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Subject: ACC guide lines
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WardellD
(Washington)

Posts:64


07/13/2006 9:59 PM  
Do anyone have any rules & regulation that govern the ACC as for how they should conduct business.
JulieS
(Georgia)

Posts:412


07/14/2006 6:04 AM  
In which aspect? Looking for violations, approving requests, being ethical and fair?
WardellD
(Washington)

Posts:64


07/14/2006 5:07 PM  
Julie: I am trying to put together some documentation for our newly elective ACC members what we are looking for is any information to the topic that you have listed, looking for violations, approving requests, being ethical and fair and any other information that you may have.

Thanks for your help
JulieS
(Georgia)

Posts:412


07/15/2006 5:38 PM  
At one time we had an ACC committee but it lacked interested volunteers who didn't stick around long. It may have had something to do with the board member who was in charge of the ACC at the time. He was a bit of a 'dictator' and I think he was on a power trip. The board at the time was more interested in your yard than the financial future of the neighborhood.

Most items are located in your documents regarding restrictions, violations, notifications, fining, etc. You will need to follow this as this is the 'bible' of your neighborhood. We also created a document called "Design Standards" which expands upon items such as types of fences allowed.

Currently, we have a management company and they are to drive the neighborhood twice a month and send out letters. Typically, they are form letters in which you can merge addresses from a database. With a management company doing this duty, it is easier on the community as it is totally unbiased and hopefully accusations held to a minimum. The board members do inform the management company from time to time on items which require a letter to be sent. Homeowners can report something but we do not accept anonymous complaints, you must put your name on it for it to be considered.

Springtime typically brings about the usual homeowner duties of pressure washing homes of mold & mildew, keeping the yard mowed, edged and weeded, and those types of things. Sometimes there are items like a boat or trailer in the driveway, a home improvement that has not been submitted and approved, etc.

We have an ACC request form that is on our website for homeowners to download and complete. A copy of the covenants, by-laws and design standards are also on there. Also, our ACC requests are to be responded to within 30 days of receipt or the homeowner automatically has approval of his request (as stated in our documents).

As for the committee acting in good faith, it is best if they make decisions based on facts and not who the homeowner is. We have had problems in the past of certain homeowners being targeted for violations or requests not being approved because the board member living across the street didn't want to look at that door everyday as she didn't like the style.

I think the covenants and violations should be enforced but my thought process is that if it isn't de-valuing the homes or neighborhood then it isn't that big of an issue. One example, our covenants state that you cannot have a bird bath in the front yard....yes, it is a violation but does it devalue the neighborhood? I often have people ask me if they need to submit a request...I tell them it is always better to submit it, especially if you are asking the question.


If you need a copy of an ACC request form I will be happy to send you the one we use. Most everything you need to know will be found in the association's legal documents. Additionally, if everyone acts in an unbiased manner things should go pretty well. Also, don't go overboard on sending out the letters for every little thing.

Hopefully this helps to answer your questions...

WardellD
(Washington)

Posts:64


07/16/2006 5:27 AM  
Thanks Julie, when you replied back I was thinking that you had a policy already put together that I could modify and implement to give to the new ACC members so that we could have something documented so we would not have to go by word of mouth.

As I am reading through what you sent me it appears you are providing me with more then what I ask for as we too have the history you are talking about, we had a management company and they wrote up more then we did, but the thing here is you are always going to have the same few that will complain no matter if you have the fact or not. Then you have the ones that say that they are looking out for homeowners but they are really looking out for there friends.

So what I am saying is we have the history and problems all HOA’s have so this is why we were looking for a policy that other HOA have so we would not have to reinvent the wheel.

Thanks for your help.

Wardell
CharlesW1
(Georgia)

Posts:826


07/16/2006 7:26 AM  
Very helpful! Thank you.
You are always so informative.

I like your ideas. I too appreciate your wisdom.

Chuck W.

Charles E. Wafer Jr.
JulieS
(Georgia)

Posts:412


07/16/2006 8:16 AM  
Wardell....it sounds as tho you will need to create what you are looking for and implement it.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who manipulate situations to serve their best interests. If they could only see outside the box, that by doing what is right for the community will end up serving them as well.

You may need to recruit some new members with fresh ideas and better attitudes. That is what I did when I first got involved. We do have issues that pop up here and there, but those people usually take care of themselves when it comes to their motives and credibility.
EdR
(Texas)

Posts:170


07/17/2006 6:55 AM  
Wardell:
In the CC&Rs, after you get to about the middle of a stack of papers (ours is that way, at least--they are about 1 1/2 inches thick, mostly plats and extraneous stuff about dues can't be raised over a certain amount and only back up 10% per year, if they've ever been lowered, etc.) will be the core of your restrictions. A few years ago, our assn. board had an attorney to excerpt the ACC guidelines from the CC&Rs into an understandable document (laymen's terms). The document ended up being about 13 pages long. You do not have to be an attorney to do this. You spell out what it means in terms of what your board expects, i.e., if the CC&R states: "No fences are to be built without ACC approval and if built to over six feet, consent must come from adjoining neighbors". It can be rewritten onto GUIDELINES to state: "All homeowners, who build a NEW fence, must get ACC approval. If a new or an existing fence is requested to be taller than six feet, homeowners on each side of the fence must agree to the height, in writing, by letter to the ACC accompanying the ACC application form." In other words, each subject is covered and explained. Our assn. gives this 13-page document to the homeowner along with the CC&Rs that the management company is paid by the Title Company to give to a new homeowner. The govern MUD provided a document attached to the end of the guidelines telling homeowners to notify the MUD if they were building a swimming pool (this was not in the CC&Rs) since it required inspection from them and extra water. Unfortunately, our MC charges the assn. for a welcome packet that the Title Company has already paid for them to give the new homeowner. The board really needs to direct the MC about that, and tell them they've already been paid for the welcome pkt. by the TC. Still, the guidelines are to be enforced. We had a situation where a guy asked his neighbor if he could build an 8-ft. fence and the neighbor told him he could not afford to finish it on his property and the originator went ahead with the fence. Now it is 8 feet next to a 6-foot fence and looks AWFUL. The man is an obstructionist and refuses to change it, even though it was denied after he finally turned in an application (after the fact).

Make sure your Guidelines are just a simple explanation of your CC&Rs (the Guidelines are not considered a governing document), as the CC&Rs RULE.
EdR
RandyG
(Washington)

Posts:9


07/20/2006 9:55 AM  
Perhaps you can incorporate this into your guideline:



ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE
Section 1.
(a) It is hereby designated that the Architectural Control Committee of the___ Inc. shall act as the Administrator of the provisions of this Article.
(b) The Architectural Control Committee shall consist of as many persons as the Board of Trustees of the Homeowners Association, Inc. shall designate, but not less than three, and no more than nine. The Trustees of the Homeowners Association, Inc. shall have the right to terminate the term of any office of any member of the Architectural Control Committee at any time and to appoint new or additional members. The Homeowners Association, Inc. shall keep on file at its principal office a list of the names and addresses of the members of the Architectural Control Committee.
Section 2. Approval of Plans by Architectural Control Committee.
(a) No building or other structure shall be constructed or altered until there has been filed with and approved by the Architectural Control Committee plans and specifications for same. Included with each proposal shall be, in a form satisfactory to the Architectural Control Committee, two sets of plans and specifications showing (1) the size and dimension of the improvement; (2) the exterior design; (3) the exterior color scheme; (4) the exact location of the improvement on the Lot; (5) the location of driveways and parking areas; (6) the scheme for drainage and grading and (7) proposed landscaping.
(b) Approval of said plans and specifications may be withheld if the proposed improvement is at variance with these Covenants. Approval may also be withheld if, in the opinion of the Architectural Control Committee, the proposed improvement will be detrimental to the community because of: grading and drainage plan, location of the structure on the building site, color scheme, finish design, proportions, shape, height, style, appropriateness of material used thereon or landscaping plan.
(c) Changes in exterior color schemes of all structures shall be submitted to the Architectural Control Committee for approval.
(d) Landowners may appeal any decision made by the Architectural Control Committee to the Board of Trustees of the Homeowners Association, Inc. whose decision shall be final.
(e) The Architectural Control Committee's approval or disapproval as required in these Covenants shall be in writing. In the event that the Committee, or its designated representative fails to approve or disapprove within thirty (30) days after plans and specifications have been submitted to it, or in any event, if no suit to enjoin the construction has been commenced prior to the completion thereof, approval will not be required and the related covenants shall be deemed to have been fully complied with.
(f) It shall be the responsibility of the Architectural Control Committee to determine that improvements have been completed in accordance with the plans as submitted and approved. Such determination must be made within sixty (60) days of the completion of the improvement. In the event the Architectural Control Committee shall determine that the improvement does not comply with the plans and specifications as approved, it shall notify the land owner within said sixty (60) day period, whereupon the owner, within such time as the Architectural Control Committee shall specify, but not less than thirty (30) days, shall either remove or alter the improvement or take such action as the Architectural Control Committee shall designate. If no action by the Architectural Control Committee is taken with sixty days (60) of the date of completion of the improvements, the improvement shall conclusively be deemed to be satisfactory to the Architectural Control Committee.
LeeS1


Posts:0


07/21/2006 10:19 PM  
I have been a member of several HOAs, but THE best guidelines I have seen developed can be found at the following website:

http://www.sandiahomeowners.org/theacc.html

I urge any reader of this forum to take a look at the guidelines on the website. especially if you are in a development stage and having to design your charter and documents. They could save you thousands of hours of time in drafting guidelines and procedures.

Our ACC operates the most professional (all volunteers) of any group I have ever seen. The fees are very reasonable, too. (No volunteer is paid) Contrast that with an HOA out in the Phoenix area where a friend of mine lives, where the HO must pay a fee of $2200 when submitting an application for a room addition or structural alteration. They must turn such applications over to an architect to review. Our ACC has an architect for the chair, plus a variety of other people: realtor, attorney, retired builder, city engineer, designer of several homes, etc. In short, the ACC has not only the breadth of experience you would want, but the depth as well. We do have a paid office staffer who does a lot of our administrative work (need to--we have 2200 homes in the HOA).

LeeS1


Posts:0


07/21/2006 10:22 PM  
I forgot to add--ignore the June 2005 date on the website link I just posted for sandiahomeowners. That portion of the website is up to date, but someone needs to update the date.
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


07/22/2006 5:43 AM  
Lee, thanks for sharing your HOA's ACC guidelines. There is lots of good information; I will keep this link for future reference.

I glanced through it and have two thoughts:
1) At the beginning in BOLD LETTERS if refers to what will NOT be approved. This NEGATIVE statement irritated me. I would have preferred it start with a POSITIVE statement such as: "owners are encouraged to improve their property and these guideline are not meant to discourage you from doing so. Their intent is to maintain and enhance property values in the community."

2) Does the stated extension beyond 30 days for approval of an ACC Request violate your Declaration? Many Declarations state that if a decision by the ACC is not received within 30 days after they receive all information, the Request is approved by default.
LeeS1


Posts:0


07/22/2006 2:12 PM  
Thank you for your comments. Over the years I have suggested numerous rewrites (I am a technical writer/editor by trade), and sometimes I get overruled. I will make the suggestion again to them.

Regarding your second point, we have never had a problem with the 30-day rule. Actually, it is in many of the covenants as well. I have tried to get it changed, since as a volunteer, sometimes it is hard to do the homework on an application, and get everyone to vote on it in a timely manner. We get up to 6 applications received on any weekday from May through August. With 9 members on the committee (some have fulltime jobs), you can see that it is easy to spend 10-15 hours a week on HOA/ACC business. Ugh!

On the very complex issues, where a lot more research is required, we have so informed the HO that we will need longer time. If they don't want to accept that, and cite the 30-day suspense, we tell them we can disapprove it on the spot, and that takes care of that. The clock doesn't start running, though, until the application is totally complete and the project manager (volunteer) assigned to it has met with the owner at the property site and reviewed the entire application. About 90% of the ones we receive are not complete. Except for the no-brainer applications (re-paint, re-stucco, replace fence with same style and material and color), the typical project requires at least 6-8 hours minimum over the timeframe from start to finish of the project; more when it is new construction or room additions or complex landscaping.

Our office person and the chair keep close tabs on that 30-day mark, making sure we get a vote in before the time is up, except as I have cited above.

If any of you have a Spanish-speaking population in your association, and you need to have your documents in both English and Spanish, and the translation has to be totally accurate, I know an excellent freelance translator who does translation, especially for legal matters, where it has to be perfect. If you have documents in Spanish and want to know whether the translation is accurate, she can review what you have as well.
JosephW
(Michigan)

Posts:882


07/22/2006 7:34 PM  
If I can add one suggestion, try to include photos of approved items. I guess I'm a believer in being as proactive as you can. Take a look at a condo web site: http://www.riverpinescondominiums.com/bylaws/awning.htm
This is one page of their policies and rules and covers awnings. They've included photos of awnings that have been approved. It helps (a little) when people know what will likely be approved. They've also done this for their decks, and are now photographing areas for the other rules.
Joe

Joseph West
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LeeS1


Posts:0


07/22/2006 8:56 PM  
Thanks for the link for the awnings. We have gotten some of those, too, with some retractable and others not. Frankly, the only ones that should be allowed are the retractable ones. Taking photos would be almost impossible. We have 2200 homes, and styles, while mostly southwestern pueblo/adobe, do vary on every single project.

On the many projects I have handled, not one has resembled another. Just too much uniqueness (which is great, actually) in our community. We have a lot of custom-designed homes (numerous builders), and some highly contemporary designs that have given heartburn to some people because they feel we should have all southwestern types.

We do, however, keep in the HOA office, samples of acceptable colors for various things. And we have suggested that a HO drive by homes where the project was acceptable in terms of ACC guidelines.
JosephW
(Michigan)

Posts:882


07/22/2006 9:33 PM  
Lee, it sounds like you're already doing most of what you should. River Pines is a 350 unit condo and they took digital photos of every home, front, back, and side, in order to keep an ACC trail of changes. They do allow variations on most things, but by posting the photos, most of the applicants chose to follow one of the examples, which helped speed up the process, much like your color charts probably do.

Anyhow, there are a number of good articles on ACC's at:

http://www.communityassociations.net/documents_rules_main.html

Joe

Joseph West
Official HOATalk.com Sponsor
Community Associations Network, LLC
www.CommunityAssociations.net

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LeeS1


Posts:0


07/22/2006 9:58 PM  
What a great idea--taking photos. Unfortunately, with 2200 homes, some of which have been around for 40 years, it is not possible. We have people claiming that things done to their homes were done by the previous owners who never submitted an application. (In those cases, we note the violation in the letter we send out. You could call it grandfathering, but we don't have the resources to go after such long-time violations that have stood.)

I hope people reading this who are just starting up their HOA, do take photos. Like they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words. The photo library should, I would think, be a good mutual tool for the HOA and realtors to make sure they check the original photo to see whether the HO has added anything without going through the ACC for approval. We have one realtor whom I know of who will not sell a house if the HO has done something without ACC approval. The HO has to submit an after-the-fact application and request approval. About 98% of the time the project would have been approved had the HO followed protocol. However, the ACC is not above requiring the HO to remove something that is not allowed. He and one other realtor are good about this, but the rest don't care.



LeeS1


Posts:0


07/22/2006 10:09 PM  
Many thanks for that lead on the website. What a wealth of info. We were just grappling with the subject of insurance this past week, and I mean grappling--spent several hours over 2 days discussing it. So the articles on that are great. Everything else is great, too. I hadn't known about this website.
JosephW
(Michigan)

Posts:882


07/22/2006 10:19 PM  
Thanks, I've had the site going for about 18 months now. About 2,000 links to articles, but its a bear to keep up with changing web sites. The condo has digitalized all of its records, along with the photos, and its under the site, password protected for board use. About 10GB of PDF files, for 17 years. They are now requiring their management company to submit all reports, correspondence and everything else in digital form.

Joe

Joseph West
Official HOATalk.com Sponsor
Community Associations Network, LLC
www.CommunityAssociations.net

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LuciusD


Posts:0


07/23/2006 10:03 AM  
My thanks to all for the new resources I've just added to my list of references.
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