Question of Windows Upsets Neighbors

Question of Windows Upsets Neighbors

Fay Harker doesn’t want to live in Reston anymore.

Several years ago Harker planned an addition on her house. The original design conformed to Reston Association covenants and county requirements, but Harker’s builders did not follow that original design. After some neighbors complained, the homeowner’s association came out to inspect the addition. Harker’s home is still not approved.

"I don’t know when I’m ever going to get through with it," Harker said. "Somehow I don’t feel like this is it. I want to finish this so I can get out of Reston. This is just too much. They’ve turned neighbor against neighbor."

Reston Association has asked that Harker rebuild the addition according to the original plan. First, though, she needs to reapply for county approval. She has until mid-February to obtain the approvals and until the end of April to finish construction. If she misses those deadlines, Reston Association plans to file suit against her.

Marjorie Krueger, Reston Association design covenants manager, said covenant violations like Harker’s come up from time to time. In Harker’s case, said Krueger, changes were made to the number of windows and the style of windows installed in a breakfast nook. Reston Association wanted a bank of five windows ganged together, with no space in between them, on one wall of the nook. And on the another wall RA wanted three windows ganged together. Instead, Harker installed three individual windows on the long wall and two individual windows on the short wall.

"Also," Krueger said, "when she enclosed her garage and built a space over it, she built it much larger in terms of the height of the roof."

<mh>'Field Changes'

<bt>Reston architect Richard Newlon designed the original plan for Harker’s addition. He said he is familiar with both county and Reston Association building requirements and he agreed that field changes were made as Harker’s contractors built the addition.

"I don’t make a practice of designing projects that can’t be approved," he said.

Newlon is currently the president of the Reston Association Design Review Board, which decides whether or not a project conforms to the association’s aesthetic requirements. At the time he drew up the plans for the addition, though, he was not on the Design Review Board.

"Basically the DRB makes judgments with the design guidelines, based pretty much on aesthetics," Newlon said. "There are no real conflicts with the county. The county requirements are more nuts and bolts."

He said the county evaluates projects based on qualities like energy costs and structural integrity. The Design Review Board concentrates on how a project looks from the exterior. The board makes its decisions based on community input and a set of design rules.


<bt>"Reston is unique in that, for example, 50 feet across the line in Great Falls there are no guidelines," Newlon said. "But that’s part of what makes Reston Reston."

Krueger said an applicant will typically come before the Design Review Board with a conceptual building plan, then will pursue county approvals. After getting approval from the county, the applicant will come back to the Design Review Board, seeking approval for a finalized plan.

Harker has been in front of the Design Review Board several times, and was recently called to a meeting of the Reston Association legal committee. That committee said if she did not show some commitment toward revising the addition, they would be forced to take action.

"The expense is all going to rest on me," Harker said, referring to the amount of money it will cost her to rebuild the addition. "They [Reston Association] have nothing to lose."