Skip to main content

Decisions and Orders Main Page

CCOC Decision Summary

#77-10, Potomac Crossing HOA v. Meddings (November 18, 2011) (Panel: Rosen, Dubin, Farrar)

The HOA complained that the homeowner had violated the community's architectural rules by installing a "play fort" on top of the roof of his shed when he remodeled the shed.  The HOA also alleged that the homeowner's application was defective because it did not include the signatures of all the neighbors, it did not go through the manager, that the homeowner and his wife, one of whom was on the board of directors and the other of whom was on the architectural control committee, exercised improper influence on the approval process, and because the committee erroneously believed that the board of directors had already approved the play fort proposal.

The evidence at the hearing showed that the HOA rules stated that the decision of the architectural control committee was final and binding unless appealed to the board of directors; that sheds cannot be higher than the fence they are adjacent to (6 feet maximum), and that all approved work must be commenced within 6 months and completed within 12 months from the date of the approval.

The evidence also showed that in March, 2009, the homeowner applied for approval to rebuild the roof of his shed and to add a "playhouse" on top of the shed which would bring the total height to11 feet.  This application included drawings of the project.  Shortly thereafter the committee gave written permission to install a new roof and "playhouse."  The application the homeowner used was the same generally in use until early 2010 and did not require signatures of neighbors, although the HOA's office carried a different form that did require signatures of neighbors.  The homeowner completed the work by June, 2009.  In November, 2009, the architectural committee notified the homeowner that it reversed its earlier decision and instructed him to remove the play fort, and told him he could appeal that decision to the board of directors, as provided in the rules.  He did appeal and the board upheld the committee. 

The hearing panel reversed the board's decision.  The hearing panel found that the homeowner applied for permission to build a structure that clearly exceeded the height allowed in the rules, the architecture committee approved the application, and  that decision was not appealed to the board until after the work was completed.  The panel held that the homeowner did nothing wrong and had a right to rely on the approval of the architectural committee, which was final unless appealed.  The homeowner spent almost $1000 to build the play fort in reliance on that approval.  The panel held that the homeowner established "promissory estoppel", and that if the HOA wanted to enforce the rule, the HOA would have to reimburse the homeowner for the amount he spent building the play for and the amount he would reasonably have to spend to remove it.  The panel ordered the homeowner to remove the play fort and ordered the HOA to reimburse the homeowner for his costs in building and removing the play fort.

Go Top