On My Soap Box
by Rana Goodman
Never underestimate the power of a grass roots movement, or as Dr. Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has."
Whitney Ranch is a Henderson neighborhood tucked away below the Whitney Mesa among a cluster of schools, recreation centers, a tiny park and several apartment complexes. Generally the residents go about their daily activities without much thought to the politics of the community.
Residents shop at the Galleria Mall and attend their children's school activities, but when it comes to their homeowner association, maybe 8 to 10 people show up at a meeting. That was the norm until a developer planed on building a tavern on the corner of Sunset and Whitney Ranch Drive.
These plans also included tearing down the Whitney Ranch monuments which mark the entrances to the community.
Permission to make this change, (along with changes to the traffic pattern and such) were on the agenda for the June city council hearing in Henderson. Several residents had planned on attending that meeting to state their opposition, as did the President of the Whitney Ranch board of directors who actually liked the idea.
After being advised that this agenda item was to be postponed, the community opposition was told there was no
need to attend. However at the final hour, it was placed on the agenda, and with no opposition, the developer received permission for most of what he requested.
There was one caveat however. The developer must show the city the plans for a new monument design before removing the old.
Furious at this outcome, a meeting was held by residents that were aware of what was happening; including several who had lived in Whitney Ranch for many years. They were not only familiar with the history of the community, but with the CC&Rs as well.
Having knowledge of those CC&Rs, the homeowners pointed out that it was a majority of them, not the board that
had control of the monuments. It became more than obvious that the homeowners had to be rallied into action - and quickly. But, as most of us know, the biggest problem most communities have when votes are needed is
The next morning word began to spread through Whitney Ranch like wild fire. Notices were printed and posted on all mailboxes in vivid colors.
Teams walking the streets were arranged, collecting signatures from owner occupied homes. All this in spite of reports of a car stalking, shouting threats and taking photographs of one volunteer.
After just three days, a petition of 300 signatures had been collected. It became very clear to the board of
directors that the homeowners refused to negotiate with the developer regarding the monument entryways.
At our publication time, the Henderson city council agreed to place this issue back on the agenda for reconsideration at its August 5th meeting. This will give the Whitney Ranch community a few more weeks to reach the required CC&R 69% vote needed to block this move.
It may be that legal proceedings will be needed to stop the traffic changes that have been proposed. Such changes are considered dangerous by the community.
Each day, the door-to-door canvassing successfully continues and the determination of the homeowners grows stronger. They love their community just as it is and have proven they will do what they must to keep its identity - and the identity of this community is what those monuments represent.