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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


ARC regulations updated to provide clarity

By Greg Ellison

(March 26, 2020) The effort to clarify ambiguous sections in the association’s architectural guidelines is nearly complete, as the OPA Architectural Review Committee has updated the requirements which now await final approval at a subsequent meeting.

Board liaison Steve Tuttle said the committee spent about 18 months combing through the ARC guidelines, which date to August 2006 and was last revised in February 2010.

In addition to tweaking regulations for sheds, storage structures, fire pits and tree trimming, the updates also address alternative energy source design, sign placement and home-based businesses.

“John Dilworth on the ARC Committee is one of the key people,” he said. “He’s actually done all the leg work of producing the original changes.”

Tuttle also said OPA President Doug Parks and Board members Dr. Colette Horn and Camilla Rogers provided valuable insights and suggestions to the ARC Committee during the review process.

The revised guidelines limit the height of storage sheds to a single story.

“There was no requirement for the height of a shed,” he said.

The guidelines previously restricted sheds to one unit per lot with a maximum floor area of 120 square feet

“What we had showing up was people building two-story sheds,” he said. “That was never intended from everything we could tell by the ARC Guidelines originally.”

Tuttle stressed the updates would not be enforced retroactively.

“Anybody that’s got a two-story shed that’s basically accepted at this point,” he said. “It didn’t specifically say that it could only be a one-story shed, so people were doing what they thought was appropriate, which is fine.”

The revised guidelines require sheds to be single story with a maximum of 120 square feet in floor area and wall heights of up to eight feet.

Under the updated regulations, storage structures are limited to one per lot with less than 20 square feet of floor area and a maximum height of 78 inches.

The revisions also enhance common sense rules surrounding the use of fire pits on individual properties.

“When the former GM was here, there was a lot of questions about fire pits,” he said. “The new regulations clear up a lot of issues around … what’s an acceptable fire pit.”

Although OPA Declaration of Restrictions prohibit burning wood, leaves or refuse outdoors, properly installed “self-contained wood burning fire pits” are permitted.

Tuttle said rules for fire pits, which must first be approved by the Compliance Permit and Inspections Department, now outline the need for adult supervision.

“We’re a tight community. Properties are close together [and] we have a lot of trees,” he said. “You don’t want somebody starting a huge bonfire and burning up tons of pine trees.”

ARC revisions stipulate fire pits must be permanently installed, with homemade “portable” versions prohibited and pre-existing units not automatically grandfathered.

Tree-trimming rules now permit removal of limbs and foliage within one third of the total over a five-year period and permits property owners to opt to plant a different species if a tree is disease ridden.

Other updates include requiring lot owners to comply with state and county regulations when seeking to install alternative energy sources. Sign regulations now prohibit placement in OPA owned right of ways or easements.

In addition, the ARC updates limits home-based businesses to property owners, or tenants with owner sanction.

“The intent there was to clarify if you are a renter and you’re running a home-based business, there needs to be verification that the homeowner or the landlord is aware of what you’re doing,” he said.

Tuttle said the “user-friendly” updates would be posted online after final approval this week.

“We’re taking out some of the ambiguity where it showed up,” he said.