If your community association's meetings seem to be getting longer, it's not your imagination. Myriad court judgments, legislation and hot topics this year have given boards plenty to talk about and added work to do.
Here's a rundown on the 2013 highlights for Illinois associations:
Speed limits are enforceable. Association security personnel can conduct traffic stops and issue citations to association owners who are speeding on association streets, the Illinois Supreme Court said in its January decision in Poris v. Lake Holiday Property Owners.
Home rule rules. Chicago condo owners seeking to inspect their association's financial books and records must be allowed to do so within 10 days of making a written request, the Illinois Supreme Court said in April.
In the case of Palm v. 2800 Lake Shore Drive Condominium Association, the court gave precedence to the Chicago Condominium Ordinance over state law because of the city's home-rule status. The Illinois Condominium Property Act gives associations 30 days to provide access to the documents.
Leadership certification. Board members and others association volunteers can earn leadership certification. The Community Associations Institute of Illinois launched a new educational program, Dedicated Community Association Leaders. The seven-module program, taught by association professionals, covers such topics as governance, meetings, elections and finances.
Milestone. The Illinois Condominium Property Act marked its 50th anniversary July 1. The landmark legislation laid the framework for a new type of shared homeownership, one that became widely embraced by developers and buyers. Thirty-one states, including Illinois, adopted their first condo laws in 1963.
Sprinkler systems. Older high-rises will remain sprinkler-free, at least for now. Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis in July proposed updated fire safety rules that mandated older high-rises to install sprinkler systems. After a summer storm of protest by property owners, managers, associations and Chicago aldermen, the proposal was dropped. Opponents complained that sprinklers are too costly and unnecessary when other life-safety measures are in place.
Wolf Point. The Residences at Riverbend Condominium Association sued the city to stop construction on nearby Wolf Point, an enclave of three mixed-use towers along the Chicago River opposite Riverbend. The development will obstruct views of the city from the condos, the association claimed.
U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve in November dismissed the suit, writing in part that "Illinois courts do not recognize property values, air or light as constitutionally protected property interests."
Bed bug ordinance. Chicago condo owners will get a good night's sleep. A new bed bug ordinance requires associations to have in place by March 2 a formal management plan for the detection, inspection and treatment of the nocturnal pests. Written records must be kept and available for inspection by authorized city personnel. Boards also are responsible for making sure that owners cooperate by reporting infestations within their units. Associations are getting their rules, procedures and fines in place because no one wants to admit to being bugged.
Smoking policies. Medical marijuana becomes legal Jan. 1, but it won't be available for sale until the intricacies of setting up dispensaries and identifying qualified patients are worked out. Meanwhile, associations are reviewing their smoking rules and policies.
Concealed firearms are legal. The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act allows individuals, subject to licensing requirements and restrictions, to carry a concealed, loaded handgun. Next year, Illinois State Police will start accepting license applications.
Associations can enact rules and regulations related to concealed handguns on and around association property but must place approved signage if they ban them.
Energy usage. Chicago's largest buildings are going on an energy diet. The Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance requires the city's 3,500 commercial, residential and municipal buildings of more than 50,000 square feet to measure and report energy usage. Reports will be made public. No improvements are mandatory at this time. Phased-in tracking begins June 1, depending on building size, and reporting begins June 1, 2015. Residential buildings have been given a one-year reprieve. Activists are campaigning to get community associations exempted.