June 14, 1995
Warren Brown; David Winer, Dick Bridge; Esther Delaplaine; and signing in: Barbara Kraft; John Krasny; John Nicholson; Phil Jones; Bill Bays; Margaret Herring; Ann Satterthwaite; Laureen Nicholson; Betty Burchall, Phil Thorson; Peter Jones; Judy Lentz; Peggy Thomson; John S. Thomson; W.B. Coolidge; Cynthia Payne; Clarence Payne; Beverly Meeker, George Malusky; Greg Super, Johnna Robinson; Mark Schlefer, Leonard Meeker; Richard Scott Young
The meeting was called to order by Warren Brown at about 8:10 and started with a report on membership from Barbara Kraft.
Barbara Kraft reported that two of the members reported as delinquent in paying their dues in the last Sycamore Islander have successfully plead their cases and have asked to be reinstated. A motion was passed that, contingent upon receipt of their membership dues by the end of June, Robert Bender and Terry Murphy and their families will be reinstated as members.
As reported in the last Sycamore Islander by John Thomson, the Schneiers believed that they were listed as inactive members and had paid inactive dues. A motion was passed that the Schneiers will be listed as inactive for this year, and the Membership Secretary will draft a clarified policy on inactive membership.
Finally, A Lee Adams and Mary Adams, of Bethesda, Maryland, were Proposed and accepted for membership.
According to the Financial Secretary, the Club is in good condition as far as collecting money is concerned.
The Club has approved, by a vote of 11-8, the grant of a conservation easement on Sycamore Island and by a vote of 14-2 the grant of a conservation easement on Rupert Island. At some point in the near future, the Club will decide to what organization the easement should be granted. A copy of the easements as adopted by the Club is attached.
Brad Coolidge and Mark Schlefer discussed the history of the conservation easement proposal. According to them, approximately one year ago, the Club was approached by the Potomac Conservancy ("PC"), and the PC asked the Club to consider placing a scenic easement on both Sycamore and Rupert Islands "in order to preserve the view of the Potomac." The PC was organized by members of the Canoe Cruisers and is supported in part by the Maryland Environmental Trust. Since that request, Minnie Island has granted such an easement in favor of the PC.
Mark then discussed a few of the proposed amendments to the easements that he had received since the easements were reported in the last Sycamore Islander. He also noted that because of member concern regarding the identity of the recipient of the easements, that decision has been put off until later. Two possibilities for the recipient of the easements include: the PC and the Club itself. If the Club were to decide to convey the easements to the Club, then any member of the Club would have the right to enforce the conservation easements. If the Club chooses to grant the easements to the PC or some other organization, then that organization would have the right to enforce the conservation easements against the Club.
The first issue for discussion was how to decide whether or not to adopt the easements. A great deal of concern was expressed over the fact that so few members were present to make a decision which would affect the Island and the whole Club permanently. Brad stated that the mail survey of members showed that the Club was "overwhelmingly in favor of a conservation easement." It was pointed out if, as Brad stated, 47% of the members responded and roughly 60% of those were in favor of keeping Sycamore Island "as it is," then less than 30% of the Club members were definitely in favor of the proposal. However, since all Club members had the opportunity to respond, this fact was noted but dismissed on the grounds that "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
Several members then raised the question of whether the final versions of the proposed easements could be put to a referendum. This idea was rejected by others on the grounds that, because the Sycamore Island Club is a corporation, the Club can only act during meetings of its members. A motion to amend the Club by-laws to allow for a referendum regarding an issue of this magnitude was made but was withdrawn from the floor by Warren Brown on the grounds that such an amendment itself would be a major action, and should be announced in the Sycamore Islander in order to be on the agenda for a meeting. Other members discussed the possibility of allowing proxy votes to be cast at meetings, however, since no procedure had been established in advance of this meeting, the idea was tabled for future consideration. A motion to proceed with the vote on the easement according to "the process established by the bylaws was approved by a vote of 15-8.
The meeting then proceeded to a discussion of the content of the proposed easements. As reported in the last Sycamore Islander, the proposed easements contained several choices of language where the Committee felt that the Club should decide on a particular issue. The first of these issues was the Right of Inspection of the Island by the Grantee. A motion to allow the Grantee to inspect the Island subject to notice to the Club was passed by a vote of 16-5.
The next issue considered was whether to reserve to the Cub the right to expand the current buildings on Sycamore Island at some point in the future up to either a 25% increase over the current footprint area or a 25% increase over the current floorplan. There was some debate over which proposal actually allowed the Club more flexibility. Phil Thorson pointed out that the purpose of the PC and the Maryland Environmental Trust are to get more people to use the Potomac and limiting the expansion of the Club facilities is contrary to that goal. Phil proposed
amending the language to allow a 100% increase in Club facilities, as he had
proposed in the last Sycamore Islander. Barring that, Phil noted that according to
his math, the 25% of the footprint option allowed the Club more flexibility, because
it would allow another story to be placed on top of the current clubhouse. Betty
Burchell stated that she wanted it to be known that some members would prefer a
zero increase provision. In the face of all of these options, Warren Brown proposed
that the group vote on the two options in the proposed easement, and if those two
were defeated then other options could be considered. A motion to select the 25% of
floor plan language was approved by a vote of 12-9.
Following a summary of the proposed conservation easement for Sycamore Island, a motion to adopt the proposed conservation easement for Sycamore Island to be conveyed to a Grantee to be decided in the future was passed by a vote of 11-8. Subsequently, a motion to adopt the proposed conservation easement for Rupert Island to be conveyed to a Grantee to be decided in the future was passed by a vote of 14-2.
The next step in the process is to decide to whom to grant the conservation easements. The meeting at which that matter will be discussed will be announced in The Sycamore Islander.
-- The Nicholson Family, Recording Secretaries