Approval Process for Changes to Properties

The following describes the process for obtaining approval for proposed changes to properties within Pleasant Brook, which are a combination of formal processes outlined in the Pleasant Brook Association declaration of trust and bylaws; informal procedures adopted by multiple Pleasant Brook Association boards of trustees over the years; and prescribed procedures from the Town of Lexington. The majority of change requests likely only require approval from the Pleasant Brook Association, where as some will also require approval from the Lexington Historical Commission. The following describes the process for seeking approval from both entities, for changes that are governed by specific property restrictions.

Pleasant Brook Association Review Procedure

The following describes the step-by-step procedure for requesting and obtaining approval for changes to properties from the Pleasant Brook Association.

  1. Informal Notice: A Pleasant Brook homeowner (beneficiary) considering a change that falls within the purview of the architectural, landscaping, or property use restrictions should informally reach out to the trustees to discuss the scope of work and elicit preliminary feedback. In fact, it is strongly recommended that, prior to making a formal submission, a petitioner advise the Trustees of a proposed change so that features which the Trustees consider important can be discussed informally and incorporated in the plans at their inception, thereby minimizing the chance of later changes and possible inconvenience to the petitioner (source). The Trustees are best reached by email.

  2. Informal Feedback: The Trustees shall informally provide feedback, recommendations, or other guidance to the homeowner in a timely manner, such as feedback on architectural elements, recommendations on building materials, and other best practices and lessons learned.

  3. Formal Request: When the homeowner is ready to formally request approval for a change, they should email the Pleasant Brook trustees with all plans, sketches, diagrams, or such other material the trustees may deem necessary to adequately describe the proposed change. This includes a written description and plan or sketch from which the nature of the proposed building or landscaping project can be clearly determined. It is critical that these be submitted well in advance of the planning or commencement of any construction of signing of a construction contract, as the trustees have up to 30 days to render a decision. (source)

  4. Beneficiary Meeting: Each such application shall be reviewed and considered by the trustees as promptly as feasible following such submission. The trustees will work with the homeowner to schedule an in-person or virtual meeting to review the site and the proposed scope of work. For simple requests, review may be conducted via email, as determined by the trustees.

  5. Trustee Review: It is the Trustees' intent to process applications promptly and, where in their opinion there is a conflict of interest, to cooperate with the homeowner in seeking a solution satisfactory to everyone. If changes are recommended, these will be discussed with the homeowner, and, when mutually agreed to, will be noted on the drawing(s) or other documents. One copy of the approved drawing(s) will be signed by the Trustees and returned to the petitioner for their record, and a second copy will be retained for the Association's records. (source)

  6. Adjudication: It is the intent of the Trustees to interpret the restrictions as liberally as possible, consistent with preserving a natural and harmonious appearance of the community. However, it should be borne in mind that the restrictions are legally enforceable. The Trustees have standing to file a petition in court seeking a restraining order against further proceeding with the construction of an unapproved structure, or seeking an order commanding the removal of one already completed (source). The Trustees shall take a vote and a change request requires three of five trustees voting in the afirmative for approval. (source)

  7. Notice of Decision:To each homeowner the Trustees shall give written notice of their action on their application, returning with such notice one copy of the description and plan or sketch submitted to them and keeping for their records the other copy; and failure to give such notice within thirty-one (31) days following submission of the application shall constitute approval by the Trustees of the application. (source)

Historical Commission Review Procedure

For changes that meet the Historical Commission's definition of "substantial demolition", the Commissions formal approval process must be undertaken. What constitutes substantial demolition is defined in the property restrictions. After reviewing the substantial demolition criteria and the proposed changes are not applicable to review by the Historical Commission, then the no further approval is required beyond the written approval notice of the Trustees. Be advised that projects which require building permits in order to modify a historically or architecturally significant property, will be flagged during permitting if they have not received prior approval from the Historical Commission and will delay a project's timeline. It is highly advised to contact the Historical Commission if you are unsure about the applicability for a specific set of changes.

  1. Review: The first step is to review the Historical Commission's processes and procedures for adjudicating change requests. Note that a significant amount of the Historical Commission's documentation is focused on the processes surrounding requests to fully demolish a significant structure, and thus many of those processes and guidelines are not applicable to smaller change requests. The following list of resources are a good introduction to the Historical Commission's review process:

  2. Prepare and Apply: The following are recommended to prepare for the Historical Commission's review process:
    • Reach out to the Pleasant Brook trustees for guidance and best practices from previous projects
    • Watch a prior Historical Commission public hearing on LexMedia
    • Request an informal discussion with the Commission for an upcoming meeting in order receive feedback that can be incorporated into the formal application.
    • Prepare the materials for hearing, such as a presentation, sketches, literature, drawings, or renderings, and file the formal application.

  3. Review with Trustees: If any changes were requested during the Historical Commission hearing, review with the Trustees to share the findings and determine if the Trustees need to amend their decision.

Pleasant Brook Association Notification and Documentation

After an approval of a change request has completed, the Trustees will perform the following steps:

  1. Notification: The trustees, at their discretion, shall notify all other beneficiaries with a summary of the change request and decision of the Trustees, by way of the Pleasant Brook Association neighborhood email listserv, or other method.

  2. Appeal: If within 21 days following approval and notification by the Trustees, the beneficiary of any such parcel affected by such action shall request in writing that such action be reviewed by all of the voting beneficiaries. A meeting shall be held in the Pleasant-Brook area or at some other place reasonably convenient within 30 days following receipt of such request. The call for the meeting shall be by written notice which shall contain a summary statement of the action to be reviewed and shall be mailed or delivered to each Voting Beneficiary at least 7 days before the date for the meeting. The action of the Trustees shall be deemed to be final and binding unless at such meeting a majority of all the Voting Beneficiaries shall have been present in person and shall have voted to disapprove or modify such action. (source)

  3. Record Archival: The secretary of the Trustees shall archive the materials associated with the change request, as has been common practice for many years, for reference by the Trustees in the future.