By Tom Simon, Managing Member, Westgate Properties, LLC
Architectural Review (AR) or the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) or Architectural Control Committee (ACC) all refer to the same thing: maintaining visual harmony in the community through peer review of your architectural plans. Whether the AR is a benefit or burden has much to do with the process by which AR is implemented in your community.
Like any human relationship, good communication is key, beginning prior to a homeowner purchase. The AR regulations should be provided to the purchaser as part of the disclosure process during the purchase transaction. Once buyers becomes homeowners, they should receive a welcome package that includes information about AR, including under what circumstances they need to seek permission to make changes to their home, the application necessary to get the process started, what they need to provide with the form, and an estimate of how long it will take for the association to respond. This process will go far in communicating the expectations of the association to new homeowners and will also give them some comfort that the association will respond to their request promptly.
The ARC or ACC is the governmental body that reviews the application, and in New Mexico, it must include at least two board members. I recommend adding three non-board members to the committee for a total of five. If you have a five member board, I recommend that they not also serve on the ARC if the ARC is a busy committee. There are two primary reasons for this: (1) you don’t want to “burn out” your board members by giving them too much to do and (2) if the homeowner doesn’t like the response of the ARC, the homeowner can appeal the decision to the full board. This is a good mechanism for all committees in that it gives the owner a grievance option, other than litigation.
These steps will go far in making Architectural Review a benefit that helps preserve the visual and interpersonal harmony of the community.
Tom Simon is a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), Association Management Specialist (AMS) and Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) and Managing Member of WestGate Properties LLC. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org