Architectural Control Committee Members
The Sanctuary at Oak Creek CC&R's specify the structure and members of the ACC. It states in Article III. Section 1 that the Committee consists of three (3) members appointed by the board and the committee has exclusive power. There is no reference granting board member review or approval of ACC decisions in the CC&R's.
The Sanctuary board members set up the ACC in December 2005 with four (4) committee members and one (1) chairperson. The board members and committee persons disregarded the legal documents at that point in time and continued to disregard the documents. Last year, Joanne Ward, a board member, was attending ACC meetings as board liaison to oversee the committee meetings. In fact, the HOA attorney was present at several ACC meetings. Ask yourself why was it necessary to have the HOA attorney at the ACC meetings?
Many ACC decisions were made by board member Kelly Coglianese. K. Coglianese, as a board member, was not authorized to make those decisions. There are emails to Melrose Management and other board members concerning K. Coglianese's involvement in the ACC decisions.
The Use of Perennial Peanut or Any Other Groundcover on Your Lot
Our CC&R's specifically state in Article II, Section 4(a)(xiii) (OR BK 10650 PG 1175) "No artificial grass, plants or other artificial vegetation shall be placed or maintained upon the exterior portion of any Lot unless such installation complies with the applicable rules and regulations of the Committee or has been approved by the Committee. No more than ten percent (10%) of any Lot (excluding buildings footprint) shall be planted, covered or maintained in any material other than grass or other natural , living vegetation, unless approved by the Committee."
The CC&R's give us the right and privilege to use any natural, living vegetation, without Committee approval. That includes the use of perennial peanut. Florida statute 720.3035(5) also says: "Neither the association nor any architectural, construction improvement, or other such similar committee of the association shall enforce any policy or restriction that is inconsistent with the rights and privileges of a parcel owner set forth in the declaration of covenants or other published guidelines and standards..."
In addition, Florida statute 720.3075 (4)(b) prohibits the HOA from preventing property owners from implementing Florida-friendly landscaping, as defined in Florida statute 373.185. If sod won't grow where it is placed, then it's not in keeping with the Florida- friendly Landscaping principles.
Before we used the perennial peanut on our lot, we read about it as a sod substitute in an UF/IFAS publication on perennial peanut in the urban landscape. Click HERE for the publication. We researched, extensively, a groundcover that would look similar to St. Augustine grass, but wouldn't have the fungi and cinch bug issues. It had to be a groundcover, that when it was established, didn't need any fertilizer, would grow in sun and under the oak tree, didn't need regular mowing, and would thrive and grow without worrying about watering restrictions. Perennial peanut was the best choice.
We have been educating the board members about perennial peanut ever since. They refuse to admit that the perennial peanut is a great groundcover, and extremely suitable for our easement areas. Last spring the board installed zoysia grass on top of the perennial peanut. The perennial peanut, with only rain water, grew through the zoysia and is now flourishing. See the pictures on the Photo Gallery page. This is a perfect example of why we all should be using perennial peanut, or other Florida-friendly groundcover in the easements instead of zoysia or St. Augustine! Why would any sane and intelligent person believe that perennial peanut is a problem? We submitted several architectural applications to use perennial peanut in other places in our front yard. All of them have been denied. See the ACC Apps and Denials page for links to the documents.
"Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny." Edmund Burke
Architectural Control Meetings
Architectural control committee (ACC) meetings are required by Florida law (720.303(2)(a)) to be open to all homeowners and to be scheduled the same way as board meetings (720.303(2)(c)(3)). Up until the time the Sanctuary HOA filed the lawsuit against 9070, and even for a year or two after the filing, architectural control committee meetings were held whenever and wherever without any notice at all.
There are no ACC meeting minutes for many of the years. Homeowners are to be notified of when and where meetings will be taking place, and a sign in the yard isn't sufficient notice. Currently, architectural control meetings are noticed by a small sign stuck in someone's yard a day or two before the meeting.
Architectural Design Guidelines as of June 1, 2005
The original architectural design guidelines for the Sanctuary at Oak Creek state an exemption for applying for architectural requests. It is the 10% rule. Partial quote: "Alteration applications must be submitted...for the following:...landscaping changes (when changes consist of more than 10% of the existing landscaping)." The purpose of having a 10% rule is that homeowners wouldn't be needlessly submitting approval requests for smaller areas of their yards. It is YOUR yard and your lot-you are paying for the maintenance and upkeep; the ACC and board members are not paying for your landscaping expenses.
If you do happen to get a violation letter you won't be able to use the 10% rule as your defense. The committee will not believe you and will ask to measure your landscaping areas. But make sure you are there when they measure, because some committee members don't know how to read a tape measure! And if you give the committee your measurements proving it is less than 10%, you'd better give them a calculator. Click here to view non-confidential documents including 9070's calculations of the perennial peanut planted in the easement.