Q&A: Feelin’ the Radburn

New Jersey State House on a sunny morning. Built in 1790, the New Jersey State House, located in Trenton, is the capitol building for the U.S. state of New Jersey

Q. Our board and attorney amended some rules and regulations without sending a ballot to homeowners to vote in the changes. The attorney says the board has the right to change and amend as specified in the Radbun laws in New Jersey. Is this correct?

                                  —Where’s My Vote?

A. “It depends,” says attorney Arnold Calabrese of the Morristown office of Becker law firm. “If the board has the power to amend rules and regulations by board vote pursuant to the association’s bylaws, then no vote of the membership is required. Otherwise, the Radburn Law in New Jersey requires that amendments to the bylaws, including the rules and regulations specifically contained therein, must be approved by an affirmative vote of the membership, with two exceptions. The first exception is where the board votes to amend the bylaws to conform to current law. In this case, no vote of the membership is required. The second exception allows the board to vote to amend the bylaws, but before the amendment becomes effective the board must send a rejection ballot out to the membership and such an amendment will pass as long as 10 percent of more of the eligible voters do not return the rejection ballot opposing the board’s proposed amendment within 30 days of mailing the rejection ballot to the membership.”

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  • The problem with the Radburn stipulation that the Coop Board can revise any By-Law to bring it into line with current law is based upon the assumption that all Board of Directors and Legal Counsel to the Board of Directors are all fine, upstanding persons of unimpeachable integrity, knowledge, and humble intent in service to the greater good of the Co-op. How lovely life would be if that vision of the Coop world were true. It would be helpful if the legislature had provided for some form of review and redress of these 'it's the law' changes as Directors manipulate the ambiguities found in Radburn to ensure their endless rolling 'terms'.
  • With regard to the 2nd exception, can the Board send a rejection ballot with no option for absentee marking and without having a community forum to discuss the amendments they'd like to pass?