Glebe Harbor Deed Covenants Explained Part 2

I am not an Attorney and the information provided is from my own experience / education, as well as my own research concerning Deed Covenants. This is the second post/article I have written concerning our governing documents. This specific explanation is being written upon request of others as well as my own concerns over remarks that have been recently written as well as spoken, by members of our Board of Directors in 2019.

As with all legal matters, if you need additional information concerning our covenants, I highly recommend you contact an Attorney who specializes in this type of law. From what I have been told and read, Judges are now leaning toward the property owner when it comes to “free use of land”. They are also becoming very critical in their decisions, if restrictive covenants are written in a broad language and subject to more than one interpretation.

As you can read from the picture above, this type of restrictive covenant is still in writing and given to new home owners in 2020. Even though this type of covenant is illegal, some communities have elected to leave them as they are, as it would be an extensive as well as costly process to have them removed. Personally, I think these communities should be forced to remove them or States should be forced to pass laws, to ease the burden of doing so. So for those that have asked me why we do not simple redo our covenants, this should answer your question.

In the July 2019 issue of the Glebe Pointer, our Civic Association President wrote:

“Two of our board members, (Name Removed by Dana Tucker) (Vice President) and (Name Removed by Dana Tucker) (Covenant Compliance Officer), have taken on the task of examining the GHCA covenants with the goal of assuring a consistent interpretation of the meaning of each covenant and how it applies within the community in the best way today. The covenants were written at the time the community was developed and the language cannot be changed. It can, however, be interpreted to be applicable to the ways in which we live in the 21st century”.

The statement our Present put in writing above, “It can, however, be interpreted to be applicable to the ways in which we live in the 21st century”, in my opinion is 100% incorrect! In fact, it is just the opposite. As I stated above, “From what I have been told and read, Judges are now leaning toward the property owner when it comes to “free use of land”. They are also becoming very critical in their decisions, if restrictive covenants are written in a broad language and subject to more than one interpretation”.

In the November 2019 issue of the Glebe Pointer, our Civic Association President wrote:

“Board members, (Name Removed by Dana Tucker) and (Name Removed by Dana Tucker), have examined and researched the covenants from the initial early documents establishing Glebe Harbor up to the current date. We now have a clear understanding of the meaning of each covenant and the subject matter included in each one. Our goal is to enforce the covenants where applicable in a clear, consistent, and equitable manner”.

At our December 7th, 2019 General Membership meeting, after the results were given by the Board Member assigned to this task concerning their research of our covenants, I asked if the Board was going to supply their interpretation of our covenants. Myself as well as others, were truly hopeful that as a Community, we would now have calcification concerning this subject. Honestly, it is hard for any member of any Association to seek guidance from their Board of Directors, when these very people have very little knowledge of the meaning themselves.

The Board Member that was a part of this research stated they were in the process of putting this information together and would let us know when it would be available. Another Board Member, who represents our Civic Association in legal matters quickly corrected this Board Members statement and stated that:

the Board would give no interpretation concerning our covenants and that our covenants would speak for themselves.

It now seems that after decades of non-enforcement of some of our covenants, the Glebe Harbor Civic Association Board of Directors have decided to start the process of learning what our covenants truly mean and how they can now enforce them.

It is my opinion that our Board of Directors have simply waited to long to try and enforce many of our covenants and past Board Members are just as guilty of non-enforcement of our covenants as well. It is the responsibility of any Board Members to inquire, as well as educate themselves, to what the extent of their duties consist of.

Some of our covenants, according to one of our Board Members have been barred by laches, due to non-enforcement. This same Board Member also represents our Civic Association concerning legal actions. The fact that this can happen to one covenant, means it can happen to other covenants as well. Some of our covenants have been superseded by Westmoreland County Code, and some have become obsolete or overridden by Federal Law.

Laches is the legal doctrine that an unreasonable delay in seeking a remedy for a legal right or claim will prevent it from being enforced or allowed if the delay has prejudiced the opposing party. … Laches is an equitable form of estoppel based on delay”.

As per Westmoreland County, the Glebe Harbor community falls under the R-2, Residential District classification. I will be referring to the Westmoreland County Zoning Ordinance Amendments adopted by the Board of Supervisors on March 13, 2006, with a effective date of April 12, 2006 and last amended on December 11, 2017.

Westmoreland County Code “1-1.6.3 titled: Conflict with Private Easements, Agreements or Covenants.

This Zoning Ordinance is not intended to abrogate, annul, or otherwise interfere with any private easement, agreement, covenant, restriction or other private legal relationship. However, where the regulations of this Zoning Ordinance are in conflict with, or more restrictive or impose higher standards than such easements, agreements, covenants or other private legal relationships, the regulations of this Zoning Ordinance shall govern. The County is responsible for enforcing this Zoning Ordinance; it does not enforce private agreements, easements, covenants or restrictions.

It is very important that you read your covenants very carefully. There are particular words you need to pay attention to. Both Westmoreland County and the State of Virginia, have legal definitions on what particular words mean, to prevent possible confusion, concerning specific codes.

A great example of this type of wording, is when you are married and you visit the DMV to register a new boat title. If you put the title in both names, there are two little words you need to understand. “Or” and “And”. If you use the word “or”, it means either spouse can sign the title, if you sell the boat. If you use the word “and”, it means that both signatures are required. I am listing our covenants in their entirety, as they can be found in the public domain doing a simple search under their own heading. Please click here to read part 3 where I have given my opinion on each of our covenants and how likely they can, or can not be enforced.

9 Comments

  • JR December 11, 2019 at 6:06 am

    I thought the county allowed carports.

    Reply
    • danatucker December 11, 2019 at 6:13 am

      They do, however, you still need to get a zoning permit, draw on your plot plan where it will be placed to make sure you meet the proper setbacks. If it is in the front of the house, it needs to be 60 feet from the closest part of the carport to the street, to the center line of the street. I will try and do a drawing to help explain what I am talking about.

      Reply
  • PO'ed December 11, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Does these restrictions apply to everyone in Glebe Harbor, even the houses that were first built?

    Reply
    • danatucker December 11, 2019 at 9:57 am

      Yes they do. The only difference is when the home was built. This would determine what version of the Westmoreland County Code would apply. It is called a “Grandfather Clause”. However, even if the home was build during an older version of the Code, anything done requiring a permit now, would have to be done to the most recent version, which is the one I listed in the beginning of this post.

      Reply
  • just wondering December 11, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Is there anything someone can do if they may have done something illegal?

    Reply
    • danatucker December 11, 2019 at 6:53 pm

      You will need to check with the Land Use Department of Westmoreland County. If you need to apply for a variance, you will need to fill out their form. It is $600 to apply and you have no guarantee it will be granted. If it is as simple as applying for a zoning permit for something like a shed or carport, then you may be charged three times the normal fee.

      Reply
  • Glebe Harbor Deed Covenants Explained Part 4. Written In January 2020 – GlebeHarbor.Com January 28, 2020 at 7:44 am

    […] giving me permission to post her response on glebeharbor.com under my explanation of our covenants part 2, as well posting her name. I did not take her up on her offer, but did tell her she could follow […]

    Reply
  • Glebe Harbor Deed Covenants Explained Part 4. – GlebeHarbor.Com January 29, 2020 at 4:39 am

    […] giving me permission to post her response on glebeharbor.com under my explanation of our covenants part 2, as well posting her name. I did not take her up on her offer, but did tell her she could follow […]

    Reply
  • Glebe Harbor Covenants Explained Part 1 – GlebeHarbor.Com February 3, 2020 at 7:24 am

    […] This is part 1 of a 4 part series where we will be taking about our covenants. You can read part 2 here. Your neighbor who lives on the inside of the curve, […]

    Reply

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.