FAQ

How Does the Architectural Process Work?

Your Covenants provide for an Architectural Committee (AC). Since the duties of the AC are many and varied, it is assisted in routine architectural control matters by a volunteer Resident Architectural Committee (RAC). Both the AC and the RAC are volunteers appointed by the Village Board.

In addition, the Village employs Covenant Advisors who are available at Stonehouse to assist with Exterior Alteration Applications, complaints and inquiries on architectural and maintenance matters and who also carries out certain duties associated with Covenant enforcement.

Why Do We Have Architectural Controls?

Many people who have lived in communities without architectural controls have seen or experienced a well maintained, well-decorated house next to one which has been allowed to deteriorate or has a lawn strewn with junk. These are, of course, extreme circumstances but none of us wants to live near or have to look at an eyesore. The architectural controls in the Village Covenants are designed to prevent excesses and abuses, while affording flexibility in property use.

If you want to make exterior alterations, including landscaping, or would like to start an in-home business, your first step is to consult the Guidelines in this book. They will tell you what requires a formal application as well as helping ensure that your planning is complete. If you have questions, consult the Covenant Advisor.

What Is the Regular Process?

Once your application has been received at Stonehouse, it is previewed by the Covenant Advisor for completeness. If the Covenant Advisor notes that required information is missing, he/she will return the application to you by letter, and let you know what is missing. When the application is deemed complete, it will be stamped received, given a log number and placed on the agenda. All meetings of the RAC are open to all residents and meetings are held every other Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. An occasional date shift may occur due to a holiday.

At the RAC meeting, your application will be presented and discussed. You will be invited to join the discussion if you attend. At the first meeting after submittal, the RAC previews your application, decides if a site visit or more information is necessary. During the second meeting after being submitted, the RAC may take several actions: vote to approve the application, to approve with stipulations or as amended, to approve as an exception to the Guidelines, to postpone for added information or a site visit, and, finally they may vote to deny the application. Whichever action the RAC takes, you will be notified by mail within a few days and you may call Stonehouse to find out the results. If your application was denied, this mailing will detail the steps you need to take if you wish to appeal.

Applications under consideration for the regular process must be submitted by noon, two Wednesdays before the meeting at which it will be on the agenda. E.g., an application submitted by noon on Wednesday, March 15 will be previewed on March 15 and will be on the agenda for a vote March 29.

What Is the Fast Track Process?

Only certain exterior alterations may be reviewed under the Fast Track application process. This process was developed to shorten processing time for certain standard exterior alterations. Please check the Guideline book to see if your particular alteration may be considered under the Fast Track process. Any application from a townhouse or condominium must include the local association signature with Approval or Disapproval circled on the application.

All applications for consideration under the Fast Track process must be submitted by noon, any Monday Stonehouse is open. The application form for the Fast Track process is the same form used for all exterior alteration requests plus one page. The Covenant Advisor will review the submitted application for Fast Track eligibility and completeness. The application must be complete at the time of submission for consideration under the Fast Track process. This includes plot plan, color or materials samples, drawings, all pertinent measurements, adjacent and signatures of four visually affected property owners surrounding the applicant’s property are required, etc. The neighbors’ signatures are required for the Fast Track process due to the inability to notify neighbors by post card. The decision to move an application to the regular process is final.

If the application is complete and meets the criteria for Fast Track review, it will then be approved or disapproved by a member of the Architectural Committee. You will be notified by phone on Thursday no later than 4 p.m., with confirmation in writing.

If your application is not complete or not eligible for the Fast Track process, it will automatically be shifted to the regular process and reviewed at a regularly scheduled RAC meeting. The decision to shift a Fast Track application to the regular process is final.

How to Submit Your Application

After you have studied the Guidelines, complete and submit your application, using the special forms for either Exterior Alterations or for In-home Business. In addition, several worksheets are available to help assist you in preparing your application. A copy of each form is included in this booklet and copies are available at Stonehouse, the Village office.

Be sure that your application is complete and clear and has all the necessary signatures – including your own. A helpful checklist for completing your Exterior Alteration Application is enclosed in this booklet.You can deliver or mail your completed applications or you can fax them, 24 hours a day, to 410/730-5882.

ANY APPLICATION SUBMITTED WITHOUT ALL REQUIRED INFORMATION WILL BE NEITHER STAMPED “RECEIVED” NOR LOGGED IN AND WILL BE RETURNED TO THE PROPERTY OWNER(S) FOR COMPLETION.

Submit applications early, allowing four weeks for processing. All applications require processing and must be received two weeks prior to an RAC meeting to be on that meeting’s agenda. During the processing period, you can obtain any necessary permits or variances required by Howard County.

PLEASE NOTE: HOWARD COUNTY AND LONG REACH VILLAGE HAVE INDEPENDENT APPROVAL PROCESSES AND APPROVAL BY ONE DOES NOT RELIEVE YOU OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO OBTAIN APPROVAL OF THE OTHER.

When your application is submitted at the Village office, it will be assigned a log number and a brief description of your proposal will be listed on the village website, www.longreach.org, and/or posted at the Village office. Your neighbors will be notified by post card that you have an application pending.

At the RAC review meeting, your application will be presented by a member and you will be invited to join the discussion if you attend. At that meeting your neighbors and any other Village resident will have the opportunity to offer comments in support of or in opposition to your application. From there, your application, with the RAC’s recommendation for final action, goes to the Architectural Committee. If your application is approved, that approval is final and you should receive a copy in the mail within 10 days, authorizing you to start work.

Exceptions
While exceptions to these Guidelines may be denied at the first hearing, approval of an exception can be granted only after consideration at two consecutive RAC meetings.

Appeals
If you, the applicant, want to appeal an unfavorable action by the AC, your request must be submitted in writing within 10 days after you receive written notice of that action. Appeal requests should be addressed to:

Architectural Committee
Long Reach Community Association
8775 Cloudleap Court
Columbia, Maryland 21045

The AC as a whole will then arrange to hear the appeal. Their decision is then legal and binding and can only be changed in court.

Once your application is approved, all of the work specified must be completed within 120 days once the work has started. If you decide not to carry out the project or some emergency arises to delay work, advise the Covenant Advisor promptly, in writing. Failure to keep your file up-to-date and accurate can cause complications when the property is sold.

Although this process may seem complex and rigid, it is one that works because our residents, including those on the AC and the RAC, are interested and cooperative. Every effort is made to help applicants and to find compromises where necessary. Hundreds of applications are speedily and satisfactorily approved each year and only a handful are appealed

What if I Don’t Wait for Approval?

If you start an alteration or in-home business without first getting written approval of your plans, you do so at your own risk. If you fail to submit an application or if your application is modified or turned down, you may face the cost of removing the alteration plus legal costs. The Covenants provide means for placing such costs as a lien against your property. These circumstances may also arise if your property has been altered without approval before you purchased it.

In cases such as these, every effort is made to work out a reasonable solution to the problem. The best solution, however, is prevention. If you are buying or selling a property, call the Covenant Advisor and ask for a Letter of Compliance for the property. After you own it, make sure you have approval before starting work.

What is the Process for Covenant Enforcement?

Enforcement of the Village Covenants is the job of every resident but the routines are carried out by the Covenant Advisor. When architectural complaints are brought to the attention of the Covenant Advisor, they are kept confidential and investigated as soon as possible. If a violation is confirmed, the property owner is contacted and asked to correct the problem, either by removal or submission of an application or, in the case of a maintenance problem, by repair. Our experience has been that most problems are corrected at this stage.

If this contact does not result in action, the property owner will receive formal notification requesting action and if the problem is not corrected within the stipulated time, legal action may be initiated.


How Closely Must I Adhere to the Guidelines in this Book?

The Covenants give to the Architectural Committee the responsibility to set rules and procedures for architectural control, and the power to interpret the Covenants and allow exceptions to their requirements. The Guidelines presented here have been written by the Resident Architectural Committee and the Architectural Committee as part of that first responsibility then formally approved by the Village Board.

Based upon the policies and previous decisions of the committees, the Guidelines will tell you what is most likely to be approved in typical circumstances and also give you important information on how to prepare your application (see sample in the back). Special circumstances regarding your property may allow the approval of an application which might be denied for another location or the denial of one which might be approved for somewhere else. The fact that your plan has been approved for use at another location does not mean it is automatically approved for you.

Very Important Advice

Contractors
All Exterior Alteration Applications will be considered for final approval by the Long Reach Architectural Committee only if the following information is provided:

Are you your own contractor? (yes or no)

If no, you must provide the name, address and telephone number of the contractor.

Miss Utility
Before digging, call Miss Utility (1-800-257-7777) for free information on location of gas, power and telephone lines.

Howard County Permits
IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE APPLICANT TO OBTAIN ALL NECESSARY PERMITS AND APPROVALS FOR ANY PROJECT. LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND LONG REACH VILLAGE HAVE SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENT PROCESSES. PERMISSION FROM ONE DOES NOT GRANT APPROVAL FOR ANY OTHER AUTHORITY.

Some of the agencies that may require separate applications are listed below. Please ask if your project requires any other type of license or permit when you contact these offices:

Howard County Licenses and Permits 313-2455

  • Building Permits
  • Electrical Permits
  • Plumbing Permits
  • Contractors Licenses
  • Rental Housing Licenses
  • Solicitor/Peddler Licenses
  • Traders Licenses

Howard County Dept. of Planning & Zoning 313-2350
Howard County Information & Referral 313-3000

One Final Note

The RAC and AC members and the Covenant Advisor are, in the final analysis, human beings. We are proud of our accomplishments and embarrassed by our errors. We need your help and cooperation in every facet of our work.

Checklist for Exterior Alteration Applications

Exterior Alteration Applications cannot be processed and voted on unless all required information is included. Please note the list below and submit your application only if all information is included.

Name, address and work and home telephone numbers.
Neighborhood.
Type of house, design of house and current colors of roof, siding, shutters, door, garage door and trim.
Signature of your townhouse or condominium association, if applicable, on the application with Approval or Disapproval circled.

  • Description of changes desired.
  • Color chips, drawings with all measurements, plot plan with proposed changes clearly marked, etc.
  • Name, address and telephone number of your contractor.
  • Your dated signature and that of any tenant(s).

For Fast Track: All information above plus visually affected neighbor’s signatures. Applications submitted for the Fast Track without all required information included at the time of submission will be moved to the regular process. For information on specific alterations which are eligible for the Fast Track, please see the Architectural Guideline book

ANY APPLICATION SUBMITTED WITHOUT ALL REQUIRED INFORMATION WILL BE NEITHER STAMPED “RECEIVED” NOR LOGGED IN AND WILL BE RETURNED TO THE PROPERTY OWNER(S) FOR COMPLETION.

You can contact Darlene Brown & Maryann Cohea, Covenant Advisor, at

Long Reach Community Association
8775 Cloudleap Court, Columbia MD 21045
410/730-8113 or 301/596-3265
FAX: 410/730-5882
EMAIL: info@longreach.org
Monday – Friday 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.