Fort Mill Times

Column: Learning the ropes of an HOA

There is a great expression in our modern vernacular – “let no good deed go unpunished.”

As I have written many times, I truly love my neighborhood. One of the biggest changes I have to acclimate to every time I travel elsewhere, or return to our native state, is that no one waves.

I wave to everyone who passes my house, whether I know them or not. And, most of the time, people wave back. Sometimes people are just too busy talking on the phone, yelling at their kids, or generally not paying attention and that’s fine, too.

However, I have noticed a sharp decline in the number of waves I have been getting back lately, and an even more alarming trend of waving with fewer fingers.

As part of my passion for my community, I decided that I wanted to be more involved. So, I volunteered for one of our neighborhood committees. I then further volunteered for the chairman’s seat of that committee.

Those of you familiar with homeowners associations are familiar with how this works. I moved from a place where if someone asked, I would have a better chance of them finding me with GPS coordinates then simply rattling of the name of a neighborhood. For all intents and purposes, we didn’t really have neighborhoods like we have here in Fort Mill.

So, the idea of a mini government that rules within the gates of my community was foreign. At the same time, it was intriguing.

An HOA is essentially a committee of people from your community, tasked with managing the operations of your community. Some communities might not have much involvement (and hopefully not much of a fee) with their HOA, perhaps just landscaping. Other communities have amenities like pools, clubhouses, playgrounds and social committees that organize formal community social events.

Volunteering to be on an HOA or community committee is not easy. It is time consuming. It can be political. It can be confusing. It is, at times, difficult to put your own opinions and thoughts aside for the better of the community. It is difficult being neutral when you are affected by the rules you make and enforce as well.

It is also difficult not being able to please everyone, and knowing that you could make a decision that a lot of people might not be happy with, but it is the right thing to do.

But at the same time, it is not all challenges. It is nice to provide input into the community you live in. It is nice to be heard. It is nice to feel a sense of ownership in something you love so greatly, just be ready for the backlash.

Jim Donohue can be reached at