If you’re a fan of college sports, you may recognize the acronym ACC as the Atlantic Coast Conference or if you work in the legal field, it could also stand for the Association of Corporate Counsel. But when it comes to a homeowners association, it represents the Architectural Committee. So what is the ACC and what does it do? We will answer those questions and more.
First, take a look at some of the other names the ACC may be referred to as in your association’s governing documents:
- Architectural Committee
- Architectural Review Committee
- Architectural Control Committee
- Design Review Committee
- Environmental Control Committee
- Landscape Review Committee
- Art Jury
Homeowners Associations governing documents require approval before an owner can make physical modifications or improvements to their property or within an association’s common area. These modifications or improvements are regulated within the association’s architectural standards defined in the CC&Rs. The responsibility of administering these standards and the application/approval process in which they are performed falls under the direction of the architectural committee. The ACC is responsible for:
- Managing the application and approval process
- Enforcing the standards set forth in governing documents fairly
- Monitor the community for potential violations of standards
- Make necessary recommendations to the board of directors
- Review guidelines for accuracy and compliance
- Make decisions in regards to guideline compliance
- Educating homeowners about the set guidelines
Typically the process of approval includes these 3 steps:
- Submitting an application for review to the architectural review committee: The application includes the specifications of the property and the request for modifications and improvements. Details may include pictures, architectural plans, permits, and surveys. It may also simply be a written letter from the homeowners containing all of the required information.
- Committee Review: The architectural committee should meet regularly to review applications. Based on the operation rules and fiduciary responsibility to the association, committees should review the application with set guidelines. If variations are allowed in certain circumstances, the committee will review the plans and determine whether or not the proposal meets the necessary standards.
- Decision: Once the architectural review committee has reached a decision, they submit their recommendation to the board of directors for final approval/disapproval. The CC&Rs define a time frame in which the committee and board must render a decision to the homeowner’s application.
The Associations CC&Rs explain the provisions of creating an architectural committee that operates separately from the board of directors. However, when the necessary provisions are absent, the board may also serve as the ACC or choose to delegate the architectural powers to a committee created by the board.
The scope in which the architectural committee operates by the development of common area interest improvements manages the following:
PUDs (Planned Unit Development):
- Solar panels
- Satellite dishes
- Electronvolt charging stations
- Exterior paint finishes/colors
- Roofing materials
- Structural improvements like height, design and placement
- Landscape improvements
- Lot setback specifications
- Satellite dishes
- Electronvolt charging stations
- Window tinting/window coverings and design
- Plumbing and electrical modifications
- Interior flooring changes, including hardwood
- Balcony resurfacing, furniture, and plants
An architectural committee’s approval does replace any ancillary requirements previously imposed on a homeowner by local building codes and/or county ordinances, however, they do include compliance with the association’s governing documents. More often than not, a homeowners association member’s request for approval for modifications or improvements will require separate authorization from the association’s architectural committee, as well as any local building and code enforcement requirements.
In order for a decision to be made regarding a member’s architectural application, they must:
- Not be unreasonable, capricious, or arbitrary, such as painting your house royal blue in a community with a southwest color scheme. Requests should be made in good faith.
- Not be in conflict with governing provisions of the law which include the Fair Employment and Housing Act, various building codes, and/or laws governing public safety and land use.
- Be made in writing.
If an application is rejected, the architectural committee must include, in writing, an explanation as to why the request was disapproved and a description of the process in which the member may make a request for reconsideration by the board.
The member whose application was rejected by the architectural committee may have the right to appeal the decision by the board at an open meeting. However, if the decision was made by the board at a duly held board meeting, then no such reconsideration is required.
The meetings of the architectural committee are not board meetings, therefore they’re not subject to the requirements contained in the open meeting act. These committees are most typically comprised of volunteer association members and are not members of the association’s board of directors. To the extent that an architectural committee has the decision-making authority on requests for modification and improvements, civil code requires that the committee keep and maintain the minutes of its meetings and make these minutes available for review by the association’s members within a definitive time frame.
Because the main function of the ACC is to preserve the property values of homes within the community, rules will be enforced based on the contractual relationship between the members and the homeowners association in which they own/reside.
Some homeowners may choose to interpret the rules differently, in which case, each state is governed by laws that can be enforced in court.
Clearly understanding the purpose and expectations of the ACC will improve the overall operations within your community. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to your community representative.
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