Summerfield Deed Restrictions...
Nobody likes being told what they can and cannot do. However, like it or not,
when we purchased our properties in Summerfield, we all agreed to abide by certain
rules handed down in the form of deed restrictions.
(Honest! It was one of the documents you put your John Hancock on at your closing,
about the time you were wondering whether your writing hand was going to survive
the ordeal.) These deed restrictions were designed to lend a sense of consistency
to the community, and they are legally binding. It is therefore in everyone's best
interest for property owners to know and understand what these covenants require.
Many sections of the restrictions deal with items primarily of interest during
the home construction process, covering issues like set-backs, sewer inspections,
and minimum square footage. Others cover points which typically become germane
after occupancy, such as the installation of pools and the placement of fences.
A comprehensive listing of all the items would be as long and dry as the document
itself, which typically runs about four typewritten pages. However, several
topics seem to come up again and again. Without attempting to be all-encompassing,
here are some areas we've found frequently give rise to problems:
- Fences: Fences are limited to the back yard and, in some areas, the
side yards. In more recent documents, the type and composition of fences are
specified. In addition, local building codes, specifying things like maximum
height and distance from the street, also come into play. If you are planning
to erect a fence, we strongly suggest you contact the Civic Association first,
as this is one of your obligations under the covenants.
- Foliage: Like fences, trees and other foliage placed too close
to the street, especially on corner lots, can cause problems for drivers.
Please review your deed restrictions carefully before planting in these
areas -- don't force us (or the county) to insist you redo your hard work.
- Outbuildings: In a word, they are verboten throughout Summerfield.
If you are considering putting a shed or detached building on your property,
please reconsider. It will be noticed and its presence will eventually
cause a lot of grief and hard feelings for everyone involved.
- Campers and Boats: In general, parking campers and boats on or
adjacent to your property is not allowed (unless they are properly garaged).
No one is going to complain if you take an afternoon to clean your boat after
a weekend of fun in the sun, but if it sits in your driveway for several days,
be prepared to get a call about it. The same goes for commercial vehicles,
tractor-trailer trucks, and the like.
- Swimming pools: All pools in the subdivision must be constructed
in-ground. Above ground pools are not permitted.
- Ditches: The filling of the ditch in front of your property (or in
a township road right-of-way) is now handled by the township, and should not
be done by the homeowner. Before altering a roadside ditch, it is
essential you contact
and speak with Greg Butcher (614-575-5559).
- Basketball hoops: Basketball is big business in the Pickerington
schools, and a practice hoop by the driveway should not be a problem. Just
make sure you don't install it in a township right-of-way (where a game
might intrude into the street), or you will be asked to move it.
- Animals: Most deed restrictions restrict animals to
"household pets" -- think dogs, cats, and the occasional hamster -- and
prohibit exotic animals, livestock,
and animals raised or bred for commercial purposes.
- Noxious and Offensive activity: In a nutshell, if your dog is barking
continually at two in the morning, don't put a pillow over your head -- get up
and do something about it.
Here are some questions we are commonly asked about deed restrictions:
- Where did the deed restrictions come from anyway?
The covenants were originally drawn up and applied to the land on a phase by
phase basis by the developer's (Donley, Inc.) attorneys as each section was
subdivided into lots prior to development. The covenants were intended
to add a sense of consistency and continuity to the community, and they "run
with the land," which means they must be passed on from owner to new owner.
- But can't they be changed to accomodate our evolving needs?
Modifying to the deed restrictions is not an easy task. There is a
separate document for each of the 15 phases of the subdivision.
For each phase, changes can only be effected at specific points in time
(which typically occur only once per decade) and then only with the written
assent of the majority of the landowners in that phase. The services
of a lawyer would be required to ensure the paperwork is correctly drawn up
and properly recorded with the county. Even then, such an attempt could
result in litigation if there is disagreement over the proposed changes.
It is the perspective of the SCA that the deed restrictions in their current
form are reasonable, and that attempts to modify them should be avoided.
- I can't find my deed restrictions. Where can I locate a copy?
Check your Abstract of Title document, if you have one -- a copy
of your deed restrictions should be included therein. Legally, what matters is
what is recorded in the deed book for your property at the county court house.
Alternately, in another section of this website,
we have made available scanned sample copies of the deed restrictions for most
phases of Summerfield.
- My deed-restrictions prohibit chain-link fences, but I saw a chain-link
fence in a yard a couple streets over...
Unfortunately, the details in the covenants are not identical throughout
Summerfield because they were refined as each new phase of the subdivision
was constructed. Thus, some areas may have slightly different rules about
things like fence placement and composition. (But, earlier phases also
have some quirks that were deleted from later versions, like a requirement
that a yard light be turned on every evening.) That's why it is crucial that
you locate, read, and understand the specific covenants that apply to your
- My deed restrictions say I cannot have a satellite dish!
If you are talking about the small modern dishes for receiving satellite
feeds like DirectTV, don't worry about it.
Some sections of Summerfield have restrictions against satellite dishes.
These restrictions were added during an era when these dishes were monstrously
big freestanding things. Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
now regulates these small receiving devices, and thus this deed restriction
is no longer applicable to them.
- I see references to a Grantee and an Architectural Control
Committee. Who are they?
Initially, the subdivision builder, Donley, Inc., served in these capacities.
However, as each phase of Summerfield was completed, Donley signed over
responsibility for these functions to the Summerfield Civic Association.
Thus, you should contact the SCA for matters involving the Grantee or
the Architectural Control Committee.
- What can I do if I feel my neighbors are violating a deed restriction?
First, try talking with them. It is possible they are unaware that what they
are doing is a violation or that it bothers you. If this doesn't work, contact
your SCA. (You are a member in good standing, right?) We'll investigate and,
if warranted, send them a letter addressing the complaint. If the problem
persists, we can turn the matter over to our attorney. In really severe cases,
court action may become necessary, but thankfully, it rarely comes to that.
Alternately, any homeowner is free to hire a lawyer and proceed directly
against another property owner who is in violation of a deed restriction.
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