Proposal For Usage of Common Land Adjacent To Our LCEs

Grounds 2004-08-16


Proposal For Usage of Common Land Adjacent To Our LCEs



The purpose of this proposal is to (a) describe GO's legally-defined LCEs and (b) set forth guidelines for the use of CEs that are contiguous with front or rear LCEs or adjacent to sides of buildings.


* Master Deed * Tree and Shrub Planting Policy * Fence Policy * Changes to the Great Oak Landscape Policy


CE (Common Element): Land which belongs to the entire community with no expectation of exclusive use by individuals.

LCE (Limited Common Element): Land made available to a household for their use according to GO general land use policies (see below).

Master Deed: As defined by the [Michigan] Condominium Act (Act 59 0f 1978; Am. 1980, Act 283, Imd. Eff. Oct. 10, 1980 ;--Am. 1982, Act 538, Imd. Eff. Jan. 17, 1983 ;--Am. 1998, Act 36, Imd. Eff. Mar. 18, 1998), the document recording the condominium project to which are attached as exhibits and incorporated by reference the bylaws for the project and the condominium subdivision plan for the project. The master deed shall include all of the following: (a) An accurate legal description of the land involved in the project; (b) A statement designating the condominium units served by the limited common elements and clearly defining the rights in the limited common elements; (c) A statement showing the total percentage of value for the condominium project and the separate percentages of values assigned to each individual condominium unit identifying the condominium units by the numbers assigned in the condominium subdivision plan; . . . []

LCE Sizes: As defined in the GO Master deed, all units (except A's) have an approximately 12-foot LCE in front and a 20-foot rear LCE; A and A' units have 20 feet in front and 12 feet in back. (For most units, the starting point for measurement is the front door. The exceptions are the D units; for Ds, it is measured from the dining room wall.)

Front, Rear and Side Yards: Land that a household can consider "theirs," regardless of the land's legal status as LCE or CE.

Exclusive Use: Refers to a structure or structures which benefit only the household(s) involved rather than the community as a whole. Such structures include, but may not be limited to, fences, and sheds.

Non-Exclusive Use: Refers to items that benefit the household(s) involved, without denying access (and benefit) to the community as a whole. Plantings alone are not considered exclusive use, as the community may benefit from the aesthetics of a garden.



* All LCE and CE usage is subject to Grounds and ARC guidelines.

* Trees and shrubs may be planted in an LCE according to the Tree and Shrub Planting Policy.

* Plans for patios or walkways that create impervious surfaces should be brought to Grounds for approval.

* Fences may be erected within a legally-defined rear LCE in accordance with the Great Oak Fence Policy.

* Other permanent structures (e.g., a deck or storage shed) must comply with relevant Buildings/ARC policies. Any household wishing to erect a structure for which there is no existing policy (for example, a screened-in porch) must bring their proposal to ARC for approval.

* Drainage must be considered with any change to a LCE/CE. (Many areas have very subtle grades and even small grading changes can disrupt the drainage and cause ponding or flooding. As a general rule, remember that water should flow away from all homes and toward the drainage path designed for your area of the site. Please feel free to consult with Grounds if you are unsure where water should be flowing. Please avoid making changes that will cause soil, mulch or plant material to flow onto paved areas or into our storm drain system.)

* A household building a fence or other structure may not restrict access to any community resource (e.g., exterior faucets).



Size: From the Association's perspective, it is easier for households to maintain the area between the front LCE and the asphalt than it would be for the Association to do so. Therefore, every household should treat all of the land in front of their house up to the pavement as their front yard. In instances in which two "front yards" meet (between units #6 and 7 and between #33 and 34), it is up to the affected households to work out the border between their front yards.

Usage and responsibilities: The CE portion of your front yard may be treated as your own in terms of plantings. Bird feeders or other easily-moved fixtures (sculpture, gazing balls, rocks, etc.) may also be located in this area. Note that permanent structures (e.g., fence posts set in concrete) are only allowed within your LCE. However, a decorative 18" fence set into the ground and easily moved (such as is provided for in our Fence Policy) would be permitted in the CE portion of a front yard. Please keep in mind potential community uses for the CE portion of your front yard. For instance, snow removal in the winter may require that a portion of your front yard be kept open for plowing and snow piling. Grounds strongly recommends that any fencing or brick or stone border be set back by at least 2 feet from the pavement. To assist in trying to protect stone/brick areas during snow plowing season, households should remove or carefully flag areas that are closer than 2 feet to the asphalt. Great Oak will not be responsible for damage incurred to borders/fences that have not been properly set back or marked for easy visibility during winter.

Because the CE portion of your front yard is community land, Grounds may approach households about relocating objects that may not be in the community's best interests.

All land considered a household's yard will be its responsibility to maintain. For instance, maintaining the front yard, including mowing, all the way to the pavement is a household responsibility. Side yards are community land and as such may be mowed by the Association if left untended.


Size: Most rear yards consist of a 20 foot LCE; A units have a 12 foot rear LCE. As rear yards have the greatest potential to impact on community space, proposals to extend rear yards to include community land should be submitted in writing to the Grounds Committee (see Rear Yard and Side Yard Extensions below).

Usage and responsibilities: Trees, shrubs, decks and fences are all addressed by other existing proposals.

All land considered a household's yard will be its responsibility to maintain. Mowing rear yards, therefore, is a household responsibility..


Size: All land along the sides of buildings are CE's (i.e., community land).

Usage and responsibilities: Although side yards are CE's, Grounds encourages households to plant in these spaces to enhance the appearance of our community and to reduce the overall financial burden and work to GO for maintaining these areas. Therefore, side yards may be planted up to 6' out from the side of the foundation, with the following guidelines:

a) In consideration of the fact that nearly half of the households in GO are not immediately adjacent to a side yard (13 B unit and 2 A' unit households), neighbors within a given building are encouraged to treat side yards as belonging to a particular building, rather than its adjacent unit.

b) Residents of a given building may plant up to 6 feet out from the foundation. This will allow B and A' unit owners more space for gardening if desired, and more importantly does not foster a class system based on perceived LCE size.

c) If no one in a given building wants to plant one or both side yards, this land may be put to use by the Grounds committee.

Because the side yards are community land, Grounds may approach households about relocating objects that may not be in the community's best interests.. Uses that constitute "exclusive" use will be handled according to the "Exclusive" use policy below.

Side yards are community land and as such may be mowed by the Association if left untended.


A household wishing to make use of common land beyond the limit of their rear LCE or to use a side yard further than six feet from the side of their building must bring a proposal to the Grounds Committee. The proposal will be subject to community input and review in accordance with the "Changes to the Great Oak Landscape" policy.

Considerations for Grounds approval of CE use for extending a yard include, but are not limited to:

* Is the use exclusive or non-exclusive* (See below for usage guidelines for Exclusive Use) * Does the community benefit in a reasonable way, or is the benefit solely for an individual household * Aesthetics * Is the use permanent or semi-permanent? * Can a need for the extension be demonstrated? * Does the proposed use mesh well with other potential uses for that space, or is there an impact to current or future use? * Is there currently a community plan for that area?

Exclusive Use of CE's: Exclusive use must be approved by Grounds through a written proposal which is available to the community at large, following the Grounds approval process.

Once approved, exclusive use of community land will be charged a fee of $2 per square foot per year. The charge will be added onto the household's association dues. The approval of CE usage is subject to annual review. Note that if the community has a demonstrated need for the land, the grant of exclusive use of a CE may be revoked during the annual review process.


In the event of a conflict between any details in this policy and the legal descriptions contained in the Master Deed, the rules, parameters, and details contained in the Master Deed have precedence.


* Cost of planting community land is borne by those who most benefit from it. * Bookkeeping of what is your yard and what is or is not legally your LCE is made easier. * Allows households to have yards larger than their LCE's.


* Allowing any exclusive use of CEs may permanently prevent community land from being used by the community. * Allowing use of side yards by interior or upper A units may not be viewed positively by the units that will be most affected by seeing what is planted there. * Extensions may cause resentment for members who have no possibility of expanding their yards. * Extensions will reduce available community land.

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