· The Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman offers assistance and information to association members regarding the rights and processes available to them through their associations. The Ombudsman is responsible for receiving "notices of adverse decision" from association members who allege an association governing body violated common interest community laws or regulations.
The Hickory Farms Community Association is governed by the Deed of Dedication and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions ("Covenants"), By-Laws, and Rules and Regulations.
Think of the Covenants as the
community’s “constitution” – the primary founding document of the community. The developers of the community recorded the
Covenants in the Hickory Farms deed on October 20, 1975 at page 519 of Deed
Book 4302. In the Covenants, the
developers assigned to the Hickory Farms Community Association (HFCA) certain
duties and responsibilities, defined who may belong to HFCA, their voting and
property rights, authorized the HFCA to collect dues, described what should be
done if such dues are not paid, and prescribed
Covenants in Article VII of the document.
It is important to know that when you purchased your Home in Hickory
Farms, you purchased it subject to the Covenants and Rules and Regulation.
These documents were given to you in your Disclosure Letter at the time you
purchased your house.
These documents were given to you in your Disclosure Letter at the time you purchased your house.
Like the U.S. Constitution, the Hickory Farms Covenants were intentionally designed to be tough to amend. Before October 20, 2000, a 90% vote was required to amend the Covenants; since then only a 75% vote is required. The Covenants, and in particular the Restrictive Covenants in Article VII, are “the law.” They cannot be waived by the Board of Directors, the Architectural Control Committee, or the membership at large unless specifically provided for in the document. So, for example, if Article VII(3) says that fences “shall not extend into the area between the street and front building restriction line” and no provision is made to grant a waiver, the rule is absolute and fences are restricted to side and back yards. The only way that Restrictive Covenant can be changed is if 75% of the homeowners vote to do so.
At about the same time the
developers recorded the Hickory Farms Covenants, they created the HFCA, a
corporation chartered under the laws of the state of
The By-Laws describe how the HFCA shall operate. It describes the Board of Directors, who the officers are, their terms and responsibilities, homeowner meetings, powers of the Board, election of officers, and how the By-Laws may be amended. Regarding amendment, the By-Laws may be amended “by a majority vote of a quorum of members present in person or by proxy at a regular or special meeting of the membership.” So, it’s much easier for the homeowners to amend the By-Laws than it is to amend the Covenants. The By-Laws are subordinate to the founding documents – the Articles of Incorporation and the Covenants. The By-Laws were approved by the homeowners in 1983 and amended in 1987.
In order to provide more specificity to the Restrictive Covenants, the Board of Directors approved the Rules and Regulations and Due Process Procedures in December 1997 and has amended them several times in the intervening years. Under the By-Laws and the Virginia Property Owners Association Act (VPOAA), the Board of Directors enacts Rules and Regulations. However, is has been the general policy of the Board to obtain prior homeowner approval of proposed revisions to the Rules and Regulations. The Rules and Regulations describe the use of the common areas and facilities, use of property, describes when approval of the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) is required, describes acceptable fences and enclosures, describes how lots, yards, and carports are to be maintained, the operation of the ACC, restrictions on parking boats, trailers, tents or temporary structures or portable vehicles other than automobiles, handling of rubbish, trash, garbage, yard debris, etc., and due process procedures for handling and enforcement of violations of the Restrictive Covenants.
To continue with our analogy, think of the By-Laws and the Rules and Regulations as being comparable to the laws that are passed by the US Congress. Such laws must be compatible with the founding document, which in our case is the Covenants. If they are in conflict with the Covenants, the Covenants must prevail. Hopefully, unlike the US Constitution and the laws passed by the US Congress, the residents of Hickory Farms won’t need an entity like the US Supreme Court to interpret the “constitutionality” of the HFCA’s By-Laws and Rules and Regulations!
Homeowners' associations (HOAs) are as close to the fundamental idea of participatory democracy as you can find because they most directly affect you and your property more than any other entity and you live closer to the elected homeowner Board officials than you do to any other elected representatives. Homeowners' associations are registered corporations and function under pertinent statutes (such as the Virginia Property Owners Association Act). They are not busybody organizations which delight in telling people what they can and cannot do. But in point of fact, there are rules in the Covenants of all homeowner associations which the residents quite literally buy into when they purchase (or rent) their homes. As in any organization or community of many different people, the real keys to a successful HOA are participation and cooperation. If everyone does a little something to help the organization, then the HOA can do more things for everyone. If residents recognize that the rules and regulations exist to protect everyone's peace and quiet, quality of life and property values, and abide by them willingly, then everyone comes out ahead. The Restrictive Covenants contained in the Hickory Farms deed are not really very restrictive at all; they are common sense standards. The Board of Directors will, from time to time, publish or comment on one or more of the rules, for informational purposes. We ask everyone's cooperation in observing the guidelines. In cases where residents bring alleged violations to our attention, the Board will work with all parties patiently and considerately to reach the proper solution.
Zoning Ordinance – (Chapter112); The Fairfax County Zoning ordinance is separately available online at http://fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/ ; scroll to the last link at the bottom of the page to select the following:
What does the Hickory Farms Community Association (through the Board of Directors) have jurisdiction over? The answer is that the HFCA has limited jurisdiction over the Common Areas (which include asphalt paths located in our community) and building lots. Please see our Deed of Dedication and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions and our Rules and Regulations and Due Process Procedures for the specifics. The Association has no jurisdiction over public streets, which are owned by the state of Virginia. Sidewalks and the grassy area between the sidewalk and the street (the “parkway,” which is where residents frequently place temporary basketball hoops) are also owned by the state of Virginia. If you have an issue with a building lot or the Common Areas that may be in violation of our Deed of Declaration or Rules and Regulations, please contact a member of the Board of Directors. If you have an issue with areas that are outside the Association's jurisdiction such as the street, sidewalk, or parkway, please call the Fairfax County Non-Emergency Police number at 703-691-2131.