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Creating Bylaws

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Neighborhood associations should begin drafting bylaws early in their organizing efforts. Bylaws identify the basic structure of the association and describe how the association will conduct its business. Bylaws also help associations resolve common operational problems: the resignation of any officer; the continued absence of an officer; or the need to call a special meeting without the usual advance notice.

Neighborhood associations should include the following items in their bylaws: 

Name of Organization

Identify the official name of the organization, and use the name for all official business of the organization.

Boundary

Describe the boundaries of the association, including the north, east, south, and west boundaries of the neighborhood.

Membership

Identify who is considered a member of the organization. Membership often is open to anyone who resides, works, or owns property within the association's boundaries. Decide whether dues will be required.

Mission Statement

Provide a short and to the point statement explaining why the association was formed and its purpose.

Officer Job Descriptions

List each officer in the organization along with specific descriptions of their responsibilities and primary roles. Typical officers include a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary.

Meetings

Describe when meetings will be held, the rules for running meetings, and the definition of a quorum. A quorum is the number of members or officers in attendance necessary to take an official vote. This amount can be a percent or a specific number. Meetings should be held at a time when the largest number of members will be available to attend.

Elections

Identify who is allowed to vote at elections, how elections will be administered, whether notices about elections are required, and how officers will be replaced between elections. Elections should be administered by a nominating or a selection committee, or with a closed ballot. Some organizations require that notices about elections be mailed prior to the election

Amendments

Include a section that describes the process for changing the bylaws. Amendments to the bylaws often require an unusual majority of 60% or 2/3 vote.

(Source: City of Overland Park, Kansas and the Kansas City Neighborhood Alliance.)