CA puts muscle in architectural rules Violators will be barred from health club facilities

February 17, 1997|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

Residents who ignore Columbia's architectural rules can forget about swimming in the planned community -- or lifting weights and playing golf, for that matter.

Their huge homeowners group, the Columbia Association (CA), passed a policy last week that allows CA to bar violators of its property appearance standards from CA's health club facilities.

The policy -- modeled after one used in the planned community of Reston, Va. -- is expected to apply to only the most egregious offenders, fewer than 20 residents a year. It will go into effect May 1.

"You shouldn't play in our facilities if you don't play by our rules," said David Berson, who represents the village of River Hill on CA's board of directors, which passed the policy Thursday night.

Berson said the policy appropriately targets only extreme cases.

Over the past year, the 10-member board has repeatedly said it wants to step up enforcement of the town's architectural standards, often referred to as covenants because residents are bound to follow them as a result of covenants within their deeds.

Those standards -- a source of tension between some residents and CA -- are designed to maintain property values.

The standards pertain to matters such as paint colors, fence heights and property upkeep. They are enforced by each of Columbia's 10 villages.

When village officials become aware of a violation, they try to get homeowners to voluntarily fix the problem. Homeowners often do.

When that doesn't work, the villages refer cases to CA, which occasionally takes residents to court.

It is at this stage that CA could ban residents from recreation facilities.

The policy also would apply to children of violators. Wanda Hurt, a CA board member who chairs a committee on covenants, said she may consider giving youths a waiver.

"Nobody wants to punish children, really," Hurt said.

The CA board also is considering asking for a change in state law that would force covenant violators to clearly state any outstanding violations before selling their property.

Pub Date: 2/17/97

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