Next SDRC Meeting date changed to Wednesday April 25

Note that the next SDRC “town meeting” will be APRIL 25 not April 26

Here’s the agenda:

7:30 p.m. Welcome/Introductions/Purpose of Meeting

7:40 p.m. Further discussion about SDRC Survey Question 22:

Should any Hollin Hills resident be allowed to attend the monthly Design Review Committee meetings to voice opinions about the additions and renovations being discussed at that meeting?
Need additional community input on whether Hollin Hills residents should voice opinions at the DRC meetings or just attend to observe.

8:30 p.m. Further discussion about SDRC Survey Question 20:

Some areas are not currently addressed by the Design Review Guidelines. In your opinion, are Design Review Guidelines needed to provide direction in the following areas?

For each area you think should be addressed, should the Guidelines be prescriptive (specific requirements to be met), performance (more general direction and standards), or a combination of both prescriptive and performance guidelines?

Need additional community input on creating guidelines (prescriptive/directional/both) about:

• Design of a complete replacement of an existing house
• An addition that significantly changes the external appearance of the original house
• Adding and additional story
• Maximum height of a house
• Maximum ratio of house size to property size

“Town Hall” meetings April 18 & 26

The Special Design Review Committee will hold two “town hall” meetings following up on the community-wide survey about the design review guidelines.  Recall that the neighborhood is going through the process of revising the guidelines as needed.  These meetings will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Hollin Meadows School Cafeteria on April 18 & 26. Do try to attend both meetings. The following are the agendas for both meetings as told to us by the SDRC chair:

APRIL 18:

7:30 p.m.    Welcome/Introductions/Purpose of Meeting

7:40 p.m.    Further discussion about SDRC Survey Question 11:

In your opinion, should the Design Review Committee resolve all issues that arise through the neighbor notification process prior to issuing final approval of any build-out plan? (Circle only one)

Response    Total Percent

DRC should resolve all issues related to any
major or minor addition/renovation         50        23.58%

DRC should resolve all issues related to only
major addition/renovation              40         18.87%

DRC should not have to resolve all issues
related to major or minor addition/renovations,
only issues that are within the scope of the
Guidelines                    102         48.11%

No opinion                         5           2.36%

Total Respondents                 197

(skipped this question)                   15            7.08%

Need additional community input on whether the DRC should have to resolve all issues related to major and minor issues within the scope of the guidelines.

8:30 p.m.    Further dicussion about SDRC Survey Question 19:

The current Design Review Guidelines give general directions to homeowners for planning additions and renovations, and to the DRC for evaluating them with regard to specific design and siting issues.

In your opinion, are the current Design Review Guidelines okay as they are now or should they to be more specific in the following areas?

Need additional community input on:

•    Exterior paint colors
•    Overall size of house
•    Orientation with regard to neighbor privacy

APRIL 26:

7:30 p.m.    Welcome/Introductions/Purpose of Meeting

7:40 p.m.    Further discussion about SDRC Survey Question 22:

Should any Hollin Hills resident be allowed to attend the monthly Design Review Committee meetings to voice opinions about the additions and renovations being discussed at that meeting?

Response
Total                 Percent

Yes                 111                 52.36%

No                   65                 30.66%

No Opinion               16                   7.55%

Total Respondents     192

(skipped this question)       20                   9.43%

Need additional community input on whether Hollin Hills residents should voice opinions at the DRC meetings or just attend to observe.

8:30 p.m.    Further discussion about SDRC Survey Question 20:

Some areas are not currently addressed by the Design Review Guidelines.  In your opinion, are Design Review Guidelines needed to provide direction in the following areas?

For each area you think should be addressed, should the Guidelines be prescriptive (specific requirements to be met), performance (more general direction and standards), or a combination of both prescriptive and performance guidelines?

Need additional community input on creating guidelines (prescriptive/directional/both) about:

•    Design of a complete replacement of an existing house
•    An addition that significantly changes the external appearance of the original house
•    Adding and additional story
•    Maximum height of a house
•    Maximum ratio of house size to property size

SDRC to Hold Town Hall Meetings

Civic Association of Hollin Hills
Special Design Review Committee (SDRC)
Survey Follow Up Town Hall Meeting
The SDRC is seeking additional community feedback on topics related to the design review guidelines, neighbor notification and the DRC meeting process unresolved by the recent community survey.

Wed., April 18, 2007
&
Thursday, April 26, 2007
7:30 p.m.
Hollin Meadows School Cafeteria

Open Meetings & the SDRC Questionnaire

One of the items on the agenda for the civic association meeting this coming Tuesday night is an update on the Special Design Review Committee survey. If you filled out the survey, you may recall some questions about whether Design Review Committee meetings should be open to observers. As it turns out, this isn’t an academic question. For the past three DRC meetings, some applicants have requested and been granted closed sessions with the DRC. Except for immediate neighbors and the DRC, no one else is able to learn about proposed additions and renovations of these houses. This is so despite the fact that the covenants state that they can be enforced by “any other person or persons owning any real property situated in said development or subdivision.” (See the first paragraph of the Covenants.) If any other persons owning real property can enforce the covenants (not that things should ever come to that!) then certainly the authors of the covenants figured that they should be able to know what is going on. But with closed sessions, that’s not happening. Moreover, with closed sessions, the DRC only gets input from immediate neighbors, though the covenants indicate that all real property owners in the subdivision have standing in the process. The more closed sessions there are, the less information there is available for the community as a whole and the DRC itself.

When my husband and I along with some other people in the neighborhood started observing the DRC meetings last year, one set of applicants requested a closed session and the DRC complied. For many months thereafter, all sessions were open to the public. But then a few months ago an applicant again requested a closed session. The board weighed in and said that the DRC needed, because of that one earlier “precedent,” to let a session be closed when requested. Most sessions are still open, but one architect in particular is requesting that all her sessions be closed. One board member told me that this would be the protocol until the SDRC process of reviewing and revising the guidelines was completed.

Part of that SDRC process is the questionnaire we were all asked to complete this past winter. For anyone outside the SDRC and the board, this was the first time the wording was open to the public. The following is the wording of the first question pertaining to whether DRC meetings should be open:

22. Should any Hollin Hills resident be allowed to attend the monthly Design Review Committee meetings to voice opinions about the additions and renovations being discussed at that meeting?

The wording for this question is unfortunate, to say the least. It presumes that people want to attend meetings to voice their opinions rather than simply observe. There should have been a question asking whether observers could attend the monthly meeting, period. I and others who have observed the sessions go there to observe, not to voice our opinions. If we do speak up at all, it is between sessions and only to ask questions. We have never intervened, or even conspicuously coughed, when the DRC is considering a proposal. That would be completely inappropriate. It is only after the DRC has made its decision and the applicant has left that we might ever say, why did you decide this rather than that?

I have heard informally that, even with this wording, the majority of respondents answered “yes.” That’s pretty amazing, and if it’s true. it’s surely a testament that this community wants an open process for design review.

There were two other questions on the matter. Question 23 was whether applicants can request a private, preliminary session with the DRC. That seems perfectly reasonable and I have heard that most respondensts thought so too.

Question 24 asked whether an applicant with a proposal on the agenda could ask to have his or her session of the DRC meeting closed. I have heard that this question got a majority approval, seemingly contradicting the majority’s view on question 22. People want meetings open and they want the chance to close them. How can that be? Maybe this strange contradiction arises because the group of questions sets up a false choice: either there will be observers meddling with the process or there will be no observers at all. This would not have been the case had question number 22 simply asked whether observers could be present at meetings.

So, on Tuesday, if some people start to claim that the questionnaire results mean that the majority of the neighborhood wants to allow closed sessions, keep this in mind: Since the simple question of whether people should be allowed simply to observe meetings was never put to the neighborhood, we don’t really know what the neighborhood thinks. Let’s try to have some time to think through the right question in the right terms.

Notes on April DRC Meeting

April 5, 2007

By David Armstrong

DRC members Andrew Cheng and Suzanne McLees were not present.

1816 Drury Lane, addition: Closed session.

1924 Martha’s Road, addition: Applicant expressed interest in adding a railing to the roof of proposed carport project. A neighbor expressed objections on privacy grounds to the roof being used as a deck. The Committee had not approved a railing. The Committee granted final approval to the project without a railing. Applicant reported that neighbor notification is complete.

7305 Rebecca, shed: Shed approved with glass or solid doors. Applicant discussed replacing windows in house. Committee indicated that window replacement will require DRC approval.

2410 Nemeth Court, addition: Applicant presented preliminary drawing for proposed addition. Committee suggested that applicant consider adding exterior trim piece to mimic existing design features. Conceptual approval granted.

2215 Martha’s Road, renovation: Applicant presented preliminary plans for renovation project including a combination of walls and fences around property, decks and patios in rear of house and replacement of narrow window in front of house with glass blocks.  The Committee will visit the property in the near future.

Other Business: The Committee reviewed previous and pending projects. The Chairman reported that the applicants at 7200 Rebecca Drive had informed him that they will not proceed with proposed retaining wall, although the rest of the project will go forward.

Candidate interview: The Committee interviewed John Burns, the final candidate for the upcoming opening on the DRC. The Committee indicated that it would be announcing its choice to fill the opening in near future.