Covenants FAQs

What are the covenants?

The covenants are rules that affect residents’ rights to improve or use their property in the covered area as stated in the covenants.  It is roughly bounded by Wilson Lane, River Road, Booze Creek Park and Cabin John Parkway.

How did I become a party to the covenants?

The covenants are an integral part of the titles to our properties.  We became parties to them when we bought our property here.

When we sell our properties here, the buyers become parties to the covenants.  Therefore when selling our properties, it is important that we make sure that prospective buyers are aware of the covenants in a timely manner.  Failure to do that might expose sellers to accusations that they had not disclosed important facts material to the sale.

Key provisions of the covenants:

We may not change the footprint of our houses or other structures without the approval of the Association.  Houses (and other structures) may not be closer than 60 feet to the edge of the street and 15 feet from the side property lines.  (Note:  the front and side set back rules  are stricter than that of Montgomery County.)  For example, in contrast to County rules, the Covenants require  wider side set backs  that apply to all portions of a building or structure, including stoops, decks, and porches whether or not covered. The covenants do not address design, height or rear set backs.

All houses must be single family residences.

No more than one house may be erected on one lot.

Properties may not be subdivided without the approval of the Association.

What is the relationship between the covenants and Montgomery County zoning rules?

The requirements of the covenants exist separately from those of the county zoning and permitting process.  Issuance of a county building permit does not constitute Association approval of a project (and Association approval does not obviate the requirement to obtain a country building or other permit.)

How are the covenants enforced?

The covenants are enforced by the Bannockburn community acting through the Association.  The Association depends upon the active cooperation of members to this end.   Thus we are expected to alert the Association when planning projects that are covered by the covenants.   We are also expected to alert neighbors who may have such plans and may not be aware of the covenants.  The Association sues violators of the covenants, but very rarely because cooperation is very good. 

Procedures For Submittal and Review Of Plans?

  1. Persons planning to build, change or replace a structure must provide plans to the Association for approval in advance of  construction.  This review is independent of the separate requirement to obtain Montgomery County building and related permits.
  2. The Bannockburn Citizens' Association (BCA) Committee on Covenants will review proposed construction plans to determine whether they comply with the Covenants. 
  3. The BCA Committee on Covenants may approve plans for construction that conform to the requirements of the BCA Covenants without the approval of the BCA Board of Directors.  However, the President of BCA will be kept advised of the Committee's activities.
  4. If plans for construction do not conform to the requirements of the Covenants and an exception is sought, the Committee shall make a recommendation to the BCA Board, and the Board shall decide the matter.  The integrity of the covenants is important and exceptions will only rarely be granted. 
  5. In the event that the BCA Board decides not to approve the construction plans, the applicant may ask the board to reconsider its decision.  Such request shall be in writing and submitted within 30 days of the date of the Board's decision.  If the applicant so requests, the Board shall meet in person with the applicant to discuss the request for reconsideration.  The Board's decision on the request for reconsideration will be final.

Trees?

There are county rules on tree removal that can affect property owners in Bannockburn.

First, we cannot remove trees on the county land between the street and our street property lines (usually a space 20 feet wide) without a county permit.  The county states: “Before a roadside tree is trimmed or cared for in any way including removal, a Tree Care Permit must be obtained from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Forest Services (301 854-6060).”

Second, the county states: “Any person who expects to cut, clear, or grade more than 5000 square feet of forest or any champion tree may need approval from Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). Please contact M-NCPPC at 301 495-4540 or 410-442-2080 for further information.”

5,000 square feet is a smaller area than one might think – it is 25% of a 20,000 square foot lot.  So, for example, it is possible that construction of a swimming pool might under some circumstances require such a permit.

In November 2012 the BCA Board approved the following resolution concerning the tree canopy in our neighborhood :

WHEREAS the community represented by the Bannockburn Citizens Association highly values the tree canopy in our neighborhood; and

WHEREAS trees in our neighborhood are an integral part of our surroundings and add important aesthetic as well as an environmental values which include shade for cooling and habitat for birds and other wildlife. 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Board of Directors of the Bannockburn Citizens Association urges developers and homeowners (1) to understand and respect the importance of the tree canopy when planning to build or renovate homes in this neighborhood, and (2) to use best practices for protecting and preserving trees in all phases of construction and renovation, as set forth in the City of Charlottesville, VA “Best Management Practices for Tree Preservation, Transplanting and Removal” (2009).