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HOA threatens to pull out of CoHOPE, form another coalition

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By AJ Vicens

The Columbine West Civic Association — a homeowner association claiming to represent 1,494 homes — likely will pull out of CoHOPE and try to take other groups with it in a spat over voting power.

CoHOPE, or the Council of Homeowner Organizations for a Planned Environment, is a coalition of South Jeffco homeowner associations and individuals that meets monthly to discuss common concerns. As of Feb. 3, the group claimed to represent 8,208 South Jeffco households.

When the Columbine West group pulls out, nearly 20 percent of the homes CoHOPE represents would be gone.

"If we don't get the kind of democratic representation we want in CoHOPE, we're going to pull out," said Wayne Hawkins, Columbine West’s delegate to CoHOPE.

Hawkins and his group believe at-large members of CoHOPE have too much voting power. He said the 10 at-large members should form a group and have one vote on issues, while groups like his and other large HOAs should have more votes because they represent so many people.

Justin Everett, CoHOPE's president, said that if every eligible CoHOPE member showed up and voted, at-large votes would make up only a third of the vote. More to the point, Everett said, Columbine West is actually upset about CoHOPE's stance on Foothills Park & Recreation District's proposed tax increase in May 2008.

"It stems from CoHOPE not supporting Foothills' 40 percent tax increase. (Columbine West was) vehemently supporting it last May," Everett said.

Everett cites a January 2009 CoHOPE bylaws committee meeting when he proposed that large HOAs be given "bonus delegates" He said Hawkins voted against the proposal.

Hawkins said the bonus delegate idea was a non-starter because it left the at-large voters with one vote each, something he said Columbine West does not accept.

Hawkins also said Everett himself is the problem.

"He's using the presidency in the organization as a steppingstone to enhance his political reputation," Hawkins said. "He's playing politics and using (CoHOPE) as his soapbox. It's not in the best interests of the people down here."

Everett, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for the state House in 2004 and the state Senate in 2006, said the CoHOPE bylaws specifically preclude him from advancing his personal political opinions, and, in fact, the group has taken positions that may have hurt him politically.

Personality issues aside, Hawkins said that when CoHOPE votes on bylaws at its March meeting, he doesn't expect his proposal to pass, and Columbine West will then pull out and try to form its own HOA umbrella group, "one that reflects the desires of the associations."

"I don't know why they wouldn't try to work within an organization that's already well established and serving the needs of the community," Everett said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.