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  • Valli Vue

Legal Advice on Front Set Back Line


 

23.07.05_Legal Advice
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Valli Vue Estates Property Owners Association


Question posed to legal:


The CC&Rs for Valli Vue Estates refer to a front building set-

back line for the storage of recreational items. Please define

front building set-back line.


Storage. All boats, trailers, campers, motorcycles, snow machines, all-terrain vehicles, and cross country vehicles of any type, midget cars, and all similar types of property must be stored, kept, located, and maintained behind the front building set-back line and no such property may be stored, kept or maintained on any street in the subdivision. (emphasis added).


The phrase “front building set-back line” is not a defined term in Article 1 of the Declaration (the definitions section). However, Article V, Sections 2 and 3 of the Declaration, regulate buildings in the Association and help clarify the meaning of this phrase.


The Declaration defines setbacks and states that “No building shall be located on any lot nearer than 30 feet to the front lot line.” [Article V, Section 3(A)]. As such, the front building set-back line is 30 feet. Consequently, no items may be stored on a Lot within the 30 feet to the front lot line.


This conclusion is supported by Article V, Section 2, which provides that, “it being the intention and purpose of the covenants to assure that all dwellings shall be of a quality . . . substantially the same or better than that which could be produced on the date these covenants are recorded.” (emphasis added). And appraisals and valuations are based on those “prevailing on the date these covenants are recorded.” (emphasis added). Because the phrase, “on the date these covenants are recorded” is used twice in this section, it indicates that the standard “on the

date the covenants were recorded” is the standard to be used. As such, the logical conclusion is that the “front building set-back line” is the 30 feet defined by the Declaration, not the Anchorage Municipal Code which may change over time. This conclusion is further supported by the fact that the MOA code is only mentioned in the Declaration with regard to sewage disposal (not setbacks). If the developer had wanted to use the MOA code for setback requirements, it could have done so, but didn’t.


It appears that the purpose of this storage provision is to maintain the aesthetics in the neighborhood so that property values are not diminished by the storage of items in front of the house. By requiring storage of items to be behind the “front building set-back line,” front yards are kept clear and the neighborhood looking uncluttered.


Of course, there is some flexibility with this rule. The “Architectural Control Committee shall be empowered to resolve any question regarding appraisals and valuations.” [Article V, Section 2]. And the “Architectural Control Committee may reduce the [setback minimums] on individual lots which present development problems due to topography or lot sizes.” [Article V, Section 3(D)]. So if any particular Lot has limitations due to its topography or lot size, the Board or ACC could grant a variance and shorten the “front building set-back line” in those cases (which may be limited to storage allowances). This would allow storage of items in front of the building in

expressly approved cases that meet the requirements, especially where the Board determines that appraisals and valuations would not be negatively affected.


As indicated by Article V, Section 9, the purpose of Architectural Control is to maintain “harmony” in the external aesthetics of the community. Hopefully the Board is able to achieve harmony in this instance.


Please let us know if you or the Board have any further questions.

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