Homeowners ask board for help

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By ABBY SOUZA

The uniform look of most subdivisions is no accident.

Most housing developments have rules as to what can and can't be done, from putting in fences to painting exteriors.

These rules are called CC&Rs conditions, covenants and restrictions and are set by developers to protect the values, and in some cases the look, of their subdivisions' homes.

Lately, CC&Rs have been a hot topic at Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors' meetings.

Several people who live in the Christian Heights and surrounding subdivisions off Tuolumne Road say their neighbor, Christian Heights Assembly of God Church, is proposing a senior housing complex that would violate the CC&Rs.

But as the developer, the church says it's not bound by the agreements they are only for those who buy the lots.

"People bought into Christian Heights with the understanding that they would not have several homes on small lots next door," Tuolumne County Community Development Director Bev Shane said. Residents at last week's county board meeting said the CC&Rs allow only single-family homes.

However, Zachary Gray, the church's lawyer, countered that the church, as the seller, is not bound by the rules.

CC&Rs protect property owners' rights, said Laurel Sherburne, vice president and division manger for First American Title in Sonora. She has worked with many developers on subdivisions and the creation of CC&Rs, she said.

"Everybody has to play by the same rules in a subdivision," Sherburne said.

CC&Rs are supposed to give homeowners some security, knowing their neighbors won't bring down property values or disturb their living environment.

For example, a CC&R could prevent an auto shop from being built next to a single-family home, even if the zoning allowed it.

Most subdivisions have homeowners' associations to enforce CC&Rs.

But Christian Heights doesn't. The church has said it intends to put a governing body in place, but has not decided what kind of group it will be church officials, homeowners or something different.

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