Briar Chapel was established as a community “to preserve valuable natural resources while developing a sustainable community that met the demands of a thriving local economy.” It was touted as an environmentally conscious and aware community, committed to sustainability efforts. Many people chose this community based on those values and principles. Over the past year, as we continue to hear the Board and Management express their commitments to these values, particularly in our common areas, our individual yard spaces have come under attack for the very practices that Briar Chapel was forged to protect and preserve. Homeowners are being cited for sustainable habitats and returning their yards to ecologically sound spaces for plants and wildlife. This practice is supported both by science and by environmental activists across the country, including local county experts. States are now passing laws that prohibit HOAs from disallowing native yards. Explain the contradiction of your expressed support of environmental best practices in this community, while you also support Design Guidelines that punish individual homeowners for carrying out such practices on their own properties. If this contradiction is problematic for you, please state as such and explain how you would go about creating parity and policies for individual homeowners that reflect our collective community values.From Jennifer Allran | Salt Cedar
Answers from Candidates:
- Kate Bice: I don’t feel that this is an all or nothing conversation as some in the community on each “side” will have you believe. There is room for all kinds of plantings and ecological design in yards. I think that there is a big concern that the BCCA is anti-native planting and in my opinion that is not the case. The way that I interpret the DRG, and the process is that homeowners can apply to have changes implemented in their yards and the DRG’s have practices that allow for an encourage these environmentally sustainable practices. I do, however, believe that there are maintenance standards that should be followed to keep yards looking neat and tidy. This has been done on a variety of homeowner lots that have “ecologically sound spaces” and should be, in my view, the standard we are looking to achieve.
- Bob Lijana: I am open to suggestions on how we might improve the design guidelines and/or their interpretation, and the process by which we manage them. However, we must have a process to figure out the process! One extreme is total disregard of the guidelines (not legal) and the other extreme is adjudicating them 100% as written (no room for evolution). This process is new to everyone – let’s take our time determining the best path forward, with as much constructive input as possible.
- Liz Rolison: I do personally support and utilize sustainable landscaping practices on my own property and am actively working towards adopting those practices that are commercially and financially viable in our community landscaping practices. That said, the Design Review Guidelines (DRGs) are part of our governing documents, were committed to by all homeowners when they chose to buy their homes in Briar Chapel, and as a board member this is the document we must follow until our developer relinquishes their veto authority to the BCCA and the board can begin to consider how the document should evolve. I believe the DRGs need to be better organized, inconsistencies clarified, and in some cases, there are some changes that need to be changed. The question is how to do this responsibly. I have recommended a homeowner survey aimed at gathering homeowner input on areas of the DRGs that need to be considered for change, particularly in the area of addressing sustainability and green practices. This was a concept heavily marketed to the homeowners in Briar Chapel and it is a value we must address in the DRGs. In addition to homeowner input, we need to look at data from the DRC applications and Covenants Compliance hearings that tells us what areas of the DRGs our homeowners are requesting consideration for waivers and variances. Together that should give us a better idea of the areas of the document that need to be considered for revision. I don’t advocate for us rushing into this process, but rather taking the time to gather the data and carefully determine how best to address these issues for the long term.
- William Weitz: I am not currently serving on the board. The recent push on covenants is what pushed me into running. I would like to expand use of native plants, minimize chemical use, and set new policies and priorities as a board.