Caroline

Audience participation at Homeowner Board meetings

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We have an elected nine member board of directors that conducts the business of a homeowners association.  Our agendas are published in advance and there is audience member comments called for at the beginning and end of each meeting.  Generally only a dozen or less members are in attendance during board meetings.  Our Association has been casual about allowing questions from the audience and some give their opinions on a particular issue.   Recently an audience member wanted to speak (give opinion) after a board motion had been made and was seconded.  The Chair had called for discussion on the motion prior to the vote.   I raised a point of order and asked if it was appropriate for audience members to participate in the discussion of board motions. Conflicting opinions resulted.  I cannot find an absolute statement that this is or isn't allowed.   I appreciate a reference or clarification on this issue.

Camcnulty

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The footnote on page 263 of the 11th edition of Ron are says, ". . . the rules may be suspended to allow a non-member to speak in debate".  Such a suspension of the rules would require a two-thirds vote (or unanimous consent).

I believe there is also a provision somewhere in RONR which says that a non-member may be permitted to address the assembly with a majority vote, but I cannot find that citation at the moment.

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In order for a non-member of the body that is meeting - in your example a member of the homeowners association at a board meeting - to join in debate on a motion, the rules would have to be suspended to allow this. That will require a 2/3 vote - by the board - on the motion to suspend the rules to allow the non-member to enter debate, which must be made and seconded by board members. 

Note also that the board is in control of its meetings, and unless your association rules or applicable law allow for association member participation at board meetings, the board is under no obligation to allow association members who are not members of the board to participate in any way at these meetings.

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1 hour ago, Bruce Lages said:

That will require a 2/3 vote - by the board - on the motion to suspend the rules to allow the non-member to enter debate, which must be made and seconded by board members.

But Bruce, this is only a nine member Board, so no second would be required under the relaxed rules of RONR.

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2 hours ago, SaintCad said:

Being an HOA, are you sure RONR and not state law would apply?

Yes, unless there is a superseding state law that has a contrary provision. Some state laws might require a period of public comment at some point in a board meeting, but I'm not aware of any that actually require that HOA members be permitted to participate in debate on motions at board meetings. If there is such a law in Caroline's state, then of course it would be controlling. 

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10 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Yes, unless there is a superseding state law that has a contrary provision. Some state laws might require a period of public comment at some point in a board meeting, but I'm not aware of any that actually require that HOA members be permitted to participate in debate on motions at board meetings. If there is such a law in Caroline's state, then of course it would be controlling. 

Ricahrd, I would concur  I have some knowledge on HOAs/Condominiums.  I have seen laws that require the Board to hold part of their meetings in a public venue (Sunshine laws) and/or where there must be an opportunity for public comments, but never about allowing an owner/member to enter into debate whenever he/she wishes.  Any comments would have to be made during the public comment portion (whih may or may not limit what the member may speak about - either any subject, or only an issue on the Agenda.)

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OK second question.  Was it a board meeting or an HOA meeting?  From the OP's description, I'm not 100% convinced it wasn't an HOA meeting "run" by the board.

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It was a regular monthly board meeting.  Duly noticed in advance and open to any association member.  Our HOA member meetings do have members participating.  Generally they are once a year or special meetings when called (rare).

I think I have gotten good input and thank those who took the time.  I now have several fellow board members understanding that audience members were not elected to conduct the business of the association and we need to be more careful in allowing comments only at the appropriate times on the agenda for such comments.

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