Covenant & Guideline FAQs
What are the covenants?
The Covenants are a set of legal documents which are binding on you as the owner of property in River Hill. The Covenants “run with the land,” i.e., they also bind future owners. The Covenants ensure minimum standards for land use, architectural design, and property maintenance. The Covenants allow for the operation of the River Hill Community Association, River Hill Architectural Committee, and generally provide for the architectural review process. You should have received these documents upon entering your housing contract, whether you purchased or rented your home from a builder or resident. Similar Covenants exist in all other Columbia villages. Copies of the Covenants may be obtained from the Village office in Claret Hall.
Why do we have Architectural Guidelines?
The Covenants establish general criteria for architectural changes and property maintenance through the Architectural Guidelines. These guidelines are designed to interpret those criteria and, generally, to prevent excesses and abuses while allowing individual flexibility in property use, as well as keeping our community an attractive and desirable place which will conform to the Covenants.
What is the Architectural Committee?
The River Hill Architectural Committee, or RHAC, is responsible for review and final approval of all exterior alterations to existing property, and in-home businesses. Each member of the RHAC has the authority to approve or disapprove applications that come before it. The RHAC shall be composed of three or more individuals designated by the Columbia Association (CA) and the River Hill Community Association (RHCA), with CA being entitled to approve a majority thereof.
How does the architectural review process work?
A resident wishing to make an exterior alteration or establish an in-home business completes an application form and submits it to the Covenant Advisor. A list of pending applications is published and/or posted on this Village web site, and also at the Village office in Claret Hall and in The Villager—the association’s newsletter. The Resident Architectural Committee (RAC) makes recommendations on applications at a public meeting which interested residents are encouraged to attend. The applications are then forwarded to the designated RHAC Sign-off-Representative for final action.
The entire process can be expected to take 5-6 weeks. The Village Covenants allow up to 60 days for review. If the applicant is not satisfied by the decision, the applicant can appeal the decision to a committee comprised of a quorum of the RHAC. The Village Covenant Advisor will assist residents in preparing and filing applications.
What if I don’t wait for approval?
Proceeding with an alteration or in-home business prior to obtaining written approval is prohibited by the Covenants and is done at your own risk. Unless your alteration fell within the criteria under these guidelines for certain alterations not requiring an application, your property would be in violation of the Covenants. Another resident could make the RHAC aware of this violation. You could then face the cost of removing or modifying the alteration/in-home business to comply with the RHAC’s decision. A Covenant violation could ultimately impair your ability to sell the property. In considering applications, the RHAC will not be influenced for or against the application if work is commenced prior to approval, so residents are strongly urged not to undertake construction or operation in advance. Prospective purchasers should check with the current owner, the village office, and the RHAC to see if all alterations on a property have RHAC approval.
What if I have a complaint?
Complaints, which remain anonymous, should be brought to the attention of the Covenant Advisor who may investigate to verify if a violation exists. The property owner will be notified and asked to correct the violation either by removal, by submission of an acceptable application, or by repair in the case of a maintenance problem. Most problems are resolved at this stage. However, if no action is taken by the homeowner to correct the violation, a formal notice is sent stating that legal remedies may be initiated. A letter stating that the property is in compliance will not be issued if a violation exists, and this may affect property resale. Realtors may be notified of known Covenant violations.
What is a Letter of Compliance?
A Certificate of Compliance for a newly completed home is a document which certifies that all original builder construction is completed according to approved plans and will be issued by the RHAC. A Letter of Compliance is issued only upon request (such as resale) and certifies that all subsequent alterations were approved by the RHAC and comply with the Covenants. It is the property owner’s responsibility to make sure that the alteration is constructed within the property lines and meets Covenant guidelines.