ARC ad hoc committee refines general design guidelines
By Bob Adair
The ninth session of the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) ad hoc committee assigned the task of reviewing the OPA Architectural Review Committee guidelines opened with a discussion about the ARC authority to grant variances. Specifically, the subject dealt with a ruling by the ARC to allow a structure to extend into the setback on a certain property.
There are two rear setback lines associated with lots in Ocean Pines. The county setback is 30 feet from the rear line of the property to the structure; however, the Ocean Pines setback is 35 feet. When the ARC authorized an owner to extend the structure into the setback area by two feet a neighboring property owner protested the action. According to the lawyer representing the protesting neighbor such an action can only be approved if there is a hardship involved. The ARC guidelines currently state the following: “The ECC (Environmental Control Committee which was renamed the ARC) is empowered by the (Ocean Pines) Restrictions to grant reasonable variances in order to overcome practical difficulties and prevent unnecessary hardships from the strict application of the restrictions.” The OPA has asked the legal counsel to review the issue and render an opinion.
Although this specific item was not within the particular agenda for the meeting, it could have an impact on the continuing review of the ARC document. At the very least it may be necessary to differentiate between “variances” as they are known in the legal terminology and “adjustments” to requirements identified in the ARC guidelines.
As the committee turned its attention to the General Design Guidelines section of the ARC guidelines a line-in, line-out document produced by committee member Gail Kretschmar was used as the basis for the deletion, addition and other editing of this section. For the most part it appears the committee eliminated many parts that were subjective and in some cases unenforceable. Although reduced, some items in the section remain subjective in nature.
The subject of area coverage was revisited. At the previous session the committee decided the OPA restriction of up to 50 percent of the building area allowed by the county was not fair to the owners of the larger lots. Lots of 2,000 feet or less are allowed to build out to the county limitations. Houses on lots between 2,000 and 5,000 square feet of allowed building space are governed by a sliding scale that allows buildings to cover only 2,500 square feet on a 5,000 square-foot building space allowed by the county.
The committee had discussed a 55, 60 and 65 percent limitation and the impact each level would have on the various sections within the Pines. The committee favored the 65 percent limit with no variances allowed. However, the topic was still open for discussion. At the June 21 meeting committee member Pam Wadler presented the members with a series of graphs that were algebraically derived sliding scales that could be used to determine the allowable building space.
The current scale in the ARC guidelines allows 100 percent coverage on a 2,000 square-foot building space and reduces the building space percentage by 2.5 percent for every additional 100 square feet of county approved building space. Of the four alternatives presented by Mrs. Wadler the board favored the scale that left the percentage of coverage for a 3,000 square-foot building site at 75 percent representing a structure footprint of 2,250 square feet (as it is now) and decreased the building area by 12.5 square feet for every 100 square-foot increase in the size of the lot. This would allow a structure footprint of 2,750 or 55 percent on a 5,000 square-foot lot. The committee believed this increase in the footprint was sufficient to answer most of the requests submitted to the ARC by property owners.
Further discussion on building height limitation was postponed until the next meeting on June 28.
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