One of the many things we get calls about at the Clubhouse are questions regarding the process to make a visual change to the exterior of one’s home or property. Sometimes homeowners who are new to a planned community are unaware the association has the authority to establish and enforce design guidelines through the restrictive covenants in the governing documents. When the governing documents are vague on specifics, and some are, communities then have the ability to create a resolution that clarifies the intent of the document.
In the Kentlands, the visual change portion of the Protective Covenants section of the Community Charter is brief and so a resolution was created shortly after the inception of the property to give specific direction regarding the process for making visual changes to units and lots. That is Administrative Resolution (AR) #2. It outlines what constitutes a visual change, what the process is for review, who is in charge of the review and their decision-making procedures. It also defines an appeals process should the application be denied. The application is referred to as a VCA (Visual Change Application).
While AR#2 details the process, another resolution, Equity Resolution (ER) #1 defines what materials have been deemed acceptable by the Kentlands Historical Trust (KHT), the committee charged in the governing documents with overseeing design changes and approving VCAs. This resolution is also known as the Kentlands Design Standards and has been revised over the years to allow for new materials that are deemed acceptable as they become available. The KHT will also review specific materials at the request of a homeowner to add to the list. In 2016, another document was created, “Additional Suitable Materials”, which further expanded the allowable materials for use in the Kentlands.
The KHT is comprised of volunteer homeowners or residents and they meet on the first Wednesday of each month. In order for a VCA to be on the agenda to be reviewed it must be submitted by the 19th of the previous month, unless the 19th falls on a weekend or holiday, and then it would be due the next business day. This allows time for the Town Architect, DPZ, to review the application and make a recommendation before the KHT reviews and renders a decision. DPZ is also available by appointment, at no charge, to consult with homeowners about their project. DPZ is located next to the Arts Barn at 320 Firehouse Lane here in the Kentlands and their phone number is 301-948-6223.
AR#2 also allows for homeowners to make “like for like” replacements without a VCA. However, this only applies if the replacement is exactly like the original. As technology has improved many products over the years, homeowners rarely replace “like for like.” As there is no fee to submit an application, when in doubt, it is best to have your project reviewed and approved, as mistakes could be costly should the homeowner be required to replace the material after it’s installed.
Currently, the application (VCA), ER #1 (Kentlands Design Standards) and the “Additional Suitable Materials” document are available on the Kentlands website, kentlandstowncrier.com, in the Document Library or as a shortcut contained in the primary menus on every page, the item labeled “MAKING A VISUAL CHANGE?” (It’s in the grey ribbon at the top of the page.) You can also visit the Clubhouse to pick up an application as well. The KHT is currently working on an interactive application that will be available on the website in the near future. If you have questions regarding your project as it relates to the approval process or approved materials, José Palacios is the CMC staff member who coordinates the VCAs on behalf of the KHT. He is available at the Clubhouse, Monday through Friday, during normal business hours, and he’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you with the process. You can reach him at 301-948-2071 or via e-mail at email@example.com.