(TO BE READ WITH A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE AND SOME COOKIES OR ALTERNATIVELY WITH A GLASS OF WINE OR YOUR FAVORITE LIBATION)
Once upon a time in the early 1950s a husband and wife owned a large tract of farmland outside of a picturesque little town. They were dreamers and had a vision for this land. They saw it as a spacious community with large front yards and houses that were not on top of one another. They wanted it to be a community with recreational areas for residents to enjoy. They wanted to make sure that there was a commercial area and that the residential area remained non-commercial. They wanted the owners to take pride in their lots and homes – to keep them neat and to maintain them.
To carry out their vision they sought advice from others. They retained counsel to develop legal documents that would define the process of transferring the land from the husband and wife to a company who would manage sales of the lots to new owners. Another part of their vision was for the new community to own an area of land on the water that would be set aside for recreation. The community would then be responsible for caring for and maintaining that area. They were advised to set up a corporation for this purpose.
They needed a name for this new place and because the land was beside the Miles River and the views were beautiful they decided to call the community Rio Vista. We don’t know why but while they were considering names, they decided to name the streets after Presidents: Lincoln, Monroe, Tyler, Madison, Polk, Harrison, Cleveland and Jefferson. At some point they decided to dispense with the presidential names and included Tenant Circle, Cove and Landing. Cove View and Bush Terrace came much later.
While they were meeting with their lawyers they realized that they were charting new territory. There were not many communities with the kind of structure that the couple wanted to put into place. They wanted the structure because they wanted the community to be built with consistent standards – not that all the houses would look the same but that there would be an order to the neighborhood and that the lots would be beautified and maintained. And they worried that without rules and regulations the standards that they wanted to see maintained would fall by the wayside. So they came up with a document that the lawyers named “Deed and Agreement”. In this document they spelled out twelve “General Restrictions and Conditions” that they deemed important. When lots were sold, each new owner saw (if they read their Deed) that the terms of the Deed and Agreement applied to their new Deed. In recent times careless work by title companies has not always included this reference but it still applies to all deeds because it was part of the first title to the property.
One provision that they inserted in the Deed and Agreement – thinking that it would bring the community together in a unified activity – was to require that owners sign an extension agreement every twenty years. They wanted the community to come together every twenty years to reaffirm the restrictions contained in the Deed and Agreement.
Over the years many dedicated and responsible individuals who love Rio Vista and care about its future have come together – just as the husband and wife had hoped – to obtain the necessary signatures and file the papers in the county Land Records. This chain of events first occurred in 1974 and then in 1994 and must be completed again by 2014.
In 1974 there were fewer owners than there are today and for the most part the owners lived and worked in Talbot County. In 1994 it was a bit more difficult to contact all owners but still most lots were occupied by resident owners. Currently, there are 224 residential lots and 9 commercial lots. Many owners are part time or remote owners – they do not live in Rio Vista and many do not live in Talbot County or even in Maryland. So the landscape has changed and the process has become more challenging.
The founding husband and wife had very good intentions and high hopes for Rio Vista. The community has grown and blossomed since 1954 and the conditions and restrictions have helped maintain their vision. Thankfully, this chapter of the Rio Vista story has a happy ending due to the diligence of Jan Burke and Jack Davis who sought out the required signatures and were able to file the papers before the 2014 deadline. We can rest easy knowing that the Rio Vista Community Association has been extended for yet another twenty years.