"Someone is going to buy the polka dot pig. It will happen," Director Dan Blue told the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Board during their Tuesday, May 6 regular meeting.
Blue presented the Board with a set of guidelines for yard decorations that had been crafted by the Architectural Review Committee [ARC].
"There has been a lot of conversation about this, ad nauseum," Blue said. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We have tried to give a series of guidelines without going into what is pretty or not."
The proposed rules, if added to the existing architectural standards, would regulate the size, placement, and number of yard decorations, but not the "content."
Amending the SLWLA Rules and Regulations requires an initial approval by the board, called the "first reading," followed by a thirty-day opportunity for public input, after which the rule may receive final approval on "second reading."
Blue emphasized that the new rules would apply only to decorations in the yard, not to decorations affixed to the home or placed on the porch or deck.
"The ARC spent a ton of time on this one," he added.
Three Flower Pots in the Back Yard
Key elements of the proposed rules include:
• No yard decorations in the right of way or utility easement — i.e., within 30-35 feet of the edge of the street.
• No artificial plants.
• A maximum size of 48 inches long by 36 inches wide by 36 inches high.
• No more than three elements each in the front yard, back yard, and side yards.
• Decorations must be made of durable materials and well maintained.
• Landowners must seek approval from the ARC before installing yard decorations, submitting an application that includes a site plan, indicates the size of the decoration, and includes color photographs of the item.
• The above rules don't apply to holiday decorations placed in the yard, but those must be removed within thirty days after the holiday.
• Applications denied by the ARC may be appealed to the Board of Directors.
Despite the ARC's attempt to walk the line between regulating taste and maintaining the "natural wooded setting" of Seven Lakes West, the proposed rules met with some skepticism from Board members, who had received the document only four days prior to their meeting. Director Jim Pierman said he didn't recall receiving the document in his email.
Plenty of Questions
"If you take this definition into account, are we saying that a homeowner can only have three flower pots in their back yard?" Director Mercedes Herdrich asked.
"Only three big monster pots," Blue replied.
"It doesn't say 'big monster pots,'" Herdrich said, hinting that she might have more than three flower pots in her own back yard.
Both Watkins and Herdrich noted that some residents leave lighted holiday decorations up throughout the year, but only turn them on during the Holiday Season.
Blue reiterated that the proposed rule does not affect anything attached to the home — for example, Christmas lights along the eaves.
"This is not on the house," he said. "ARC is not involved in what you do on your deck."
"How do you handle school flags?" Director Chuck Watkins asked.
Community Manager Jeanette Mendence noted that flags are addressed in another section of the SLWLA Rules and Regulations.
Noting the restriction on placing yard art within thirty-five feet of a roadway, President Bruce Keyser said he had noted yard decorations within five or six feet of the road on his way to the meeting.
Blue responded that anything currently on the ground that has been there more than thirty days would be grandfathered in.
Pierman noted that the proposed rule may touch on -- or even conflict with -- existing rules, for example, regulations dealing with landscaping within the right of way or utility easement.
Give the number of questions raised by the proposal, Keyser asked to postpone the board's first reading vote until the regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, May 27. He noted that would not prevent the rule from receiving final approval at the end of June.
The board agreed to table the proposal to May 27.