SPRING CREEK – Spring Creek homeowners might get more letters about compliance from the Spring Creek Association Committee of Architecture after its September review of properties.
The COA recently amended its rules and regulations and upgraded its computer system to quickly process property reviews.
The property reviews allow the COA to contact residents who need to work on fixing violations such as mowing weeds, removing inoperative or unlicensed vehicles, removing trash, storing tool, repairing exteriors and fencing and completing other maintenance work.
Maintenance and property uses are defined in the COA’s rules and regulations packet, which describes property owners’ guidelines, ranging from garages and outdoor lighting to domestic animals and livestock.
The master Declaration of Reservations, written in 1971, was meant to govern the association, said Diane Parker, COA chairwoman. The Rules and Regulations break down points individually.
This year, additions, changes and amendments were approved in April – the first revision in four years.
The new rules and regulations are being used for property reviews, along with a three-letter notification process that was approved in 2014.
Residents are given 15 days after the first notice, 10 days after the second, and five days after the third notice, to contact the COA secretary or bring the violation into compliance.
If there is no response after the third letter, a property owner is requested to attend a COA regular meeting. At that point, the property owner will have a $200 fine imposed and a $25 fee for each month the property remains in violation. Further, the matter could be approved for legal action by the SCA Board of Directors.
The reason for the enforcement comes down to “appearance,” keeping the property cleaned up and tidy, said D’Ann Dunlap, COA secretary, which means more than 5,000 properties must be evaluated annually by a committee of volunteers that includes four members of the COA and the secretary.
“We’re very unique in the fact we are a rural homeowner’s association, the second largest in the United States,” Dunlap said.
One challenge for the COA is contacting property owners about their violation, which can only be done by a letter, email or phone call — but not in person.
“The only time we go on someone’s property is if we are invited,” Parker said.
Contacting the office after the first notice is preferred, added Parker, who wants residents to call and set up a timeframe or plan for correcting the issue instead of ignoring the letter.
“We work with people as long as we keep seeing progress. It would not come before the committee,” Parker said, “it would stay in the secretary’s hands as long as they make contact.”
Recently, the association and COA implemented “Neighbor to Neighbor,” a program of volunteers who assist low-income, disabled, veterans, or elderly residents with correcting violations.
Amie Shields, incoming COA secretary, said applications are at the SCA office, and the program is looking for volunteers and donations of materials.
Terry Lister, former SCA director for Tract 200, Vista Grande, said he believed property owners must have their lots cleaned up for the benefit of neighbors and to maintain property values.
“It affects the value of your lot,” Lister said. “We’re there to be neighbors and not be a nuisance.”
At its monthly meeting in July, the COA had 38 property or nuisance violations on the agenda for possible action. Out of those actions, 32 of them were for inoperative vehicles. The August agenda had 54 items with 34 violations for vehicles — the violation the COA sees most.
“Everybody has one, or they have 10 or 20,” Dunlap said. “They may have projects or hobbies, which is fine, [but] it has to be contained.”
Parker said there are still some residents who are unaware of the rules and regulations, copies of which can be picked up at the SCA office or downloaded from the website. Some do not realize that although they are moving into the county, property owners are subjected to the rules of the HOA.