Architectural Review Process
Residents who are considering an exterior alteration to their house or property, or starting a profession or in-home business should review the River Hill Covenants and the River Hill Village Guidelines for Exterior Alterations, Maintenance, Profession, and Home Businesses. If there are any questions, please contact the village Covenant Advisor.
A written application to the River Hill Architectural Committee is required for every new structure placed upon a lot and for most alterations made to existing structures. The Association has established a Fast Track Review Process for some changes. The purpose of the guidelines are to assist the resident in planning exterior alterations/in- home businesses by noting the types which will normally be approved, and to ensure that an application will provide the RAC with all necessary information to thoroughly evaluate the application as quickly as possible. Howard County requires a building permit and inspection for many types of alterations, and the resident should call Howard County directly at (410) 313-2455 to determine if a building permit is necessary. Although the RHAC and the RAC assume no responsibility for monitoring Howard County Building Codes a known code violation would be adequate grounds for denial of the application.
I. Application Procedure – for Standard and Fast Track Applications
A. Obtain an “Exterior Alteration Application” or “In-Home Business Application” from the village office or Covenant Advisor.
B. Fill out the application as follows:
- Identification of location – all applications should include name, address, lot number, telephone numbers of tenant/owner/applicant (home and work) and the APPLICATION MUST BE SIGNED BY THE OWNER, OR OWNER AND THE TENANT.
- Description of changes – the application must include a certified site (plat) plan indicating the relationship of the structure to applicant’s house, all adjacent houses and property lines. This plat can be the diagram of your property that was attached to your purchase contract. You may draw the proposed alteration in by hand. If available, also include a picture or detailed drawing, manufacturer’s drawing, photograph, color samples, description of materials, all dimensions, and any other information pertinent to the alteration.
- Acknowledgement signatures of property owners of the affected and/or adjacent property are desired. This is a courtesy to the adjacent/affected residents. However, signatures do not indicate approval or disapproval and are not the deciding criteria used by the RAC when making decisions. Applications may be submitted without these signatures if accompanied by an explanation.
C. Return the application to the address shown on the application.
D. Completed applications under the Fast Track and the Standard Review Processes are on the Village web site at www.villageofriverhill.org, the Village office in Claret Hall, and in most cases in the village newsletter – The Villager. Residents may call the village office for information on pending applications.
The RAC will typically meet twice per month, at a publicized location. The meetings are open to the public and residents whose applications are to be considered.
All professions and in-home businesses require written approval, which must be renewed after one year, and every two years there after and in the event of any change from the original application. If, after approval, other properties become affected by the profession or in-home business a reconsideration of the approval by the RHAC may be necessary. Please refer to Article XI, Section 11.02 of the River Hill Covenants for further information. Residents should be aware of county zoning when considering an in-home business.
II. Review Process – FAST TRACK APPLICATION REVIEW PROCESS
A. A completed Exterior Alteration application is submitted under the Fast Track process by noon any Friday that Claret Hall is open. Due to scheduling conflicts and unforeseen circumstances, the Fast Track process may not be available during all weeks of the year.
- Include the proposed change/alteration description, site plans, drawings and samples, owners’ signature and the signature of adjacent neighbors.
- Covenant Advisor reviews the application for completeness. If it meets fast track criteria it goes directly to the Sign-off Representative. If the application is incomplete (at the time of submission and/or not eligible for the Fast Track process), it will be reviewed at the regularly scheduled Residential Architectural Committee meeting (RAC) meeting.
- AC Sign-off Representative makes a decision about the application.
- Covenant Advisor notifies applicant of AC decision by the following Friday. Confirmation in writing will follow. If an application does not meet all the criteria for the Fast Track process, the Covenant Advisor will move the application to the regular review process. The decision to move an application to the regular process is final.
NOTE: Any application from a townhouse or condominium must include the local association signature denoting approval or disapproval at the time of submission. Due to scheduling conflicts and unforeseen circumstances, the Fast Track process may not be available during all weeks of the year.
B. EXTERIOR ALTERATIONS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR “FAST TRACK” PROCESS IN RIVER HILL:
- Attic Ventilator
- Gutters/Downspouts (Addition, Relocation, Material Change)
- House Numbers
- Lights/Lighting (if to remain basically the same style and wattage)
- Radon Units
- Storm Doors
- Trees (fitting certain criteria) such as danger to home, health, and property
III. Review Process – STANDARD APPLICATION REVIEW PROCESS
A. Prior to the RAC’s consideration of an application, RAC members will, in most cases, view the site and may talk to the applicant. Residents are urged to cooperate in this process.
B. The agenda of the RAC meeting will observe the following priorities:
- Sign in will begin ½ hr prior to the RAC meeting.
- Applications from residents in attendance are reviewed in the order of sign-in.
- Residents who wish to address the committee will identify themselves when that application comes up for review.
- The Committee member assigned to review the application will present it. The resident will address any questions. Finally, any resident who wishes to address the committee on that application will speak. The RAC will then make its decision.
- Remaining applications.
- Other business.
C. Applications will be presented to the RAC by the member(s) who reviewed the site, or the Covenant Advisor. After discussion, the RAC acts on the application by either of the following:
- Recommends approval, approval with conditions, or disapproval. The application is then forwarded to the Sign- off Representative.
- Tables the application for stated reasons until the next meeting.
D. A designated member of the RHAC, the Sign-off Representative, reviews the RAC recommendations and then takes final action (as detailed in Section 7.01 of the River Hill Village Covenants). The designated RHAC member is not bound to accept the RAC recommendation. A statement of reasons must accompany any application that is disapproved.
NOTE: Residents generally receive final RHAC approval within 7-10 business days after RAC review. If an alteration is started prior to receiving approval, it is done at the applicant’s risk.
IV. Appeal Procedure
In accordance with Article VII, Section 7.01 of the River Hill Village Covenants, if the applicant disagrees with the decision of the River Hill Architectural Committee, the following process should be followed for an appeal of that decision:
Prior to Hearing
A. File a written request for an appeal to the River Hill Architectural Committee (RHAC) within 10 days after receipt of notice of their decision. The written request should be sent to:
The River Hill Architectural Committee
c/o Covenant Advisor
6020 Daybreak Circle/ Claret Hall
Clarksville, Maryland 21029
B. The Covenant Advisor will set a date for the review of the application. The appellant will be notified of the time and place.
C. All documents and other material relevant to the appeal shall be provided to the Covenant Advisor (to be distributed to the Committee) a minimum of 10 days prior to the hearing.
D. Prior to the hearing, each committee member will review all documents and other material provided. If needed, each Committee Member may request additional information and /or may visit the site prior to the hearing.
E. The Appellant:
- May choose to abide by the decision of the Architectural Sign-off Representative and withdraw the appeal;
- May reschedule an appeal hearing. An appeal may be rescheduled only once.
F. The RHAC Committee:
- May cancel the appeal if the appellant fails to provide requested information in a timely fashion.
- If the appellant misses two scheduled meetings, the Committee may make a decision based on the information available to them; including the original decision of the Architectural Sign-off Representative.
G. The hearing will be a public meeting. All decisions will be made in the public session.
V. Completed Projects
A. Once work has begun on an approved Exterior Alteration Application, the work must be completed within 120 days of the start of work. Extenuating circumstances should be brought to the attention of the RAC by notifying the Covenant Advisor.
B. Any variances from the original approval terms require that an amendment to the application be submitted and reviewed by the RHAC. A major modification will require a new application and approval.
C. Upon completion of the alteration, the resident should send notice of such completion to the address indicated on the approved application to ensure that his/her lot file is kept current.
VI. Letter of Compliance Procedures
A. Upon request, the Covenant Advisor will inspect the property to verify compliance with the covenants and all approved applications of record. If the property is in compliance, a statement to this effect will be issued.
B. A letter of compliance will not be issued if there are unapproved alterations or any other covenant violations on the property. This might affect property resale and realtors may be notified.
VII. Covenant Enforcement Process Summary
A. Alleged violations may be reported by anyone to the Covenant Advisor. Complaints remain anonymous and must be verified by the Covenant Advisor prior to any action.
B. Violations will be processed in the following manner:
- Letters will be sent to the violator and/or property owner. The letter or letters shall clearly state the nature of the covenant violation.
- If there is no response within the prescribed time limit, the Covenant Advisor may request the RHAC and the River Hill Village Board serve notice in accordance with the Village Covenants, and to otherwise enforce the Covenants as permitted therein.
VIII. Lot Lines
A. The plat submitted with an application for exterior alteration is not always an accurate scale diagram of the lot. Therefore, when considering the application, the RAC and the RHAC cannot verify that the alteration as ultimately built will be located within the property lines and applicable set- back requirements.
B. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure that the alteration is constructed within the property lines of the lot and within applicable set-back requirements.