By April 13, 2016

Anthem Residents Continue Seminary Debate

 

Letter-to-the-editor
 This page will be updated daily until the issue is resolved. A vote is scheduled Monday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

“I am an Anthem homeowner and Member of the Parkside Community Association. I speak on behalf of myself and many other Parkside homeowners. It is my understanding that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has the Anthem Parkside home at 3605 W. Memorial Drive, under ‘contract.’ The Church proposes to use the property as an LDS seminary for about 120 students divided into 20-25 kids per class from Boulder High School. The students would walk from Boulder High School to the Seminary. Parking would be required for 2 teachers and additional administrative staff. I understand that the LDS Church claims that it does not need a Special Use Permit from the county for the property and no special zoning is required; however, the house must meet the commercial construction permit code. Although churches in Anthem operate as commercial entities, LDS is not seeking to rezone the property for commercial use. Instead, LDS seeks to circumvent the rezoning of the property for commercial use by obtaining a variance from the HOA on the pretext that the house will not be occupied as a residence.The terms of three of the five Board members expire at the end of the April 25, 2016 open meeting. It is respectfully suggested that no matter as controversial as this variance request should be decided by a board whose majority expires with its term at the same hearing that may approve the resolution granting the variance. Leaving this matter for the new Board would be more appropriate especially where one of the Board Members is a member of LDS with the possibility of an undisclosed conflict of interest. There does not appear to be time for the Board to comply with the Bylaw procedures and any Board approval would still have to be approved by 51% of the Class ‘A’ Members. The new Board could promptly cancel the Resolution of the outgoing Board before anything could become effective.

The Parkside CC&Rs is the governing document for Parkside Members which determines Use Restrictions. Exhibit ‘C’ to the CC&Rs clearly state that ‘Anthem Parkside shall be used only for residential and related purposes.’ ‘Related purposes’ are clearly defined and do not include ‘religious’ or ‘charitable’ purposes. The Parkside CC&Rs are an enforceable contract which binds both the HOA and the individual homeowner. The CC&Rs define a dwelling as a structure “intended for use and occupancy as a residence for a single family.” The CC&Rs (3.2) warn that ‘the use and enjoyment and marketability of his or her Lot can be affected by’ the Use Restrictions. Section 3.3(a) of the CC&Rs condition the Board’s authority, subject to certain procedural safeguards, ‘to modify, cancel, limit, create exceptions to, or expand the Use Restrictions’ to their ‘duty to exercise business Judgment and reasonableness on behalf of the Association and its Members.’

The CC&Rs do not give the Board authority to change the parties and purpose of Parkside from an association of individual homeowners who must use their property for residential purposes only to ‘strawmen’ parties who intend to use the property for religious, charitable, or even commercial purposes. Authorizing LDS to use residential only property for non-residential purposes will cause a material and total failure of consideration for each and every homeowner. These provisions are so fundamental to the compact among the homeowners and the HOA that the CC&Rs would have to be amended to permit the variance contemplated by the LDS.

The bylaws set out the procedures for the internal governance and operation of the association but they are subordinate to the CC&Rs.The Board action in and of itself, is not sufficient to make a Use change. It would require the vote of Class ‘A’ Members representing a majority of the total votes in the Association and Class ‘B’ members, if any. See 3.3(a) and (b). Even if the Board’s action is supported by a 51% vote of the Class ‘A’ members, the Board should obtain a legal opinion on its authority to change the contract among all homeowners without an amendment to the CC&Rs. Section 19.2 of the CC&Rs provide for amendments by Members ‘only by the affirmative vote or written consent, or any combination thereof, of Members representing 67% of the Class ‘A’ votes in the Association…’ This super majority protects the individual homeowner against the 51% majority as well as the Board of Directors.”

Tess Villanueva, Anthem 

“I have been an Anthem resident virtually since its inception, as well as a Parkside HOA Board member and its president—to include ownership of seven properties in Parkside. During this time, I have been witness to a fair number of questionable HOA actions wrought either by commission, omission, naïveté, political correctness, misplaced altruism, indecisiveness, self-interest, bias, apathy, politics and an array of other spurious and ill-conceived motives. 

However, the ‘process’ whereby a variance regarding the “LDS Proposal to Convert Home” proposal has garnered even the status and consideration it has so far, is one of the most egregious and extraordinary that has come about—as has been pointed out by several Anthem residents in the April 14, 2016 issue of In&Out magazine and via rumblings throughout the community.  In addition to what has already been printed, I add the following observations:

I have been informed although the issue obviously centers on the LDS Church, Parkside HOA Board members who are of the LDS faith failed to recuse themselves from such a crucial vote.  It does not take a “Magnificent Grasp of the Obvious” to see herein a genuine conflict of interest and a clear lack of ethics and leadership. Why was there no recusal? What’s going on here?

In the past, when similar issues were of such potentially harmful circumstances and negative consequences were obvious, the Anthem Community Council (and/or the developer—Del Webb or Pulte) reserved “final approval” on them—and/or Anthem Community residents were afforded the courtesy and the options to vote on such impactful matters.  Why have these recourses not been at least considerations?  What’s going on here?

In any effort to assuage or to mitigate what appears to be a truly poor decision, no matter what the ‘legal experts’ or other interests incorporate into any variance about the actions of the Parkside HOA Board NOT setting a precedence by granting this action, affording this variance by the Parkside HOA Board WILL set a precedence–one that could be extended by any mediocre first year law student for any other organization, entity, or interest that wanted a similar variance.  Period.  What will be the nature of next request for a variance should this matter ultimately be approved?  Again, what’s going on here?

This is an issue that does not center on any religion or similar factors.  It’s a matter of common sense and the ultimate good of the community and its will being subordinated that will result in Anthem’s detriment.

If the Parkside HOA Board (and the ACC, for that matter) allow this variance, it would be prudent for Anthem residents to remember the names of those supporting this measure the next time elections come around.”

Jon M. Corey, PhD., Anthem


“There are hundreds of seminary buildings next to high schools across the US, and even worldwide. In 2013, there were 126,176 students enrolled in ‘released time’ seminary, where the students are able to take classes at a nearby building during the school day.  In these facilities, there are NEVER activities after school, or in the evening; It is only used during the school day. There would not be an increase to any more traffic than there already is because students would primarily enter from behind, while walking from school—I doubt anyone on that street would ever even see any of the students. Residents will hardly notice that the home is even occupied, and that will only be from 7 a.m.–3 p.m., at most. If you work outside the home, you will never notice anyone there. I invite anyone with concerns to visit some of the other seminary buildings located next to neighborhoods, or talk to the neighbors of those buildings.

Basically, I see this as a blessing and not a curse. You never know who your neighbor could be, but in this case you do. If any of you are acquainted with people of the LDS faith, they are some of the nicest, happiest, helpful people you’ll ever know. And property values will stay up, since you won’t have to lower costs to persuade somebody to buy in that undesirable location. I can only see it as a win-win.

I am a new resident of Anthem Country Club. We moved here with our three children from Boise, ID, where our son was able to attend released time seminary in high school. It really is a mixed blessing to the students to have released time, because although it is more convenient, the students must use one of their electives as a religion course, for which they earn no credit towards graduation. However, they’re willing to do it. We have a meeting house in Anthem which currently serves these students at 6 a.m. However, it is my understanding that there are now so many students (120 next year), that they are bursting at the seams. For this reason, I am hoping we can accommodate them through school (plus, my daughter isn’t a morning person, so getting up at 5:30 a.m. is tough).

Though we’ve only been here since the beginning of the year, we are enjoying Anthem very much and hope to live here for a while. We think Anthem is a wonderful community with very friendly people, and a great emphasis on family values. Plus, the desert up here is gorgeous. I’m also enjoying the variety of community classes which are offered, and hope to continue to get more involved. I would be more than happy to speak with anyone about any questions or concerns they may have concerning the proposed seminary building.”

Lori Bramwell, Anthem

“My wife and I moved to Anthem specifically because it was an orderly, well planned Residential Community.

To grant a variance to the LDS Church( or any other church for that matter) for use as an extension of church business in a residential Area sets a bad and irreversible precedent which will alter the residential integrity of our community!!!

It will negatively affect home values in the area and create congestion and parking problems.

In addition it will open the floodgates for a myriad of other “variances” that will only dilute the residential character of our neighborhoods!

We implore you to do the right and responsible thing for residents of Anthem and vote “NO” on the LDS Church Variance Request!”

—Thomas and Joan Cook, Anthem


“I have been a Realtor for over 35 years and it is my experience that once you change the variance/zoning and use of a residential property it devalues the neighborhood and future sales.  It opens it up for someone else in the future, buying the house next door or across the street from the Changed Use property, to do something similar because  a precedent has been made.  I have also seen a case in Pasadena, CA where once this happened, the new Changed Use property wanted to add more to its plans and used this as the excuse to buy up several other properties right next door and across the street to add more space. It ended up changing the entire demographics of the neighborhood to the worse and not better. All because a precedent had been made and  to not approve now would be discrimination and would invoke a lawsuit.

Also, I suggest you look up the unfair practices of charging more to non-Mormon students. The Bar Association is investigating the BYU Law School for discrimination.  I believe this to be a discrimination and could affect all other non-Mormon students in the Anthem area.  I would like to think that a great place like Anthem should not even go down this road.

There are plenty of empty commercial buildings (very close to the high school)  that can be made into a school or seminary without having to change a residential property. There is also vacant land they could also build on, whatever their specifications might be.

I am opposed to allowing this variance.

 

—Diane Dee Lee, Anthem


“This will be short: In NO way should this property become commercial. I pay HOA dues to protect my home. This is just going to open a can of worms. This will change everything Anthem stands for. I don’t want to see Anthem change and I feel it will if the board votes for this.”
—Susan Pritchett, Anthem

“When I first read this article last week pertaining to the conversion of a residential home to a ‘seminary’ for the LDS church, my first thought was, ‘Hmm, sounds like some Board members are affiliated with this church.’ I mean, really? I honestly can understand the FRUSTRATION of having this run in someone’s neighborhood.

I almost laughed when one of the reasons for this home for the LDS church was that it was in walking distance for students. Another, “Really?” Most the teenage kids in this area have a car or use their parent’s vehicles. I am sure this church, which is not poor by any means, can afford to do business in one of the empty buildings on Venture Drive.

I had someone doing business in a home they rented across from where I live and I can only write that I was more than happy when this person moved out. Total nightmare!

I hope the residents of this street do not keep quiet about this, and I would only ask these Board members this: Would you like someone running some type of business in your neighborhood?”

—Linda J. Augustien, Anthem

“There is a lack of understanding what the HOA can and cannot do. The HOA can’t stop a church or business from being held inside any home occupied by a resident.* Residential zoning in the county and community allow for that. That is the issue here, not religion, not crowds, not traffic. The ONLY thing the board [is being asked to] vote on is whether or not a home can be owned and not occupied or resided in. We have businesses in homes, we have churches in homes and no variance is needed for that if the home is resided in. We also have “illegal” vacation rentals (VRBO Air BnB) and snowbird homes in our community none of those residents asked for a required variance to allow that to happen.

1. Even if there are LDS members of the board, wouldn’t they represent the large LDS population opinion to the board? Conflict of interest is a term used to describe the situation in which a public official or fiduciary who, contrary to the obligation and absolute duty to act for the benefit of the public or a designated individual, exploits the relationship for personal benefit, typically pecuniary (money). Its not like these board members get extra blessings for voting one way or the other or would benefit financially from the seminary building being built.

2. Many who commented at the last meeting were in opposition, however they kept repeating the same things that were already addressed by the board or the LDS church: parking, traffic, precedent… all were addressed. Its already illegal to park on those streets.

3. The Board is elected by residents to represent them, having something as small as a variance about the occupation of a home to be put before a full resident vote is wasteful and impractical.

4. Twenty to 30 kids moving from a home on the corner to the school immediately adjacent where they will be headed to other classes is hardly cause for concern when it comes to noise/traffic/etc. The building will only be used during school hours, with the activities being confined to the home. The home isn’t in the middle of the block, its not crossing a street, they wont be roaming the neighborhood, they have 5 minutes to get from the school to the seminary building and 5 minutes for the return trip.

5. Did you know that your neighbor could choose to open a seminary or Church or Business in their home, without approval from the HOA or any other variance? It is allowed in the CC&Rs, as are variances. You agreed to follow CC&Rs that allow for variances and allow for the board to vote on those variances.

6. The ONLY thing the LDS church is asking for is approval to not have a resident living within the home.”

—Zac Reynolds, Anthem 

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Anthem Parkside Initial Use Restrictions  prohibits the use of a residential property for business activity  except under specific restrictions.


“I completely agree with the objections of Anthem residents in the April 14 issue of In&Out who wish to block a variance that would allow a residential house to be converted into a seminary. Enough is enough, Anthem HOA!

My objection is not to the LDS church, it is to changing the CC&Rs, and to the way the Council and the boards have so often disregarded the wishes of the dues-paying residents through the years. (Need I mention the secret nighttime meetings a few years back?)

There have been so many changes in this community, I am beginning to feel the need to ask for my money back because what I was promised and what I paid for is NOT what I’m getting.  PLEASE! No more fundamental rule changes.

And while I’m at it, I might as well ask for the Christmas lights back on the medians, and also the flowers in the spring and summer. Yes, and the brick road entryway, too. (And how about the big golf ball?) At the very least, if we can’t have Anthem back as it was designed and meant to be and  promised to us, let’s leave it the way it is now. Enough!”

—Patricia Hubbard, Anthem Parkside

 

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