Working towards a better Reserve at Sawgrass, together!
I hope all of you are doing well. I wanted to take a moment and send a note to everyone in the community regarding some feedback we have received about many homes are not being properly maintained or those who may have made changes that seem to be against the rules. Note that this letter is not going to any specific home, but is being sent to all residents here in the Reserve as a friendly reminder of the importance of knowing the rules and the process for violations. While we all want to work on the fun social activities and future plans to improve the common areas, we also must address a growing issue of violations, as these affect us all and can seriously harm property values around a neighborhood.
As a planned community, Reserve at Sawgrass has certain recorded covenants which require its owners to take certain actions to preserve the aesthetic nature and character of the community. These responsibilities can be found in our Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R’s) and Architectural Guidelines (ARCs). The Board of Directors of the Association also have certain duties and responsibilities outlined within these documents. One of those responsibilities is to enforce various covenants and responsibilities that are placed on the owners within the community through inspections.
We understand that most violations occur due to misunderstanding or ignorance of the rules, while others are perhaps due to a condition of which the owner was simply not aware. In any event, violation notices are simply the Association’s required effort to protect the rights and property values of every homeowner equally, and ensure we all follow the rules. This is one of the primary functions and responsibilities of the Association. The cooperation of each and every resident in this effort is expected and appreciated. As a reminder, when making a change to the exterior of your home or property, including fences, solar, pools, changing trees, etc., approval from the ARC is required beforehand. We have heard that some of you were told that “ARC approvals are not needed” or “You can make changes after closing until your account is set up with the HOA” from the sales staff for the builder, and even some vendors. This is all false- all the ARC and CC&Rs apply from the day of closing, and the homeowner is ultimately responsible for ensuring the approvals are in place before work commences. Hopefully this letter will help clarify, and if you ever are not sure, simply contact us and ask. We are here to help!
I’m sure every resident would like to follow the Rules and Guidelines set forth by our Documents, however, we also understand that at times they can be confusing as to what exactly the Standards are or mean. One of the goals of the new Board is to work with residents to identify and correct any existing Violations or oversights in regard to landscaping or Architectural Rules. Further, we will be working to update and clarify our Rules and Architectural Guidelines, inviting owner feedback to streamline them where possible, reduce the burden where we are able, and to make them easier to understand for everyone. However, until we finish that process over the coming months, all existing rules that we all agreed to when we moved here remain in place.
There have been recent community-wide inspections to address some of the issues that have been brought to our attention, in addition to updating the existing open violations to ensure as we begin this new chapter of our community, that all of our records are current and accurate. Inspections are done normally at least once per month and if we are notified of a specific issue, then that is inspected and verified within a few days. I’m happy to report that over 90 open violations were corrected and closed out, and there are many homes that are in compliance and are well-maintained. A big thank you to those residents as it helps everyone when we all do our part. Rather disappointingly, however, many more issues were observed, including many homes that have made fairly substantial modifications without any ARC approval, and some who have not maintained their lawns and landscaping for lengthy periods of time. Additionally, just because you see someone changed something does not mean it was approved. Always submit ARC requests for any changes!
The method of notification for any violation is through Violation Notices processed through FirstService Residential, our management company. The actual process for violations is detailed in our governing documents and it is followed for every violation. I realize no one likes to get a violation notice, however, this is simply the required method to bring issues to the attention of the homeowner. There is no fine associated with the first “Courtesy Notice” and once the violation has been resolved the file will be closed and no further action is required. If you receive a letter, please make the necessary corrections to avoid further escalation in the process. If you have questions on a notice you receive, or maybe are not sure how to correct the issue or need a little extra time, there are instructions on the letter of how to contact us. We want to work constructively with all owners on bringing our community back up to standards that we all can be proud of!
Again, please do not take offense if you receive a violation notice. Please be assured that inspections and enforcement are intended to be constructive in nature. The intent of the notice is simply to bring a rule violation to your attention so that it may be corrected in a timely manner.
We are also happy to introduce a new online ARC Request form on our community website – www.reserveatsawgrass.com/ARC – that will make it faster and easier to submit requests. Please utilize the new online form for any future requests. Most complete ARC requests (that have all the documentation required) are approved within a 7-10 day period of time, and currently the approval rate is about 95% of submitted requests are approved. Submitting an ARC before you make a change is not only required, but it helps you as a homeowner ensure that the work you are planning meets the guidelines and prevents costly mistakes and having to re-do work that is not allowed by the rules.
If you wish to read more about common violations and our violation process, check out this article “Common violations and how to avoid them” on our community website.
Now, back to some of the more fun things! We will be sending more communications over the coming weeks about upcoming Board meetings, initiatives and projects we will be starting, the progress of the turnover process wrap up with Beazer, social events that we are planning, as well as soliciting input from all of you on various topics and concerns. We also will be sending periodic tips out to homeowners to further engage the community and ensure everyone has access to important information.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to working on building a better Sawgrass, together!
President, Board of Directors
Reserve at Sawgrass HOA