The membership of the German Village Society last week approved changes to several aspects of the organization's constitution.

The membership of the German Village Society last week approved changes to several aspects of the organization's constitution.

In overwhelming votes at the Aug. 20 meeting, the GVS membership approved reducing the size of the board, imposing term limits, providing a way for trustee removal and creating a non-voting "emeritus" position on the board.

All four amendments received approval of 95 percent or more of the members who cast ballots.

In order to ratify the changes, a quorum -- at least 20 percent of the society's membership -- needed to attend the meeting. Of this group, two-thirds needed to approve the changes. The total number of society members is 1,157.

The members voted to reduce the number of society trustees from 18 to 13, which would include the elimination of six appointed positions. The amendment received 452 votes for and 23 votes against.

According to the society's constitution, the appointed positions are an attorney, two residents who've lived in the area for more than 10 years and three people who have special skills and services, such as those with finance skills or knowledge of public relations.

The addition of term limits for GVS trustee members was approved by a margin of 447 to 28. The vote created limits of two three-year terms. Previously, GVS board members could serve an unlimited number of three-year terms.

Changes to the constitution are not retroactive. Current trustees who have served less than half a term are eligible to run for two more three-year terms.

The membership approved a change to allow a trustee member to be removed by a two-thirds vote of the board or by a two-thirds vote of the membership. Previously, only the membership could remove a trustee with a two-thirds vote.

The change passed by a margin of 468 to 6 votes.

The amendment to include one appointed, non-voting member on the board who has been a resident and society member for at least 10 years passed 459 to 15 votes.

The amendments to the constitution were brought forth by a group of residents in response to what some have viewed as disarray on the nonprofit organization's board of trustees. This included the departure of an executive director, financial concerns, the cancellation of the society's Oktoberfest, the resignation of two board members and the decision by the board to hire a mediator to work on group dynamics.

"Some action, we thought, needed to be taken," said Mike Yarbrough, a spokesman for the group that called the meeting.

Yarbrough noted that the amendments were not aimed at any single person on the board, and that the group gathered input from other society members before making the proposals.

"We don't pretend to know what's best," he said. "We were trying to listen and hear what people had to say."

During the hour-long meeting, run by attorney Nelson Genshaft, opinions ran deep as several members proposed amendments that received little support. Among these was an amendment to lower the number of board members to nine and to create an advisory council made up of longtime residents.

In addition, there was a failed attempt to adjourn the meeting prior to the vote because of confusion surrounding when members could cast their ballots.

Some members who attended the meeting cast ballots and then left prior to discussion of the amendments. In addition, a large number of proxy ballots -- at least 20 percent of the members, according to Genshaft -- were cast prior to discussion.