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Three more sections of ARC guidelines resolved, maybe
By Bob Adair

Session number 15 got underway with the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting that dealt with the specific design requirements section and the landscaping requirements section of the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) guidelines.  Like the other minutes from the ad hoc review committee, these constitute the recommendations of the committee that will be sent to the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) board of directors for approval.

Section 500 of the guidelines, Requirements After Plan Approval, pertains to the requirements that must be met at the construction site itself. The requirements run the gambit from placement of the corrugated metal pipe in the drainage ditch, through placement of trash containers, schedule of inspections, construction start and completion timelines and utility installation.  OPA board member Skip Carey, chairman of the review committee leaned heavily on Bill Nelson, chief ARC inspector and committee member Dave Walter, a local developer, for advice in this area. Except for moving some of the information to other locations in the section the current wording passed unchanged.

Section 600, Sign Regulations, drew much more discussion than the previous section, however, only minor changes were suggested. These were in the area of previous requirements that were now passé; no one will miss them. For example, there is a current requirement to have an identifying number on every “open house” sign, which is assigned by ARC.  Mr. Nelson said that procedure had been dropped years ago.  The committee will recommend deletion.

Much of the conversation about the sign requirements reminisced about how nice it would be to eliminate all signs but the likelihood of that happening was also understood. Some other points were important to the community and its residents. House number signs are a critical safety factor. Mr. Carey, one of the Ocean Pines emergency medical technicians, told the group how difficult it is at times to locate a house where someone needs emergency medical attention.  He said in a situation where minutes count it is frustrating not to be able to pinpoint the residence.

As part of the discussion about signs committee member and local realtor Pam Wadler said she questioned the fairness of the enforcement of some of the rules.  She went on to say her signs had been picked up because the real estate company initials were on balloons attached to the signs.  She understood that was prohibited but other signs with company names and logos were left alone.  Mr. Nelson said they try to be even-handed in all their enforcement procedures.

In all it was agreed that signs would remain a fact of life and the current rules, except for those minor items, are fair and enforceable.

With two sections agreed upon the committee took on the next section and this is where the “maybe” figures in the headline.  Section 700, Home Occupations contains verbiage that involves granting variances needed to have an occupation in the home.

Paragraph 4 (A) of the Declaration of Restrictions for each section of Ocean Pines states “No numbered lot shall be used except for residential purposes.” Paragraph 9(A) of the Restrictions authorizes the ECC (now ARC) to “allow reasonable variances…in order to overcome practical difficulties and prevent unnecessary hardships… provided, however, that such is done in conformity with the intent and purpose hereof and provided also that in every instance such variance or adjustment will not be materially detrimental or injurious to other property…”

This language, to be used as the basis for a variance was brought into the legal realm a few weeks ago when the granting of a variance had to do with expanding the buildable area limits on a particular property. OPA legal counsel Joe Moore has verbally claimed the required elements necessary for a variance had not been proven in the case of the requested property variance.

When Mr. Nelson said something that indicated the same criteria might apply to variances for home occupations Mr. Walter wanted to know why this section was submitted for legal review.  He asked Mr. Nelson if he wanted to eliminate home occupations in the Pines.  Mr. Nelson said he had no such notion.  Committee member and ARC chairman Walt Boge explained to Mr. Walter that the legal discussion underway dealt with “variances” and had been introduced by the questions relative to the piece of property previously mentioned.

When Mr. Walter did not appear satisfied with the response Mr. Carey suggested those involved in maintaining home occupations and interested builders arrange for a meeting with OPA president Dan Stachurski and discuss the OPA position on the matter of variances.

Maybe the “maybe” will be resolved under the law.

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Uploaded: 8/10/2005