April 2023 Community Update and Important Message from your Board of Directors
Dear Darien Club Neighbors below is a summary of our 3/30/23 Board Meeting including community improvements for 2023, a tentative schedule of upcoming Board Meetings and Annual Election, a Legal Update on litigation filed by Owner Kubik, and a Fact Check on continued misinformation by All4DarienClub and Laurie Camp.
Board Meeting Recap – March 30, 2023
The DCOA Board held its regular 1st quarter meeting on Thursday, March 30th. All Directors were in attendance except Mr. Worek. Minutes from the 12/27/22 meeting were approved. Daniel Carnet, Treasurer, reported Asset Balances of $147,173 with Association reserves continuing to increase since this Board’s inception. Commission reports included the following:
Common Grounds: Common Ground maintenance began in April with Spring Cleanup. Beary Landscaping is in year two of their 3-year contract after doing an excellent job in 2022. Vidito trees will be working to address dead trees and branches shortly. The BOD was able to have the City of Darien repair median damage free of charge on Darien Club Drive in March. Our irrigation vendor has installed one of the aerators at our Cass Avenue ponds, however the 2nd aerator is temporarily out for repair. The Commission is gathering bids for summer florals and enhancements to the front entranceway median. Finally, the Commission reported that six Evergreen trees were purchased with excellent pricing in 2022 and planted in November to camouflage the newest Cemetery mausoleum. This significantly improves the look on the north side of the Darien Club Drive entranceway. Future projects under consideration are cul-de-sac enhancements since some have not been improved over the last 30 years. The Common Grounds are headed by Alan McNea and Commission member Marie Becker.
Wetland Maintenance: A new contract was approved with existing vendor, Native Restorations, including Stewardship visits, Woody invasive removal, and algae treatments. In addition, a contract for potential sediment reduction to restore pond volume and management of our ponds is being reviewed. The Wetlands Commission is headed by Ray Pirrello. As this less costly approach is being reviewed for pond restoration versus dredging, the V3 Engineering proposal is presently on hold. Individuals interested in participating on this commission may contact our Management Company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safety Commission: After extensive review and research, the Safety Commission presented a revised proposal for the Flock License Plate Reader Technology Services after the Board asked that the Commission review other solutions and costs. Flock is a LPR (License Plate Reader) security service that reports directly to local police. The Board reviewed the contract, approving it unanimously by all present. A two-year contract was signed with the 1st year one-time setup/installation fee of $1,400 plus a $10,000 all-inclusive service and equipment fee and on-going annual cost of $10,000. After negotiation, Flock modified the quotation reducing the Association cost to $10,000 annually versus the originally quoted $16,000 annual service and equipment fee representing a > 37% savings. The pre-requisite for this discounted pricing was gaining contract acceptance by 4/1/23. This was a consideration in setting the 3/30/23 BOD meeting date. The Board believes Flock services will help deter crime as well as enhance the value of Homes within Darien Club as we will now be able to relay that our neighborhood is monitored 24 hours a day with LPR cameras. Darien Club has now joined many other subdivisions that have begun the use of various LPR systems such as Flock services. Darien Club has experienced multiple burglaries over the years, and we are confident that Flock will aid in deterring this type of activity in our community. Additional updates from the Safety Commission Members, Daniel Carnet and Randy Gruberman, will be forthcoming.
Social Commission: This past weekend, the Chawla family once again hosted “Eggs-Perience!” at Driftwood Park welcoming kids and families for some fun with the Easter Bunny Egg Hunt. Tatiana Hernandez, who heads up our Social Commission, is in the process of planning another summer Block Party for 2023. Again, thank you to the Chawla family for their generosity hosting the “Eggs-Perience!”
Owner Upkeep Commission: The Board also created an Owner Upkeep Commission to assist with communication on Darien Club Rules. If you are interested in participating on the commission, please contact Real Manage at email@example.com.
PLEASE NOTE THAT SOME OWNERS RECEIVED COURTESY VIOLATION LETTERS FROM REALMANAGE AS A RESULT OF OWNERS WHO FILED VIOLATIONS ONLINE. The Board was not aware that these reports were filed, and the letters were not approved for distribution. RealManage has been notified to provide all potential violation notices to the Board for review prior to distribution. If you feel that you have erroneously received a courtesy or violation letter, please contact the Board through DCHOA2014@gmail.com. RealManage has been made aware of this issue. This commission will be headed up by a Board Member who will approve future courtesy letters sent to Owners. The commission is an Owner-Friendly commission that will work with Owners to keep Darien Club standards high.
New Business: Directors cited the need for additional support and assistance to address Community Upkeep previously charged to Bill Worek. The Board unanimously voted to expand the number of directors to eight and unanimously appointed Mary Ellen Kennedy, a 30-year resident and former Board Member to join. Please help us by thanking and welcoming Mary Ellen.
1st Semi-Annual Assessments due no later than 4/15/2023
Real Manage apologizes for the delayed mailing of the 1st Assessment. Please note that statements were posted to RealManage Owner Portal timely. Thank you to the Owners who paid their balances online by 1/30/23 (actual due date). The Board encourages all Owners to log onto your RealManage Owner Portal where you can pay your invoice and set up autopay for your convenience. Late fees assessed to Owner accounts in 2023 will be removed through 4/15/23; after which, a late fee will be assessed if not paid. Please note that the 2nd Semi-Annual Installments dated 7/1/23 will be due 7/30/23.
Tentative Dates for Upcoming Board Meetings and the Annual Election:
March 30, 2023 (Completed)
April 27, 2023 Regular Meeting – Tentative
May 30, 2023 Regular Meeting – Tentative
June 29, 2023 Annual Election – Tentative
September 28, 2023 Regular Meeting – Tentative
November 2, 2023 Regular Meeting – Tentative
There have been inquiries regarding the Annual Election timing. The Association is governed by its Bylaws and the Illinois General Not-For-Profit Corporations Act. The Association has received guidance in this matter in determination of timing.
There have also been questions regarding the re-establishment of the “Open Comment Session” of the Board meetings. In 2021, the current Board established the formal open comment session which was not previously available to Owners. Unfortunately, this session has been abused by some Owners associated with All4DarienClub who threatened Board Members, used vulgarities, and made obscene gestures. These Owners also disproportionately consumed time allocated for other Community Members by repeating identical questions as well as raising topics that were not on the agenda. Other Community Members were also intimidated by the disruptive behavior. The Board asked Real Manage to provide additional support during these open sessions. Mr. David Conforti was initially assigned to the meetings and did an excellent job managing the unprofessional behavior. Unfortunately, at the April 2022 Annual Meeting, association counsel witnessed the unprofessional actions of certain All4DarienClub members and recommended the Board suspend the open comment session. Open session is not a requirement under the Illinois General Not-For-Profit Corporations Act. The board looks forward to re-instituting the open comment session in the near future. Real Manage will provide executive staff to assist in moderating these meetings if the disruptions continue. Senior support is outside of our Management Agreement and charged to the Association. Owners acting inappropriately will be exited from the meeting. The Board is hopeful that the open comment session will be professional, and Owners will abide by the guidelines to move forward with its continued inclusion thereafter.
As you are aware, the Association has been in litigation brought against the Association by an Owner(s): Jeff and Sarah Kubik. The central issue is the question of whether the Association Declarations permit the erection of perimeter fences. The BOD has been advised by outside legal counsel that perimeter fences are allowed by the Declarations, and the Association cannot prohibit perimeter fences. Accordingly, in November 2021, the DCOA BOD modified the Design Manual Rules to bring them in line with the Declarations, while preserving the aesthetics of the Association. Fences have been allowed in the Declarations since their filing in 1990. Approximately 10% of the homes in Darien Club have fences. In 1996, the rules changed prohibiting fences. In November 2021, the association long-standing legal counsel, Keough Moody, provided an opinion (posted on the DCOA website at Darienclub.com). In this opinion, Keough Moody stated the following:
- “Under Illinois law, a Board lacks authority to adopt a rule that conflicts with the Declaration’s intent.”
- “Under Illinois law, absent a clear restriction in a Declaration, questions about allowed activities will be resolved in favor of allowing free use of property and against restriction.”
- “the Board retains the authority to require advance permission prior to the installation”… “and may place reasonable requirements on fencing to preserve the aesthetics of the community (things like height, material, and color).”
The Association has received favorable rulings on all motions and filings to date. Finally, after multiple objections by Plaintiff, the Judge has agreed to allow the Association to file a Partial Summary Judgement on this central issue of whether the Declarations require the Association to allow perimeter fences. The Association Counsel, Insurance Outside Counsel, other attorneys and the BOD believe the Association has no right to prohibit perimeter fences under the Declarations. A ruling from the Court will resolve this issue going forward and hopefully end much of the disruption and significant expense to the Community brought about by the suit filed by the Kubiks. The BOD has no preference as to the Court’s ruling, other than to end the costs associated with this dispute.
In defending the lawsuit brought by the Kubiks, legal spending for the Association has exceeded $25,000 including related All4DarienClub Activity. In addition to funds that have come directly out of the Association’s funds, the State Farm appointed Counsel has spent in excess of $40,000 of the contractual $50,000 limit for legal fees, after which the lawsuit must be defended directly out of the Association coffers. If this suit should continue, the Association will soon be funding ALL legal expenses once the insurance limit is met. The BOD looks forward to the Judge making this legal determination, providing clear direction to the Association on this issue, and wasting no further time or funds that would be better used to the benefit of the Owners in the community.
To be clear, there are additional issues raised by the Kubiks in their Third Amended Complaint, which the Court can resolve in due course. But the central issue appears to be the question of whether perimeter fences are, or are not, allowed under our Declarations. We hope to have this issue resolved by the Court soon.
Continued Misinformation by All4DArienClub/Laurie Camp: All4DarienClub (“A4DC”) is a group of individuals that includes or has included: Laurie Camp, Linda Pecora, Pat Coutre, Dan & Deb Marszalek, Adele Mitchell, John Pastore, and others. A4DC and their attorneys have worked in conjunction with Kubik’s attorneys as they have copied each other on legal correspondence. Laurie Camp, a marketing executive, has taken on the lead role of Communication for this group distorting facts, making false statements, and preying on members of the community with unwelcome home visits and an unethical email campaign using the emails of Owners which is prohibited. Numerous Owners have complained about Ms. Camp’s continued actions causing Association Counsel to send Ms. Camp a “Cease and Desist” for the many false, misleading, and potentially defamatory statements that she and others from this group have made for more than a year. Regrettably, a new E-mail DarienClubHOA1@gmail.com has been created to conceal the identity of those individuals that continue to contact and confuse Owners of Darien Club. Specifically, under the anonymity of this email account, individuals suspected to be members of A4DC are encouraging Owners to send harassing E-mails to the personal and professional E-mails of Board members. Letters sent in this fashion have been referred to association counsel and law enforcement for determining appropriate next steps. We encourage Owners to exercise sound discretion and avoid permitting Ms. Camp and other All4DarienClub members from furthering their own personal objectives under the guise of your names and email addresses. This conduct previously led to involvement by the Darien Police Department. The “spoofing” of the Association-wide Email with the apparent intent of confusing Owners with inaccurate information is reprehensible. Owners should understand that despite historical practices within the Community, the Association is required to follow its Declaration and Illinois law with respect to fences. The filing of litigation by Kubik(s) in conjunction with the misinformation communicated by Ms. Camp and A4DC has been deeply dividing our community while costing us tens of thousands of dollars. A4DC’s objective is to malign the current Board Members in an attempt to remove them from the Board through their unscrupulous email and in-person campaigns. They use misinformation to overshadow the incredible amount of work the board has done on behalf of the Association. A4DC is disgruntled that the Board members properly reinstated fence rights to Owners as advised by Association counsel and for which an opinion was issued by Keough & Moody.
Below is a FACT CHECK on misinformation communicated by A4DC/Laurie Camp in an email recently sent to Owners through the “spoofed” email DarienClubHOA1@gmail.com. Below are the FACTS:
- The Board has followed all regulations concerning the Annual Election and appointment of Directors.
- The Board appropriately scheduled the April 27, 2022, Annual Meeting and May 4, 2022, BOD Meeting during which John Becker was re-appointed to the Board to continue to address litigation filed by Kubik.
- ONE Board Member position was up for election last year, not three board members as stated by Ms. Camp.
- A Board Member’s term does not expire until the next Annual Election after their two-year term.
- Annual Election dates are determined by the Board. None have been held within 30 days of the Turnover date in the last ten years.
- The Association By-laws require by-law amendments and modifications be made by the Board, and not by homeowner consent as implied by Ms. Camp.
- Cumulative voting is legal and ensures that the underrepresented have a voice in the community.
- Open Comment Session was discontinued at Board Meetings due to inappropriate and abusive behavior by A4DC.
- Board Meeting Minutes are posted on Real Manage Owner Portals contrary to Ms. Camp’s claims.
- Board meetings are currently held virtually as had been previously established and will continue as they provide accessibility to all Owners.
- Excessive Legal and administrative costs driven by the Kubik Litigation, All4DarienClub, and Laurie Camp have been a “misuse” of association funds.
- RealManage monthly management fee is $1,100 compared to Oak & Dale $960. Both management companies charge additional administrative costs for mailings, etc. RealManage services include the Owner on-line Portal with immediate access to Association financial statements, minutes, governing documents, on-line assessment payment and so much more. The former management company did not have the capability to offer these services.
- RealManage credited late fees to Owners and the Association related to the 1st assessment.
- RealManage has visited Darien Club multiple times. RealManage offers a team of representatives to manage our account. RealManage recently completed a year of service. RealManage has performed well considering the disruptive activity of A4DC.
- RealManage Community Manager attendance at Board Meetings is included in the monthly management fee. When extraordinary behavior by A4DC members requires an executive to attend to moderate our meetings, an additional fee is charged.
- RealManage does not charge additional fees to talk to the Board.
- Ordinary association legal fees are covered under a Legal Retainer Contract that is budgeted.
- TENS OF THOUSANDS OF LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES WERE DRIVEN BY KUBIK LITIGATION AND A4DC.
- A4DC continues to malign the Board and all Association representatives including RealManage and Legal Counsel through their propaganda and to fulfill their own personal agenda.
The Board awaits the judge’s ruling on the partial summary judgement. This should serve to resolve much of the divisiveness in the community. Without this decision, future Boards would face uncertainty and the association would be at risk of continued litigation. Once a lawful decision is made, we can move forward as a community and neighborhood. The BOD take their roles and responsibilities as volunteer board members seriously and strive as a collective team to improve our community and better the lives of those that call Darien Club home.
Please visit the DCOA website at https://darienclub.com/ for community updates. The website is populated with the DCOA Declaration, most recent Design Manual Rules & Regulations, most recent By-Laws, Board Meeting Notices, Agendas, Upcoming Social Events, Community Updates, Messages from the Board, DCOA Annual Budget, and so much more. Take a moment to register your email on the website and be first to get new posts delivered right to your email.