1. I have never belonged to a Homeowners Association before, what is it?
Our Cobblestone NW Homeowner Association is a corporation formed by the original builder, Riverside Homes, for the purpose of marketing, selling and managing of homes and lots in our subdivision. In 2008, Riverside Homes turned the Association over to the owners when it decided not to build here any more. Membership in the Cobblestone NW HOA was/is a condition of purchase, as was/is agreement to follow the Conditions, Covenants and restrictions, the association Bylaws, and other governing documents.
So we, the owners, are the Association.
2. What is its purpose?
The purpose of the Association is to provide for maintenance of the common areas, including the storm water treatment system and to preserve the look and feel of the development that attracted us to it in the first place. The goal is to preserve and improve the value of the property and the quality of life here.
3. Where does it get its authority?
The source of authority for the Association lies in the Governing Documents, including the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions which encumber each parcel in Cobblestone. The CC&Rs apply to whoever owns the property, and owners cannot opt-out. The official documents giving this authority are filed with Clark County, and at any property closing are revealed to the buyer and are endorsed as part of the process. So, all of us, as homeowners, have signed a contract to abide by them.
4. Is the HOA registered with the State of Washington?
Yes, the Association is registered with the State of Washington, Secretary of State as a non-profit corporation. The registration (UBI) number is 602-450-375 in case you want to look it up.
5. Who runs the Homeowners Association?
The Cobblestone NW Homeowners Association is run by us, the owners. A volunteer Board of Directors, elected during Annual Meetings by the homeowners, is charged with managing the day-to-day concerns of the Association, meeting legal requirements, clarifying issues, enforcing conditions and restrictions, proposing and managing the budget, and carrying out all other duties assigned by the Governing documents. From the Board of Directors, an Association President and Treasurer are chosen. Vice President and Secretary are then selected by the Board. Each has duties that keep the organization running smoothly.
The volunteer Architectural Control Committee, provided for in the CC&Rs, controls whatever structure changes are being proposed by owners, and other committees are formed by the Board for other tasks, as needed.
6. Who is on the Board of Directors right now? Who are the officers?
The names of those currently on the Board of Directors and the Officers are on the Cobblestone website at http://cobblestonenwhoa.com
7. Does the Homeowner Association have the right to tell me what I can and cannot do to my own property?
Yes, to a certain extent. The Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions that we all agreed to follow define the extent of what the Association can do. The CC&Rs are a contract you have made with all of the other homeowners. It binds you, but it also binds the others to protect you. The Homeowners Association is required to enforce that contract.
8. Can the Homeowners Association be disbanded?
The CC&Rs, and thus the Homeowner’s Association are effective in perpetuity, so unless the laws change in the State of Washington, the Homeowner Association cannot be disbanded. Amendments can be made to the CC&Rs with a positive vote of 75% of the Total Association vote, but cannot be amended to delete the obligation of the Association to maintain the common areas, or to delete the obligation to collect money to accomplish this without formal approval of Clark County.
9. What laws and documents govern Homeowners Association?
The Cobblestone NW HOA Governing Documents include
- State of Washington, Chapter 64.38 RCW Homeowners Associations
- The Articles of Incorporation
- The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs)
- The Conservation Covenant Running with the Land
- They Bylaws of Cobblestone NW Homeowners Association
- Board Resolutions enacted per the CC&Rs
Architectural Control Committee (ACC)
1. What does the Architectural Control Committee do?
The Architectural Control Committee consists of three members appointed by the Board of Directors. The goal of the ACC is to preserve the look and character of the Cobblestone community thereby maintaining and improving our home values and quality of life here.
The ACC is responsible for investigating, considering, and approving or rejecting any plans to construct, alter, add, refurbish or erect any structure of any nature, to be placed or commenced on any part of the Community. Plans and specifications are to include the nature, kind, shape, size and height, architectural design and detail, materials, workmanship, colors, location on site, improvement and site grade elevations, and site landscaping. The ACC will consider the architecture, design, layout, landscaping, energy conservation measures, fence detail, and relationship of dwelling to adjacent dwellings and existing trees and all other features of the proposed improvement for consistency with the requirements and guidelines of the CC&Rs, the Plat and any design guidelines.
The ACC is the sole arbiter of plans submitted to it and may withhold approval for any reason, including aesthetic considerations, and it can demand the halt any construction in violation of approved plans or any unapproved construction. The owner, not the ACC is responsible for determining if the plans are structurally adequate and to obtain any required County permits.
2. Who is on the Architectural Control Committee?
The names of the current members and their contact information is on the Cobblestone website at http://cobblestonenwhoa.com
3. Can I paint my house or trim a different color?
Any change in exterior trim, shutter or door color must be approved by the ACC in advance. The ACC also has a listing of colors that have been used in the past.
4. Can I build a different or taller fence?
The CC&Rs restrict fence height to no more that 6 feet. Any fence changes must be approved, in advance, by the ACC for compatibility in terms of design and color.
5. Do I need the ACC approval to remove/replace plants in my yard?
No, you do not need ACC approval for removing/replacing plants.
6. Do I need ACC approval to build/expand a deck in my back yard?
Yes, you should have ACC approval before building or expanding your deck, particularly if it will be elevated, or will be seen from the streets.
1. Can the restrictions be changed?
Yes, the restrictions can be changed by positive vote/petition of 75% of the Total Association Vote.
2. Can I put up political signs in my yard?
Yes, the State of Washington Code provides that political signs can be displayed during primary and general elections. Signs are not permitted for local elections. Other restrictions on number, size, etc., may apply.
3. Can I build or install a shed on my property?
Sheds within street view:
The ACC must review shed plans, in advance, to ensure that the style is in keeping with Cobblestone architectural style and will consider the following characteristics:
- Compliance with Clark County Code
- Size and shape
- Color (must match color scheme of house)
- Materials of construction
- Foundation required for shed
- Placement of shed
- Number of sheds allowed
- Water diversion to neighbor’s property
The ACC will reject styles that contrast with the architecture of the neighborhood. All sheds must be kept in good repair. Any sheds within street view that are not kept in good repair or emit odors will be subject to enforcement action by the HOA Board to correct the issue(s) without further ACC consultation.
Sheds out of street view:
In general, ACC will not review these plans, unless requested by the owner, but will review complaints from neighbors that can readily view the shed from their own property. Neighbors will have 30 days from construction completion to lodge complaints about color or style of the shed. The ACC will investigate and recommend Board enforcement action to correct the ssue if the color or shed architecture contrasts with the look of the neighborhood or, in the opinion of the ACC would reduce the home value of the complaining neighbor.
On an ongoing basis, the ACC will also review complaints from neighbors regarding any sheds that are not kept in good repair or which emit odors. Neighbors can submit complaints to the ACC any time after construction. The ACC will recommend any enforcement action by the Board to correct the issue if, in the opinion of the ACC, the lack of repair or odor in any way reduces the home value of the complaining neighbor.
4. Where can I put my trash, recycling and yard debris carts?
Your trash, recycling and yard debris carts are not to be visible from the street. There may be other solutions, but you can store them inside your garage, behind your fence, or in an area specially screened from the street.
5. Can I display a flag?
Yes, the State of Washington code provides that United States Flags may be displayed, providing it is displayed the manner prescribed by the Federal flag display law, 4 U.S.C. Sec 1 et sec.
6. Can I put up holiday decorations?
Yes, seasonal decorations may be displayed, but should be taken down a in a reasonable length of time.
7. Can I put up a TV antenna?
Generally, outside TV antennas are not permitted, but satellite dishes can be installed as long as they are properly screened, mounted on the back of the house or the back roof, out of sight of the street in front of the house. There may be other alternatives, too. Check with the ACC.
8. Can I put up a clothes line?
Clothes lines are not permitted if they can be seen from any street.
9. Can I park my trailer or RV in the driveway?
No, trailers cannot be parked on driveways or any other part of the neighborhood. An exception (for 4 hours) is when the trailer is being loaded or unloaded before and after use.
10. Am I responsible for maintenance on the side of my corner lot?
Yes, owners of corner lots are responsible for maintenance of fences, sidewalks, plantings or other features along the sides of their houses.
11. Am I responsible for the plantings between the sidewalk and the gutter along my house?
Yes, the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of the space between the sidewalks and the gutters
12. Can I raise chickens or rabbits in my back yard?
No, livestock cannot be raised on the property in Cobblestone. Some animals, however, may be classified pets, and if not a nuisance, or smelly, may be allowed. It’s best to ask ahead of time.
13. How long can I leave Christmas lights up?
There are no set guidelines on how long they can be left up, but they should be taken down shortly after New Years Day at the latest
14. Can I put up “for sale” or “for rent” signs in front of my house?
“For Sale” signs are permitted by the CC&Rs but may have size and placement restrictions. “For Rent” signs are not allowed. The ACC should be consulted.
15. Can I fence in my front yard?
Generally, fences are not permitted in front of the corner of the house. The ACC can make exceptions for good reason.
16. Can I run a business in my home?
Certain home businesses are allowed in Cobblestone, but they must not materially increase congestion, nor result in more parking on the streets. The County Code does not allow a flow of customers into and out of the house, and restricts to two, the number of additional vehicles.
17. Can I have a yard sale?
As an event, a one or two-day yard sale would be permitted, but a long-term yard sale would be deemed a home business/occupation and would likely not be permitted. Clark County also has laws governing garage sales.
18. What do I do about a barking dog?
The first best answer is to talk to the owner to see if the issue can be resolved. Second, the HOA can address the problem as a nuisance through the restriction enforcement process. This will require some logging of the time and duration of the annoyance by the homeowner. The last would be to report the issue to the County Animal Control office. There is a County form for that and it requires the cooperation of other neighbors similarly annoyed.
19. Where can I park if I don’t have room in my garage and/or driveway?
Many people have been dealing with this issue. First, each house has at least 4 parking spaces – two in the garage and two in the driveway. For some houses with 3-car garages, there are 6 parking spaces. Any overflow must be parked outside of the Cobblestone development. Some residents are parking on adjacent NE 20th Avenue or NE 159th Street.
20. What can I do about dog poop on my lawn?
Identify who is letting their dog poop on your lawn and speak with them about it. If it continues, log and/or photograph the incidents and dog owners and report it to the HOA for action. There is also the final option of pursuing it through the Clark County Animal Control system.
21. How do you define a “commercial” vehicle?
The County has a different definition for “Commercial Vehicles” than Cobblestone. For Cobblestone purposes, “Commercial Vehicles” are determined in the sole discretion of the Board considering one or more of the following factors:
- Vehicles with exposed/uncovered business advertising
- Trucks rated over Class 3 (over 1 ton)
- Flatbed trucks
- Stake side trucks
- Box panel (enclosed) trucks
- Vehicles with ladder/pipe racks/holders
- Trucks with utility bodies
- Trucks with mounted tool boxes (except cross bed storage boxes behind the cab)
22. Who does the fence that borders my property belong to? Who has to maintain it?
The fence that borders your property and faces the common areas belongs to you and it is up to you to maintain/replace it. The fence between you and your neighbors may belong to you, to your neighbors, or both you and your neighbors, but it does not belong to the HOA for maintenance purposes.
1. Who is responsible for enforcing the restrictions?
The HOA 5-member Board of Directors is responsible for enforcing the restrictions and other terms of the Governing Documents.
2. What are the steps in the restriction enforcement procedure?
There are several formal steps to the enforcement procedure with amicable resolution of the issue being sought at each step. Notices are delivered through the USPS.
Courtesy Notice – Formally notifies homeowner of a specific infraction or infractions, and gives 30 days to correct the issue(s). Homeowner can request a hearing before the Board of Directors.
Notice to Correct – Notifies homeowner of a fine being levied and requires that the infraction be corrected within 30 days. Homeowner has a right to a Board hearing on the fine.
Demand Letter – Notifies homeowner of additional, accelerated fine and interest and demands payment in full. Owner is notified that the account will be turned over to collections in 30 days.
Collections – Account turned over to Collections Agent who will begin the collections process, including putting a lien on the property, and garnishment initiation.
Legal Action - The Board may also take other legal actions to resolve the infraction such as “cease and desist”, injunctions, lawsuits.
3. I just received a restriction reminder. Am I in trouble?
Not yet. The “gentle” reminder is to bring to the homeowner’s attention that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Usually, but not always, a reminder is sent out after multiple observations of the same infraction.
The “reminder” is not a part of the formal enforcement process and may come in the mail or by email if we have the homeowner’s email address.
4. Are the restrictions enforced uniformly, or am I being singled out?
The Board does its best to ensure that all homeowners are treated fairly and equally. No-one is being singled out or treated differently.
5. Does someone patrol the neighborhood looking for restriction violations?
Yes, usually a member of the Board or the ACC. Sometimes, photos are taken to ensure accurate data and to provide the materials required for successful collections.
6. What will happen if I don’t follow the restrictions?
Continued restriction infractions will lead to notices, fines or other legal actions. After all, everyone who owns a house in Cobblestone agreed to follow the Restrictions when they bought their houses.
7. How come I get a restriction reminder when some of my neighbors are doing the same thing?
If you neighbors are doing the same thing, chances are they are also in the enforcement process and you just don’t know it. Contact a Board member and talk with him/her about it.
1. What do I need to do if I want to rent my property?
The decision to rent is solely up to the homeowner, however, the tenants must also follow the restrictions, same as all other homeowners. The CC&Rs do provide for a three-month minimum lease duration for renters, in order to prevent high turnover, and also require tenant registration by the owner with the HOA.
2. What if my tenants do not follow the restrictions?
It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that tenants understand and follow the restrictions. If a tenant does not, since the HOA has limited leverage to get tenants to comply, it is the owner who will receive the enforcement notices and ultimately, any fines.
3. What are the most common issues with tenants?
The biggest issues we have with renters are parking on the street, and maintenance of the landscaping. Once in a while we have issues with garbage cans left out, and with garage doors open when not in use. Dogs barking and waste disposal can also be an issue.
4. What should I have in my lease to protect myself if my tenants do not follow the restrictions.
Owners who rent should consult an attorney about what should be in the lease agreement. The Owner may want to consider a “fine payment clause”, and/or termination clause in the rental agreement that can be enforced if the tenant does not follow the restrictions. Otherwise the owner will be stuck with any fines or be subject to any other enforcement actions such as injunctions, cease and desist orders, etc., that the HOA may take.
5. Is there a restriction on the number of rental units?
No, there is no restriction on the number of rental units in Cobblestone.
6. Is there a minimum lease duration?
Yes, all leases must have a minimum term of 3 months.
1. When are the Board of Directors meetings held?
The CC&Rs require that a Board of Directors meeting be held at least once per Quarter. Currently, the Board is meeting every other month, generally on the second Wednesday of the month. The schedule of Board Meetings is posted on the Cobblestone website.
2. Can anyone come to the BOD Meetings?
Yes, the Board Meetings are open meetings, so any homeowner or homeowner’s agent can attend.
3. When is the Annual Homeowners Meeting?
The Board is required to hold an Annual Homeowners Meeting. Currently, it is held in November, at the Salmon Creek Grange.
4. What takes place at the Annual Homeowners Meeting?
At each Annual Meeting there is an election for one or more Board Members, an update on HOA activity, and an open discussion of any topics the participants want to address. In order to hold the Annual Meeting, 25% of the homeowners must attend in person or by proxy to have a quorum.
Dues and Assessments
1. How are the dues determined each year?
Generally the annual budgeting steps include:
Updating the capital reserve study
Soliciting contract updates and/or bids
Drafting a proposed budget based on historic spending and new input, complete with proposed dues for the following year.
Approval of the proposed budget and dues by a majority of the Board
Ratification of the approved budget and dues by the homeowners at a Special Budget Ratification Meeting.
Sending dues invoices to all owners.
2. What if I can’t pay my dues on time?
If you find you cannot pay your dues on time, contact either the HOA President or Treasurer to discuss possible payment plans.
3. What if I don’t pay my dues at all?
Typically, dues are payable by January 31. If not paid by end of January, a reminder will be sent out. If not paid by mid-February, a $25 late fee will be levied. If not paid by end of February, a demand letter will be sent out and interest will be charged for February and ongoing until paid. If unpaid at the end of March, the account will be turned over to collections.
4. Who manages collections for the HOA when people don’t pay their dues assessments or fines?
Our collections agent is Vial-Fotheringham, LLC, who specializes in HOA law and runs a collections process for many HOAs. The legal cost for collections is borne by the owner who is the focus of the collections process, per the CC&Rs
1. Why doesn’t the HOA maintain the parkland between the East and West parts of Cobblestone?
The land between the East and West parts of Cobblestone is not actually parkland – it is wetlands. With the exception of the playgrounds and the paths, it is not a play area nor a park, but a water detention and distribution system. The County is very strict about what can be done in the wetlands because they were created to slow down water flow and to settle and filter out impurities before the water reaches the Columbia River.
2. Who provides legal assistance to the HOA?
Legal assistance is provided by Vial-Fotheringham, LLC, of Portland, OR
3. Does the HOA have insurance?
Yes, the HOA holds two different insurance policies it purchases with homeowner dues. One is a general policy that primarily covers liability insurance for the common areas. The other is Director and Officer liability insurance to protect the volunteer Directors and Officers from lawsuits