As Needs Evolve, Reston Association Struggles to Handle Covenants Workload, Property Inspections

by Fatimah Waseem June 10, 2019 at 3:30 pm 0

It’s no secret that Reston Association’s covenant process, which maintains design standards for Reston properties, is often arduous and unwieldy.

In order to better administer the process, RA’s Design Review Board and Board of Directors are calling a special meeting to explore ways to improve covenant administration, reduce staff workload, and sort through staffing issues. The two boards will meet on Thursday (June 13) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to address lingering concerns.

At a May 23 board meeting, RA’s CEO Hank Lynch said the organization is “overworking” its covenants staff, who spend most of their time processing applications for the DRB. The panel has jurisdiction over issues related to architectural integrity of properties.

That leaves less than a full working day to conduct property inspections, respond to requests for home resales, and ensure the physical condition of properties, including vegetation, is up to standard.

“I do feel strongly that we are not out there enough,” said Anna Donato, RA’s director of covenants administration.

Staff must inspect thousands of properties spread out over 11 square miles, according to RA. Walkthroughs by a team of RA staff can take up to a year for each of the 134 clusters RA oversees.

Donato said the department has also struggled to retain staff, who are working hard to maintain “100 percent customer satisfaction.”

The issue is only expected to get more complex as more properties in the community age and the need for maintenance increases with time.

She suggested the following measures to decrease workload and reprioritize projects:

  • Reduce the number of DRB applications submitted
  • Improve process of submitting DRB applications to provide more flexibility
  • Spend less time on DRB panel meetings and reallocate it toward more inspections and working with clusters
  • Perform inspections for use and maintenance only — which covers the physical condition and use of properties
  • Grant staff the authority to perform more and recheck neighborhood inspections

RA plans to distribute a marketing video to illustrate the challenges it faces. In the video, an RA staff member warns that failing to catch up on inspections and decrease workloads could result in permanent consequences.

“Otherwise the job of keeping Reston looking like Reston will become a distant reality,” the video states.

Photo via Jill Silton

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