Time to Review the ARC Rules?

This week we take a look at a recent court case that provides a warning of how architectural review slipups might land an association in court.

The Architectural Review Committee (ARC) has a lot of power in a community association, which can lead to disputes with owners. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the odds of this kind of headache.

The case involved a planned, gated community in North Carolina that was created in 2005. The developer’s provided for a “Period of Declarant Control” prior to the establishment of an HOA executive board. The HOA didn’t have an executive committee until 2016, after the events at issue in the case.

According to the declaration, the developer would appoint all members of the ARC during the period of declarant control. The declaration also provided that, if the ARC failed to approve or disapprove owner plans within 45 days after submission, approval wasn’t required.

In 2014, the HOA adopted design review guidelines that addressed, among other things, the types of fencing that homeowners could construct on their lots. The maximum height was set at 5 feet. In 2015, though, a homeowner constructed a fence that varied in height from 67 to 74 inches.

Over the next four months, the association issued a “Notice of ARC violation,” denied the homeowner’s request for a variance, and eventually began imposing fines for noncompliance. The developer’s manager signed the variance denial in his capacity as architectural review chairman.

Rather than pay the fines, the homeowner filed a lawsuit against the association seeking a declaratory judgment on the enforceability of restrictions against the fence.

To learn how the case turned out — and some lessons your boards should take from it — check out our new article: New Case Teaches Important Architectural Review Lessons.

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey