by Sheldon Atovsky, Jeff Hauser, and Bob Shamo –
Last year, our Board of Directors appointed a committee to review Park Tower’s governing
documents and to recommend changes that might benefit the Association. Based on that committee’s Final Report, the Board has decided to put certain issues before owners, framed as “Topics” which owners can approve or not.
Owners who have received their Ballots can refer to them in the discussion that follows. Each Topic is also discussed in detail in the committee’s Final Report, found online at www.ptcondo.com/adhoc-committee-to-review-the-declaration-by-laws-final-report/
PET DOGS, CATS, AND DETECTION ANIMALS Allowing any or all would require amending the Declaration, as directed by owner responses to Ballot Topics Nos. 1A (dogs),
1B (cats), and 1C (detection animals). Our Declaration specifically disallows pet dogs and cats. Recent laws that supersede condo governing documents do allow service animals and emotional
support animals to reside here with their owners, but those laws do not yet allow detection animals as a separate class.
Many condo buildings on Sheridan Road allow pet cats and/or dogs. Statistics indicate that the presence of pets in a condo building makes it a friendlier place to live and increases property
values. They may also save your life and be your best friend. On the other hand, pets may be the
source of noise disturbances, allergies and dirt; they may damage property and require excessive use of service elevators; and in some cases they may be seen by other residents as threatening.
The Board takes no position on dogs, leaving it to owners to decide how best to vote on Ballot Topic No. 1A. But on Ballot Topic No. 1B, the Board strongly endorses allowing cats to live in the
building for the following reason. While no cats remain from 1979 when the building transitioned to condominiums, it is generally believed that we do have cats living here, possibly in significant numbers. Unless the Declaration is changed to allow cats, the case could be made that the Board is obliged to find and eliminate them – an invasive task possibly requiring, among other things, unannounced inspections and employees reporting on cats discovered during routine maintenance. A lawsuit would be expensive, and the required follow-through unpleasant for all involved.
Likewise, the Board endorses approval of Ballot Topic No. 1C allowing detection animals.
Detection animals are trained to sniff out or otherwise identify insects and other threats to populations in close quarters, as here at Park Tower. Our bed bug detection dog, Scout, though not now permitted to live at Park Tower, nevertheless works here on a weekly basis and has greatly reduced what was once a major bed bug problem.
Allowing such a detection animal to board in the building has mainly to do with cost and efficiency. When Scout lived here, routine and on-demand inspections were less expensive, and
unexpected needs required less lead time to schedule.
SMOKING The extension of a ban on smoking would require amending the Declaration, as directed by owner responses to Ballot Topic No. 2. Smoking is now completely banned in a
growing number of Chicago condominium buildings, including five managed by Draper and Kramer. Smoking has been banned in Park Tower’s common areas (lobby, elevators, hallways, etc) since 2008 when laws to that effect were adopted by the City of Chicago.
Amending the Declaration would extend that ban to the entire property, including residential units, the 2nd floor deck and all exterior areas within 15 feet of the building (other than an unobtrusive outside location for employees and residents who continue to smoke after the ban takes effect). The ban would not take effect immediately but be delayed until January 1, 2019 as a courtesy to residents who may plan to move from Park Tower rather than comply with the ban.
There has been broad public awareness of the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke since the Surgeon General’s report in 1982. Most important, smoking is the biggest single source of complaints to management, and the most confounding because its source is often difficult to detect. The Board endorses approval of Ballot Topic No. 2, which would ban smoking, as
RENTAL RESTRICTIONS As understood here at Park Tower, a restriction on the number of rental units means not allowing additional units to be leased out until the percentage of units
currently rented falls below a stated percentage (currently 30%).
Counsel advises that the restriction, included now in the Association’s Rules and Regulations, would be further strengthened by confirming in our Declaration that the Board is permitted
to establish leasing restrictions in this manner, through its Rules & Regulations. The Board endorses approval of Ballot Topic No. 3, which would amend the Declaration as described above.
HEALTH CLUB MEMBERSHIP Ballot Topic No. 4 concerns Health Club memberships.
Passing it would amend the By-Laws by allowing, but not requiring, the Association to permit Health Club memberships for non-residents/non-owners; and to allow those persons to be charged a higher price for their memberships. The Board endorses approval of Ballot
Topic No. 4.
The cover letter accompanying the Ballot introduces one additional item recommended by the
Ad Hoc Committee, namely..
PURCHASE OF UNIT 12C Unit 12C is a commercial unit located in Park Tower’s mall. Due to the high property tax and assessments for this particular unit, owners have come and gone. Unit 12C has been vacant for some time now, and the Association is pursuing foreclosure on past due assessments. The likely result is that 12C will be offered for sale at auction.
The Board would like owners to begin considering whether, in that event, the Association – a not-for-profit that is not burdened with property tax on its common elements – should buy Unit 12C, either using it for the benefit of owners or selling it to a business that is, in fact, able to pay the required property tax and assessments.
Buying Unit 12C would not require amending anything, only an affirmative vote by 66 2/3% of all owners. It is not a Topic on the current Ballot but will be pursued at a later time.
The Board plans to have mailed explanatory materials, ballots, and pre-stamped selfaddressed
envelopes to owners by March 1. For Ballot Topics Nos. 1, 2, and 3 to translate into amendments to the Declaration, 75% of all owners are required to vote in the affirmative. For Ballot Topic No. 4, 66 2/3% of all owners would need to vote in the affirmative. Owners have until December 31, 2017 to return their marked Ballots, but once the required percentages are reached, those
Ballot Topics can be certified and translated into the required amendments.
Two meetings have been scheduled so owners can learn more about the current Ballot Topics and the possible purchase of Unit 12C.
Saturday, March 18 at 11:00 am in the 2nd floor Party Room
Wednesday, March 22 at 7:00 pm in the 2nd floor Party Room.
The Board and management urge owners to study each Ballot Topic and to consider how it would impact the experience of owning and living at Park Tower.
Sheldon, Jeff and Bob served with five other owners on the Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Declaration and Bylaws.
TowerTalk stories are approved prior to publication by the Board and by management.