Architectural Review

Property owners who are considering an exterior alteration to their house or property, or an in-home business or profession, should review the Town Center Village Covenants, particularly Sections 7.02 and 11.02, and the Town Center Architectural Guidelines. If there are any questions, please contact the Village Covenant Advisor or the Chairperson of the Architectural Committee.

A written application to the Town Center Architectural Committee is required for every new structure placed upon a lot, for most alterations made to existing structures, and for the conduct of in-home businesses and professions. The Guidelines were established: (1) To assist the resident in planning exterior alterations; (2) To indicate which types of alterations will be approved most expeditiously; (3) To ensure that an application will provide the TCAC with all necessary information to thoroughly evaluate the application as quickly as possible; (4) To encourage residents to assess the impact of proposed alterations on their neighbors.

Howard County requires a building permit and inspection for many types of alterations. The applicant is responsible for obtaining all permits and approvals from any relevant agencies such as the county, homeowners’ association, etc. Applications to said agencies may be submitted concurrently with the architectural application to save time on the project. Approval of the exterior alteration application by the Village does not authorize violation of any provisions of county, state, or homeowners’ association codes. Although the Committee assumes no responsibility for monitoring Howard County Building Codes, a known violation may be grounds for application disapproval. Residents should call the County at 410-313-2455 for more information.

Information on preparation and review of applications, appeal of Architectural Committee decisions, completion of projects, obtaining an updated Letter of Compliance, and Covenant Enforcement is provided below.

  1. APPLICATION PREPARATION
  2. REVIEW PROCESS
  3. APPEAL PROCEDURE
  4. COMPLETION OF PROJECTS
  5. LETTER OF COMPLIANCE (UPDATED)
  6. COVENANT ENFORCEMENT PROCESS
    1. APPLICATION PREPARATION
      1. Obtain a Village of Town Center Application for Exterior Alteration or Application for In-Home Business or Profession form from the Village office or TCAC member.
      2. Fill out the application as follows:
        1. Identification of location.All applications should include name, address, condominium if any, and home and work phone numbers of the applicant.
        2. Description of changes.
          1. Exterior alterations. Include the following information: a picture or detailed drawing of the proposed structural change including all dimensions; a site plan indicating the relationship of the structural or landscaping change to the applicant’s house, property lines, and all adjacent houses; a description of materials including color samples for paints; types and locations of plants for landscaping; and any other information pertinent to the alteration.
          2. In-Home businesses and professions also require written approval of the Architectural Committee. Refer to Section 11.02 of the Town Center Covenants and the Guideline on In-Home Businesses and give all information requested on the application, including vehicles to be used and parking and delivery requirements. Residents should be aware of County zoning regulations when considering a home business.
        3. Acknowledgment of adjacent property owners.Signatures of the property owners most affected by the proposed alteration are required. This is to ensure that, prior to the TCAC’s review, planned alterations are made known to adjacent residents. However, signatures do not indicate approval or disapproval and are not the deciding criteria used by the Committee.
        4. Owner signature.The owner(s) or the owner and tenant must sign and date the application following the “Owner Agreement” section.
      3. If you are subject to the regulations of a condominium or homeowners’ association, forward the completed application to your association for initial review. If you do not belong to an association, send your application to the Town Center Architectural Committee at the address shown on the form for review.
    2. REVIEW PROCESS
      1. Condominium/Homeowners’ Association Review
        1. Since most of Town Center’s housing is of the moderate-to-high density type, the condominium form of residential ownership is quite common and the boards of condominium and homeowners’ associations normally conduct their own review of applications in accordance with their by-laws. It should be noted, however, that review by a condominium or homeowners’ association does not constitute approval under the Village Covenants. Once an application has been approved by a condominium or homeowners’ association, the Town Center Architectural Committee is the sole reviewing authority at the Village level.
        2. If you are a condominium or homeowners’ association property owner, your association will conduct an initial review of your application. Once the association’s officers have approved your application, they will then forward it to the Town Center Architectural Committee for final review. The application must be signed by a member of the condominium or townhouse association board. If the work is to be done in stages a master plan must be submitted.
        3. In the interests of community cooperation, the TCAC will not accept any application of an association property owner until it has been reviewed and approved by the officers of the association.
        4. If you wish to appeal an application which has been disapproved by your condominium or homeowners’ association, make the appeal directly to the association, not to the Town Center Architectural Committee.
      2. Mixed-Use Structure Review
        1. A mixed-use structure combines commercial use and residential use. Because of the commingling of commercial and residential interests, EFFECTIVE AFTER ANNEXATION into the Town Center Community Association, General Growth Properties (and its successors) and the Town Center Community Association hold parallel review rights. Contact the Village Association for complete application procedures before beginning the application process.
        2. If you are a condominium or homeowners’ association property owner, your association will conduct an initial review of your application. The application must be signed by a member of the condominium association board of directors. Once the condominium or homeowners’ association’s officers have approved your application, it must be approved by both General Growth Properties and the Town Center Architectural Committee.
        3. The Town Center Architectural Committee and General Growth Properties must agree on and approve the final design.
        4. If you wish to appeal an application which has been disapproved by your condominium or homeowners’ association, or General Growth Properties, make the appeal directly to those entities, not to the Town Center Architectural Committee.
      3. Condominium/Homeowners’ Associations Review at all Lakefront, Crescent, and Warfield Triangle Neighborhood Developments
        1. EFFECTIVE AFTER ANNEXATION into the Town Center Community Association, General Growth Properties (and its successors) and the Town Center Community Association hold parallel review rights. Contact the Village Association for complete application procedures before beginning the application process.
        2. If you are a condominium or homeowners’ association property owner, your association will conduct an initial review of your application. The application must be signed by a member of the condominium association board of directors. Once the condominium or homeowners’ association’s officers have approved your application, it must be approved by both General Growth Properties and the Town Center Architectural Committee.
        3. The Town Center Architectural Committee and General Growth Properties must agree on and approve the final design.
        4. If you wish to appeal an application which has been disapproved by your condominium or homeowners’ association, or General Growth Properties, make the appeal directly to those entities, not to the Town Center Architectural Committee.
      4. Town Center Architectural Committee Review
        1. When your application is received by the Town Center Village office, it will be assigned a log number and passed to the Chairperson of the Architectural Committee. It will then be reviewed by the Committee in accordance with Section 7.01 of the Village Covenants and a final decision will be made based on your description of the proposed alteration in conjunction with the appropriate Guidelines. Decisions are usually rendered in one of three ways — approval, conditional approval, or disapproval. During this process, the Committee may elect to view the site, talk with the applicant and/or request additional information.
        2. Once the Committee has made a decision, it will note the decision on the application and return a copy to you. Any disapproval or conditional approval will be accompanied by a written explanation of the reasons for the disapproval. Applications which are disapproved may not be resubmitted to the Committee unchanged before the lapse of six months.
        3. In accordance with Section 7.03 of the Covenants, an application may be rejected on the basis of exterior design, appearance, materials, location, grading or landscaping plans, color scheme, finish, proportions, style of architecture, height, bulk or appropriateness, or any other matter which, in the judgment of the Architectural Committee, would render the proposed structure, structures, or uses inharmonious with the general plan of improvement of the property or with structures or uses located upon other lots in the vicinity.
        4. In any case where the Architectural Committee shall disapprove an application, it shall, if requested, make reasonable efforts to assist and advise the applicant in order that an acceptable proposal can be prepared and submitted for approval.
        5. In accordance with Section 7.05 of the Covenants, if the Town Center Architectural Committee fails to render a decision on any application within 60 days of receipt, the application will be considered approved as submitted and no further action is required.
    3. APPEAL PROCEDUREIn accordance with Section 7.01 of the Village Covenants, if the applicant disagrees with the decision of the Architectural Committee, the following process should be followed for an appeal of that action:
      1. File a written request for appeal to the Town Center Architectural Committee within 10 days after receipt of notice of their decision. The written request must be sent to:The Town Center Architectural Committee
        5430 Vantage Point Road
        Columbia, MD 21044
      2. The TCAC will set a date for review of the application acceptable to both resident and Committee and will notify the appellant. The applicant, the entire TCAC, and the Covenant Advisor shall be present at the appeal.
      3. The TCAC shall render a decision, in writing, usually within two weeks of the appeal. Their decision shall be final and binding on all parties.
    4. COMPLETION OF PROJECTS
      1. Work as expressed on the Exterior Alteration Application must be completed within six months after approval by the TCAC. Failure to complete the work within the prescribed period of time may cause the approval to be rescinded and resubmittal may be required. Extenuating circumstances should be brought to the attention of the TCAC.
      2. Any variance from the original approval terms of the application and the completed project require that an amendment to the application be submitted and reviewed by the TCAC. A major modification will require a new application and approval.
    5. LETTER OF COMPLIANCE (UPDATED)
      1. Upon receiving a request for an updated Letter of Compliance, the Covenant Advisor will inspect the property to verify compliance with the Covenants and the Exterior Alteration Applications of record. If the property is found in conformance, the letter will be issued.
      2. An updated Letter of Compliance will not be issued if there are any unapproved, improperly constructed, or incomplete alterations on the property.
    6. COVENANT ENFORCEMENT PROCESS
      1. Failure to abide by the Town Center Covenants and Architectural Guidelines may result in enforcement action. The TCAC may make periodic inspections of properties in the village to ensure that all exterior alterations have been approved and are consistent with applications as submitted and to ensure compliance with the Covenants for maintenance (Article VI of the Town Center Residential Covenants). However, all residents of the community must share in the responsibility for reporting possible Covenant violations. The TCAC will respond to complaints of alleged violations and complaints will remain anonymous.
      2. Alleged exterior alteration and maintenance violations will be processed as follows:
        1. Upon determination that a violation exists, the TCAC will recommend that the Village Board send a violation notice to the resident as prescribed in Sections 6.01 and 7.06 of the Town Center Residential Covenants.
        2. Upon receipt of a 15 day violation notice from the Village Board, the resident will be allowed 15 days to correct the violation.
        3. If the resident refuses or fails to take corrective action within the 15 day time period, the Columbia Association and/or the Town Center Community Association may enter upon the property in question and correct the violation under the authority granted in Section 7.06 of the Town Center Covenants. The cost of this correction will be a binding, personal obligation of the owner as well as a lien upon the lot in question.
        4. The Town Center Village Board may elect to refer a violation to the Columbia Architectural Resource Committee to determine whether legal action by the Columbia Association and the Town Center Community Association should be taken to enforce the Covenants.