ARC ad hoc committee tackles general design guidelines
By Bob Adair
The Ocean Pines Association (OPA) ad hoc committee charged with the review of the OPA Architectural Review Committee (ARC) guidelines met on June 7 to discuss the section dealing with general design guidelines.
At the outset OPA director Skip Carey, chairman of the committee, informed the members the OPA board had approved the requested time extension, which pushed the committee’s report date to September. After approving the minutes of the previous meeting the group made changes to the introductory paragraphs of the guidelines, which removed the wording that ARC formulated the guidelines.
On an unnumbered page in the front of the guidelines there is a series of blocks indicating the order in which a potential homebuilder should visit the agencies involved in approving plans and issuing permits. The first place to go is the Environmental Control Committee (now the Architectural Review Committee), then the Worcester County Department of Water and Wastewater and then to the Worcester County Department of Planning, Permits and Inspections. After some discussion about reversing the order of visits it was decided to leave this question alone until more was known about all the changes the committee would be recommending to the OPA Board of Directors.
The committee turned its attention to the subject of “General Design Guidelines.” Compared to previous meetings the number of pages or paragraphs covered in this session was minimal. However, all the members could see that the issues to be clarified in this section would have an impact throughout several other parts of the guidelines.
Just after the group began a paragraph-by-paragraph review of the general design section, committee member Dave Walter called into question the validity of most of these general design guidelines. He pointed out that statements in the guidelines such as “Each home should be designed for its specific lot” and “It must be differentiated in exterior design…and color from other homes nearby” make the guidelines highly subjective.
The validity of other paragraphs was questioned by the committee when viewed against what has actually been built in various sections of Ocean Pines. One example is the part that indicates homes built in an open area as opposed to a wooded surrounding should be farther apart. Some sections in Ocean Pines such as The Parke do not meet the criteria.
The subject of lot coverage was reviewed. According to the guidelines a structure may cover 100 percent of the building area approved by the county if it is 2,000 square feet or less. The building area on lots between 2,000 and 5,000 square feet is dictated by a descending curve that allows a person with a 5,000 square-foot building area to use only 50 percent (2500 square feet) of the area approved by the county. According to the committee members this was the method used to allow Boise-Cascade to build on the small lots while at the same time creating the desired green space.
Committee member Walt Hoge, who is the present chairman of the ARC, said the ARC have been allowing 55 percent on the larger lots. This led to more discussion about what the building allowance should be on the larger lots. Mr. Walter said as a builder this subject is important because the building industry in Ocean Pines is turning more to renovation of existing structures. He said homeowners want to increase the size of their vacation homes because they have retired they are now their primary abode. Bill Rakow, another builder in Ocean Pines said he was not entirely against the scaled approach to providing green space. “You really would not want to see every lot built out to 100 percent of the approved building space,” he said. However, he believes 50 or 55 percent is too restrictive for those with 5,000 square foot or larger lots.
After additional discussion the committee voted to use 65 percent as the top number rather than 50 percent as now written, with no variances available.
Once this figure was set regarding coverage area on the building lot the subject of structure height was addressed. This subject is found under the heading of “Exterior Building Materials” in the guidelines. It stipulates that no single-family structure shall exceed 35 feet in height or three stories, measured from the average grade around the house foundation to the highest point of the roof. Worcester County allows a height up to 45 feet.
Mr. Rakow, who has been involved with this subject for some time, gave a presentation, which included pictures of homes throughout the community that met or exceeded the 35-foot limit. He claimed that the larger homes required added height in order to make them architecturally acceptable. Mr. Carey said that accessibility to the higher structures was not a problem for the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department. He said present equipment could meet the requirement. The committee members agreed the county limit could be acceptable in Ocean Pines, thus eliminating one more difference between countywide restrictions and Ocean Pines restrictions.
These significant changes in height and lot coverage; identification of troublesome, subjective language; the need to eliminate redundancy and superfluous information and realignment of data in the guidelines indicated that several sections of the guidelines had to be reviewed together before the committee could move on with the review. These decisions on area coverage and structure height must have OPA board approval before the current standards in the ARC guidelines can be changed.
It was decided to take the time to accomplish the tasks mentioned above. Therefore, the next meeting of the ad hoc committee will be June 21 at two p.m. in the OPA boardroom.
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