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Living in South Arlington and the
Forest Hills Community Architectural Control
Review and Compliance
Forest Hills Townhomes. All Right Reserved.
Q. Who can submit requests to the Architectural Control Committee (ACC)?
A. Only the owner of the Forest Hills home can submit requests to the ACC.
Q. How do I request approval for an architectural action or change?
A. Homeowners requesting review and approval of a proposed exterior alteration or addition should submit a letter to the Chairman, Architectural Control Committee.Examples of actions requiring ACC approval include, but are not limited to:
The letter to ACC should be as specific as possible regarding the scope and detail of the proposal. It should include a detailed drawing of the finished design, and provide a descriptive list of the materials that will be used. If the request addresses a major exterior change, the application’s level of detail should be the same as that required for a building permit request required by Arlington County. This requirement should not be construed as an additional burden since the package can be used again when subsequently applying for a building permit. In many instances ACC will contact the affected neighbors, but homeowners are encouraged to include a statement that the immediate neighbors are aware of the proposal.
Q. What type of actions does ACC review?
A. Historically, homeowners have requested ACC approval to change the exterior colors, design change windows, replace front, rear, security and garage doors and shutters, add brick flowerboxes, replace driveways, change the exterior of the garage, change roofing materials, and add decks, balconies, and porticos.
Q. What types of actions do not require ACC review?
A. If the homeowner contemplates updating the exterior of the property without altering its current ‘look’ or appearance, such as replacing doors, shutters, windows or lighting, then prior ACC approval is not required. The replacement item should be of the same design, appearance, and color; and the material should be of equal or better quality as the original. However, the homeowner must notify ACC of the impending change for recordkeeping purposes. And, once the project is complete, there should be no distinguishable difference in appearance between the old and the new. The homeowner remains ultimately responsible for complying with the architectural requirements of FHCA governing documents. To avoid having to do the work twice, it is strongly encouraged that the homeowner consults ACC before beginning any project.
Q. What is the ACC’s review process and criteria?
A. Process: The ACC meets monthly to discuss requests for actions. Applications are discussed with homeowners and as necessary affected neighbors. Upon submission of applications for change, homeowners can reasonably expect written responses within one week following the next regularly scheduled ACC meeting. Criteria: The quality of proposed actions should be equal to or better than the item being replaced.
Q. Why do I need to contact the ACC?
A. The Forest Hills governing documents require that homeowners seek ACC approval when making an exterior change covered by the covenants. Article VIII of the Forest Hills Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions states that covered alterations need to be reviewed by ACC for “quality of workmanship, design, colors and materials and harmony.” The requirements of the covenants are binding on all owners.
Q. What is the purpose of the Covenants and the ACC?
A. The covenants provide a framework for protecting the value, desirability, and attractiveness of the Forest Hills community. The ACC’s mission is to work with homeowners to maintain the quality and high standards of the original architectural design. Taken together, the covenants’ purpose is to protect your investment (home’s property value) and the overall value of the community.
Q. Do I need prior ACC approval to paint my house?
A. Only owners asking to change the exterior colors need to contact ACC with information on the proposed color scheme and verify that neighbors are aware of the proposed color changes. Repainting to match the original or current ACC approved colors for the house does not require prior approval. Matching the current paint color may require ACC approval as most likely the color has faded over the years and/or may not have been the correct color for the home. ACC maintains records on each property’s approved colors and is prepared to advise homeowners planning to repaint.
Q. What do I need to know when replacing my front door or windows?
A. Any intent to initiate actions on the doors or windows should be reviewed with the ACC. The ACC recognizes that there have been changes in technology of building materials over the past 30 years, particularly in terms of energy efficiency and ease of maintenance. The original Forest Hills doors were made of wood and traditional mullions were part of the original windows.
Q. Do I need approval to replace my roof?
A. Any intent to replace the roof in exactly the same configuration with the same materials does not require ACC approval. The roofing materials for all Forest Hills homes are cedar shakes and cedar shingles. Owners repairing or replacing roofs need to use the same cedar shake or cedar shingle design and material as originally installed.
Q. What are the rules on signs?
A. The covenants state that no sign larger than one foot square can be displayed to the public view. Real estate signs advertising a property for sale or rent are permitted and should not be larger than four square feet. Please advise your real estate agent that stick signs are traditionally used in Forest Hills and ask that they not install post signs. Real estate signs must be removed immediately after settlement. Contractors performing work on your home cannot place an advertising sign in front of your home that is larger than one foot square. Residents are asked to exercise good judgment in displaying political signs during campaign seasons or in displaying Estate Sales signs.
Q. Can we appeal an ACC decision?
A. Yes. The Forest Hills Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions and By-laws are silent on the issue of an owner’s right to appeal an ACC decision. However, the Board allows interested and affected homeowners to appeal ACC decisions. Any appeal of an ACC decision needs to be filed in a timely manner (normally 10 days after a meeting or receipt of a letter) to the President or another Association officer. Every effort will be made to address the appeal at the next scheduled board meeting.
Q. May we attend ACC meetings?
A. All homeowners are welcome to attend ACC meetings. The Virginia Property Owners Association Act requires that committee meetings be publicly announced in advance and be open to all homeowners. If you are interested in attending a meeting, please contact the Chair in advance. The schedule for ACC meetings is posted on the Forest Hills website.
Q. What difference does it make if I don’t seek prior approval and don’t comply with architectural rules?
A. Prior to selling your home, the Association prepares a disclosure package, as required by the Virginia Property Owners Association Act. The disclosure package contains information about the Association (annual dues, funds for reserve account, financial statements, pending litigation, insurance coverage, etc) and your home, including architectural changes that you made that do not comply with the protective covenants. You or the new owner will be required to bring the home into compliance.
Other Questions. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Chairman or any ACC member. Current members include Elaine Freeman - Chairman, Marjorie Abbot, Robert Cedeno, Carol Moylan, Dave Simonson, Barbara Morris-Lent.
Approved by FHCA Board of Directors December 2nd, 2009, and modified listing of new ACC members January, 2014.
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