PURPOSE OF THE HANDBOOK
The primary purpose of this handbook is to familiarize homeowners at Fair Lakes Forest with the objectives, scope and application of design standards and guidelines which are intended and will be employed to maintain the aesthetic appearance and environmental quality of Fair Lakes Forest.
The handbook enumerates specific design standards and guidelines which have been adopted by the Board of Directors of the Fair Lakes Forest Homeowners Association. It also explains the application and review process which must be adhered to by homeowners seeking approval for any exterior modifications or changes to their homes or lots which are subject to approval by the association.
This handbook will serve as a valuable reference source and will assist homeowners in preparing acceptable applications for review by the Association's Architectural Review Committee (ARC). All homeowners are encouraged to familiarize themselves with its contents and to retain the handbook for future use.
BASIS FOR AND OBJECTIVES OF PROTECTIVE COVENANTS
The legal documents for the Fair Lakes Forest Homeowners Association contain covenants including those pertaining to design standards. Legally, these covenants are a part of the deed for each home and are binding upon all initial homeowners and their successors in ownership, irrespective of whether or not these owners are familiar with such covenants.
The primary purpose of design covenants is to maintain environmental and architectural design standards for the entire community. The promulgation and enforcement of design standards is intended to achieve the following objectives:
- Maintain consistency with the overall design concept for the community;
- Promote harmonious architectural and environmental design qualities and features;
- Promote and enhance the visual and aesthetic appearance of the community.
The enforcement of design standards not only enhances the physical appearance of a community but protects and preserves property values. Home owners who reside in association communities which enforce design covenants are protected from actions of neighbors which can detract from the physical appearance of the community and, in some cases, diminish property values.
ROLE OF THE ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE (ARC)
All homeowners at Fair Lakes Forest are automatically members of the Fair Lakes Forest Homeowners Association. The Association is a non-stock corporation which owns and is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all common properties within the community.
The Association is also responsible for the administration and enforcement of all covenants which are applicable to property owners, including design standards and restrictions. The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions for the Fair Lakes Forest Homeowners Association (Article V) provides that responsibility for the enforcement of design standards shall be exercised through an ARC, the members of which shall be appointed by the Board of Directors of the Fair Lakes Forest Homeowners Association.
The ARC is to consist of three or more persons appointed by the Board of Directors. Since the Association's legal documents provide that the Declarant may maintain control of the Board of Directors during most of the development phase of the community, there may initially be overlapping membership for the Board of Directors and the ARC.
The ARC shall be responsible for enforcing the Association's Design Guidelines with respect to exterior modifications to homes and lots proposed by lot owners, other than the Declarant or a participating builder. The Committee shall review and approve (or disapprove) applications submitted by lot owners for visible exterior additions, alterations or modifications to a home or lot. The review process shall be approved by the Design Guidelines promulgated by the Association's Board of Directors.
As part of its responsibilities, the ARC will make recommendations to the Board of Directors with respect to any modification of the Design Guidelines initially approved by the Board. The Committee will also be responsible for reviewing possible violations of the Association's Design Guidelines.
Alterations are changes or modifications made to the outside of a building or lot. There are two types of alterations; temporary alterations which do not require approval from the ARC and permanent alterations which do require approval.
Temporary alterations are those which are not intended to be permanently placed. Temporary alterations are not subject to review and approval by the ARC except as specified below. Examples of items which are considered temporary include swings, play sets, yard ornaments, yard furniture, etc. Temporary items are those items that can easily be moved about the yard. If these items are ever permanently attached to the dwelling or yard (e.g. set in concrete, fixed to the house, etc.) they are no longer considered temporary and must be approved by the ARC.
The exception to the rule that temporary items do not require review and approval by the ARC is if an adjoining property owner files a formal objection about the item(s). The objection must be submitted in writing, signed (no anonymous complaints) and forwarded to the ARC for disposition. The ARC will notify the property owner who owns the item(s) that a complaint has been lodged and require him/her to either remove the item or submit an Architectural Improvement Request Form to the ARC for review. The ARC will review the issue and make a decision to permit the owner to keep the item or direct that it be removed. Decisions of the ARC will be provided in writing to both the owner of the item(s) and the property owner who initiated the objection. A copy will also be forwarded to the Homeowners Association Management Company for recording. Appeals to decisions made by the ARC must be made in writing to the Board of Directors.
All permanent changes to the exterior appearance of a building or lot are subject to review and approval by the ARC unless specifically stated in the design guidelines or as stated below. The review process is not limited to major additions or alterations, such as adding a room, deck, or patio. It also includes such items as changes in color or changes in material (e.g. wood to brick). Approval is also required for an existing item to be removed or moved to another location (e.g. storage shed).
There are a number of exceptions to this otherwise inclusive review requirement.
1. Building exteriors may be repainted or re-stained provided there is no change from the original color. Similarly, exterior building components may be repaired or replaced so long as the visual intent and color remain the same.
2. Minor landscape improvements do not require approval by ARC. Such improvements include foundation plantings, or single specimen plantings. In general, landscape improvements of a small scale which do not materially alter the appearance of the lot, involve a change in topography or grade and which are not of sufficient scale to constitute a natural structure will be exempt from the design review process. Landscaping that includes adding stone or timber walls, sidewalks, patios etc. are not considered minor and require approval of the ARC.
If there is any doubt as to whether or not a proposed exterior is exempt from design review and approval, homeowners should first seek clarification from the ARC before proceeding with the improvement.
APPLICATION AND REVIEW PROCEDURES
Application and review procedures that will be used by the ARC are detailed below.
1. Applications: All applications for proposed improvements must be submitted in writing. Applications must be complete in order to commence the review process. Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant with a statement of deficiencies which must be remedied in order to be considered for review. If you are unable to obtain signatures from impacted lot owners, please call Gates, Hudson & Associates, Inc. for assistance.
Unless notified to the contrary, homeowners should mail applications to the following address:
Fair Lakes Forest ARC
c/o Gates, Hudson & Associates, Inc.
3020 Hamaker Court, Suite 301
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
2. Supporting Documentation: The application must include a complete and Accurate description of the proposed improvement(s). In order to permit evaluation by the ARC, supporting exhibits are also required. Examples include: a site plan showing the location and dimensions of the proposed improvement; architectural drawings or plans, as applicable; landscape plans; material and/or color samples, etc. Applications must also include the signatures of impacted lot owners. The design guidelines provide guidance with respect to the supporting documentation which may be required for various types of improvements.
Note: Homeowners do not need to obtain the "permission or approval" of impacted lot owners, however, they do need to obtain their signatures which will indicate to the ARC that the lot owner was informed of the proposed modification/change. Impacted lot owners who do not approve of the proposed change should submit their objections in writing, to Gates, Hudson & Associates, Inc. Gates, Hudson will forward the objection to the ARC for consideration when the proposed alteration is reviewed. Impacted lot owners who object to a proposed change should notify the homeowner that he/she will submit a written objection to the ARC.
Written objections must be received by the ARC before the meeting in which the proposed alteration will be reviewed. It is also recommended that both parties attend the ARC meeting in which the proposed alteration will be presented for review in order to discuss the issue. All objections to a proposed alteration must be submitted in writing and signed. Unsigned or anonymous objections will not be reviewed by the ARC.
3. Time Frame for Completion of the Review: The ARC is required to approve or disapprove any proposed improvement within thirty (30) days after the receipt of a complete request. The thirty day review period will only commence upon the receipt of a complete request, including any required or requested exhibits. It is therefore advisable for homeowners contemplating substantial improvements to first ensure they have all required supporting documentation prior to submitting a design review application.
4. Notice of Approval/Disapproval: Homeowners who have submitted Architectural Improvement Request Forms will be provided written notice of the decision of the ARC. Failure of the ARC to respond prior to the expiration of the thirty day period shall be considered consent of the proposed improvement.
5. Appeals Procedure: Homeowners whose application for alterations have been disapproved by the ARC may appeal to the Board of Directors for reconsideration. All appeals must be in writing and received by the Board of Directors within ten (10) days after the date of an action by the ARC. This request should include any new or additional information which might clarify the requested improvement or demonstrate its acceptability. The Board may, in its sole discretion, conduct an informal hearing related to the appeal. The Board will respond in writing to an appeal within thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of an appeal.
Note: Written objections submitted by impacted lot owners will automatically be forwarded to the Board of Directors by the ARC for review and final decision.
6. Permits: Approval by the ARC is conditioned upon the homeowner obtaining
all required State and/or Fairfax County permits prior to commencing any work on the improvement. Application for permits and all fees associated therewith are the sole responsibility of the homeowner. Permits shall be posted as required by the State and/or County.
7. Approval Period: Approval by the ARC is good for a period of one (1) year from the date given. Should the homeowner fail to begin the work contemplated by the approved submission prior to the expiration of this one (1) year period, the approval granted by the ARC shall automatically become null and void and any improvement proposed will require a new and complete submission to the ARC.
8. Location/Time of ARC meetings: The ARC meets as necessary and meetings are held in the conference room of the Fairfax County Public Library on Stringfellow Rd, which is across the street from the Chantilly High School.
The Bylaws of the Association empower the Board of Directors to enforce compliance with the Association's Design Guidelines. The following enforcement procedures will be used to ensure compliance.
1. A violation may be observed and reported in writing to the Board of Directors by a member of the ARC, the Board, the managing agent, or a homeowner. In the case of a homeowner wishing to report a potential violation or file an objection to an alteration, written notification should be transmitted to the Board of Directors through the managing agent. Anonymous letters will not be acted upon.
2. The alleged violation will be confirmed by a site visit by a member of the Board of Directors, a member of the ARC or the managing agent. Photographs of the violation will be taken and shall be kept in the Homeowner's Association's records, along with a written statement by the person making the site visit.
3. The Board of Directors will contact the owner in violation by letter advising them of the violation and requiring them to take appropriate action to remedy the violation. A notice will be sent by certified mail where the violation is deemed to involve an immediate emergency or where such violation, if not remedied, will increase or enhance with the passage of time.
4. If the violation continues for thirty days (30) after notification to the owner in violation or if no substantial progress is made in curing the violation, where such remedy would require more than thirty days) a letter will be sent by certified mail to the owner in violation. This letter will provide notice that the violation must be remedied with fifteen days from the date of mailing of the letter or alternatively, that the owner in violation must submit to the Board of Directors a written plan, including timing, for the abatement of the violation within a reasonable period of time, where such violation cannot be cured within the fifteen day period.
5. If the violation is not abated with fifteen (15) days from the date of mailing of the certified letter or if progress is not being made to abate such violation in accordance with a plan agreed to by the owner in violation and the Board of Directors, the Board will send the owner in violation a letter by certified mail informing the owner of the time and place of a formal hearing by the Board of Directors.
6. As a result of this hearing, the Board of Directors may take appropriate enforcement permitted by the Association's By-Laws or pursue its remedies at law or in equity and may proceed to refer the matter to legal counsel for appropriate action to secure compliance with the Association's legal instruments.
7. The above procedures do not preclude the Board of Directors from taking accelerated measures in the case of a violation which constitutes an emergency situation, provided that the owner in violation has been properly notified by certified mail and that the action is consistent with the provisions of the Association's legal documents. Likewise, the Board may establish shorter notification periods for the correction of violations of the Design Guidelines where the homeowners shall not be disadvantaged by a shorter notification period for compliance.
8. The failure of the Board of Directors to enforce any provision, covenant, restriction, rule and regulation shall in no event be deemed a waiver of the right to do so thereafter.
The specific Design Guidelines detailed below have been adopted by the Board of Directors.
ANTENNAS: The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions currently prohibit the installation of exterior antennas. The Telecommunications Bill which was passed in 1996 by Congress prohibits Homeowner's Associations from denying homeowners the right to install and use communication receiving equipment. The law does allow homeowners associations to restrict the size of antennas and satellite dishes. In accordance with these guidelines, no antenna larger than 12 feet or satellite dish larger than 39" is authorized for installation on any home owners property.
ATTIC VENTILATORS: Attic ventilators and turbines are permitted, if painted to match the color of the roof (if roof mounted) or the color of the house siding or trim (if mounted on a gable end). Ventilators and turbines must be mounted on the least visible side of the ridge line so as to minimize their visibility and shall not extend above the ridge line. Attic ventilators that meet the guidelines specified above do not require approval by the ARC.
AWNINGS: Exterior awnings may be permitted subject to review on a case by case basis.
CHIMNEYS AND METAL FLUES: Chimneys must either be masonry or enclosed in the same finish material as the exterior of the home.
CLOTHES LINES: Clothes lines or similar apparatus for the exterior drying of clothes are prohibited.
COMPOST PILES: Compost piles must be located in the rear of the lot.
DECKS/GAZEBOS: The following guidelines will be used by the ARC when reviewing applications for decks and/or gazebos:
- Scale and Style: The scale of all decks and gazebos shall be compatible with the scale of the house as sited on the lot. Decks, particularly elevated decks, should be of a scale and style which are compatible with the home to which attached as well as adjacent homes and the environmental surroundings.
- Materials: Decks and gazebos must be constructed of smooth cedar, redwood, or high-quality pressure treated pine lumber or comparable material.
- Color: Decks and gazebos must be left in a natural condition to weather or be
treated with a neutral or wood color stain or sealer or painted to match the color of the house or trim.
- Under Deck Storage: Elevated decks have an under deck area which can have a negative visual impact on adjoining neighbors, particularly when used as an informal storage space. The use of decorative screening to minimize adverse visual impacts is encouraged and may be required by the ARC, particularly in the case of high decks.
- Privacy Screens/Walls: Privacy screens or walls appended to decks will be considered on an individual basis.
DOG HOUSES AND DOG RUNS: Dog houses and dog runs may not exceed four (4) feet in height at the highest point. They should be located where visually unobtrusive to neighbors and the use of appropriate screening is encouraged and may be required in some cases in order to minimize any negative visual impacts.
DRIVEWAYS: Extensions, modifications, and additions to driveways will be considered only if there is no drainage impact on adjoining lots or common area. Additions or modifications must be of the same materials as the existing driveway.
Any adverse drainage conditions which might result from the construction of a driveway should be considered in the design of the driveway. Any such drainage problem(s) which occur as a result of the installation or modification of a driveway shall be the sole responsibility of the homeowner and will be required to be remedied in a timely fashion and in accordance with the By-Laws of the Homeowner's Association.
EXTERIOR AIR CONDITIONERS: Individual air conditioning window units are prohibited.
EXTERIOR DECORATIVE OBJECTS/LAWN ORNAMENTS: Approval will NOT be required (except as specified on page 3 under the section titled Alterations) for exterior objects and lawn ornaments, whether natural or man-made, which were not part of the original construction design, either as a standard or optional feature, and which are located in the front and side yards. Examples include but are not limited to: bird houses, bird baths, lawn statuary, driftwood, weather vanes, sculptures, fountains, etc.. Decorative objects, lawn ornaments, and similar items which are placed in rear yard locations do not require approval.
EXTERIOR LIGHTING: Replacement or installation of additional fixtures must be compatible in style, color and scale with the applicant's house. Lighting fixtures that meet the guidelines specified above do not require approval by the ARC. No exterior lighting (e.g. security lights) shall be directed outside of the applicant's property.
EXTERIOR PAINTING: An application is not required in order to repaint or restrain an object to match the original color or a color that is very close to the original color. Changes in color that do not match the original color must be consistent with colors in the remainder of the neighborhood and must be approved by the ARC. This requirement applies to siding, doors, shutters, trim, roofing and other appurtenant structures.
FENCES: General guidelines for the construction and approval of fences are provided below:
1. Chain Link and Barbed Wire Fences: Chain link and barbed wire fences are prohibited. Chain link and barbed wire fencing material will not be permitted for any use.
2. Lot Line Fences: Owners are permitted to install either two or three rail split, board on board, or board on-post fences. The height of the uppermost horizontal rail or board must not exceed 48 inches above ground level. The maximum height of vertical members must not exceed 54 inches above ground level. Wire mesh may be used in conjunction with fences in order to enclose the lot for pets and small children. Wire mesh is defined as a rectangular or square metal mesh which may be vinyl coated and is earth tone in color. The use of chicken wire and chain link materials are not permitted.
Fences must be constructed of smooth cedar, high quality pressure treated pine, or comparable material and must be left in a natural condition to weather or be treated with a neutral or wood color stain or sealer.
Lot-line fences shall not extend forward of the mid plane of the side of the home or enclose any portion of the forward side or front yard except where there may be a side entry door or stairs, where there is a desire to screen an HVAC unit, or similar equipment, in situations where a fence may serve as a rear lot-line fence for an adjoining property, or because of topography. In no case will lot-line fences be permitted in the front yards of lots.
3. Privacy Screening: The use of privacy fencing/screening which does not exceed six (6) feet in height may be used to screen in-ground pools, patios, decks, gazebos and spas. Privacy fencing/screening may be used to screen up to fifty (50%) percent of the rear yard area.
FIREWOOD: Firewood stored on a lot shall be kept neatly stacked and shall be located to the rear of the residence and in such a manner as to avoid adverse visual impact for adjoining properties. Screening may be required in certain cases. Procurement and storage of firewood does not require approval of the ARC.
Firewood should be stacked in piles which do not exceed eight (8) feet in length and four (4) feet in height for both aesthetic and safety considerations. Other than a limited quantity of firewood intended for immediate use, firewood shall not be stacked on patios or decks.
FLAGPOLES: Flags and flagpole staffs which are attached to the wall or pillar of the dwelling unit is considered a temporary alteration (see page 3). Freestanding flagpoles must be approved by the ARC. The Board of Directors of the Homeowner's Association shall have the right to require inappropriate flags or other displays be removed from a flagpole.
HOT TUBS/SPAS: Exterior hot tubs or spas must be located in the rear yard The exterior finish of an elevated hot tub should blend with the exterior finish of the home, deck or patio to which attached or most closely related.
GREENHOUSES: Greenhouses must meet the following additional criteria:
1. The scale and design must be architecturally compatible with the home and surrounding homes.
2. The installation of landscape materials to provide a visual screen is encouraged and may be required as a condition of approval.
GRILLS (Permanent): Permanent grills must be placed in the rear yard of the house and as far as practical from the adjacent property lines.
LANDSCAPING: In general, a design review application is not required for landscape improvements with the following exceptions:
1. Approval is required for planting located on the lot line and intended to form a hedge or natural screen and which shall attain more than four (4) feet in height.
2. An application is required for the installation of all landscape timbers, retaining walls or similar structures to be located in front and side yards. The use of railroad ties is prohibited.
3. Vegetable gardens shall be located behind the rear plane of the house. Vegetable gardens in excess of 128 square feet will require approval by the ARC.
MAILBOXES: Individual preference of mailboxes is allowed as specified in the guidelines for Temporary Alterations (see page 3).
PATIOS: All patios require approval. Any adverse drainage conditions which might result from the construction of a patio should be considered in the design of the patio. Any such drainage problem(s) which occur as a result of the installation of a patio shall be the sole responsibility of the homeowner and will be required to be remedied in a timely fashion and in accordance with the By-Laws of the Homeowner's Association.
REAL ESTATE SIGNS: Only one sign advertising a property for sale or rent may be displayed on a lot. Such signs must meet applicable County regulations with respect to size, content and removal. Signs may only be placed in the front yard of available properties. Open house directional signs must be removed immediately upon the completion of the open house.
RECREATION AND PLAY EQUIPMENT: Semi-permanent play equipment (e.g. sandboxes, playhouses, swing sets, lawn furniture, etc.) which either constitutes a structure or is an appurtenant to an existing structure does not require approval by the ARC as long as they meet the following guidelines.
1. Location: Generally, such equipment should be placed in rear yards.
2. Color and Materials: Equipment constructed of wood and left in a natural condition to weather is encouraged. Metal play equipment should be painted solid earth tones (i.e. brown, tan, dark green) to blend with the natural environment.
3. Basketball Backboards: Basketball backboards that are permanently affixed to poles set in the ground or attached to a dwelling require approval by the ARC and must meet the guidelines listed below.
a. The backboards may be left white or painted to match the trim color of the structure to which secured. The mounting surface should be painted the same color of the structure or trim as the surface to which they are attached. At all times the backboard, hoop and net must be maintained appropriately.
b. Backboards which are affixed to permanent or semi-permanent, free standing poles must comply with the following stipulations:
(1). Poles must be located at least 12 feet from a side lot line.
(2). No permanent court markings are painted, drawn or otherwise affixed to the playing surface.
SATELLITE DISHES. In order to maintain the ascetics of the neighborhood and not hurt the property value of neighboring homes, the following guidelines should be used:
No dish with a diameter that exceeds 39" shall be permitted. Since these devices require placement in a particular direction, homeowners will be required to submit a platte of their property with specific location of the device, including placement of cable on the house and in the yard.
1. If mounted on the house, the receiver should be placed on the rear roof below the ridge line, if possible, so as not to be visible from the front of the house at street level.
2. If the receiver is installed at ground level, it should be placed as close to the dwelling as practical and screened from view.
3. All cables connecting outdoor equipment shall be properly secured and/or buried in the ground.
SECURITY BARS: May be approved by the ARC on a case by case basis.
SECURITY SIGNS: Two security signs, each not exceeding a total of sixty-four (64) square inches may be posted on the property. Only one such sign may be posted forward of the front plane of the home. The approved location shall be at the front door or in the shrubbery within twelve (12) feet of the front door. A second sign may be posted in the rear yard. Security signs meeting these guidelines do not require approval of the ARC.
SIDEWALKS AND PATHWAYS: Sidewalks and pathways should be set back at least four feet from the property line and installed flush to the ground. Only stone, brick, concrete or similar durable construction material should be used.
SKYLIGHTS: Skylights should be located such that they are not visible from the front of the dwelling unit or a street. Consideration will be given to skylights on the front side of the roof ridge line only if constructed flush with the roof.
SOLAR PANELS: Solar panels and solar collectors are prohibited.
1. General: Storage sheds shall be restricted to rear yard locations. Storage sheds with metal siding or roofs are prohibited.
2. Specifics: Storage sheds may be attached to the dwelling or constructed as free standing buildings. The following additional guidelines are applicable:
a. Design: The architectural design of the shed should be compatible with the design of the house.
b. Size: Sheds will not exceed 140 square feet of floor space and twelve feet in height at the highest point.
c. Materials: The finish materials must be compatible with that used for the house design or natural wood.
d. Colors: The color scheme must be the same as for the house or a natural wood. Sheds built with wood should be left in a natural condition to weather or be treated with a neutral or wood color stain or sealer.
e. Roof: The roof and the type and color of roofing material should match the roof of the house.
f. Screening: Screening and/or landscaping may be required.
Storm/Screen Doors: Storm and screen doors which are full view (no panels) and which are painted either white or the same color as the door or the adjacent trim do not require approval of the ARC. Storm and screen doors that do not meet these guidelines require approval of the ARC.
SWIMMING POOLS: Swimming pools must be located in the rear of the property:
1. Pool filtration equipment should be shielded from adjacent properties through the use of mature shrubbery or lattice screening of appropriate size and scale.
2. Screening is required.
TRASH CONTAINERS: All trash and recyclable cans and containers must be stored in rear of lot or out of view at all times.
TREE REMOVAL: Trees may not be removed without the approval of the ARC. The exceptions which do not require approval are for trees that pose a safety hazard to the home or adjoining homes and trees that are dead.
The design of the community has created some lots which are either odd shapes or located in nontraditional configurations (including flag lots) so that the guidelines set forth herein may not be applicable as written. In the instance of such a lot, all applications for architectural improvements shall be reviewed on a case by case basis. The Architectural Review Committee shall look to the intention of the guidelines in its review of the application.