Architectural Review Board
Cathy Hill, Chair
Why do we have rules, where are these things written, and can I get a copy?
The Monticello Woods Home Owner’s Association operates as provided in the Articles of Incorporation, the Declaration, and the Bylaws. Collectively, these are referred to as our Governing Documents. They were originally drafted by the subdivision developer, recorded with our deeds, and provided to you at the time you purchased your property. The Monticello Woods Home Owners Association operates under a hierarchy of written rules, which apply in this order:
Laws of the land (Federal, State, & Local)
Articles of Incorporation
Architectural Review Board Guidelines (and other policies of the Board of Directors)
Federal, state, and local laws and regulations take precedence over a home owners association. It is the general policy of the Monticello Woods Home Owners Association that enforcement of governmental laws and regulations needs to occur by following the relevant government processes.
Copies of our Governing Documents can be found on the Library page of this website. The Governing Documents task the Architectural Review Board with establishing procedures, reviewing applications for architectural changes, and setting certain standards for community appearance. All actions of the ARB must be in accordance with policy which has been reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors as published in the Architectural Review Board Guidelines (available at the link at the top of this page).
Why can’t the Association do something about dog doo?
Many alleged misdemeanors between neighbors are about issues outside the legitimate role of the Association. The Association is broadly interested in what goes on in Monticello Woods, but it is important to everyone that home owner associations operate only within the narrowly defined boundaries specified in their Governing Documents. Sometimes in chronic or severe cases, the Association can encourage communication, seek governmental intervention, or try to help neighbors get along, but the Association does not usually have the authority to assume an official role in this sort of neighbor versus neighbor offense. The Association has authority over homeowners only as provided in the Governing Documents.
Why are some of our rules not logical to me?
There are differences among the rules we actually have, the rules people think we have, and the rules people think we should have (occasionally, there have been enforcement notice errors as well). Sometimes “violations” brought to the attention of the HOA are not really violations. Reading through the ARB guidelines might help you understand our rules better. The existence of property improvements in the subdivision which are not in compliance with the current rules aren’t always violations, because the policy of the Association is to not allow new rules to invalidate prior approvals.
Please bring your suggestions to a Board member or an ARB member if there’s a change in our rules that you think the HOA should be considering. Everyone would prefer that our rules be logical and well synchronized to the desires of our members.
But, logical or not, it is not easy to change the Declaration. The Bylaws can be changed by a majority of those attending a properly announced meeting of our membership, but the Articles and the Declaration are almost impossible to change because they require a significant super-majority of homeowners, not just those who might be represented at a meeting of the Association. The ARB guidelines can be changed by the Board of Directors.
So, we have greater flexibility in some areas than others. For example, where the Declaration says that trash containers must be hidden from view and where it says that boats and commercial vehicles cannot be kept for more than 24 hours in highly visible locations, there are no provisions for making exceptions to them or enforcing them selectively.
Do we have to enforce these rules?
Yes. The Board of Directors has a duty to follow the Governing Documents, and is not permitted to selectively enforce their provisions. The Virginia Property Owner Association Act is referenced on the Library page of this website.
There is sometimes room for interpretation and many places where clarifying policy can be established by the Board. For example, the ARB and inspection guidelines as approved by the Board define compliance in terms of what is visible from other properties and public areas (as opposed to conducting routine property inspections in your back yard). In another example, the Declaration is potentially in conflict with the FCC regulations about satellite dishes, and the Board must set standards with an eye to the Federal regulation in defining appropriate enforcement practices regardless of what the Declaration says.
Why do we have compliance inspections?
The Virginia Property Association Act requires the Board to enforce our rules uniformly. The way to accomplish that is with regular, repeatable, uniform compliance inspections and enforcement. The Board tells the Association Manager how they want these to be accomplished.
How come I can see trash containers?
Trash containers are allowed to be out for 24 hours for trash day (we’d like for that to be on just one day with our preferred trash provider because it saves you money and significantly reduces the number of trucks running around the neighborhood, but not everyone is on board yet). But with 4 companies still servicing someone, somewhere in Monticello Woods, it means that on most days there’s someone, somewhere with a trash day. The Association Manager tries to take this into account while doing neighborhood inspections. Trash containers are written up in almost every inspection, and most of these are immediately corrected because people just forgot.
Enforcement is handled through the Association Manager as directed by the Board of Directors.
The HOA has no right enforce rules against me when I’m seeing other violations around, right?
Wrong. This argument is like telling the police officer who stopped you for speeding that he can’t write you a ticket because you saw someone run a stop sign yesterday.
Most people respond immediately when contacted by the HOA about a violation. A few require the HOA to send a sequence of letters culminating in a hearing before the Board, when the Board will take action against a violator. Please do not assume that the Board has not been diligently approaching offenders or that the Board is being lax about our rules while due process is taking its course.
Compliance and Complaint Policy:
1) All actions of Monticello Woods officers, committees, and contractors are subject to review by the Board of Directors. Any member of the Association may request that an issue be placed on the agenda for a Board meeting. A formal hearing before the Board is mandatory before seeking relief under the Virginia Property Owners Association Act (please request a hearing in writing to the HOA president or the Association Manager).
2) The Association Manager conducts property inspections as directed by the Board of Directors. These are generally conducted from public viewpoints (streets, sidewalks, etc.), and should not involve entry upon a private property unless invited by a property owner (except for Special Inspections).
3) Special Inspections by the Association Manager may be conducted upon a request for a Homeowner Association Disclosure Package or upon receipt of a complaint from a Member affected by an alleged violation.
4) It is intended, but can’t be guaranteed, that complaints of one Member about another will be kept confidential if possible.
Why do we have Monticello Woods water conservation rules?
They are because of a requirement placed on our HOA in the proffer filed by the developer for our subdivision with the JCC Planning Commission back in 2002. Our homeowners were never told of these rules until early in 2009 when our first homeowners became elected to the Board and discovered the proffer buried among our corporate relics. Copies of the Water Conservation Rules and the original subdivision proffer are available on the Library page of this website.
Aren’t things like water conservation rules supposed to be the government’s job?
Yes. But apparently the James City Service Authority (the people who provide our water) having fully considered all of their options for enforcement among all the rule making authority of the various government agencies who hold the constitutional police powers provided to our federal, state, and local governments, determined that the dedicated volunteers of the Monticello Woods Homeowner’s Association are the ones who have the proper position, authority, and resources to enforce their rules for them.
Architectural Review Board Process
The ARB meets to consider applications on an irregular schedule, as needed. All meetings will be announced to the Members not less than 5 days in advance, and shall generally be open to all Members of the Monticello Woods Homeowners’ Association. In addition, any Member who would like to place an item on an ARB Meeting Agenda may do so by contacting the ARB Chairman, who will then arrange to have the item scheduled for a meeting within 30 days.
ARB Application Review
Applications should be submitted to the Association Manager by fax, Email, or mail, and the application will then be forwarded to the ARB for action. It is the duty of the ARB to promptly act upon properly submitted applications within 30 days, and every effort will be made to complete the review process as quickly as possible. However, the submittal date for applications lacking critical details (legible drawings, samples, illustrations, locations on the property, etc) will be considered to be the date the application is eventually complete in the hands of the ARB.
Expedited Review Process
Applications deemed by the ARB to be entirely within published ARB Guidelines may be approved under the Expedited Approval Process by written or Email vote of the ARB without the necessity of a meeting. Applications judged by the ARB to be potentially not within the guidelines will not be eligible for Expedited Review.
Examples of things which need ARB approvals:
- New construction or exterior changes.
- Structures, buildings, additions, sheds, decks, lockers, doghouses, etc.
- Exterior surface material or color changes.
- Walls, fences, and driveways.
- Removal of trees larger than 8″ in diameter.
- Changes that may alter drainage to and from other properties.
Examples of things which don’t need ARB approvals
- Repair or maintenance which restores or preserves property in a previously approved condition.
- Swingsets, sidewalks, and Patios.
- Interior changes.
- Trees, shrubs, planting beds and lawns so long as they do not alter drainage for other properties or violate Monticello Woods Water Conservation rules