Guidelines & Covenants
The Covenants of each
village are contained in a legal document that
is recorded in the land records of Howard County.
When the Covenants were filed, they became
a legal addition to each subsequent deed relating
to the property — including commercial real
estate — located within each Columbia village.
Since the Covenants stay with the property,
as property is purchased and resold, each new
owner accepts the Covenants as a stipulation
of the transfer of property ownership. This
process has continued through multiple transfers
of ownership resulting in the Covenants still
being in force today for all property located
within the confines of the Columbia villages.
The Covenants set exterior
alteration standards. These architectural
Covenants are a valuable community resource
through their protection of the aesthetic
environment of our neighborhoods and our property
The Covenant system is administered through the village community associations. Each village has an Architectural Committee (AC). While some villages in Columbia choose to implement a separate AC through an appointment process, others retain overall control of the process within the elected body of the village board. The day-to-day administrative requirements of the village Covenants are the responsibility of the village manager. To ensure that architectural matters get the attention they require, most villages have a Covenant advisor on their staff.
Since the Covenants are general in nature, each village has developed Architectural Committee Guidelines which provide more specific guidance as to the implementation of their village Covenants. Periodically, these guidelines are reviewed for potential revision. During the review process, village residents are invited to comment on proposed revisions and to provide additional input into the review. The guidelines provide the basis for approval or disapproval of applications for external alterations to property or in-home businesses. Copies of the guidelines for each village are available at the village association offices or by visiting the village web site at www.ColumbiaVillages.org.
There are always questions from residents about exactly what type of external alteration or in-home business requires an application for approval, what documentation is required with the application and other information relating to the application process. As a rule, if you are contemplating any type of external alteration to your home or property, consult your village's architectural guidelines to determine if you are required to submit an application for approval. If you are going to start an in-home business, an application must be submitted before you begin, and, in some villages, annually each subsequent year. If your question is still not answered through review of your village's architectural guidelines, please call your village Covenant advisor. The Covenant advisor can provide you with a great deal of information to help you successfully navigate the application and approval process.
It is vital that all residents support the process designed to keep their village an outstanding place to live. As a resident, you provide this support by the timely submission of required applications and the routine maintenance of your home and property. It should be noted that this support is not optional. If an external alteration is completed or an in-home business started without approval, the resident is subject to being cited for a Covenant violation. The villages make every attempt to resolve violations in a constructive manner. If this is not possible, the architectural committee has a number of resolution options, including joining with the Columbia Association in taking legal action against the resident. While very few violations require court action, past cases that have gone to court have consistently resulted in the Covenants being upheld.
The architectural Covenants and guidelines are a benefit to the whole community. If you need information about the specific guidelines in your village, please call your village community association.
Covenant Advisers are members of the Village Association staff. Questions concerning exterior alterations, in-home businesses, Covenant enforcement or violations and any other Covenant-related questions can best be answered by your Covenant Adviser. He/She works directly with the Architectural Committee and the Resident Architectural Committee.
Feel free to contact your Village Covenant Advisers anytime.
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