Newsflash: What power does “voluntary” HOA have over our property? (X-post from r/legaladvice) (Indiana)

I live in a small neighborhood in Indiana that was developed in the 1960s. We have very vague and short covenants attached to our plats and deeds that make no mention of an HOA, or handing power down to an HOA. It also makes no mention of dues, or the ability to place liens on a property. We also have a set of bylaws for our HOA (which is called a Civic League) which again are very short and vague. Does this mean our HOA is voluntary, and we simply need to abide by the Covenants? We have a 3 person Architectural Committee to approve changes, but it looks like they don’t have much power either. Our neighborhood is old, and every house and yard look different. Can the HOA overrule the Architectural Committee on matters, or are the covenants the only binding rules? Would anyone actually be required to pay dues in this neighborhood? I know a previous homeowner refused to, and there were never any repercussions. The past two years the HOA has been trying to overstep the Architectural Committee’s votes and create guidelines that are not in the covenants. Several of us in the neighborhood have been attempting to decipher who is really responsible for what, and what authority the HOA actually has. Trying to figure this out myself is making my brain hurt, and I could really use some help. Thanks!



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