House in the Woods Club presents ideas to SDRC

The Special Design Review Committee (constituted to review and revise Hollin Hills’ Design Review Guidelines) invited the House in the Woods Club to present the ideas it has compiled on how the design review process might be revised. Members of the Club presented those suggestions at the SDRC’s meeting on July 12, 2006. What follows is that presentation. Your comments are welcome!

July 12, 2006

House in the Woods Club Suggestions for the SDRC

Following is a list of items the House in the Woods Club has compiled for the Special Design Review Committee to consider putting before the community by including them in the survey regarding the Design Review Guidelines that it is preparing. The list includes a variety of ideas that emerged in our Club’s discussions, but it does not represent a consensus of opinion among the Club members – rather, it is a list of items that Club members suggested as timely issues worthy of consideration.

It is our hope that the SDRC survey will result in revisions to the Guidelines that will: (1) permit enhanced community knowledge of and involvement in the DRC process; (2) facilitate the DRC’s ability to enforce the design specifications; and (3) help ensure that new construction reflects the community’s view of how the “harmony and conformity” standard should be interpreted.

DRC Meeting Procedures

We suggest that the SDRC consider:

1. whether the DRC can post the time and place of all regularly scheduled meetings;

2. whether the community can be notified of all special (i.e. not regularly scheduled) DRC sessions at least 24 hours in advance;

3. whether all DRC meetings can be open to observers;

4. whether specific criteria should be established for closing DRC sessions;

5. whether the DRC can post its agenda in real time (i.e., as it is updated);

6. whether specific criteria can be developed for denying requests to be added to the DRC agenda;

7. whether the DRC can publish/post more detailed descriptions of the actions that it takes in each session;

8. whether the DRC should be required to keep full and complete notes of all its discussions at each session and report them fully to the members of the Civic Association; and

9. whether the DRC should return to the practice of including a non-voting “emeritus” member, in an effort to provide an historical perspective for the short-term regular members of the committee.

Neighbor Notification

We suggest that the SDRC consider:

1. whether neighbor notification can be expanded to include the entire community, not just contiguous neighbors;

2. whether the entire community can be allowed to weigh in on plans, not only the contiguous neighbors;

3. whether the entire community can be allowed to view plans some specified number of days (perhaps 14) before they are considered by the DRC;

4. whether, to avoid possible conflicts, the names of those commenting on plans should not be disclosed to the homeowner. Only the DRC would know who submitted the comments;

5. whether to avoid conflict with friends and neighbors, DRC responses should also be anonymous; and

6. whether the process of neighbor notification can be undertaken by someone other than those making the alterations. Perhaps the DRC could notify neighbors that plans are available for viewing by the entire community prior to the next DRC meeting;

Guidelines Relating to the Harmony and Conformity Standard

We suggest that the SDRC consider:

1. whether the Guidelines can be revised so that the “harmony and conformity” standard is measured against the original Hollin Hills aesthetic and not the aesthetic of subsequent new construction;

2. whether there could be a requirement that, if a house is torn down, some specified fraction (perhaps 50 percent) of the original house be rebuilt, following the original plans, consistent with modern code and material considerations;

3. whether stronger wording is needed to reinforce the current Guidelines’ statement that an addition should not overwhelm the scale of the original house;

4. whether the DRC should develop a list of guideline details and checklists which will help architects and homeowners generate alterations which are in harmony and conformity; and

5. whether the DRC should develop prescriptive harmony and conformity guidelines in areas which can fundamentally affect the aesthetic character of the community and the environment for near neighbors. These might include:

– The percentage of an original house that can be demolished without being rebuilt as it originally existed.

– The percentage of the original roof that can be altered without being rebuilt as it originally existed.

– Criteria for determining whether a second story can be added to a one-story house.

– The maximum size of an approvable addition.

– Criteria for determining whether incursion of an addition or alteration into the sight lines of neighboring houses is allowable.

– Guidelines for informing (in advance of approval) the community at large and the near neighbors in the approval of significant alterations.

– Establishing the weight given to the opinions of near neighbors and of the community at large as to the appropriateness of any proposed alteration in determining whether a project is approved.


2 Responses to “House in the Woods Club presents ideas to SDRC”

  1. Michael Hunter Says:

    Items #4 and #5 under Neighbor Notification doe not sit well with me. If a person doesn’t have theconviction of belief to not be anonymous then a person should not comment.

  2. HW Sinaiko Says:

    Right on. If we accept the notion of anonymity, in any community business, all is lost. Although I’m not on sure ground here, if there are not-for-public-disclosure meetings, with decisions affecting the larger community the character of HH will be seriously diminished — if that isn’t already the case.


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