Preamble to the Architectural Guidelines

As you read the River Hill Architectural Guidelines, you likely have one of two goals in mind: either you are a current resident contemplating a property alteration or you are a new/potential resident educating yourself as to the Architectural Guidelines which affect our community.

Columbia was created in the 1960’s based on James Rouse’s vision that a ‘better city” could be built. He and his planners envisioned the creation of a human-centered community — a community that “grew people.” Their concept developed out of the social consciousness of the period and was a response to our Nation’s experiences with urban blight and suburban sprawl. Goals of the Columbia project include:

  • respect for the land;
  • creation of a “real city” that is open to people of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds; and
  • creation of an environment that provides for the “growth of man, woman, and family.”

Columbia’s physical design reflects these social objectives. Two key elements of the concept were the creation of neighborhoods and villages within the city and the importance of aesthetics. By designing portions of the community as open space available for common use, the developers sought to enhance the relationships between the city’s residents as well as each resident’s relationship with the environment.

From the outset, Covenants were created for each village in order to balance the needs and wants of the property owner with the philosophy behind the development of the community. In the spirit of fostering a sense of community and resident connection, the Covenants establish Village Architectural Committees (AC’s) and Resident Architectural Committees (RAC’s). The covenants also ensure minimum standards for land use, architectural design, and property maintenance, and provide for the architectural review process.

In each Village, the architectural review process and associated Architectural Guidelines guide Columbians when making changes to their properties. That the process is succeeding is evident by what is not seen in River Hill: there are no designs, color schemes, or materials that detract from the harmonious “whole” and instead, all development enhances the livability and enjoyment of our community. In order to ensure the continued success of this process, the Village of River Hill does everything possible to ensure that all property owners make changes to their property consistent with the goals of the Columbia concept and designed to further the enjoyment of our community by its residents. The Covenants and Architectural Guidelines are our tools to achieve these goals.

A single set of Guidelines does not apply to all of Columbia. The River Hill Architectural Guidelines were developed from other Columbia Village Guidelines and have been adapted to the unique situations found in River Hill. Every effort is made in our Guidelines and through the review process to promote privacy and individual tastes while at the same time both protecting the owner’s property rights and avoiding encroachment on or interference with the rights of neighbors to privacy and comfort. For example, in some areas of River Hill the lots are small, the houses are relatively large, and thus, the open space is constricted. In applying the Guidelines to such areas, consideration is given to the impact of the proposed modification on open space and adjoining properties.

The Guidelines have occasionally been modified. Guideline evolution and modification is a very public process and approval of all changes rests with the elected members of the River Hill Village Board and the Architectural Committee.

It is the sincere hope of the River Hill Village Board and the Resident Architectural Committee (RAC) that you find the Guidelines reasonable, appropriate, and easy to apply to your property. Residents should consider serving on the Board or the RAC or at least attending a meeting to see what we are all about. You may even meet some neighbors, people who have chosen Columbia as home for the same reasons you have!