Dear Somerset Neighbors:
Summer is a busy time of the year for the Covenants Review Committee (CRC), and its members have been working diligently. As a standing committee of the Somerset Community Association (SCA), the CRC is comprised of three SCA Board members and two non-board members, all of whom were appointed directly by the SCA. The SCA is kept informed of CRC activities through monthly board reports, and oversight is maintained by three SCA Board members serving on the committee.
The CRC assists Somerset residents in matters regarding interpretation and compliance with the terms of the Covenants in the Somerset area; it has a duty to consider all remodel applications that it receives. It is the CRC's responsibility to apply the Covenants in a fair and unbiased manner. This requires a delicate balancing of owners' vegetation rights, housing construction rights, and view rights. The CRC has thoroughly researched and examined, with legal counsel, the issues relevant to the consistent application of the Covenants, including pertinent court cases. The CRC process in doing so is deliberate and more transparent than the previous norm. Each application is carefully considered by all five CRC members before they take a vote and render a decision.
In a couple of recent/current remodel cases, several opposing neighbors teamed up and tried to preempt the CRC decision by threatening legal action and/or the removal of SCA Board members before the CRC could issue a decision and in one instance, before the final plans were even submitted. Neighbors' input, pro or con, on a remodel application is legitimate and useful. However, threats of legal action, threats to remove SCA Board members, and other extreme reactions in an effort to preempt the CRC from the completion of an independent and unbiased review could particularly undermine the legitimacy of the result the reactions were intended to obtain.
The Washington courts have supported this position. The decision in Riss v. Angel, a Washington Supreme Court case, illustrates what can result from actions to prevent an ultimate CRC decision that might — or might not — be an approval. Sending threats to obtain a particular CRC result is liable to result in unintended legal and financial consequences for those participating in or ratifying the unreasonable or arbitrary decision.
If you’d like to read the Riss case, you can access it here:
We want to assure you that the CRC acts as a neutral third party in all the applications it reviews. It acts as an advocate for all Somerset residents and for the Covenants themselves. The CRC will execute its duty conscientiously and ensure its decisions are considered sound. If, for example, an unhappy remodel applicant or a neighbor challenges future decisions in court, the CRC is confident these decisions will be found to have been made reasonably and in good faith.
The CRC members appreciate and welcome the involvement and input they receive from neighbors in all cases, and they carefully review and consider all materials received. If you have any questions about the procedures or the information in this article, please contact the CRC at CRC@somerset98006.org. Thank you for supporting the CRC process for the continued beauty and value of our Somerset properties.
Covenants Review Committee
Somerset Community Association