Covenants: Amendment Info Sessions

Dear Neighbors, 

It is hard to believe that our neighborhood is over 40 years old! I love our neighborhood- for the people, the architecture (every house is unique!) and the beautiful greenways. In order to keep our neighborhood amazing, keep the association running smoothly and maintain the greenways, it is time to revise our covenants. 

We will be hosting two info sessions via Zoom to discuss the proposed revisions.

Join us either session (zoom meeting info will be provided closer to the session date):
Thursday May 21st at 7:30pm 
Sunday May 24th at 4pm

Join By App or Web Browser https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5196762244 

The full initial draft proposal of Amended Covenants can be found at this link. Below, you’ll find an executive summary detailing out the planned changes. In order to move forward with the necessary modernization to keep our neighborhood in ship shape, we’ll want your full support. This process will require at least 50% of the neighborhood’s approval on an official amendment.  

At the annual meeting of the WGHA held on January 26, 2020, approval was given to an effort to update the Covenants and By-Laws of the WGHA.  Walnut Grove was developed over time, under eight separate plats approved by the City of Madison. If you click on this link you can see a map of these eight plats and find the eight sets of covenants. Each set of covenants recorded for a particular plat had some covenants identical to those of the other plats, but there were differences as well, some important. 

For the WGHA, the covenants serve to function somewhat like a constitution. They also serve to put buyers of lots in Walnut Grove on notice of restrictions as to lot ownership that serve to protect property values. To the extent eight separate sets of covenants have inconsistent provision, governance of the WGHA is made more difficult. Thus one goal of modernizing the covenants is to make regulation of  lots in Walnut Grove more uniform, without becoming more restrictive than under the current covenants. A second goal is to modernize the processes of communication, budgeting for the operations of the WGHA and assessing annual fees (dues) payable by lot owners. 

Under all eight sets of covenant, the WGHA has two predominate purposes:  (a) an architectural review function designed to ensure relative architectural and aesthetic compatibility in term of structures and additions to lots; and (b) the establishment of an annual budget to fund the operations of the WGHA, with maintenance of the four Greenways in the plats being by far the major expense. (The Greenways’ locations can be viewed at the link above, at page 2.)  The ability of the WGHA to raise fees for its operations was modified in 2005, to increase a $40 per lot annual fee assessment, capped by the original covenants, to an annual capped fee of $75.00 per lot.  Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculator, It takes about $295 in 2020 dollars to have the 1968 buying power of $40.  It takes $125 in 2020 dollars to have the buying power of $75.00 in 2005.  Thus, the cap on the fees assessed annually have not kept up with the costs of the operations of the WGHA. 

One major change the Board is recommending as to the covenants is to modify the means of setting annual dues. Rather than determine a set cap in the covenants or by-laws, we propose shifting to an approach more in line with other area neighborhood associations. We would eliminate a cap on annual dues and instead vote on and approve dues with the vote of the lot owners present at the annual WGHA meeting.  The new covenants would provide that an annual budget be circulated in advance of the annual meeting to afford all lot owners an opportunity for input to the Board before the annual meeting and encourage greater attendance at the meeting. A second goal is to streamline how the covenants can be amended in the future, so that the WGHA is quickly responsive to its members’ desires for governance.

The full proposal can be found here Amended Covenants: Initial Draft 
Current Covenants can be found here https://rod.countyofdane.com/plat/index by entering “Walnut Grove” into the search box.

We welcome any questions in advance of the info sessions. Please reach out to us by email or phone to chat. On behalf of the entire Board and Covenants Sub-Committee, we appreciate your involvement and support. 

Best,
Liz Fenster, President WGHA
walnutgrovemadison@gmail.com
609-440-5673 (please note the 609 area code) 

Sub-Committee Extraordinaire: Doug Hyant, Kim Grimmer, Pat Delaney, Derek Pavelec, and Molly Hyant