I guess that this must be one of those areas where we're under less restrctions over here. Residents or home owner associations have jack **** legal powers over here and can only try to lobby the local council to get what they want. This means if something is proposed the residents don't want (eg a srtip club near a residential area) then said residents have a voice to those in charge, whilst stopping one busy body neighbour imposing their views on everyone else
Yeah--- what you are describing is a Neighborhood Association. Which is basically a lobbying unit for getting your Alderperson to get the city/town to do stuff. Neighborhood Associations can't make you do ****. IT's voluntary, though there have been some instances of a Neighborhood Association getting the city to fine people for not taking care of their property or keeping a public nuisance.... but basically all they did was nag the Alder into getting the city to send someone with enforcement powers out to enforce laws that are on the books.
One question. If you move into an area where there is a HOA do you have to join, or could you tell them where to go?
You get membership in the HOA by buying the property in their area. Typically you don't get to opt out. When you buy the property there's a clause in your title that indicates that it is in an HOA area but the stack of crap you sign to buy a house is literally 2 inches think. The HOA notice is all of 2 or 3 lines.... because they keep the record of their rules, not the city.
The HOA can insist on payment of monthly or yearly fees, fine people for failure to comply with the rules and even put a lien on your property if they are 'forced' to take action to make your property compliant .... say by paying some jerk $150 to paint your mailbox the right color (real life example from a former neighbor).
And all this without any government review or oversight. If the homeowner doesn't go to the meetings or review the minutes (if the HOA bothers to publish them---- they don't HAVE to since the only rules that regulate their behavior are their own.