Condo owner gets chilly reception to a/c request
August 15, 2013
A Snowmass condominium owner's effort to install air conditioning in his unit is pitting him against his homeowners' association board and causing conflict between him and his long-term renter as well as the board president.
William Kortum, of Louisiana, has owned a unit in the Tamarack Townhouses for seven years. In the summer months, during which Kortum says he is visiting more and more, it's uncomfortable to sleep without the windows open, he claims. The noise of traffic, particularly buses, going by on Carriage Way also makes that uncomfortable, and so Kortum and another owner want to install air conditioning in their residences.
Kortum approached the Tamarack homeowners' association board, which set some criteria to ensure that the installation of an air-conditioning unit on the Tamarack grounds wouldn't impact other owners, said Steve Santomo, general manager at Destination Snowmass, which manages the property. However, the board has rejected all of Kortum's proposals, including those by the engineer it asked him to hire, according to Kortum.
"I even went the extra mile and spent the money and got the engineer that they wanted and had to have a lawyer because they called special meetings in regard to this, which I wasn't able to make, so I had to have a lawyer represent me at the meetings," Kortum said. "I've done everything they've asked except install the unit in my attic, which would be really cost-prohibitive."
The other issue with the attic was that some of the units are laid out differently and the board wanted him to come up with a proposal that everyone could use, he said.
"I've gone through all the proper channels and petitioned this board and come up with at least more than a half a dozen different ideas," Kortum said. "(Engineer Shawn Brill) also said that if we put it underneath the units in the crawl-space area, that wouldn't be a good idea because you have to drill vent holes for the a/c unit for inflow and outflow, and that could possibly cause structural damage to the foundation. Really the only realistic and legitimate place to put it is outside."
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The board has insisted that no external units should be used, Kortum said. The placement recommended by Brill is under the patio decks, he said.
The homeowners' association bylaws do not specifically address air conditioning, but any changes to the common elements of the property are up to the discretion of the board, Santomo said. The board's criteria for approval of the project concerned "noise, I think, as well as appearance," Santomo said.
Santomo said in his five years as general manager, this is the first request he's received from an owner to install air conditioning. Two or three units in the Villas at Snowmass Club have air conditioning, but most properties that Destination Snowmass manages do not, he said.
If the criteria are met, Santomo thinks the board will approve the project, he said. Kortum said he thinks "there's some personal things involved in it," particularly after a conflict his long-term renter had with the board president, Rob Horrell, over parking.
Horrell declined to comment. He asked that Santomo speak for the board on the air-conditioning issue.
Kortum had a conference call with Horrell, Horrell's lawyer, the engineer, another homeowner seeking to install air conditioning and Santomo on July 31.
"The conference call did not effect a change in the status of central a/c installation at the Tamarack," Kortum said. "The board president continued to push us to install central a/c in the attic or crawl space. Neither of these options were legitimate per their own engineer for structural, financial and efficiency reasons."
Kortum also has emailed the other board members and requested that they vote in his favor at their next meeting.
Kortum stays in his townhouse for 12 days at a time, at least six times a year, he said. Martha Hayden, who rents Kortum's unit, lives there four to six months out of the year.