A few residents purged the entire Jonathan Association board at the annual meeting a few weeks ago, hoping to install board members favorable to opting out of the homeowners group. It repeated a similar move four years ago by someone who wanted pro-Jonathan board members.

The next membership meeting, which will hopefully clean up this mess, is March 27.

The association, with $236 annual dues, encompasses about 8,000 Chaska residents in 3,000 households. Last year it budgeted $734,776 in revenue, with over $1.2 million in assets. In short, it's no small potatoes.

While researching and ruminating this editorial, we came across Jonathan Association editorials published over the past decade and thought about a one-sentence opinion piece: "What we said earlier."

That's the kind of déjà vu constantly washing over us, as the city's largest homeowner association whiplashes from pro-Jonathan to anti-Jonathan and back again.

The only thing new is whether to use "seesaw" or "pendulum" as a metaphor.

Or perhaps how to complete this sentence: "The Jonathan Association has loopholes big enough to ___ a ___ through."

We're torn between "to fly a blimp through" or "to burn a million dollars through." (Because of all the legal fees.)

So, for the sake of brevity, we'll just outline the two primary loopholes.

  • According to Jonathan bylaws, apartment owners can vote on behalf of each of their hundreds of units. The votes are weighted differently for apartments, but it hardly matters. With apathetic voters, apartment owners rule.
  • Members, using proxy apartment votes if necessary, can easily kick out the board once a year during the annual meeting. A small group of homeowners easily dismissed the board last month because the meeting was not properly brought to a close. (Never thought Robert's Rules of Order were important? Think again.)

Unfortunately, these loopholes are exploited by Jonathan Association members who are either very pro-Jonathan or very anti-Jonathan. In American politics two political parties are constantly fight each other, with middle-of-the-road results. Jonathan is a good example of what happens when there is only one side in power.

As we argued after the last purge, compromise is needed.

Something for the pro-Jonathan sides to consider: The question of whether neighborhoods were properly annexed will continue to arise. In 2007, the Clover Field Marketplace development in Clover Ridge successfully made the annexation argument in court and was opted out of the association, possibly setting precedent.

In 2008, the association had been close to a legal agreement regarding neighborhood opt-outs (easier for newer neighborhoods, harder for older neighborhoods). This should still be considered - particularly for non-contiguous neighborhoods.

Something for the anti-Jonathan sides to consider: Yes, Jonathan Association amenities add value to homes and lifestyle - whether it comes through additional boulevards or parks or trails or community events or attention to detail. In the older parts of Jonathan, the association is actually built into the design of neighborhoods. For instance, without Jonathan trails, off-street walking is impossible, because there are no sidewalks.

And regardless of whether the Jonathan Association controls your neighborhood or not, you will belong to an association and you will pay dues to an association. The city will not take over association common areas and non-city parks.

Something for the city to consider: Given the controversy, the city should consider discouraging developers of new neighborhoods from creating homeowner associations.

Whatever happens next Tuesday, everyone needs to remember they're talking to a neighbor.

 

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