A local organization seeking nonprofit status has spent the past year formulating criteria for neighborhoods to become an "Arizona great community."
AZ Great Communities, an organization made up of East Valley leaders, is dedicated to promoting and recognizing communities that meet measurement standards.
In finding great communities, the group hopes it will increase property values, foster and improve relations between municipalities and communities, and make it easier for buyers to locate these good neighborhoods.
The organization sought input Thursday from mostly East Valley homeowners association board members, property managers and residents who attended an HOA summit in Gilbert.
Through monthly meetings, a 12-member task force came up with the evaluation criteria, which looks at the community’s board of directors, internal and external communication, community involvement and participation, financial health and management.
Based on a point system, the criteria contains varying point amounts given in each of the five categories, with the highest number in the communication and management categories.
"HOAs have a bad rap because many of them are negative," said Kevin Bishop, a founding member of the organization who recently moved away from a "negative" HOA in Chandler. Bishop is also the president of Renaissance Community Partners, a property management company.
Former Gilbert mayor and Leadership Centre founder Cynthia Dunham is also a founding member of AZ Great Communities, along with Debra Umbower, the former executive director of The Leadership Centre, and Steve Maggs, chairman of Gilbert’s Congress of Neighborhoods.
The HOA summit attendees gave several suggestions on changes to the evaluation criteria, including being more lenient on foreclosures within the community. One measurement standard includes no foreclosures initiated by the HOA one year before applying for the "great community" certification.
Communities are now invited to apply for the Arizona Great Community certification. Great communities should be named as early as the first of the year.
With the "Arizona Great Community" certification, communities receive signs to display within the neighborhood along with official town or city recognition, said Peg Chapados, another founding member of the group.
"We’ve come a long way in 12 meetings," said Chapados, the HOA board president of Towne Meadows in Gilbert.
Bishop said communities that receive the label should have no problems selling homes within the neighborhood, as witnessed by communities that have received similar awards in the past.
The next task force meeting is 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Southeast Regional Library, 775 N. Greenfield Road in Gilbert.
Find out more
For information on AZ Great Communities, call (480) 813-6788 or visit www.azgc.org.