I know, I know, another coronavirus article. Can you blame me? It never ceases to amaze me as an attorney how life creates fact patterns which no writer could come up with using their imagination. For that reason, issues surrounding coronavirus continue to evolve and present new challenges.
Much has been made of boards conducting business with coronavirus concerns, including the desire to close board meetings. However, not much is said regarding meetings of our architectural review committees. 718.112(2)(c)2. and 720.303(2)(c)3. both require that meetings of the architectural review board or committee be noticed and open to the owners in the same manner as meetings of the board. Consequently, board members should first and foremost be aware and mindful that meetings of the Association’s architectural review board must be noticed and open to the homeowners just like board meetings.
So how can the architectural review committee take action if it feels in-person meetings are ill advised in light of coronavirus? Can the meetings be closed? First, decisions of the committee should be divided between approvals and denials. The committee can easily deal with approvals through unanimous action in writing in lieu of a meeting as homeowners will certainly not take issue with approvals. Denials become more problematic. I do believe the committee has the option to deny applications by unanimous action in lieu of a meeting. However, those decisions will be subject to challenge. I believe the committee should either consider conducting meetings via an online platform such as zoom, or consider conducting an in person meeting to address denials. Also bear in mind that any action not taken at a properly noticed meeting can always be ratified at a later date. Consequently, any lingering issues with the denial of an application could be remedied with a ratification of the committee’s prior decision at a properly noticed meeting. Note that action taken in lieu of a meeting must always be ratified at a subsequent properly noticed meeting. Ultimately, conducting meetings via electronic means (Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc.) may be the best option.
As always, consult your Community Association legal counsel for specific advice concerning your legal issues.