Sky View Financial, Inc. v. Bellinger

554 N.W.2d 694 (1996)

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Sky View Financial, Inc. v. Bellinger

Iowa Supreme Court
554 N.W.2d 694 (1996)

Facts

Restrictive covenants recorded by the developer in 1988 for the Sun Valley Lake property development provided that assessments could not be levied against the developer or any successor developer and that the declaration could be amended “by the affirmative vote of a majority of the Owners of all Lots in the Development.” In 1992 the original developer sold its interest to Sky View Financial, Inc. (Sky View) (plaintiff) and deeded some lots to Sky View’s shareholders, Clinton Anderson and Wendell Sollars (plaintiffs), individually. Under the 1988 covenants, the Sun Valley Lake Property Owners Association (the association) (defendant) levied assessments against Anderson’s and Sollars’s lots. When Anderson and Sollars refused to pay, the association sued. The trial court’s decision—that Sky View was a successor developer exempt from assessment, but that Anderson and Sollars, as individual owners, were not—was affirmed. In 1993 at an owners’ annual meeting, a vote was taken to amend the declaration to allow amendment by an affirmative vote of a majority of owners in which each owner had one vote irrespective of the number of lots owned. The amendment also removed the assessment exemption for developers, and the association then levied an assessment against Sky View. Sky View filed a declaratory-judgment action, claiming the 1993 covenants were null and void because they were amended by a simple majority of owners irrespective of the number of lots owned, in violation of the 1988 covenants. The trial court entered summary judgment for Sky View. The association appealed, arguing that because the declaration language was unambiguous, a one-vote-per-member interpretation was mandated.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Neuman, J.)

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