The Hot Springs Village POA Architectural Control Committee (ACC) held a spirited meeting on Thursday, February 1, 2024, at the Coronado Community Center. Due to inclement weather, the January 18, 2024 meeting was moved to February 1.
Nine small permits were approved, three were denied, and one was placed on hold. Six new home permits were approved.
Complaints about seven- to eight-foot-tall azaleas were received by the Community Support Department. Reporting neighbors said the azaleas looked like a jungle. The February 1, 2024, meeting discussed all this and much more.
Staff attending the meeting: Ken Unger, Director of Public Services; Matt Broom, Associate Director of Public Services; Beverly Ellison, Supervisor Permitting and Inspections; Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager
Board Member present: Mark Quinton
Committee Members present: Larry Brocaw, Lanny Beavers, Clint Blackman III, John Hyduke, Valerie Shippers, Brian Whitehead
Committee, Board, and Staff working together more smoothly
Quinton said they spent time over the last week or so making sure the ACC, Board of Directors, and Public Services efforts were coordinated regarding the rules and regulations. “We want to make sure we are all on the same page. In particular, one of the changes we made is that if a grandfathered-type situation comes up again, it comes to the Architectural Control Committee first before it has to go through permitting, etc. We are working on making the process a little smoother to ensure everybody works together and is on the same page.”
Benfield said he would bring these types of cases to the committee before contacting the property owner until after the ACC makes a decision.
Change in handling new home permits
ACC Chair Larry Brocaw said they are changing how new home permits are handled. “In the past, the POA issued permits. The permits then came to the ACC. The new home permit request will now come to the ACC before the permits are issued. If we approve it, then a permit will be issued. This is how we used to do it a few years ago.”
Broom said a new home permit change requires two-foot contours instead of five-foot contours. This will help with the analysis of drainage.
“We mistakenly stated that two-foot contours are available on the Members Section of the Explore the Village website. The site shows five-foot contours. We kept the five-foot contour requirement but added language that we would provide the two-foot elevation drawings if we needed additional elevation drawings. Many times, five-foot contours suffice,” stated Broom.
The purview of the ACC – Aesthetics – POA is not responsible for approving drainage
Unger asked everyone to “remember that they do not approve drainage. That is not within the purview of the POA. I felt two-foot [contour] was reasonable because we have them on the [web]site. If you go into our governing documents and look at the plats, you can get the two-foot contours on properties. Every property owner can access that information. You don’t have to pay for it. Hopefully, the property owner will use that to ensure that whatever they are doing works, and you as a body [committee] hopefully have a better idea of what it will look like when they are finished.”
A committee member said, “If we are not reviewing or approving drainage, then all we are reviewing is the landscaping plan or a site plan.”
Unger responded, “Aesthetics. That is the purview of ACC. If we say we are now drainage experts and we’re responsible for ensuring the drainage works, then we are taking the liability for that. We are not in a position to do that. If we have concerns, we can ask someone to get a grading plan, and it is up to them to ensure it will work and not cause harm to the surrounding properties. Ultimately, I think we must be very careful with what we say we are responsible for.”
A committee member asked, “Is there a triggering situation that would force them to go get a professional grading plan?”
Unger answered, “If there is an elevation issue…”
Unger said, “If you can’t tell from the documentation what a property is going to look like to approve the plan, then you have the right, based on the changes we made, to ask for a grading plan…”
A committee member asked Broom if he would request a drainage plan if it didn’t look good to the staff.
Broom said, “Yes, we will start monitoring much more…”
Unger said there is verbiage on the permit that the owner is responsible for ensuring the property drains and that it doesn’t impact their adjoining neighbors. We highly recommend that a professional provide guidance.”
Multiple complaints about tall azaleas
The Community Support Department (formerly Compliance) received multiple complaints from neighbors about a stand of seven to eight-foot-high azalea bushes. HSV property owners since 2011, the azalea gardener said, “Azaleas are an interesting animal. They look terrible for 11 months out of the year. There is not much green. The property owner showed the splendor of the blooms on the screen. He said his plants were strong and healthy with “incredible root systems.”
He said the Community Support Department had asked him to get a variance from the ACC because of a complaint stating the azaleas do not look good. He agreed that this is true for 11 months out of the year. “One month out of the year, they explode!” the azalea enthusiast shared.
He was reluctant to trim/cut the trees right now. He said according to the Arkansas Agricultural Extension website, azalea trimming should not be done at this time of the year, although admittedly, they have already trimmed some of them.
Blackman asked, “When do they recommend trimming?”
The gardener said summer is the recommended time to trim.
He added that they have spent $20,000 on property upgrades over the past few years. “I don’t see this as being detrimental. I am sorry, I just don’t,” he stated.
Benfield said, “We have received multiple complaints, stating it looks like a jungle in the front yard, and it is detrimental to their property values.”
The azalea owner said, “I don’t want to trim the azaleas down to bushes. No sense in going down to three or four feet high.”
Blackman stated, “I am very concerned with multiple complaints. If the neighbors are concerned, we must do something.” Blackman said he could not dispute the statement that the azaleas look like a jungle.
“It is part of this committee’s responsibility to listen to the property owner and the neighbors… There are some really great people on this committee. We have architects, architectural engineers, surveyors, and real estate people who are all very knowledgeable about aesthetics and how it fits into the community. That is the purview of this committee – to make sure that we keep the property in such a way that it’s attractive. My biggest concern is that there have been complaints…I think we have to do something,. I hate to say that. I love azaleas, but you said it yourself: eleven months out of the year, they don’t look good,” said Blackman.
Quinton said, “The key word in our Declarations is that the yard has to be landscaped. If you let it go, I don’t care what plant it is, it is not landscaped. Maybe there is a middle ground where the undergrowth can be trimmed down to a manageable level and the leaders on the azaleas can be trimmed back when the season comes – to make it look like you changed it, but somehow keep the integrity of your azaleas.”
The ACC advised the couple that they would take this issue under advisement and get back to him after a decision is reached.
This item was not on the agenda. A property owner said she applied for a permit in September for a generator at her townhouse and has not been advised of the permit status. She said they need the generator for medical purposes in case the electricity fails. There is a generator at another home in her neighborhood. The Townhouse Association previously okayed the installation of her generator, and all of the neighbors are fine with the addition.
Broom said they would look into this right away. Brocaw promised a quick answer.
Small permit applications
10 Oro Way – Landscaping – Permit denied. The property owner wanted to build a courtyard with a 4′ tall and 45′ long wall. The permit should be resubmitted for a smaller entry area like the neighbor has, and it should match the wainscoting.
110 La Plaza Way – Sign – Resubmit – Permit denied. Quinton said the rules say that signs must be erected entirely within the commercial site. The proposed location of this sign is in the road right of way. No signage allowed in the road right of way. Unger said, “We have to mow these roads, and we don’t want a bunch of signs out of the right of way because it will interfere with mowing.
32 and 34 Durango Way – Variance – Permit approved.
44 Valencia Way – Landscaping – Permit approved. This is a compliance case. Take out the second part of the circle drive, and park only parallel to the house. Depth maximum of 15 feet wide.
150 E. Villena Drive – Other – Driveway – Permit approved.
10 Sorolla Lane – Landscaping – The permit was approved but must locate existing sewer lines.
36 Fonsagrada Circle – Addition – Permit approved. The property owner wants to turn the screened-in porch into an Arkansas room.
25 Linares Lane – Addition/Dormers – Permit approved. There is an existing dormer over the front door, and the property owner wants to add two more dormers over the garage to finish a room over the garage in the future.
37 Linares Lane – Landscape Items – Permit denied. This is a Community Support case; the permit was for existing landscaping on a vacant lot adjoining their home. The flag pole, fire pit, and other non-natural additions must be removed – rocks and shrubs stay.
39 Calanas Lane – Variance – Color – Permit approved. There is a second-floor deck with a patio below. Property owners have installed a bronze-colored metal underdeck to stop water coming down to the patio when it rains.
40 San Clemente Circle – Landscaping – Permit approved. This is a permit for an existing part of a driveway that does not match the aggregate concrete driveway. The property owner must paint the plain concrete portion of the driveway in a color to match the aggregate concrete drive; the property owner cannot use it for parking. It is for turnaround only.
2 Certero Place – Other Parking Variance – The property owner attended the meeting. The variance was approved for parking on the side of the house.
87 Arias Way – Exterior Color – Resubmit – This permit is on hold. The property owner is asked to submit a sample of the actual color to the ACC for review.
New home permits approved
20 Lindura Way – Deaton Construction
35 Salvatierra Way – Hughes Design
2 Tolosa Way – Performance Properties
41 Gusta Lane – Renaissance Homes
33 Elcano Drive – Renaissance Homes
40 La Palabra Way – Renaissance Homes
The ACC had an executive session immediately following the regular meeting.
Cover image: Front left to right: Ken Unger, Larry Brocaw, Mark Quinton, John Hyduke
By Cheryl Dowden
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