Reporting Neighborhood Covenant Concerns is a Complaint Driven Process

Adherence to the covenants and regular maintenance is an ongoing responsibility of all property owners in the Village of River Hill. One of the “joys” of being a homeowner is putting effort into the continual care that is necessary to keep a property looking its best. Following months of above average precipitation in the area, the neighborhood is showing signs of much-needed upkeep and care. Unkempt landscaping, lawns that haven’t yet been mowed for the first time this season, dead trees and shrubs in yards, broken fences, heavily soiled siding, filthy walkways and driveways – all of these are part of a long list of items that need to be addressed on many properties throughout the village.

Do you have a situation on a neighboring property or on your street that is problematic because there are obvious covenant violations? The village employs a full-time Covenant Advisor to assist residents with understanding the covenants and provide information about how to achieve compliance for all properties. The Covenant Advisor does not act as the “village police.” The River Hill Community Association operates under a complaint driven system, as this has been found to be the best way to ensure fairness to all homeowners and to keep the community at its best. While many smaller HOAs may be able to “police” their properties, it is impossible to do this, with any consistency, in a large village with over 2000 properties.

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 of the offending item or structure, by submission of an acceptable Exterior Alteration Application, or by repairing any maintenance issues. 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 action may be initiated.

The enforcement of the Covenants and Architectural Guidelines is not to focus on punishment but to work with owners toward consistent village-wide compliance. Reasonable and sufficient time is allowed for residents to comply.

Many times, an extenuating circumstance can cause a one- time violation. This can be due to lack of knowledge of the Village Covenants and Architectural Guidelines, or temporarily inoperable equipment that is normally needed for property maintenance. We ask that you respectfully communicate the concern or infraction to the property owner first, as any good neighbor would do. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that or you are not sure if it is a violation, you may submit an anonymous complaint to the Covenant Advisor here or call the village office at Claret Hall at 410-531- 1749.

Some complaints are outside the Covenant Advisor’s jurisdiction such as street trees, parking issues, open space maintenance, signage in the County-Right-of-Way (CROW), heaving sidewalks, cluster mailboxes, potholes and street lights. For these types of concerns, here is a handy list to refer to for communicating with the appropriate department.

Who to Call When You Have a Concern or Complaint:

  • For street trees, heaving sidewalks, potholes, trash & recycling service issues, contact See, Click, Fix: https://gov.seeclickfix.com/solutions/howard-county-md. You can report a concern and remain anonymous. You can also call Howard County In- formation Referral at 410-313-3000.
  • For complaints involving parking concerns, vehicles in the CROW, large trucks that impede sight, cars parked around cul-de-sac islands or unhitched trailers parked in the street, contact Howard County Police non-emergency at 410-313-2200.
  • For Open Space concerns, call 410-312-6330 or send an email to Open.Space@ColumbiaAssociation.org.
  • For cluster mailbox issues in the 21029 zip code, call 410-750- 1340. For cluster mailbox issues in the 21044 zip code, call 410-381-4373.
  • For street light outage, visit: https://bge.custhelp.com/app/ODL-LightingOutage.
  • If you smell natural gas, leave the area immediately and call BGE 1-877-778-7798 or 1-800-685-0123.
  • For downed power lines, stay away from the area and call BGE 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123.
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