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ARC Guidelines Update - Garbage & Recycling Storage



The Fenwick Woods Homeowners Association is tasked with a tall order: “efficient preservation of the values of and the amenities in the Community.”[1] In an ongoing effort to meet this objective, the Association, from time to time, reviews the governing documents to ensure they continue to meet the growing needs of the community as a whole. When considering changes, the Association must weigh the effects of the change both prior to and after implementation. Ideally, any implemented change would benefit every homeowner association member. Because of the imperfect world that we live in, we accept that changes may not benefit every homeowner equally. As a result, any implemented change should, at a minimum, benefit the perceived majority of the community as it relates to the overall objective of the Association: to preserve the values of homes.


During the recent Annual Member Meeting, The Board took the comments and suggestions of the homeowners seriously. As it awaits the list of suggested changes from the members who joined a recent email list, The Board has made a change to the Architectural Review Design Guidelines as a result of a string of recent violations of the same type. Shortly after the Annual Member Meeting, the Board received thirty (30) garbage and recycling can violation notices. It is the first time in the history of the Board (since taking over from the Developer) that it received violations of this specific type and this quantity of the same type. In the standard process to determine the validity of these violations, the Board found each homeowner to be in technical violation of the Regulations, Page 7, Second paragraph, which reads:


"The size, type and storage location of all garbage containers shall be approved by the Developer or the Association, When Empowered. Except on the day of pickup by the garbage collector, all containers shall be located in a garage or in rear yards or side yards, screened or walled from front streets and adjoining properties in a manner approved by the Developer or the Association, When Empowered."


Each of these 30 homeowners received (or will receive via USPS) a violation warning letter.


Because of the volume of violations of this same type, the Board chose to investigate the issue further by doing an in-house survey of homeowners, i.e. drove the community and counted the number of homeowners who would be in violation. The result: 101 of 160 homeowners have chosen to store their garbage and recycling cans next to their garage or neatly tucked along the sides of the home. Some of these homeowners have poured concrete slabs, laid various types of pavers/stones, and/or carved out sections of their landscaping specifically to store the garbage cans. There were only a few homeowners that chose to store them in front of their garage doors. The remaining 59 homeowners either store them behind a fence, in the garage, or in another manner that completely shields them from view (we cannot see them, so we cannot confirm how they are stored).


Because more than 50% of the community (majority) has chosen to store their cans in an unapproved manner, it begs the question of whether this section of the governing documents wouldn’t benefit from further clarification as empowered by the Regulations. The quoted paragraph above states “The size, type, and storage location of all garbage containers shall be approved by the Developer or the Association, when empowered.” Furthermore, the first paragraph of the same section states that garbage waste shall be kept in sanitary containers designed for that purpose and screened from public view in a manner acceptable to the Association (paraphrasing to carve out the legalese).


The question the Board proposed to each other was whether the 101 homeowners should be brought into compliance with the regulations like the other 59 homeowners or if perhaps the majority of the community has essentially spoken their viewpoints with their actions. Furthermore, do we believe it would be in the best interests of the community to change a guideline if it doesn’t detract from the Associations objective of preserving home values?


The Association, i.e. Board of Directors, has the ability to amend these Regulations either through an actual, written amendment to the document (and filing as such) or by further clarifying and updating the Architectural Guidelines (without the need to file).


After many rounds of discussions and input from the Management Co., The Board believes clarifying the Architectural Guidelines makes the most sense. It is the viewpoint of The Board that the manner in which the majority of homeowners store their garbage and recycling cans does not detract from the general aesthetics of the community and thus should not impact the Association’s goal of preserving home values.


As empowered by the governing documents, the following section will be added to the Architectural Review Design Guidelines:


Garbage and Recycling Containers


Garbage and recycling containers, when stored neatly, orderly, and in a manner to not cause an unsightly condition, beside the home shall satisfy an approved storage location even if visible from the street.


The homeowners who have or will receive a violation notice of this type will not be held to the normal violation escalation process as a result of this change. Furthermore, future violations of this type will be invalid. The Board's objective with this update is to show the community the issue it was presented with, the manner in which it was addressed, and the process by which the Board undertook discussions around the topic to effect change where it benefits the majority of the community.


As always, please direct any questions or concerns to us via email at fenwickwoodshoa@gmail.com

[1] Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions, Easements, Charges and Liens for Fenwick Woods Subdivision, Recitals 6., page 6.

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