Architectural Review Committee (ARC) Proposes New Guidelines
Lake Barcroft is a covenant controlled community, meaning that all members of the community agreed when they purchased their home to follow the rules set out in the Lake Barcroft Restrictive Covenants. The Covenants state that, “No building, fence, or other structure shall be erected or altered unless the plans … are submitted to and formally approved in writing by the ARC … before any work is begun.” To assist residents, the ARC includes nine members with specialized expertise in architecture, construction, law and mediation. Over the past two years, the ARC has been working to streamline the review process. To this end, it has created an electronic application submittal and approval process and has drafted revised guidelines, which are the subject of this discussion.
The ARC Guidelines have undergone only minor revisions since 1998 and require updating. Working closely with the Board of Directors, the Watershed Improvement District (WID) and some members of the community, the ARC has created a draft revision that clarifies the existing language, deletes obsolete items, and, with some exceptions, brings the guidelines into conformance with most county regulations.
The community is invited to review the draft of the proposed guidelines [PDF] and provide comments to the ARC before the new guidelines are enacted. Instructions for how to submit comments are provided at the end of this article.
Seven aspects of the guidelines were the subject of significant discussion, clarification and/or change. These are summarized below. The rest of the guidelines were edited to make them more user-friendly.
- Definition of “affected neighbor.” This definition is important because the ARC cannot issue a final decision until all affected neighbors have either provided input on the application or 20 days pass after they have been notified, whichever comes first. To date, there has not been a written definition. The ARC proposes to codify how it has interpreted “affected neighbor” for more than two years. Thus, an affected neighbor would be property owners in good standing (i.e who are up-to-date on their LBA dues) who share a property line with the applicant’s property. For docks and seawalls, it would also include those whose water egress and ingress may be affected. The guideline definition would also permit the inclusion of other neighbors if unique circumstances warranted it. During discussions, it was suggested that the term should be defined more broadly to include anyone who can see the property from their property. However, that creates complications in identifying all possible sightlines, and could, for houses on the lake, create a requirement to notify a significant number of property owners who live on the opposite side of the lake.
- Fences. Although there are many fences in the community that are taller than four feet, the current Guidelines prohibit fences taller than that. Some community members have asked that the guidelines be aligned with County standards to permit greater height. The ARC and the Board considered whether to follow county rules which generally permit up to seven-foot high fences in rear and side yards, but the Board preferred the existing rule. Therefore, the draft proposal retains the four-foot maximum on rear and side fences, subject to waiver in exceptional situations (generally to protect children, enclose pools, or restrain dogs).
- Dock and seawall construction. The existing ARC Guidelines have no specialized expertise or enforcement mechanism to ensure those who build seawalls or docks do so in a way that minimizes impact to the lake. To remedy this, the staff of the Lake Barcroft WID have agreed to provide technical assistance and advice in seawall and dock construction to the ARC and the applicant and to provide milestone inspections to ensure that construction is completed exactly as approved. This proposed requirement will supplement County inspections. The WID also recommends that the new guidelines express a preference for floating docks, since such docks are less harmful to the lake and also permit easier dredging of the lake. Language regarding the assistance/inspections and the preference for floating docks is included in the proposed revised ARC Guidelines.
- Dock size. The current ARC Guidelines restrict dock sizes to no more than 200 square feet, with extension no more than 10 feet from the shore. Although there are a number of docks on the lake that exceed the current size restrictions, most of these were constructed when there were no size limitations in place. If/when these docks need substantial repair or re-construction, they will be required to come into compliance with current size limitations.
- Shed size. To align with current County standards, the proposed revised guidelines modify the maximum height from 8’ to 8.5’ and the maximum size from 100 square feet to 200 square feet.
- New items requiring ARC approval. To align with newer technologies, the ARC has proposed adding guidelines for electric vehicle charging stations and geothermal installations.
- Items NOT requiring ARC approval. The ARC proposed deleting playground equipment and basketball hoops from the list of alterations requiring review. Board also recommended that the following list of items be added to a new sections of item NOT requiring ARC approval:
a. Repainting exterior surfaces in the same color
b. Replacing windows, doors, and shutters in the same color, style and configuration
c. Replacing roof covering materials and gutters in the same color, style and configuration
d. Resurfacing a driveway or parking area which does not involve a change in materials, footprint or drainage
e. Planting trees or plants or replacing trees or plants as long as there is minimal soil disturbance
f. Replacing existing exterior light fixtures, where lumens and directional output are substantially the same
Instructions for submitting comments to the ARC on the proposed revisions to the guidelines
- The proposed guidelines are available electronically [PDF]. To obtain a hard copy, please contact LBA Manager, Chris Lawson, during normal business hours at 703-941-1927.
- All comments should be emailed to Rick Aldrich, Chair of the ARC, using the subject line “ARC Guidelines” or mailed to the LBA Management Office at P.O. Box 1085, Falls Church, VA 22041.
- All comments will be addressed in a consolidated document that will be published and available to all by March 30, 2015. The ARC will not reply individually to comments.
- When providing comments, be as specific as possible regarding the item to which the comment refers (section number, page number, etc.).
- Questions will only be answered individually if warranted. Otherwise questions will be addressed in the consolidated document.
- Wordsmithing comments will be considered, but will not be addressed in the consolidated document.
- Comments will be received until February 17, 2015.
- Comments/questions posted to LakeLink may not be addressed unless they are sent by the author to the ARC per instructions provided above.