Once our houses have been built and we are living in our Woodstream community, it is important that we all keep in mind the various rules which exist to protect our community and our respective investments. The following are examples of some of the more common questions that are asked by people in the community, together with answers to such questions as set out in the deed restrictions and covenants registered on title to our properties. While these answers are intended to provide some guidance, they do not replace the formal rules and, in the instance of any discrepancy, the formal rules (of course) take precedence.
I want to do some major landscaping work on my property this summer. Is there anything in particular that I should be aware of?
Our community, like all newer subdivisions, has been engineered so as to ensure that the normal water run-off from our properties is such that it does not negatively impact our neighbours’ ability to enjoy their properties. As a result, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Changing the slope of your property is not permitted, especially if it alters the drainage pattern of the lands so as to impact on neighbours, etc.
- Ditches and swales are to be maintained (not filled in) and must be kept clear of debris so as to permit drainage.
We love our trees, but a few are dying and we want to cut them down and replace them. What are the rules?
Our deeds actually require each of us to plant and maintain at least one tree on our front yards, within 2.5 metres from the street limit and at least 2.5 metres from the driveway. In addition, there are restrictions on the cutting down of trees. Specifically, no living tree greater than 4 inches in diameter can be cut down (except in relation to erection of a building or the installation of a septic system) without the consent of WSOA. As well, as indicated above, the use of trees as a “hedge” requires prior design approval by WSOA. Finally, there are specific restrictions on the planting of trees on waterfront properties.
We noticed that there are very few street lights in the subdivision. For safety and esthetics, what are the rules regarding lighting?
To improve safety in our community and to add to the esthetic appeal, each of us is required to install and maintain two automatic photo-cell operated lawn lamps at the edge of the lane way and within 1.5 metres of the street limit.
We have lived here for a few years and it’s time for some renovations. What do we need to do?
To protect all of our investments, just as the original construction of our homes required design approval, so too does the construction of any improvement to the home or the grounds. Specifically, no addition (including shed or deck), fence (including hedge) or other structure can be erected on the lands without prior design approval of the WSOA design review committee, the general mandate of which is to ensure that the community continues to develop in a manner which will make all of us proud and will protect all of our investments. Plans (including specifications, elevations and exterior colours and materials) must be pre-approved and work must be completed in accordance with such plans.
We own waterfront property in the community. What are our rights and responsibilities?
While the owners of property on the lakes and ponds in our community have a direct link to these bodies of water, it is important to remember that the lakes and ponds are an integral component of the community and important to all of us. This is one of the reasons that our community has implemented a “no pesticide” and “organic fertilizer only” policy (see below), so that the quality of our water can be maintained. It is also why there are certain restrictions in place in respect of development of the waterfront. Specifically:
- The waterfront itself cannot to be altered in any way without the consent of WSOA
- No boathouses, docks or rafts are permitted without the consent of WSOA.
We have invested a lot of money and time first in building our home and now in its maintenance and upkeep. What rules exist to ensure that others must do the same?
While everyone admittedly has a different idea of exactly what an “acceptable” standard is in terms of what our homes should look like and how we should maintain our properties, our deed restrictions give us a baseline and provide some guidance by specifying the following:
- No external television antennae are permitted.
- Satellite dishes must be adequately screened from view from road and neighbouring properties, and are not to be installed without prior consultation with and written approval of WSOA.
- No exterior clotheslines are permitted unless adequately screened.
- No signs, billboards or other advertising materials are permitted without prior WSOA approval.
- No house, gardens or grounds are to be left in an unsightly or untidy condition.
- Properties cannot be used for exterior storage.
- No vehicle of more than ½ ton capacity can be parked on the property, nor can any derelict vehicle, motor home, bus or commercial vehicle.
- No lawn and garden maintenance equipment, storage sheds or play structures are permitted on the front yard without written approval of WSOA.
My brother thinks our trails would be ideal for a “go-kart” type of all-terrain vehicle and wants to buy one for my son for his birthday. Is this permitted?
For the safety of all who use the trails in the community, no unlicensed vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorized trail bikes or motorized personal watercraft are permitted to be used in the community.
Much has been made about the environmental commitment in Woodstream. Can you summarize what we can and cannot do?
The Sunset Lakes website provides guidance as to what can and cannot be used when we care for our lawns. As indicated above, we all share a concern as to the potential impact that the use of pesticides and non-organic fertilizers may have on the quality of the water in our lakes and ponds. In addition, there is considerable concern over the potential health impact the use of such products can have one our well-being, particularly on children and adults whose health is otherwise at risk. Regardless of the motivation, the rules provide that no fertilizer or lawn chemicals of any kind shall be applied to our properties, without the consent of WSOA. While WSOA has specifically given its consent to the use of organic fertilizers and corn gluten, as outlined in the Sunset Lakes website, all other products are prohibited.
We know we are required to pay an annual fee each year. Where do these funds go, what are they used for and to whom do I pay the fee?
The by-laws and covenants provide that the owner of each property within Woodstream, regardless of whether there is a home yet built on the site, is required to pay an annual fee to WSOA. These fees, currently set at $300 per year, are payable to Woodstream Owners Association, are due on January 1 in each year. The funds are used to permit the Association to maintain all of the components of our community (i.e. pool, common areas, pathways, gardens and tennis courts) which are owned by the Association and which benefit all of us. These fees will also permit WSOA to create a reserve fund which is available to WSOA if the Association faces particular needs of a significant dollar cost.
How can we be sure that people take these rules seriously? What happens if someone is ignoring the rules? What sanctions exist?
The community has adopted a process (see Bylaw Compliance) to allow residents to bring forward concerns to the WSOA board for consideration. In fairness to all members of the board, concerns of this nature should be well-considered and brought forward in a formal way, either in writing (by using the form on the Sunset Lakes website) or in person to a member of the board (and not informally in passing on the street or at the pool). If a formal concern is raised to WSOA by a homeowner, the concern will be considered by the board at its next monthly meeting.
If a homeowner is in breach of the rules, there may be a variety of reasons. If he or she is simply unaware of the rules, the WSOA board will assist in advising them of the rules so that they can comply in the future. If a homeowner is aware of the rules and/or, once informed by WSOA of the rules, chooses not to “fix” the breach, the WSOA board will determine to what extent enforcement of the rules are appropriate. Enforcement may range from a decision to not pursue the matter in any formal manner at one extreme, to a decision to institute legal action against the homeowner at the other. Where a breach exists and is not fixed by the homeowner despite WSOA’s requests, the WSOA file which is maintained for each of our properties will, for the property in breach, be updated to include a notation of such breach.