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CCOC Decision Summary

#280-G, Cloisters Homeowners Association v. Solomon (December 15, 1995) (Panel: Stevens, Huson, Simon)

The homeowners association (HOA) complained that the homeowner (HO) had built a deck without prior approval, and that the deck itself violated the architectural rules by including a "sunburst" design.  The HO's defense was that the HOA decision was unreasonable and arbitrary because deck could not be seen except by those who walked behind her house.

The evidence at the hearing showed that after the HO had built her deck, the HOA notified her that she was in violation of rules requiring her to obtain approval for the deck, and she then submitted an application for the deck as built.  The application showed a "sunburst" design.  The HOA's architectural committee rejected the application and asked that the sunburst be removed.  The HOA board of directors, on appeal, also rejected the application.  The HO then promised to make the change but failed to do so.  The HOA's governing documents prohibited all changes to dwellings without prior approval, and the HOA had specific rules for deck construction, and the relevant rule required vertical, parallel pickets.  Although the HO testified at the hearing that there were different deck designs in the community, the HO could not show that there were any decks which did not have the approved, picket-style construction.  The HO and his witness also testified that the sunburst design was attractive.

The panel held that in view of the evidence, the HOA's rejection of the application for a sunburst design "was consonant with the community design and was a reasonable determination made in good faith and was not high-handed, whimsical or captious in manner."  The panel went on to write that "[t]he Commission can only be disruptive of communities if it begins second-guessing decisions made within the community which properly include consideration of issues such as historical and design consistency with which the Commission cannot be familiar.  The Commission cannot substitute its aesthetic judgment for a decision made by an authorized body in a community taking into account all the applicable issues to be considered in reaching that decision."

The panel ordered the HO to remove the sunburst design and replace it with a proper picket design within 30 days.

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