ORCHARD KNOLLS HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION (HOA)

WWW.ORCHARDKNOLLS.ORG

MONTHLY BOARD MEETING MINUTES:

October 13, 2003

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS (BOD) PRESENT:

President

Richard Schinner

301-977-5196

evantage@aol.com

Jan 06

VP Detached Homes

Lisa Goodman

301-963-3807

goodgrl@attglobl.net

Jan 06

VP Town Homes

Eileen Solomon

301-330-2876

zeppsol@aol.com

Jan 04

Treasurer

Mohammad Homaitabar

301-318-8446

homaitabar@yahoo.com

Jan 05

Secretary

Jerry Way

301-977-0523

jerway@comcast.net

Jan 06

ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE (ARC) PRESENT:

Chairperson

Kathy Wyatt

Member

Rita Becker

Member

Dennis Zepp

GUESTS PRESENT:

Homeowner:  Neil Becker

Mead Tree & Turf Care Inc:  Roger McElroy

I. CALL TO ORDER: Meeting at Eileen’s home. Called to order 7:20 Pm.

II. GUEST PRESENTATIONS:

Roger explained that effective January 2004, Mead will partner with "Landscape Innovations Inc", a full service landscape company. Mead has done some tree work for Orchard Knolls over the past few years. Recently, Rick and Roger walked our common areas to visualize needs and inspect problems. Mead proposed to contract for our annual landscape needs. Roger presented BOD with a well prepared written response to our Landscaping Request for Quote (RFQ). The package contained superimposed digital photo visuals showing how areas could be improved. He also identified other related services such as tree trimming and new decorative bedding to provide seasonal flowers and color. Roger also explained the need for effective spring and fall seeding. He emphasized pitfalls and details of successful seeding efforts. Initial review of their proposal indicates Mead is able to reduce our current annual costs while meeting all requirements of our RFP. The proposal will have to be analyzed and compared to others. Mead was informed that others would be bidding before a new contract is released. Mead also will accept an RFQ for snow removal.

Neil Becker attended to solicit BOD clarification to last month’s minutes (See Below).

HOC representatives did not show up tonight.

III. MINUTES: (Posted on HOA web page at least one week before meeting. Hard copy made available to guests).

President called for changes if any. Neil and Rita Becker requested clarification on several points. After much discussion, Neil and Rita’s concerns were allayed - with BOD agreement to amend minutes as follows:

1) Section VI, New Business, Abandoned Treadmill Letter, Guests want Punitive Action - Delete "punitive" where used in reference to notes of guest presentation.

2) Section V, Old Business, Common Area Behavior Rules, Perceptions - Add:

Rita and Neil Becker wish it known that anonymous distribution of petition to BOD homes was not meant to be surreptitious. They cite petition was later attached to their letter also delivered to BOD. BOD wishes to add that misunderstanding occurred because members assumed rule adoptions require vote of membership. Conversely, Article VIII, Section 2 and 13, empowers BOD to establish, adopt, and enforce rules of this nature without vote of membership. Existing rules: Daycare Rule 1995-1 and Satellite Rule 2001-3 were authorized, adopted, and promulgated by BOD without vote of membership. Membership may subsequently rescind rules or relieve BOD.

No further amendments. Motion made to accept with above amendments. Seconded and passed unanimously.

IV. ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE :

Fall 2002/Spring 2003 Inspection Letters – Non-Compliance Review

About half homes cited have not corrected problems identified to them in our earlier letters. BOD decided to send another letter (Certified, Return Receipt) which advises that unless corrected in XX time, HOA will unilaterally contract to have the work done and billed to owner. Unpaid bills will be an assessment debt on the property. Jerry will research the letter used by our attorney in earlier cases.

Fall 2003 Detached Homes Walk-Through Schedule Revised

Board and ARC agreed to accomplish the Semi-Annual walk-through Sunday, October 26, at 3pm, starting at 15630 Blackberry Drive.

Townhome Deck Awnings

Mohammad rightfully advised that a legal interpretation of the covenant concludes that all awnings are prohibited unless approved by ARC. However ARC currently has no basis to reject. Alternatives seem to be: 1) Change covenants to prohibit townhome awnings - requires a membership vote, 2) Add new criteria to ARC Guidelines allowing awnings under limited conditions as with sheds – does not require membership vote, 3) Continue rejecting ACR submissions – likely an owner will file complaint with Common Ownership Communities Commission. Kathy Wyatt agreed to write draft criteria for ARC Guidelines for review at next meeting.

ARC Change Requests Processed. None received.

ARC Guidelines Get Updates

Jerry provided an up-to-date master of Architectural Guidelines with 5 years of added changes approved by vote of ARC, BOD and membership to-date. All changes are in italics, (also two clarifications) and date of each vote. After it is initialed by ARC and BOD, master copy will be filed and Rick will update web page.

V. NEW BUSINESS

2004 Operating Budget Drafted

As advertised, BOD met early tonight for preliminary review of budget. We have had a difficult year with cash flow. Monthly recurring contracted expenses equal about 80% of income excluding normal operating costs, and maintenance. There is only about $4,000 in surplus operating funds. General Reserves will incur about $4,000 deficit due to recent $12,000 purchase of new tot-lot equipment. In researching why operating funds are so limited, ABS advised Rick that a surplus operating fund CD will mature April 2004. Liquidating it will provide relief in time for 2004 summer season. Rick identified 3 projects that could use immediate funding approval:

  1. Payoff the incremental General Reserves deficit
  2. Approve Blackberry Drive island uplighting and sprinklers; (Contractor will be on site in 2 weeks for winterizing)
  3. Approve landscape upgrades for 5 of 6 cul-de-sacs

After much discussion, a vote was taken. Four of five members voted to approve spending the $4,000 for the Blackberry Drive Uplighting and Sprinklers. With that decision made, BOD could safely forecast a balanced budget entering 2004. Next step is to obtain "actuals" from ABS to make line item adjustments, then finalize operating budget with ABS and prepare for Annual Membership Meeting.

2004 No Assessment Increase from BOD

After review of a myriad of perceived needs and projects (See Section VIII & IX), BOD noted that covenants allow a pre-budget unilateral assessment increase of about 12% without community vote going into 2004. However, that unpopular step would only raise about $9,000 in new money. BOD is reluctant to identify discretionary spending priorities without community involvement. Since an Annual Meeting is due in January, BOD decided to involve membership in determining whether they want an assessment increase to fund the projects they are asking for. Jerry agreed to prepare a list with estimated costs for review at January 2004 Annual Meeting. Results of that review will determine if community wishes to raise assessments for perceived needs. BOD developed a preliminary draft Operating budget for 2004 this evening. It does not fund any new projects nor does it raise assessments for 2004.

Gazebo Shrubs Cut Back

Our landscaper has trimming obligation but neglects the requirement. Rick made separate arrangements with J&L Landscaping to get this urgent Gazebo need done. This item will be one of many for follow up with contractor before a 2004 contract is let. Some board members want to recover the cost from our landscaper.

Streetlight Pole Damaged Beyond Repair – Not Discussed

General Contractor for Senior Center alerted HOA that a Cherry Blossom Court light post had been "hit" by a vehicle in the past. It is split at the base. Rick and Jerry inspected the pole. Appears to have been hit many weeks ago. Light fixture works. Whoever hit the pole propped it up with a large rock. Pole rocks and will likely split and fall at some point in the near future. It will have to be replaced, should be relocated, or guard rail installed to prevent reoccurrence

Common Area Hurricane Damage

Several more trees and another 6 -8 large limbs came down. Another large limb was found down behind 15715 Cherry Blossom Lane. J&L was hired to dispose of them.

Landscape Contractor Complaints

Board is making a list of complaints to discuss with contractor. Board will rebid with other contractors before signing a 2004 contract.

Winterizing Sprinkler System: Scheduled to be done October 27-28. Jerry shut the system down this week

Dead and Wind Damaged Trees Cut and Not Replaced; Stumps Remain – Not Discussed.

Probably our most frequent complaint. There are three costs for each tree; Tree Removal, Stump Removal, Tree Replacement. For several years, various contractors have been expeditiously cutting dead trees above grade leaving exposed ugly and dangerous stumps. The benefit to that approach is that it is fast and keeps initial cost low. The trees have not been replaced. There are now many exposed, unsafe and ugly stumps in the common areas.

West Entrance Holly Trees and Hedges Overgrown – Not Discussed.

The large holly trees are so tall they now block the 2 colonial lamps. Lower hedges are overgrown and blocking the marquee florescent lighting. Landscape contractor has responsibility but has neglected these and many others.

East Entrance Flower Bed Below Grade - Not Discussed.

Due to SHA’s increased elevation of Blackberry Drive/Rt 28 East – flower bed is below grade due new height sidewalk.

White Fence "Sinking" (Parallel to RT 28 East of Blackberry Drive) – Not Discussed.

Due to increased elevation of Rt 28 East and the new sidewalk – about ½ of our white fence goes downhill behind the sidewalk. SHA says their surveyors noted that our fence is in their right-of-way. It is an unkempt appearance from Rt 28.

(Editorial Comment): HOA should relocate fence higher on berm, or remove section east of Verizon switch unit.

Creek Erosion Worsening – Pedestrian Bridge Twisting – Replace with Longer Span – Not Discussed.

Mead Tree & Turf Care is interested in assisting with this problem – Mead feels the only practical solution is a new bridge with a longer span. Rick and Mead will follow up and provide BOD with a proposal in near future. Unity will provide recommendations when on site to accomplish winter sprinkler shutdown.

West Entrance County Streetlight Restored (Out for 2 Years) – Not Discussed.

Jerry called county for repairs three times this summer. Unit was finally made operational this month.

Annual Meeting Preparation: - Not Discussed

Secretary will make January Monday evening reservations at High School, pay fees, including overhead projector.

Senior Center Construction:

Loss of Trees: Rick and Jerry were called to investigate contractors digging and removing HOA trees at end of Cherry Blossom Court. 2 flowering cherry and 1 pine tree are in WSSC right of way to install the new water main to the Senior Center. After some discussion, contractor agreed to preserve the 2 cherry trees. The pine tree will have to be destroyed, however Senior Center agreed to replace it with another cherry.

Cherry Blossom Court Water to be Shut Off – General contractor confirm that Cherry Blossom Court will be without water for one day late October or early November. WSSC will provide 72 hour notice to affected homes

New Communication Received:

Preserve South West Tot-Lot Equipment – Not Discussed

Requesting South West Lot’s baby-swings and see-saw be preserved.

Two Removed Trees not Replaced Stumps Remain. – Not Discussed.

In 2002, BOD removed 2 dead trees directly across street from home and left two stumps exposed above grade.

Fire lane Sign Damaged - Cherry Blossom Lane/Place – Not Discussed

Someone removed bottom sign retainer then bent the sign upward on the pole damaging the sign.

Possible Unapproved Day Care - Not Discussed.

Major increase in adults with children entering and leaving a unit in Cherry Blossom Place. Implication is that an unapproved Day Care may be in operation.

Children Blocking Traffic, Noise, Confrontations – Not Discussed

BOD received email from owner complaining of 10-12 children regularly playing in street at intersection of Cherry Blossom Place and Lane. They have a small child who cannot sleep Situation is making it uncomfortable for neighbors. Letter cites children refusing to move for cars, throwing balls and rocks in the street, making excessive noise, and refusing to go elsewhere to play. Neighbors not convinced that all the children are HOA residents

VI. OLD BUSINESS:

Early September Wind Storm Damage (Pre Hurricane)

J&L disposed of most damaged trees before hurricane hit.

Large Broken Top Limb – Hanging in Tot-Lot Tree

Jerry asked if J&L or Mead had removed the limb. Rick advised that contractor told him "it would never come down". Jerry commented that it may be negligent to ignore it. Rick asked Jerry to find a contractor to take it down.

Other Dead Trees

J&L continues to remove obvious dead trees and limbs on common areas.

Tot-Lot Upgrades:

Rick reported that $6,300 deposit was made on new equipment contract for South East lot. New supplier confirms they are on schedule for installation by end of October. If installation slips it will install in mid November. Jerry will contact G&G to add playground bark to other lots now, and this lot immediately after new equipment is installed.

Common Area Behavior Rule 2003-1:

Rick explained that the rule is being re-edited to add community suggestions and revise offensive phraseology. Jerry explained that we are trying to soften the image by changing the referring to it as a Code of Conduct. However for legal requirements, the document will continue to be called "Common Area Behavior Rule 2003-1". The edited version will be reviewed by all members of the board – then sent to our attorney for final review before presenting to the community at 2004 annual meeting.

Potomac Garden Center Letter

BOD approved revised letter to our attorney for final editing and mail to PGC.

SHA Rt. 28:

Missing Median and Center Island Trees: Jerry noted that none of our promised trees are installed and that Steve Ches has not responded to our email query. Rick will call Steve Ches.

Missing Rachael Carson Playground Screening Trees: Jerry noted that SHA earlier acknowledged that Montgomery County was requiring them to totally screen the playground fence ahead of Blackberry Drive. The intent is to block observation of children at play. Rick and Jerry were shown SHA’s landscape drawings which show total screening. However only a few very small pine trees were planted. Rick will call Steve Ches.

Restore East Entrance Zone 1 Sprinkler System along Rt. 28 - Not Discussed

SHA damaged this zone beyond repair and agreed to replace it.

Blackberry Drive Island Uplighting Approved:

After review of other desired projects and limited funding, 4 of 5 BOD members voted to proceed with construction this month.

Blackberry Drive Island Sprinklers Approved:

After review of other desired projects and limited funding, 4 of 5 BOD members voted to proceed with construction this month.

Two New Streetlights for Blackberry Drive Island Delayed

Quote has been received for $2,750 to accomplish this project by bringing power through our conduit under Blackberry Drive from the West side marque power source. However, BOD decided to delay this project and review the need again after the uplighting project is complete.

Townhome Streetlight Circuit will Remain at Capacity

Jerry advised that this circuit starts behind Cherry Blossom Court, then North, West, and South along Cherry Blossom Lane. Contractor load test conducted this month concluded that our uplighting project could proceed, however addition of two new streetlights was not possible. A new parallel circuit will be required if more additions are necessary.

Blackberry Drive Crosswalk at Playground - Not Discussed.

Lisa is working with Montgomery County in an effort to have this accomplished.

Blackberry Drive & Terrace Stop Sign to Replace Yield - Not Discussed.

Lisa is working with Montgomery County in an effort to have this accomplished

Web Site upgrades – Not Discussed.

Rick recommends this upgrade. He will investigate pros, cons, requirements and cost.

Common Areas Neglected Adjacent to End-Unit Townhomes - Not Discussed.

End units townhomes only own 4-feet from the side brick. Remaining grassed side lots adjacent to end-units are community area. Community lawn care is neglecting weeding, feeding, cutting and trimming these areas. They have become eyesores from lack of attention. (An exception is 15701 Cherry Blossom Lane adjacent to Blackberry Drive. That side lot receives community automatic sprinkling. Further, owner pays a private gardener to also maintain our community property. The issue is community neglect of the other equivalent properties.

Inefficient Townhome Curb Parking – Not Discussed

Limited curb parking is permitted on North and West Cherry Blossom Lane. However, spaces are not marked. Vehicles park randomly creating very inefficient use of the limited space. Proposal is to "tic" mark each space. American Striping quoted $399 to do the job in 2001.

Community Requested cul-de-sac Upgrades Delayed

BOD agreed in principal to make this a priority. This is a $4000 project. BOD voted (4 of 5) to spend remaining end-of-year limited funds on lighting the center island. Decision was made to add this project to community "wish list" for review at 2004 annual meeting.

Previous Communication Received: (Board has not responded)

Owner Requests Color Standards for Detached Homes: Not Discussed.

Owner requested our color standards for Single Family Homes. Rick had earlier contacted Southern Engineering and Northern Virginia Homes, but they do not have color standards for these homes. Jerry advised that detached home standards are unique to each home and are what original builder applied to the home measured by form, fit, and function. Jerry offered to digitally photograph each home to establish a color base for property files.

Storm Door Not Approved. Not Discussed.

Owner responding to our letter citing his property for an unapproved storm door which is not full view. Owner states there is ambiguity as to what constitutes a "full-view".

Trim Color Not Approved – Not Discussed.

Owner responding to our letter citing property for unapproved white color trim rails. Owner says they have been white for 3 years and declines to change color now.

Two Neighbor’s Down Spouts Flooding Area. – Not Discussed.

Owner requested help at 2003 Annual Meeting. Area of concern is between 15728 & 15732. Down spout runoff from 15732 and 15734 floods common area and this owner’s property with constant water/mud. In addition shrubs on common area are so overgrown that sunlight is totally blocked exacerbating the water and mud.

Littered Gazebo Mail Should be traced to Owner: Not Discussed.

Suggesting that BOD examine discarded mail at gazebo and trace it to owners with a fine. This item may be addressed in Common Area Behavior Rules.

HOA Sprinkler Flooding Owner’s Yard and Drive. – Not Discussed.

An error in the 2003 consolidation of West and East sprinkler systems left an HOA sprinkler head on this private property. Jerry capped it in August, but the sprinkler head is key to the area around the marque. Re-work to be done by Unity must be authorized to be done either at shutdown next month, or in spring 2004 startup.

Water Pooling at Gazebo; Mosquito Breeding Ground – Not Discussed.

Owner requested that HOA regrade this area to eliminate water from pooling and risk of mosquitoes breeding. Jerry will ask G&G Landscape to address this problem.

Limbs Over South Townhome Parking – Not Discussed.

Dangerous limbs overhanging striped parking in South Cherry Blossom Lane.

Two Large Dead HOA Trees in Front of Home – Not Discussed.

Two HOA trees directly in front of her front door have been dead all year and requested they be removed and replaced. Jerry took photos of the trees for BOD. Rick added to the list to be removed by J&L Landscape.

Alleged Unlicensed Business in Cherry Blossom Place - Not Discussed.

Owner recently rented a townhome to ARC of Montgomery County: According to our attorney, this County Service appears to be a family home for mentally challenged adults requiring adult assisted living. Home is not allowed to exceed three adults. A License to operate may be required. HOA application and approval may be required. Rick obtained copy of lease for our files. Our attorney is investigating.

Unpainted Deck Rails in Cherry Blossom Place. Not Discussed.

Owner in long-term violation of ARC Change Request which required painting of deck rails to match trim

Dog Waste Sign Intentionally Smashed - Citrus Grove Cul-de-sac – Not Discussed

Our in-ground sign has been intentionally smashed as if by a heavy hammer, beat, split and wrapped around the steel pole. Some members of the board wanted to remove it. BOD decided to replace it.

Gazebo Mailbox Unit Damaged by Children – Not Discussed

Gazebo & Mailbox unit needs painting again. Need to construct a defense against children climbing to top of unit.

Trash, Mud, Graffiti In and Around Gazebo – Shrubs were cut down to railing height this month. Hopefully this will help neighbors view offending children and take action. In addition, this issue will be addressed in the Common Area Behavior Rules, including fines for damages.

Community Directory Update: Lisa volunteered to assist Rick and Rita with this effort.

VII. FINANCIAL MATTERS, ASSOCIATED BOOKKEEPING SERVICES, TREASURER’S REPORT:

Missing Insurance Reimbursement - 2001-2002 Lightning Damage - Not Discussed.

2002 Property Losses from lightning are still not paid to us by State Farm, however Mohammad reports that he has provided all correct receipts to State Farm. Mohammad will continue to pursue collecting these funds.

Reserve Funds Allocation Adjustment – Not Discussed.

Jerry and Mohammad have requested that ABS correct the allocation between Townhome (Currently 31%) Vs General Reserve Funds (Currently 69%) to reflect the percentages identified in our Financial Asset Replacement Plan.

ABS’ Display of Reserves Amount – Split into Townhome Vs General - Not Discussed.

Not done yet. 2003 Annual Meeting Membership asked for this breakout for all future budgets. Board agreed to accomplish before next budget publication. Jerry and Mohammad will discuss with ABS.

ABS Requests Disposal of Orchard Knolls’ Pre-1996 Records – Not Discussed

Last month, BOD declined, requesting that Mohammad obtain ABS’s storage costs.

No Method for Funding New Capital Assets – Not Discussed.

There is no fund from which monies may be drawn for addition of new assets to the community. The current budget does not allow for saving or setting aside monies for approved new asset projects. Until now, any new capital assets must be paid for from surplus operating funds. General Reserve can only be used for replacing existing assets. A routine allocation process should be implemented to provide a vehicle to save for identified community approved projects.

Should HOA Mail (Distributed by ABS) go to Owner’s Alternate Addresses? – Not Discussed

Some owners have "blind" addresses for their actual residence. Their assessment bill is mailed to and paid by another financially responsible agent. ABS continues to ask BOD - Should HOA mail, prepared by ABS, be mailed to owner’s "alternate" address? Should it be duplicated for resident’s HOA property?

ABS’ Financial Statement, September 1 thru September 30:

Mohammad had not received September report from ABS before meeting began.

Financial Status – See "New Business"

VIII. UNFUNDED COMMUNITY PROPOSED PROJECTS:

Highlight "Orchard Knolls" Lettering on Entrance Marque

Upgrade Landscape for 5 of 6 cul-de-sacs

Duplicate Entrance Stone Marque on East Side of Blackberry Drive

Two Matching Streetlights to Blackberry Drive Island

Matching Colonial Lamps at Townhome Entrance

Brass "Orchard Knolls Towns" Plaques on Existing Stone Columns

Permanent Flagpoles with Uplighting at Front Entrance

Increase Berm Height at Senior Housing Boundary

Security Lighting along Creek and Bike Path

Erosion Control on South East Creek Bank, or,

Replace Pedestrian Bridge with Longer Span

Add 2 Missing Red Maples at each end of North-East Blackberry Drive

Upgrade North-East Tot-Lot

Upgrade South-West Tot-Lot or,

Covered Picnic Pavilion over South West Lot

Trim All Common Area Trees.

Add Streetlight to Cherry Blossom Place Parking Area

Landscape Cherry Blossom Place Transformers and Front Courtyard

Replace Sprinkler Enclosure - Larger unit Needed

Paint Curb Parking "Tics" on Cherry Blossom Lane.

IX. UNFUNDED, UNSCHEDULED REPAIRS;

Paint Gazebo and Mailbox Unit.

Replace Split Streetlight Pole on Cherry Blossom Court

Upgrade Streetlight Power Circuit Running at Capacity.

Pressure Wash/Seal Unsightly Retaining Wall Beams

Pressure Wash/Seal Unsightly Tot-Lot Benches

Provide Creek Bank Erosion Control at Pedestrian Bridge

Remove Common Area Stumps; Replace Previously Removed Trees

Regrade Gazebo Landscape; Eliminate Flooding Water

Reroute Water Flooding Common Area Adjacent to 15728 CBL

X. LEGAL ISSUES CURRENTLY ADDRESSED BY ATTORNEY(S):

CB Place – ARC of Montgomery County

Townhome Landscape Issues (Do Covenants Apply?)

Delinquent Assessment Collections

Tot-Lot Contract Review

PGC Dispute

Identifying Non Approved Day Care Operations

XI. VOLUNTEER COMMITTEES AND SUPPORT

Tot-Lot Upgrades Harris Leonard, Kathy Wyatt, Rita Becker, Maria Siravo, Lisa Goodman

Newsletter Brian Zarchin, Eileen Solomon

Directory Rita Becker, Rick Schinner, Lisa Goodman

Grounds Mohammad Homaitabar, Rick Schinner, Rita Becker

Sprinkler System Jerry Way, Terrence Chan

XII. ADJOURNMENT - Monthly meeting adjourned at 9:10 Pm.

XIII. NEXT MEETING - Monday, November 10, 7:00 Pm, location to be determined. 7-7:30 pm is reserved for 2004 budget planning session. Call any board member for location. All Orchard Knolls property owners welcome. Input by letter, email, or webpage is welcome.