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Rock Creek HOA - Fencing 2020
Rock Creek Fence Stain or Cabot Dune Gray? 
 
Overview 
 
This document is long, but so too is the fence color conversation happening in 2020. With this resource, the RCHOA Board of Directors (hereafter, the “Board”) hopes to share with everyone in Rock Creek as much information as we can related to the fence color debate and activities. If you find that any of your questions are not addressed, or if you have any comments you would like to share, we ask that you reach out via board@rockcreekhoa.com, as always! 
 
Thanks in advance for your engagement and remarks. 
 
Background
 
In 2019 the Rock Creek Master Homeowners Association (RCHOA) put out a survey to engage our membership about many topics related to the current architectural guidelines; fencing color was in there (see page 11). From that data, we see that 56% of respondents may want to consider a change to the current fence color. 

Even before the survey, the color of our fences in Rock Creek has been a topic for some time, and many folks have commented that they could do without the color we have today. 
 
The institutional knowledge regarding this topic, until recently, has been that it’s too big / difficult an issue to reasonably tackle legally or practically, but that is being challenged now.
 
The Town of Superior co-maintains large portions of the fences in Rock Creek along with our members. These are the areas along open space, HOA common areas, or town rights of way.  The town paints about 25% of this fencing each year, completely repainting all sections on a 4-year cycle.

Our members maintain their own fences at their own expense and on an as-needed basis.
 
Cabot Dune Gray
 
The fence color prescribed by our covenants (on page 21) is “Cabot Dune Grey #0167, or a similarly identical substitute”. What this formula was circa 1991 is no longer clear. Cabot is still in business (though now owned by Sherwin Williams) and what is clear is that the current Cabot Dune Gray color is much more gray than the current Rock Creek Fence Stain. 
 
This situation has given rise to the question …

Couldn’t we (shouldn’t we) revert to what’s documented in the RCHOA covenants?
 
Legal
 
We have had this issue reviewed by the association’s attorney. 
 
Many board members provided research and information for consideration. HOA Counsel was also present for the open discussion of this item in the board meeting on 5/14/2020, hearing perspectives from the Board, ACC, and general membership.
 
That review has established a couple of basic legal truths related to our current situation:
 
The current color is Rock Creek Fence Stain, as refined in 2015 due to prior formula “drift”. 
The current, available-at-retail formulation of Cabot Dune Gray would qualify as a “substantially identical substitute” to the original Cabot Dune Gray #0167.
 
In a nutshell, the Board has the authority to choose from either of the above colors, with Rock Creek Fence Stain being the color currently (and heretofore always) in force.

If the community wanted to choose another color altogether (or give the Board / ACC power to choose for them) that would require a vote of the membership with 2/3 (67%) membership approval in order to change the language in the covenants.  The Board is not currently inclined to pursue this amendment route, but member feedback could be persuasive in this regard.
 
Going Forward
 
Summer 2020
 
The Town of Superior Board of Trustees has decided to paint Cabot Dune Gray on the fences it co-maintains with our members starting as early as June 1, 2020 - see the very bottom of this page for a map. The most visible sections to be painted this year will be on the south side of Coalton between Indiana and Rock Creek Circle as well as on McCaslin south of Coalton.
 
Please keep an eye on these spaces, and send your comments to board@rockcreekhoa.com.
Fall 2020
 
The Board will collect your thoughts about Cabot Dune Gray, and (if appropriate) update the official Rock Creek Fence color to match, as well as (if necessary) build a transition plan for getting all of our collective fences, mailbox posts, etc. updated in a reasonable amount of time by you, our members.  We are of course mindful of how the HOA fences would look with more than one color, and we wish to minimize this effect in the most accommodating way possible.
 
Enforcement
 
Until further notice, the HOA will not cite owners to refresh fence paint pending a final paint color decision being made later this year. However, if you do wish to paint your public-facing fence or mailbox post in 2020, the color has *not* yet changed for HOA members, so you would need to use the currently sanctioned color, Rock Creek Fence Stain and submit an ACC application as described in the current RCHOA Fence Policy.
 
 
FAQ
 
Q: What does it take to change the fence color? 
 
A: The color “Cabot Dune Gray #0167” is baked into our covenants for Rock Creek (see page 21). Normally, to change anything in the covenants requires a vote of the membership with minimum 2/3 (67%) approval, which is very hard to achieve.  But in the case of the fence color we do have the authority to administratively update to a “substantially identical substitute.”
 
Q: How / when did the color change? 
 
A: By all accounts, it hasn’t. As far as we find, this yellowish hue has been here from the very beginning of the community, and while the color has drifted a little over time, the appearance of Rock Creek’s fences hasn’t materially changed since the inception of the community. 
 
Q: What’s the current Rock Creek Fence Color?
 
A: No policy changes have been made yet, “Rock Creek Fence Stain” is the current color.
 
Q: What’s the plan?
 
A: The Town of Superior is in a position to “try this color on” and has decided to do so as part of their regular fence maintenance.  The HOA will gather feedback from our membership, then make an official go / no-go decision for Rock Creek HOA. This should all be decided within the 2020 timeframe.
 
Q: Did the town communicate with the HOA?
 
A: Yes, and no. 
 
Since March of 2020, the HOA has been in touch with town staff about the 4 year painting project and specifically the notion of looking at a new color. We could not make any official recommendations at that time due to our covenants, but we agreed to look into the matter and did so.
 
In later months, some town board members came to RCHOA meetings and discussed with the Board and our membership some of their ideas. Likewise, the HOA Board shared our limitations and concerns with the membership, including some town board members.

Ultimately, the town board made its decision prior to receiving official input from the HOA.
 
Please let us know if you like the change at board@rockcreekhoa.com.
 
Q: What are some of the HOA’s concerns?
 
A: Primarily, the HOA wants to see increased property values and enhanced enjoyment of our properties. Multi-colored fencing will potentially diminish both, so having a plan to drive consistency is a priority. We’re also sensitive to the costs that our members will incur if we move  to update to a new color. In addition, according to our covenants, we cannot force members to proactively update their fence color, so depending on member participation, the change could take a long time.
 
Appendix A: Town of Superior - 2020 Painting Map
 
Town Fence Paint Map 2020