ARC Tree-Cutting Policy

12/21/16

The board has been considering the “Requirements” statement of the Architectural Review Committee (ARC).  This committee is one of our most hard-working and it is the only Homeowners Association Committee called for by The Springs Covenants.  In general, the board has found that the “Requirements” are widely accepted and followed within our community, contributing to the success of The Springs in maintaining the beauty and sustainability of our natural environment while governing our infrastructure, recreational facilities, and residences in a similarly orderly and sustainable fashion.

The one provision of the ARC requirements that we hear about most often from property owners is the policy governing removal of trees.  This ARC requirement comes directly from our Covenants.  Article 21 of our “Restrictive Land Covenants” says that “Except within the building site of [sic] within 20 feet of the main dwelling, no trees of any kind in excess of 6 inches in diameter at ground level may be removed from any lot without prior approval of the Committee.” 

ARC Requirement #17 says “Except within the building site (unless within 20′ of the main dwelling), no trees of any kind in excess of 6″ in diameter at 3 feet above ground level may be removed anywhere on the lot without prior approval of the ARC.  Dead trees may be removed anywhere on the lot, but these must be marked orange ribbons [sic] for ARC review prior to cutting.  Variances may be requested from the ARC for reasons such as drainage field, driveway or well site.”

After a meeting between the board and the ARC, conversations with many property owners, and extensive discussion within the board, we are inclined to revise the ARC Requirements on this topic.  We are writing now to solicit input from all property owners and to build the widest possible consensus around the new requirement.  The main issues of contention appear to be the width of perimeter that may be clear-cut around the residence and the circumstances under which residents may cut trees solely to improve their scenic views of the countryside surrounding High Rock Mountain.  The first issue entails judgments about the fire safety provided by that perimeter and the risk that especially tall trees may pose to the residence if blown over in a storm or other force of nature.  The second issue entails a delicate balance between the resident’s right to enjoy the view from High Rock Mountain (especially for residents high up the mountain) and the community’s right to keep our mountain from being denuded by large patches of clear-cutting.  Extended cutting runs the risk of both an aesthetic eye-sore and enhanced danger from erosion.

With these concerns in mind, the board has adopted the following provisional language for the ARC Requirement on tree-cutting:

  1. Few assets of The Springs are as precious to our community as our trees.  It is the general policy of The Springs HOA to preserve as many healthy trees as possible in our community and to encourage the nurturing of new trees, consistent with safety, residential development, and aesthetics.  Except within the building site on individual properties (within 30′ of the main dwelling), no trees of any kind in excess of 6″ in diameter at 3 feet above ground level may be removed anywhere on the lot without prior approval of the ARC.  Dead trees may be removed anywhere on the lot, but these must be clearly marked and approved by the ARC prior to cutting. Variances may be requested for reasons such as drainage field, driveway, or siting of wells and septic fields.  The ARC will consider requests to remove a small number of trees (normally less than ten) to enhance the scenic view from the property.  Residents who disagree with the findings of the ARC on any of these issues may appeal their requests to the HOA Board.  Except in extraordinary circumstances, topping of trees will not be authorized.

If you have any questions or comments on this revision of our ARC Requirements, please feel free to call or email me (336/859-2795, alex.roland@duke.edu) or contact the full board.

Alex Roland for the HOA Board