We are rewriting our architectural guidelines. What are some definitions and standards for “reasonable” xeriscaping?
What I often ask clients is, “What would someone think is reasonable after hearing the facts and not being involved in the emotion of the decision? Also, what would the neighbors think?” The best thing to do is to have guidelines as to what is appropriate and what is not. Having town meetings to discuss alternatives is always a good idea.
The Texas property code states that a property owners association may not include or enforce a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits or restricts a property owner from using drought-resistant landscaping or waterconserving natural turf.
The association can regulate the type of turf to encourage or require the use of water conservation. The code also permits the association to regulate the installation or use of gravel, rocks, or cacti. The code further authorizes the association to regulate the installation of efficient irrigation systems, including establishing visibility limitations for aesthetic purposes.
The code permits the association to require an owner to submit a detailed description or a plan for the installation of drought-resistant landscaping or water-conserving natural turf for review and approval by the property owners association to ensure, to the extent practicable, maximum aesthetic compatibility with other landscaping in the subdivision.
A property owners association may not include or enforce a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits or restricts a property owner from using drought-resistant landscaping or water-conserving natural turf.
A property owners association may not unreasonably deny or withhold approval of a proposed installation of drought-resistant landscaping or water-conserving natural turf or unreasonably determine that the proposed installation is aesthetically incompatible with other landscaping in the subdivision.
If you would like help developing reasonable guidelines, the best source would be an experienced landscape architect and your association counsel.
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Marc Markel is a shareholder at Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey in Texas, and a fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers.