By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Most modern homeowner associations are initially established and controlled by real estate developers, and therefore governing documents and management style tends toward extensive restrictions, excessive control by a handful of people on the board, special legal privileges for the Declarant (developer or original landowner), the use of managers with no vested interest in the community, and very limited accountability from leaders of the association.
Over the past several months, I have been reading articles about some of the older, vintage communities with homeowners associations. Four or five decades ago, when HOAs were relatively uncommon, they were created for very different purposes, and tended to be more focused on property owners rather than solely upon property values affecting invested stakeholders.
A few weeks ago, I wrote some articles on Forest Hill HOA in Cleveland, Ohio, a voluntary membership HOA with more of a civic focus, and one that takes a more cooperative approach to encouraging owners to abide by community standards and covenants.
Today I provide another example of a vintage HOA – Chartridge, a 1970s-era family-friendly residential neighborhood, a 45-minute commute to D.C., located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
A recent news report describes the community’s battle, through its HOA, to keep new development from encroaching on its common space.
Chartridge is an Anne Arundel community fighting to preserve its green space
This is quintessential Chartridge, a close-knit, kid-centric neighborhood in Anne Arundel County, Md., 45 miles from the District.
Most of the 377 single-family, two-story, one-car garage houses were built between 1978 and 1981. Colonials, Dutch Colonials, split-levels and vaulted-ceiling styles predominate. Trees line sidewalks. Pink dogwoods bloom on front lawns. Basketball hoops are common.
That’s why the Chartridge community, through its homeowners association, is appealing county approval of a sketch plan for a 28-home cluster development adjacent to the neighborhood.
The proposed development would drain to the Chartridge common area and calls for replacing forest with twice as many lots as would be allowed using traditional zoning, said Roberts. Storm water management would be the responsibility of the new homeowners.
Read full article:
A few facts about Chartridge are available from its website. You can read about Chartridge here. The community’s 5-acre common area consists of a pool complex and green space incorporating ball fields and space for large gatherings.
Naturally, residents are concerned about possible issues with storm water runoff from a proposed small development that sits uphill and adjacent to Chartridge green space. In this case, the HOA serves a useful function as the voice of its members with Ann Arundel County officials.
The HOA in Chartridge is mandatory. Maintenance of the pool, exclusive to Chartridge residents only, is included in the $435 annual HOA fees for all members. Social events and maintenance of park spaces are also paid for with assessments. A retention pond is stocked with fish by DNR (Department of Natural Resources).
The HOA has the right to enforce covenants, however CC&Rs,written in 1978, are only 17 pages. There is an active Architectural committee, but, according to information provided on the website, restrictions are not overreaching. The following statement regarding the background of the Architectural Committee makes its intentions clear:
The committee is called the Chartridge Architectural Committee, or CAC. The Covenants call it the Architectural Control Committee and we used that name for many years. More recently we decided to drop “Control” because it suggests the wrong attitude.
Looking at a sample Chartridge community newsletter, the reader notes in this community of approximately 375 homes, the HOA board appears to operate with transparency and participation from homeowner volunteers.
A few thoughts come to mind.
What has happened to HOAs over the past several decades?
Why has the focus shifted away from organizing social activities, and morphed into the kind of association that is controlled by a nontransparent, sometimes dictatorial board?
Do planned communities truly benefit from increasingly complex and comprehensive restrictions and architectural standards?
Is there too much emphasis on property values, and not enough emphasis on social values?
Several questions to ponder.
More examples of vintage HOAs will be featured in future blogs. If you are aware of a truly community-focused HOA (either mandatory or voluntary), feel free to write to me.