Crofton Woods is divided on whether to accept new covenants

February 22, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

When some residents of Crofton Woods, a development in the Crofton triangle, bought their homes, they thought the lots were covered by covenants that regulated what they can do with the land.

Now, they've found out the covenants never went into effect, and they are divided over whether to adopt new ones.

Some in the community of 160 homes say covenants would make the neighborhood look better and increase property values. Others think they would limit homeowners' options -- especially if the covenants do not apply to everyone in the development.

"Most of the people bought up here because they wanted a covenanted community," said James Vallone, a homeowner who has agreed to the covenants and is urging his neighbors to do the same.

But Susan Barracato says she isn't going to sign until she is convinced that the proposed covenants will treat everyone alike.

Mrs. Barracato, who favors restrictive covenants, said she is concerned that new covenants would allow existing violations to remain under a grandfather clause.

Already, she said, there have been "significant squabbles" in the area over the parking of boats and commercial vehicles in public view, which the covenants would prohibit.

The problems started two years ago when the builder, Ryland Homes, discovered that the original covenants had never been approved by the Crofton Civic Association, nor registered with Anne Arundel County. Therefore, they never took effect.

John Aldous, a Ryland vice president, said yesterday that he's not sure what went wrong.

He said the developer, Urby Drive Associates Limited Partnership, had been asked by the Crofton Civic Association to update the original covenants, which were drawn up in the early 1960s. But the updated version was never approved by the civic association or registered with the county, he said.

Officials at Urby Drive Associates did not return phone calls yesterday.

Mr. Aldous said Ryland decided to try to help resolve the problem to help its customers.

In February 1993, Ryland sent a copy of the new covenants to the homeowners, explaining what had happened and asking them to be bound by the documents. The firm followed that letter with additional mailings to homeowners who did not respond.

A year later, about half the Crofton Woods homeowners have agreed to be bound by the covenants, which forbid parking boats or commercial vehicles in public and satellite dishes, even if disguised as lawn furniture, Mr. Aldous said.

The covenants also limit the number of household pets and pigs, chickens and exotic animals.

Edwin F. Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association, said PTC Sunday that Ryland should offer incentives for people to sign, such as extra street lights or other amenities.

But Mr. Aldous said Ryland would not offer such incentives.

He said Ryland's next step will be to visit homeowners who haven't agreed to be bound by the covenants, to ask them to sign. He predicted, however, that a few residents may not be persuaded.

And the Crofton Civic Association may not agree to enforce the covenants unless nearly all the residents sign, Mr. Dosek said.

If the development becomes a patchwork of lots with covenants and lots with no covenants, "it could be a nightmare to enforce," said Town Manager Barbara Swann.

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