Dispute Resolution Policy
Cabin John Gardens, Inc. is a single family home cooperative with 100 total memberships (97 of which are issued and 3 of which are retained). It is inevitable in a community this size that differences will arise between residents. Some of those differences will rise to the level of a dispute. Article XII of the Bylaws governs “RESOLUTIONS OF DISPUTES.” Section 1 of that Article (“Dispute Resolution Procedure”) provides that “the Board shall not impose a fine, suspend voting rights, or infringe upon any other rights of a Member or other occupant for violations of the Membership Agreement, these By-Laws, or the Rules and Regulations of the Corporation unless and until” certain specified provisions are followed. The term “dispute” therefore is limited to “violations of the Membership Agreement, the By-Laws, or the Rules and Regulations of the Corporation.”
Under the current policy, once a dispute is filed by a member, resident, or tenant, the dispute resolution policy requires that a board member be appointed to direct an investigation to gather information, conduct interviews and make inspections as needed.
The purpose of amending the current Dispute Resolution Policy is threefold. First, the Amendment expressly limits the Policy’s application to the types of disputes described in the By-Laws. As an adjunct to that clarification, the Amendment gives the Board the discretion to determine which disputes fall within the Policy and the Board’s jurisdiction, and thus require action as per the By-Laws.
Second, the Amendment recognizes that some disputes will warrant more careful attention and resources than others. Rather than adopt a single procedure for dealing with all disputes, the Amended Policy gives the Board flexibility in choosing the appropriate method for handling disputes on a case-by-case basis. This is necessary given that volunteer board members have limits on the time they can give to CJG matters and that appointing a board member to always investigate each complaint may not be possible or desirable.
Third, the Amendment no longer incorporates the procedures set forth in the Bylaws as though they were part of the Policy. The Amended Policy now specifically deals with the initial phases of a potential violation. As set forth below, once the Board has made an affirmative finding that a violation may have occurred, Article XII governs all further procedures.
It is the intent of the Board in adopting this Amendment that the procedures set forth herein will apply to all currently pending disputes raised by members, residents, or tenants against other members, residents or tenants, regardless of what stage of resolution they are in, as well as any future disputes.
To the extent necessary, the Board may in its discretion reconsider actions taken with regard to any existing disputes in accordance with this amendment.
Proposed Change to Policy
Cabin John Gardens Community Violation/Dispute Resolution Policy
The Board is charged with the enforcement of the Membership Agreement, By-Laws and Rules and Regulations of the corporation. Article XII of the By-Laws addresses the resolution of disputes arising from violations of these documents. This policy sets out in more detail how the By-Laws will be implemented.
The position of the Board is that any dispute or violation that concerns matters outside the scope of the Membership Agreement, By-Laws and Rules and Regulations, such as legal disputes, or disputes that raise concerns of criminal activity, public or personal safety, or code violations, should be dealt with by the appropriate County or State authorities.
This policy document is designed to be a work flow process for any issues that are in dispute either between individual Cabin John Gardens (CJG) Members or an individual Member and the Community. These steps will serve as guidelines for the Board of Directors to follow as well as to set expectations for community members.
1) An individual member/members or the Board itself may file with the Board a complaint with the Board alleging that another Member has violated the Membership Agreement, By-Laws, or Rules and Regulations of the CJG. The complaining party (i.e. the member or Board) must complete the "Community Violation/Dispute Resolution Document" that describes the alleged violation in detail and states which specific rule of the CJG is being or was allegedly violated.
2) If the Board receives a complaint from a Member, the Board will determine: 1) whether the complaint alleges a violation of the Membership Agreement, By-Laws, or Rules and Regulations of CJG; and 2) even if the answer is in the affirmative, whether the nature of the complaint is something that is more appropriately handled by the county, state or other outside authorities. If the Board determines that the complaint alleges a violation of the Membership Agreement, By-Laws, or Rules and Regulations of CJG and further determines that the alleged violation is more appropriately handled by CJG procedures (as opposed to outside authorities), the Board can decide to conduct an investigation. The Board may appoint a member of the Board or an outside party to direct the investigation and gather more information, including the use of interviews and inspections when necessary. When it initially reviews the complaint, the Board will set out a timeline for resolution of the issue. It is anticipated that in the case of routine complaints, the Board will investigate the complaint by the following board meeting and for more complex issues timeframes for presenting information collected will be determined on a case-by-case basis. All information collected will be placed in the Dispute Resolution File for that complaint. The File will be open for inspection by either party to the extent required by the Maryland Cooperative Housing Corporation Act.
3) If the Board or a member of the Board, acting in his or her capacity as a member, initiates a complaint, the Board may appoint a member of the Board or an outside party to direct the investigation and gather more information, including the use of interviews and inspections when necessary. The File will be open for inspection by either party to the extent required by the law regulating housing cooperatives.
4) The Board will evaluate the information it receives in the complaint and from any investigation, and the Board will decide, by a majority vote of the Board, whether there is sufficient information to show that a violation may have taken place. If the Board determines that there was no violation the Board will notify the complaining party in writing and it will close the complaint with no further action taken. If, however, the Board concludes that a violation may have taken place, the Board will invoke the procedure set forth in Article XII of the By-Laws to address the matter.
5) If the Board determines that the complaint alleges a violation of the Membership Agreement, By-Laws, or Rules and Regulations of CJG and further determines that the alleged violation is more appropriately handled by CJG procedures (as opposed to outside authorities), but pursuant to Paragraph 2, above, decides not to conduct an investigation, the Board will immediately invoke the procedure set forth in Article XII of the By-Laws to address the matter.