Category Archives: Declaration of Restrictions

Rule 1-1 and Interpretations to the Declaration of Restrictions

The Declaration of Restrictions is the Club’s most important legal document.
When the BOD and Owners argue about the Declaration of Restrictions, each side presents his interpretation of the Declaration of Restrictions.

One must evaluate if any interpretation is illegal and in conflict with Federal or State law; an interpretation that conflicts with Federal or State laws cannot be considered.

I do not have a problem with the Declaration of Restrictions; I have a problem with the Club’s BOD illegal interpretation as presented in Rule 1-1 in the Book of Rules.

The BOD’s wrong interpretation of the Declaration of Restriction goes against Federal and State property laws and cannot be considered.

The Declaration of Restriction states:
“the Club was expressly created to have exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance of Indian Hammock Hunt and Riding Club (the “Property”),”

My interpretation is as follow:
When the Club was created in 1973, it held all the deeds to the Common Areas and the 299 numbered lots; therefore, this statement did not contradict any Federal or State laws.
Each time the Club sold one of the 299 numbered lots to an Owner, the Club also transferred the exclusive responsibility and authority to the Owner, the new holder of a Fee Simple deed to the lot.

Suppose the Declaration of Restrictions’ goal is for the Club to retain forever the exclusive responsibility and authority on the 299 numbered lots, as Rule 1-1 implies. In that case, the Declaration of Restrictions should have said, “the Club will have exclusive responsibility and authority in the management and maintenance of Indian Hammock Hunt and Riding Club (the “Property”).” and the Club will not be able to sell the numbered lots. The Club may be able to rent them to Members, and the Club could not transfer any of the deeds.

This Rule 1-1 is the most critical issue in IH; it represents BOD’s attitude that cannot be tolerated by Owners and must be speedily removed from the Book of Rules.

The BOD must consult its lawyer before brushing off the Owners’ interpretations; if this issue is not settled amicably, then an impartial legal firm should be obtained by the disputing Owners and the BOD. Not following this route will lead to Owners being forced to litigation, a painful and costly exercise for the Owners, not so much for the BOD members.

Fellow Owners, please let me know if you agree and ready to discuss our options.

David Etzion
Lot 246
Indian Hammock Owners’ Voice
https://IHMyHome.com
Indian Hammock Owners’ Rights
https://www.facebook.com/groups/188079885581793

A motion to have up to five chickens, no rooster

On January 17, 2021, in our Annual Members Meeting, one of the members initiated a motion to amend the Declaration of Restrictions to allow up to five chickens, no Rooster, per residential dwelling.

The members voted as follow:

YES      168

NO       53

I am thrilled that out of the 221 votes, 76% SUPPORT and WANT members to have chickens in IH, with the limitation of a maximum of five and no Rooster.

Unfortunately, to change the outdated 1973 Deed Restriction, we legally need 200 votes out of the 299 total IH available votes.

Our request can be better conveyed to the 299 total possible votes in IH.

IH lawyer should prepare a suitable document, with the motion to amend the Declaration of Restrictions, to allow “up to five chickens, no Rooster,  per residential dwelling .”

This document should be email or snail-mailed by the BOD to each of the 299 voting members of IH.

I hope that IH’s local governing body, being the BOD, realizes that if a YES got 76% of the votes and a NO got 24% of the votes, they have to get involved and serve the members’ wishes.

I am ready to meet and discuss it with any member of our “fresh” 2021 BOD.

I also ask you to support me, contact our BOD members, and motivate them to serve the members’ wishes.

Thank you

David Etzion
Lot 246

What I want to achieve and what I will use GoFundMe for.

What needs to be fixed

Indian Hammocks Hunt and Riding Club (IH) Declaration of Restriction and By-Laws were created in 1973 by the Developers, protecting the Developers’ interests and vision for IH.
Amenities that did not exist in 1973 are now essential and changed the way communities operate.
Since 1973 IH has transformed from a Hidden Weekend Retreat lots and cabins to mostly full-time and some part-time residences of an outdoor-oriented community.
IH Owners’ needs changed, and the Governing Documents need to be revised and updated to accommodate the technologies and demographic changes that took place since 1973.
The outdated documents and IH members’ apathy allowed the IH BOD to overstep their authority and caused erosion in IH Owners’ rights.  

What I want to achieve

As of November 2019, I am campaigning for IH’s Owners’ Rights and got to the stage where actions and finance are needed to achieve important goals.

I will use GoFundMe to benefit the IH members, desiring changes in IH outdated Declarations of Restrictions and By-Laws and looking for restoring and protecting the Owners’ rights in Indian Hammock.

These are the three issues/goals I intend to address.

1. Restore and Promote Owner’s rights on his Lot:

We already have three Governmental bodies imposing Restrictions and Laws, limiting individuals’ usage of their privately owned Lot.
We have Federal Laws, State Laws, and County Laws.
It makes no difference if one believes that there are too many of these Laws or not enough; we cannot change or remove any of these Laws or Restrictions by voting in IH.
I believe that we should not further restrict Owners on what they can do or can’t do on their Lot.
I believe we should not add more laws and restrictions in a fourth, lower governmental body, being IH Club and its Board of Directors (BOD).
The BOD should not be allowed to establish any Guideline, Law, or Restriction concerning an Owner’s Lot; we have enough of those imposed by the Federal, State, and County

Let remove the Laws and Restrictions imposed on Owners’ Lot by IH Club and the BOD.

2. Enforcement in Indian Hammock to be done by Okeechobee County:

IH does not have the workforce or the financial resources, and many times the BOD lacks the interest to enforce the restrictions and laws.
This fact creates selective enforcement, total injustice, and a high level of animosity and mistrust.
The management or any objecting Owner can refer all alleged violations to Okeechobee County.

3. Limiting the BOD control in the Common Area:

The BOD will have the authority to manage the common area.
The BOD should only administrate and maintain the common area.
The BOD should not be allowed to make any changes to the common area’s usage without obtaining 200 or more votes supporting such change.
The BOD Should not issue any law or restriction in contradiction to the Declaration of Restriction or the By-Laws.

What will be paid for by “GoFundMe”

A.  Obtain and maintain Email Marketing Software to keep supporting owners informed.
B.  Hire legal services to:
      1.   Research IH Documents.
      2.   Established the legal procedures to amend IH documents in the spirit of the above set goals.
      3.   Prepare proxies requests to obtain 200 votes for each required change.
      4.   Deal with the BOD to secure the amendments to the Declaration of Restriction and By-Laws.

Join me if you agree.

David Etzion
Lot 246

GoFundMe

This GoFundMe will be used to benefit the members of Indian Hammocks Hunt and Riding Club (IH), desiring changes in IH outdated Declarations of Restrictions and By-Laws and looking for restoring and protecting the Owners’ rights in Indian Hammock.

IH Declaration of Restriction and By-Laws were created in 1973 by the Developers, protecting the Developers’ interests and their vision for Indian Hammock.
Amenities that did not exist in 1973 are now essential and changed the way communities operate.
Since 1973 Indian Hammock transformed from a Hidden Weekend Retreat lots and cabins to mostly full-time and some part-time residences of an outdoor-oriented community.
The needs of Indian Hammock Owners changed, and the Governing Documents need to be revised and be updated to accommodate the technologies and demographic changes that took place since 1973.

The outdated documents and IH members’ apathy allowed the IH Boards of Directors to overstep their authority and caused severe erosion in IH Owners’ rights.  

As of November 2019, I was personally campaigning for IH’s Owners’ Rights and got to the stage where actions are needed to achieve our goals.

I cannot do it without your help, which will enable us to obtain professional channels of communication and the legal advice and actions necessary.

Please join me in these critical tasks.

David Etzion
Lot 246

Amending the 1973 IH Governing Documents

IH Declaration of Restriction and By-Laws were created in 1973 by the Developers, protecting the Developers’ interests and their vision for Indian Hammock.

Amenities that did not exist in 1973 are now essential and changed the way communities operate.

Since 1973 Indian Hammock transformed from a Hidden Weekend Retreat lots and cabins to mostly full-time and some part-time residences of an outdoor-oriented community.

The needs of Indian Hammock Owners changed, and the Governing Documents need to be revised and be updated to accommodate the technologies and demographic changes that took place since 1973.

Considerations for the Revised IH Governing Documents:

Technologies:
Computers.
Internet.
Smart Phones.
Email.
Zoom.
Online Shopping.

Demographic changes:
Reduce interference of the BOD on owner Full-time and Part-time residences.
Remove restrictions that suppress the Owners’ sustainability.

Let start a polite conversation.
Suggestions, opinions, and ideas are more than welcome.

The Declaration of Restrictions is the Law in Indian Hammock.

The Declaration of Restrictions is what its name implies, Restrictions, taking away some of the Individual Owner/Member’s Rights, in order to create a livable Community.

The Declaration of Restrictions contains all of the Deed Restrictions and it is the only document a Deed Restrictions can be placed.
Deed Restrictions cannot be amended, added, or removed without being voted on by the Owners and getting a 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The Declaration of Restrictions also contains those Guidelines, Rules and Regulations which cannot be added to, removed from, or amended without being voted on by the Owners and getting a 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The Declaration of Restrictions protects the individual Owner/Member’s rights by establishing that any future restriction on individual Owner/Member’s rights can not be done without being voted on by the Owners and getting a 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The Declaration of Restrictions Article XII – General Provision; Section 3. says: “The Club, by two thirds (2/3) vote of approval of the membership, may modify, amend or add to this Declaration of Restrictions.”

The 2019 Florida Statutes 720.306; Section (b) says: “Unless otherwise provided in the governing documents or required by law, and other than those matters set forth in paragraph (c), any governing document of an association may be amended by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the voting interests of the association.”

The Declaration of Restrictions only gave the Board of Directors the authority to create Rules and Regulations relating to administration and management, as long as those Rules and Regulations are not in conflict with the Declarations of Restrictions.
Only such Rules and Regulations can be voted in by the majority of the Board of Directors.

Is there an enforceable “25’ Buffer” in Indian Hammock?

This argument is NOT about if “25’ Buffer” is good or bad Idea.
This argument is about is there is an enforceable “25 Buffer” in Indian Hammock or not.

The assumption of an enforceable “25’ Buffer” is based on Rule 11 in the Book of Rules.
Rule number 11 says:
11.1 The Club’s Land Clearing, Landscaping and Building Guidelines, adopted as Rules regulating clearing and construction by the Board August 19, 2007, are incorporated herein by reference as a rule.

I was told that Rule 11 was voted on by the BOD and added to the Book of Rules in 2010.
I was told that the current version of the Land-clearing/Landscaping packet is identical to the August 19, 2007 version.

Page one of the Land-clearing/Landscaping packet contains the following statement:
“…The land-clearing/landscape packet was produced in accordance with the Declaration of Restrictions of Indian Hammock…”          
This statement is not true.
Rule 11 and the Land-clearing/Landscaping packet are in violation to the Declaration of Restrictions.

The Land-clearing/Landscaping packet violates the Declaration of Restrictions in the following  two paragraphs:
On page 3 paragraph 8. – the land-clearing/landscape packet says:
“A natural buffer of twenty-five feet must be left around all property lines. Property lines that have a utility easement in use should have a natural buffer of twenty-five feet beyond the easement.”

On page 4 paragraph 1. – the land-clearing/landscape packet says:
“…A buffer of twenty-five feet must be left around all property lines. Property lines that have a utility easement in use should have a natural buffer of twenty-five feet beyond the easement. It is the responsibility of the land owner/Member to ensure these buffer zones are kept intact during clearing.  Fines and/or the requirement to replace the vegetation can be imposed. Should this area be void of vegetation on your lot, additional landscaping material may be needed. It is preferable that this be the natural vegetation of Indian Hammock. If a fence is proposed, this buffer should work to complement the design of the fence.”

These two paragraphs must be rephrased to what they used to be, a guideline of what is desirable, not to be stated as if they are the “Law of the Land”
The Declaration of Restrictions does not contain a Deed Restriction that takes away the Owner’s Rights, or controls the vegetation in the “25’ Buffer” and gives this control to the BOD.

The Declaration of Restrictions already has a Deed Restriction that covers the Owner’s land near the lot’s boundaries; it is the 50’ No Build Zone.

Article VIII Section 3 says:
“No building shall be erected on any Residential lot closer than 50 feet to the front, side or rear lot line thereof…”

Nowhere in the Declaration of Restrictions is a “25’ Buffer” incorporated into the 50’ No Build Zone.

A 25’ Buffer Zone with vegetation restrictions can only be added to the Declaration of Restrictions by amending the Declaration of Restrictions, requiring a 2/3 majority vote of all Owners/Members

For more about Restrictions, Rules, and What is this fight about:

What is this fight about?

Let us start with definitions:

Restrictions – Individual Owner’s Rights that Owners agreed to sacrifice in order to create a livable community. Restrictions should be kept to the bare minimum; only 2/3 Majority of Owners’ vote can add, remove, or amend a restriction.

Restrictions are part of the Declaration of Restrictions.
Example of a Restriction is the “50’ No Build Zone” in the Declaration of Restrictions, Article Viii Section 3:
“No Building shall be erected on any Residential lot closer than 50’ to the front, side or rear lot lines…”

Rules – Managerial, Administrative and Operational Regulations that do not take away Individual Owner’s Rights.

Rules can’t be in conflict with the Declaration of Restrictions or the By-Laws.
Rules are suggested by the BOD to the Owners for discussions and are voted in by the BOD. Rules are part of the BOD Book of Rules.
An example of a Rule is the “Establishing of Committees”  in the Book of Rules 1. General paragraph 2.1
“The Board shall at its first meeting of the New Year, establish by written resolution its committees for the coming year (“Committee or Committees”) and the role of each Committee”

What are we fighting for and why.

Over the years when the BODs did not believe they would get the required 2/3 Majority Owners vote, chose to pass Restrictions disguised as Rules, and incorporated them in the Book of Rules.
This practice illegally shifted Power and Rights from the Owners to the BODs.
The goal is to restore this power and rights back to the Owners by forcing the BOD to cancel those illegal Rules; alternatively, the BOD can try to get the required 2/3 majority vote of the Owners.

The goal is to Restore power and rights back from the BOD to the Owners.

It will require time, effort and perseverance as the BODs will fight back using all their assumed power to maintain the gain in power they have achieved.
With time, using information channels that were not available when Indian Hammock started, we will be able to get transparency and information that is not easily available now, share it, and get enough Owners involved in order to shift the power and Rights back to where they belong.

The Notorious “Buffer Restriction”

There is a Buffer Ad-Hoc Committee meeting on February 2 at 3:00PM in the Lodge

This is a very important meeting, open to all of the Owners/Members and I plead with each of you to come and take part in the discussions, no matter if you agree with my personal opinion or not.

My Opinion:
Before getting into the “nitty-gritty” of the notorious “Buffer Restriction”, one must better step back and look at the big picture.

Indian Hammock Declaration of Restrictions is the Indian Hammock “Law of the Land”.

Each Owner/Member should respect and obey the Declaration of Restrictions, as much as each USA Citizens should respect and obey the Constitution of the United State.

In order to place my argument in a clear way, I need to start with another restriction, a valid one, legally taking away Owner/Member’s individual right to do what he wishes on a portion of his private lot.

I am referring to the “50’ no-build zone”. (which is even greater than what the Okeechobee Building code requires)

I am quoting from the Declaration of Restrictions Article VIII “Building Control” Section 3.

“No Building shall be erected on any Residential Lot closer than 50 feet to the front, side or rear lot lines thereof.”

This “50’ no-build zone” is a “Law of the Land” in Indian Hammock.

On the other hand, there is nothing in the Declaration of Restrictions about a “25’ Buffer”.

This “Buffer Restriction”, call it a rule, requirement, regulation whatever one wishes to; Is a Restriction that takes away the Owner/Member’s individual right in regards the vegetation on a big portion of his/her lot

There are other sections in the Declaration of Restrictions that will force an Owner/Member to maintain and keep the vegetation on his/her lot to a high standard, so it will be a pleasure to look at from the roads and the common areas, but there is nothing about a “25’ buffer”.

So, the question to ask is:

When and How did this “Buffer Restriction” get voted on to become “the Law of the Land”?

Is it legally the “Law of the Land” or is it only an unenforceable recommendation, no matter how good of a recommendation it is.

Only after, and depending on how, this question is answered, it makes sense to continue with the “nitty-gritty” or stop this discussion about a “Law of the Land” that may not exist.

Declaration of Restrictions

The Declaration of Restrictions was created a long time before the smart phone, communication by email and the popular internet.

Yet, it is still the Supreme Law of the Land in Indian Hammock.

The Declaration of Restrictions is exactly what its name says, Restrictions; Taking away some of the Individual Owner/Member’s Rights, in order to create a livable Community.

The Originators and Developers of Indian Hammock put a lot of thought, time and legal minds into the creation of the Declaration of Restrictions.

While taking away some of the Individual Owner/Member Rights, the Declaration protects the Owner/Member by establishing that any future removal of Owner/Individual rights can only be done by a 2/3 majority vote of the club’s Members.

Simply put, no Restrictions, Laws, Rules, Procedures, or whatever someone choses to call them, which take away any of Owner/Member Individual Rights are legal or enforceable, unless they were put for a vote and accepted by 2/3 of the club’s members.

There is only one exception to the above.

There is only one place in the Declaration of Restrictions where the power to make additional restrictions was given to the Board of Directors, and this is only in regard to Motorized Vehicles.

As per Article VII Section 5. “No vehicle of any type may be operated on the property so as to create a nuisance, a hazard or do damage to the common areas. Because of their rapid proliferation and unforeseeable evolution, the board shall make rules regulating the use of, or prohibiting the use of, any type of motorized vehicle.

Nowhere else is there such power given to the Board to create anything that takes away from Owner/Member’s rights; it can only be done by the Club (being the Members) requiring a  2/3 majority vote.