of the members present with due consideration for the development of consensus positions (discussion) before a vote is taken.

c. Special membership meetings may be called by the President and/or the Council.

d. A quorum for a membership meeting shall be a minimum of 25 members present.

e. The members may consider any item of business that may come before them in a regular or special meeting.

5. Executive Board: shall consist of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer and six (6) Trustees elected by the Association membership. The duties of the officers are as follows:

President: will convene and chair meeting of the membership and the Council and act as a spokesperson for the Association. Be aware of all bylaws. Can appoint committee chairpersons and be considered a member of all commit-tees except the Nominating Committee.

Vice President: will carry out duties of the President in his/her absence and assist President as needed. Vice President will assist Treasurer in his/her absence or emergency situation.

Secretary: will keep records and minutes of all meetings and maintain the correspondence of the Association. Copies of minutes shall be given to President and Vice President.

Assistant Secretary: will assist the Secretary as needed and keep attendance of Council at all meetings. Will also serve as Historian.

Treasurer: will maintain accurate records of monies in a ledger; collect dues from the Membership Committee and report, in writing, a financial statement and itemized account of all income and expenditures at the Council and regular membership meetings of the Association. Copies will be given to the President and Vice President.

Purchase Request Form for advances for the amount over $150 from the Association funds must be submitted for approval by Council. All other expenditures require a voucher and receipt.

Trustees (6): shall be elected to represent the best interests of the members of the Association and shall be selected from all sections of Columbia Park.

a. An Assistant Trustee will be appointed by the Trustee or Executive Board and will be considered a member of Council.

An emergency decision requires a majority vote of the Executive Board.

6. Council: shall meet on the first Thursday of each month.

a. shall consist of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer and six (6) Trustees elected by Association members. Assistant Trustees and Committee Chairpersons will also be considered members of the Council.

b. The duties of the council are:

1. to organize and conduct meetings of the members and to carry out the decisions that the members make at a regular or special membership meeting.

2. to determine policies and activities of the Association.

3. to receive periodic reports from the Association committee chairpersons.

c. Decisions of the Council will be made by a majority vote of the members present with due consideration for development of discussion before a vote is taken.

d. A quorum of 25% of the Council members and a majority of the Executive Board are required before the Council can make a decision.

7. Nominations and Elections: The Nominating Committee shall consist of a minimumof three (3) members.

a. The Association shall elect the Executive Board from among the members of the Association. Officers will be elected for a one (1) year term and serve not more than two (2) consecutive years in the same office unless vacancy cannot be filled.

b. Nominations to Executive Board positions will be held at the membership meeting in September of each year with the nominee’s consent. Any member of the Association may nominate any person for an officer position as long as that person has been a member for at least one (1) year.

c. Elections will be held at the November meetings with installation taking place after the 7:00 p.m. meeting. Officers’ terms begin in January after installation.

d. Election will be conducted by written ballot if more than one person is nominated for any given office. If position is uncontested there may be a show of hands to elect. If ballots are used, they will be counted by a Tellers Committee of three (3) chosen by the Nominating Chairperson. After count has been conveyed to the membership the ballots will be destroyed.

8. Dues:

a. The Council may establish a dues structure for the Association.

b. Annual dues for all members of Columbia Park Homeowners/Tenants Association shall be $5.00.

9. Vacancies on Executive Board:

a. Officers may be removed from their positions by a majority vote of the members at a regular or special meeting if members are given notice of the issue at least 48 hours before the meeting.

b. In the event of a vacancy on the Council, a replacement will be selected by voice vote at the next general meeting to fill out the remainder of the term of that position.

c. A vacancy occuring among the officers-elect before they take office will be filled by nominating and electing again at the next membership meeting. The President can select a replacement in the interim.

d. In the event of a vacancy in the office of President, this vacancy shall be filled by the Vice President subject to the approval of the members.

e. In the event of a vacancy in the office of Treasurer, an audit shall be made of the records and completed within 15 days after receiving the records. A written report shall then be submitted to the Executive Board and the records transferred to the incoming Treasurer.

10. Audit:

a. An annual audit shall be made of the Association’s financial records by an Audit Committee comosed of 2 or 3 members appointed by the Audit Committee chairperson with the Treasurer in attendance.

1. The audit shall be completed within thirty (30) days after the close of the fiscal year ending December 31 and the records transferred to the incumbent Treasurer.

b. Recommendations by the Audit Committee Chairperson may be submitted to the Council for approval.

c. Final balance sheets and statements shall be submitted to the Executive Board. Approval of audit will be conveyed by the Treasurer to the Council at the February meeting.

Original adoption by Membership: August 3, 2001

Approved by Membership: August 23, 2001

Revised: March 1, 2002

Approved by Membership: May 9, 2002

*~* 2002 ends here *~*

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