HISTORY OF DESIGN REVIEW IN HOLLIN HILLS
"One of the most difficult governance tasks is upholding our neighborhood's unique architectural design standards. Lose our distinctive look and we lose our neighborhood's soul, its raison d'être. Yet, insist too stringently upon an inflexible code and we will drive away all who hope not only to preserve what we have but also to improve it. Striking a balance between community obligations and the rights of property owners is a delicate and sometimes divisive and unpleasant task, but an inescapable responsibility of governance."
-- Hollin Hills Community of Vision: A Semicentennial History, 1949-1999
From the beginning, Hollin Hills deeds have contained a restrictive covenant governing the design of all new structures, additions and alterations, including fences, sheds, and the like. They were put in place to preserve our distinctive architectural heritage and, ultimately, to protect our property values.
The Architectural Control Committee (ARC) is created by developer Robert Davenport to ensure that any new structure in Hollin Hills homes would meet his definition of "harmony and conformity. Davenport is joined by brothers Morris and Samuel Rodman, investors in the development.
The civic association takes over responsibility for enforcing the convent's strictures from the neighborhood's founding fathers in October, when the general membership votes 44-2 to create a "Committee on Structures."
The powers of the original ARC are transferred to a newly created body, the Architectural Review Committee (ARC), which consists of residents appointed by the civic association board. Rules of Compliance were announced in September.
1956 - 1976
Hollin HIlls enjoys an era of cooperation and interest in the neighborhood's design integrity. Occasionally, residents built sheds or carports without ARC approval. But, for the most part, homeowners followed the design review process. However, with the onset of the 70s, the era of cooperation began to fade. The relative affordability of houses in the neighborhood attracted home buyers that did not always share in Davenport's and Goodman's aesthetic. Some ignored the design review process and built unapproved additions.
Civic Association Board President Eason Cross, Jr., an associate in Hollin Hills architect Charles Goodman's office, publishes a series of articles about Hollin Hills architecture in the Hollin Hills Bulletin. The articles described the intentions of the architect and developer Davenport. The series was aimed at new residents to give them perspective on the importance of Hollin Hills' architecture and preserving it through the ARC and the design review process.
in the early 1980s, the ARC asked the civic association board to review its covenant authority and renew the community's commitment to architectural review by strengthening the existing design review process.
The board reviewed the convenient authority in every section of Hollin HIlls. Where authority had lapsed, it began a legal reinstatement process in which every homeowner was asked to sign a reinstatement of authority of the convenants. This initiative resulted in 95 percent coverage by the ARC. Through additional board action, all sections of the neighborhood are now required to follow the design review process without the need for periodic re-approval.
In June, the civic association board re-organized the ARC, increasing its membership to five, with three-year, staggered terms. Committee membership was now required to include two architects, a lawyer and two lay members. The newly appointed ARC was charged with drafting standards, guidelines and procedures.
The new committee was quickly put to the test, when a family challenged the authority of the design review process. At that time, no systematic appeal process was in effect. The family submitted initial plans for an addition and a garage that did not receive ARC approval. The plans provoked the most intense debate in Hollin Hills history. ARC and homeowner discussions continued for a year but could not be resolved.
During the debate, the ARC mailed each household a copy of the restrictive covenant language int he their deeds, putting the community on notice that it intended to enforce its mission, stoking the neighborhood debate even further.
Positions hardened, and both the civic association and homeowner retained attorneys. The debate finally came to a head in October a a general membership meeting. Members passed a motion 167-28 that called for both sides to halt legal action and find a compromise. The meeting also approved a formal review of the design review standards and processes. A broad-based committee was established, the Design Review Guidelines Study Committee.
The study committee worked for eight months to develop a set of guidelines. It conducted a community-wide opinion survey to assess resident's attitudes about the design review process. In addition, residents were interviewed and other communities with strong architectural review programs were studied.
A settlement of the dispute was announced in June. The homeowner's planned addition was built, the garage was not.
Modified design review rules also were adopted at a general community meeting that same month. The resulting Design Review Guidelines became the basis for all future design reviews. The Design Review Committee (DRC) replaced the ARC. Its membership now required both architects and other design professionals, as well as non-design members.
Once again, the community observed that the DRC had begun operating more zealously than desired but eh community. And with less design authority, since the relative number of architects had decreased.
To address the community's concerns about the validity of the guidelines, the board appointed a citizen's Design Review Study Group to recommend possible procedural changes. Extensive community canvassing, research and review ensued. The study group concluded that while the process was not perfect, approximately 70 percent of residents still supported the DRC and design review. The study committee issued an extensive findings report in November of 1997.