ORCHARD KNOLLS HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION (HOA)
MONTHLY BOARD MEETING MINUTES
September 15, 2003 (No August Meeting)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS (BOD) PRESENT:
|President||Richard Schinnerfirstname.lastname@example.org||Jan 06|
|VP Single Family Homes||Lisa Goodmanemail@example.com||Jan 06|
|VP Townhomes||Eileen Solomonfirstname.lastname@example.org||Jan 04|
|Treasurer||Mohammad Homaitabaremail@example.com||Jan 05|
|Secretary||Jerry Wayfirstname.lastname@example.org||Jan 06|
ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE (ARC) PRESENT:
Chair Person: Kathy Wyatt
ARC Member: Rita Becker
ARC Member: Dennis Zepp
Homeowner: Neil Becker
Residents: Julie and David Belnap
I. CALL TO ORDER: Meeting at Eileen’s home. Called to order 7:20 Pm.
II. GUEST PRESENTATION:
Purpose of Presentation: Guests stated they wanted to discuss unmet expectations, complaints and issues they recently sent via e-mail to BOD. They amplified personal views as well as their perceived neighbor’s views. Their litany of complaints crossed a broad spectrum of projects and policy. Detail is noted by topic
Open forum: President invited guests to address the meeting. Rita Becker and the three guests spoke alternately as a team. Initially, it appeared they were representing interests of the whole community. However, after a while their issues narrowed to interests of the non-garaged townhome community. Rita and husband Neil are owners with membership voting rights. Rita was present in ARC member capacity, not as a guest. Neil is guest with membership voting rights. Their neighbors Julie and David Belnap are not members and do not have authority to make policy. BOD allowed the Belnap’s a courtesy of addressing the meeting. For documentation of these minutes, Rita, Neil, Julie and David will be hereon referred to as ‘Guests’:
Guests did not attend Annual Meeting, or read Minutes of Monthly Meetings: During guest dialog, BOD noted continual unfounded allegations regarding direction the board was pursuing over many months on multiple projects. Board members were forced to advise guests that many of their facts were incorrect. Guests continually challenged project need and related implementation issues. Their perceptions of project needs and status were muddled due to lack of accurate facts. Their expectations were unmet because they were missing key project information. Upon further investigation, it turned out that none of them attended the annual membership meeting. At that meeting, the topics they were addressing were formulated, debated, and plans set in motion by our membership, not the BOD. Project requirements, direction, restrictions, and mandates emanated from that meeting. In addition, guests had not read any minutes related to their issue’s progress. They were oblivious of BOD effort, key project steps, alternatives, or financial status on any of their topics.
After 30 minutes, BOD ended the guests presentation to move on with the monthly meeting.
Previous Minutes are posted on web at least one week before board meeting. Hard copy was made available to guests. President called for changes. A clarification was made to Section III ‘Sheds Vs Fence’ to insert 2002 after April. No further changes. Motion made to approve and seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
IV. ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE BUSINESS :
Spring 2003 Townhomes Walk-Through Letters – 30 Day Compliance Review: - BOD estimated that about half of the problem areas have been resolved. Three of the 5 site review sheets were returned tonight. Other board members were encouraged to complete reviews and get them to Rick.
Fall 2003 Detached Homes Walk-Through Scheduled – Board and ARC agreed to accomplish the Semi-Annual walk-through on Sunday, October 19, beginning at 3pm.
Townhome Deck Awnings – Tabled, Not Discussed.
Background: A townhome owner recently submitted an Architectural Change Request for an awning. It was rejected with notation that ARC and BOD were wrestling with the issue. Others in the community have expressed interest in adding a townhome awning. Per covenants, awnings are allowed subject to approval of an Architectural Change Request. Some members of ARC and BOD expressed a desire to prohibit them for townhomes. If so, covenants must be amended which requires a membership vote. In lieu of amending, ARC and BOD could develop a limiting criteria for ARC Guidelines. There is no current basis for ARC rejection.
Townhome Sheds - New ARC Guideline Approved - The following criteria for the Architectural Guidelines document was approved tonight by a majority vote of the ARC:
Townhome Sheds: Every shed requires submission of an Architectural Change Request to the Architectural Review Committee. Sheds shall not be installed without written approval from the committee. Sheds with poured concrete foundations will not be approved. Sheds will therefore be considered temporary structures and will continue to be controlled by temporary structure covenants. Sheds must be of a material that will not rust. Design and color must be in harmony with siding and trim of the townhome. Townhome sheds will only be approved for rear yards and only approved if the yard is completely fenced in compliance with HOA fencing criteria. No more than 1 shed will be approved per lot. Roof peak shed height shall not exceed top of fence. Total area footprint of a shed shall not exceed 10% of available rear yard space as measured inside property lines. The required Architectural Change Request application must be pre-approved in writing by owners on both sides of the proposed townhome location. Shed removals must include footprint restoration with sod. Townhome sheds and installations must meet all Montgomery County codes.
Rick will amend our on-line form Architectural Change Request to add the word ‘Sheds’ within the approval section for adjacent neighbors to sign before the request is submitted to ARC.
ARC Change Requests Processed:
|12002 Cherry Blossom Place||Townhome Shed||Approved
(Contingent on completing fence)
|9 Citrus Grove Court||Siding Color Change||Approved|
|12008 Blackberry Terrace||Brick Walkway||Approved|
Master Copy of ARC Guidelines Needs Recent Updates – Not Discussed.
Background: "Architectural Guidelines"on the web page is not up to date. Key voted and approved changes from recent BOD and ARC are not included. The master copy and web should be updated.
(Editorial Comment – Jerry will have the updated master ready for approval at next meeting).
V. BOARD OF DIRECTORS - OLD BUSINESS:
Guests Perceptions: Guests expressed their view that BOD had not followed up on 2002 recommendations of the Committee. Guests appeared unaware of any progressive activity accomplished by the board since committee recommended a $44,000 upgrade. Guests agreed they did not want their assessment increased.
BOD admonished guests alleging that they circulated misinformation and precipitated unwarranted anger and animosity toward BOD in non-garaged townhomes on this project. This animosity is reflected in a myriad of negative emails to BOD from that community. Rick read excerpts from the emails.
Background: Tot-Lot Upgrade Committee presented a comprehensive presentation at January 2003 Annual Membership Meeting (See minutes). Committee interviewed three suppliers and found tot-lot equipment costs skyrocketed. Committee recommended a $44,000 proposal by "All Rec". If approved, it would have consumed 80% of our Replacement Reserve Funds – resulting in a huge compensation assessment increase. Later In that meeting, membership restricted BOD to upgrade tot-lots only if it could be done with no increased assessments. Committee chair expressed great displeasure that BOD did not immediately proceed. Within a month, committee chair turned over files to BOD and immediately disbanded. This left the community with an overwhelming funding problem.
Cost Cutting: Over following months, BOD implemented several wise cost reduction decisions. An initial reduction spent operating monies (preserving reserves) to have our own contractors remove unsafe equipment rather than the upgrade contractor. Similarly we relocated the 3 marble benches outside the lots using our own contractors and operating monies. Bench moves for kids safety were requested by other tot-lot user families and also to meet new county rules. To further reduce costs, BOD rejected committee’s other extravagant additions included in their proposal such as expensive new turf material and expensive new benches. BOD also developed reduced work scope and reduced lot configurations which further cut costs. BOD then conducted 3 contractor negotiation meetings and 2 financial alternative meetings in order to fund at least one tot-lot upgrade. In total, BOD reduced committee’s proposed costs to about $30,000, but we still could not afford to upgrade all three lots.
Upgrade Only One Lot - To meet membership’s mandate of "no increased assessment" the board is forced to limit the upgrade to one tot-lot. BOD decided to delay upgrade of the North-East lot. It will also recommend to the membership to close the South-West lot nearest Blackberry Drive. BOD will limit the upgrade to the South-East Lot to avoid raising assessments. If community wishes additional upgrades, membership will have to accept a major increase in assessments for 2004.
Tot-Lots, not Playgrounds: Rita Becker questioned why committee only included equipment for young children. BOD responded that committee specifically did not want to attract kids older than elementary school because declining discipline brings new problems. Also equipment has to be heavy duty which further raises cost. Equipment for that level was out of the question from start. We are one of the smallest Homeowner Associations in Montgomery County. BOD feels our community does not have a mission to get kids off the street - that is a parental responsibility.
Tot Lot’s Future: BOD discussed indications that very few of our 150 owners send children to our tot-lots. A straw poll indicates that less than 10% would support an assessment increase for tot-lots. At 2003 Annual Meeting, membership mandated: "No assessment increase for tot-lot upgrades".
Close South West Lot: This is within 50-Feet of lot proposed for new equipment. A significant assessment increase will be required to upgrade this lot. BOD recommends closure. Only one piece of 13 year old equipment remains. It will have to be removed shortly. BOD recommends grassing it over.
North-East lot will not be Upgraded at this time: Equipment in this lot is safe and should last another year or two. There are no funds to upgrade this lot now. BOD is doubtful the community is willing to support an assessment increase for this lot at this time.
New Equipment Supplier: Since last meeting, Kathy, Rick and Lisa located another contractor (Creative Playthings) out of Massachusetts. They have local agents. The local agents measured our lots and have provided lesser cost proposals with more equipment. Quality is comparable to All-Rec. They can meet our requirements for one tot-lot, retaining reduced costs, as long as we do the work before end of October. Their combination play unit is made of non-destructible composite materials. Equipment options are same as "All Rec". The dual swing set unit is powder-coated steel. Creative Playthings will provide one demo unit at significant savings and one large new combination unit.
Reduced Costs / Funding Proposal: The reduced cost of this upgrade for this one lot will be $12,600. The equivalent upgrade with All-Rec is about $7,000 more. BOD agreed to fund this upgrade from General Reserves. There is only about $8,000 in General Reserves allocated for tot-lot upgrades. BOD agreed to temporarily draw down remaining General Reserve Funds which are now in escrow for replacement of other aging assets. To restore the Reserve Fund, BOD agreed to adjust upcoming 2004 budget to increase quarterly allocated income to General Reserves. This budget adjustment will restore the Reserve Fund over the next few years. However, without an assessment increase, it will make it more difficult for BOD to accomplish discretionary upgrades from operating costs.
BOD Approved (South-East) Tot-Lot Upgrade Tonight: Rick uploaded a diagram of the proposed equipment to the web. The new merry-go-round will remain in that lot. BOD asked ARC to jointly review and approve the package in-lieu-of our absent playground committee. After reviewing details of the proposal from Creative Playthings, the following BOD motion was made to proceed: Accept approximate $12,600 offer (installed) from Creative Playthings for the demo Swing Set Unit, and the Rocky Mount combination unit – contingent upon the total package properly fitting into the South-East Tot-Lot, installation complete by end of October, and a 25 Year warranty against major defects. Colors are to be dark green and wood tone browns. The motion was seconded and passed by all 5 board members. The equipment will likely be ordered this week, after our attorney reviews the contract.
Tot-Lot Weeds Removed. Big-Bark will soon be Added: Rick advised BOD that he had contracted with our landscaping contractor to kill and remove weeds from all tot-lots. Jerry reminded BOD that earlier in the summer, BOD delayed installation of tot-lot big-bark (part of landscaping contract) until after playground decision was made. Jerry will now arrange for the big-bark installation in November. However, anticipating closure of the South-East lot, only the North and newly upgraded South-East tot-lots will be addressed.
Common Area Behavior (RULES):
Requirement and Background: Early 2002, many owners asked BOD to control unacceptable behavior of children and adults on common areas. Our attorney provided BOD with the initial draft document. BOD defined unacceptable behavior in terms of complaints received from owners. BOD wanted to obtain feedback from the total community before adoption, so they introduced RULES at 2003 Annual Meeting. After explaining need, history and rules, BOD opened the floor for comments and suggestions. After much discussion, membership requested that BOD update RULES with suggestions made at that time, and provide a total community review before final adoption. Over next few months, BOD followed that mandate. Annual meeting minutes identify that discussion and mandate. BOD further developed definitions and formulated a plan to distribute the final draft and explanation with the newsletter. RULES related issues were also outlined in a recent newsletter article to all 150 owners. BOD communicated its background and need, and asked for comments and suggestions before adoption. It was mailed to all 150 voting owners in July. Each of our 150 owners was asked to respond if they wished to prevent adoption before next BOD meeting.
Perceptions - In August, our guests sent e-mail to BOD containing unexpected questions on this topic. Their emailed questions revealed they were uninformed about facts on the project. For example guests asked: "Why didn’t the board conduct an open meeting on the Rules?" There were 7 advertised open meetings (January 2003 annual meeting and 6 other board meetings) where this project was debated, and discussed at length. Guests also highlighted a RULES complaint letter from Neil Becker, as well as an anonymous petition of 14 names opposed to RULES. (There were 18 listed but 4 are not valid. 3 are not owners, and 1- HOC. HOC name must be an officer). Petition was anonymously left at door of board member’s homes sometime in last few days.
No Research or Participation - Guests did no research and missed every opportunity for participating in formulation and communication on RULES. Annual Meeting and BOD monthly minutes clearly identify details and forcasted the steps. Guests agreed that they did not attend annual meeting, had not read minutes of annual meeting or any subsequent board meeting where this issue was discussed and progressed. It was apparent they also did not read details in the newsletter article explaining need, source, plan development, or review process. Only membership (owners) can make community policy
Incorrect Assertions - Tonight’s guests all reside in non-garaged townhome community. Guests continually implied that RULES was generated by BOD for some sinister purpose resulting in singling out non-garaged townhome residents as focus. BOD stated that was factually not correct. BOD’s investigation revealed that guests conducted a door to door campaign to implement a petition – while simultaneously circulating an inflammatory but non-related personal letter to the board. The letter was from a single family home owner to BOD on a matter unrelated to RULES. The letter informed BOD of a trashed treadmill recently dumped in the creek behind non-garaged townhomes. It did imply that lack of discipline by parents of children in the non-garaged community needed attention. Non-garaged residents were offended by the letter, but it had no relationship with the one year-old RULES project. BOD explained that in hindsight, the letter reinforces the need for RULES. Misinformation on RULES, intentionally combined with unwarranted circulation of the letter, falsely focused blame toward BOD as cause of all perceived problems. The letter issue is described in a separate topic below.
BOD asked guests why, if they had such problems with the proposed rules, they did not approach the BOD personally about their concerns. After all, it was only last year that these same guests approached the BOD about a very hostile and problem family in their area and BOD responded quickly, resulting in the welcomed eviction of the problem family, by the townhome owner.
Mixed Community Response: BOD received only about a dozen responses from the 150 copies mailed to each owner with requests for comments and suggestions. Generally, responses consisted of some concerns, a few objecting to adopting the RULES, and a few in 100% support. Many offered objective suggestions to edit them before adoption. In addition to the emailed responses, BOD received an anonymous petition with 14 qualified names objecting to adoption
A Lawful Rule: Guests stated that according to an attorney they contacted, RULES were not legal. Guests further incorrectly asserted that BOD has no right to propagate such rules. BOD responded that RULES was drafted by our Homeowner Association attorney. BOD further advised guests that RULES do not require a membership vote. They were lawfully established under our By-Laws, Article VIII, Section 1: "BOD has power to adopt and publish rules governing use of common areas and personal conduct of members and guests, as well as establish penalties for infractions".
BOD compared this to our Daycare Rule 1995-1, and Satellite Rule 2001-3, adopted by other HOAs.
Valid Criticism. Also Evidence of Positive Support. Adoption Delayed: BOD acknowledged that some terms and definitions need rework. BOD already agreed to re-edit them more in-line with community thinking. Per the newsletter, every objective criticism and suggestion will be taken into account for another edit. BOD showed guests evidence of the positive responses from the community, including several where members approved the RULES, as well as testimonials for doing a good job. BOD expects to continue with the membership mandate by re-editing, and bring the issue to the community at next annual meeting in 2004. The Board’s position is that others in the community continue to express a desire for RULES. Responses and petition review presented BOD with sufficient evidence to temporarily delay adoption.
Newsletter Mailed - Resident and owner Brian Zarchin, with several members of the board, put in many hours of volunteer effort and provided key professional skills at no cost to HOA to produce the latest newsletter. Rick and Jerry spent several days editing and transporting, printing and getting it mailed. Several board members spent many hours researching information for articles. Although volunteer, there are also significant printing, mailing and materials costs to HOA. Newsletter was mailed to all 150 owners in late July.
Guests expressed their opinion that newsletters should be sent to residents, not owners. BOD explained that the reason this newsletter with RULES was mailed only to owners is that only owners set policy. Tenants and renters cannot vote or sign petitions on HOA matters without a proxy. Communication responsibility is between owner and tenant, not between tenant and BOD. Guests argued that in past years, block captains volunteered to distribute the newsletter to all 150 homes – so that tenants and renters would be updated. Board responded that keeping renters updated is desirable, but only owners establish policy. Further, there are only 14 (of 150) non-resident owners. Lastly, there were no volunteer block captains to distribute anything to all 150 homes.
BOD felt this newsletter was the most attractive and informative publication in Orchard Knolls 13 year history. Yet, no positive comments have been received. Apparently, there is no interest, high criticism, and little benefit for this community. A cost/benefit analysis will be conducted to determine value before another newsletter.
Fence Clarifications: Guests questioned why BOD spent potential tot-lot money in 2002 to add fence. Guests questioned why pressure treated wood with arsenic was used. According to them, it is not approved by Montgomery County.
Regarding funding, BOD responded that end-of-year unspent operating funds were used for extending existing fences. This approach kept us within 2002 budget. Our contractor prices were lowest of several others per installed linear foot with higher quality materials and concrete set posts. Due to weather delays work did not complete until early 2003. Surplus operating funds do not get accrued. Cash flow was tight, but we stayed within budget. No Capital Reserve Tot-Lot Equipment Funds were used for fencing.
BOD explained that fencing was a matching add-on to existing split-rail fence in tot-lots for child safety. It also added immediate aesthetic beautification by adding to existing common area split-rail fences. We have had more appreciative comments from owners from this project than any other project since we organized in 1990. Since 1992, common areas had partial split rail fence, tot-lots were partially fenced, as were creek boundaries. There was also decorative split-rail fencing along Blackberry Drive. Essentially, we chose to add to existing and make what already existed more functional. Closing fencing around tot-lots was done in response to many concerned families over several years. They worried that toddler children would wander out of sight over the berm, into Cherry Blossom Lane (North tot-lot) or, into creek areas, or Blackberry Drive at South tot-lots. Extending the fence along West Blackberry Drive was to isolate the creek area and East side common area from private property. It was also only an extension of our existing fencing to PGC on the West side.
Regarding use of pressure treated wood, Our licensed contractor says that arsenic is always included in pressure treatment. Contrary to rumor, it is not prohibited in Montgomery County
Potomac Garden Center Ultimatum – BOD reviewed a new draft of a very strong letter from our attorney to PGC which included an ultimatum law suit. After discussions, BOD recommended the letter be softened but only this last time. Rick and Mohammad will edit the letter, get back with our attorney and send the letter to PGC this month.
SHA Rt. 28 Issues:
Add Median Crepe Myrtle Trees: Jerry noted that SHA had installed median trees and sidewalk trees both east and west of our entrance, but that none of our promised trees had been installed. Jerry advised BOD that he sent an email letter to Steve Ches, Sr Engineer, SHA Highway Division asking for an explanation.
Add Center Island Plum Trees: Same as above.
Restore East Entrance Zone 1 Sprinkler System along Rt. 28 - Not Discussed
SHA damaged this zone beyond repair and agreed to replace it.
Uplighting Blackberry Drive Center Island: Not Discussed.
(Editorial Update): Unity provided a quote of $2,250 to finish uplighting. The underground low voltage supply circuits are already in place. Rick and Jerry tentatively postponed the work due to lack of funds at this time.
Sprinkle Blackberry Drive Center Island - Not Discussed.
(Editorial Update): This month, Unity provided a estimate of approximately $1000 to add the sprinkler distribution in the center island. The underground supply pipe is already installed. Rick and Jerry tentatively postponed the work due to lack of funds at this time.
Add Two Streetlights to Blackberry Drive Center Island - Not Discussed.
We have asked Power Systems Electric for a quote on this project. This project cannot be accomplished until the townhome power circuit is upgraded. See next item.
Townhome Streetlight Power Circuit Overloaded – Not Discussed
(Editorial Update) Jerry participated with contractor in accomplishing a load test this month to determine the work scope and cost to do the upgrade. A contractor quote is due shortly.
Add Blackberry Drive Crosswalk at Playground - Not Discussed.
Lisa is working with Montgomery County in an effort to have this accomplished.
Replace Yield with Stop Sign at Blackberry Drive & Terrace - Not Discussed.
Lisa is working with Montgomery County in an effort to have this accomplished
Upgrade Orchard Knolls Web Site – Not Discussed.
Rick recommends this upgrade and will investigate requirements and cost.
Common Area Lots Adjacent to End-Unit Townhomes are Deteriorating - Not Discussed.
Grassed lots adjacent to each end-unit belong to the community and have become eyesores from neglect
Townhome Curb Parking - "T" Boundary Painting – Not Discussed
(Editorial Update): Mohammad and Jerry volunteered to accomplish the project themselves. However, Jerry updated Mohammad that his own recent research indicated that it may be unwise to attempt to do this ourselves. Paint managers at Lowes and Home Depot both advise that non-professional applications and materials often later adhere to tires and it "tracks" across adjacent areas. They recommend having it done by a professional striper. American Striping quoted $399 to do the job in 2001.
OWNER Complaint: 12*** Pineapple Grove Drive – Storm Door Violation. Not Discussed.
Owner sent us an email 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" storm door. Owner waiting Board’s response.
Storm Door Violation: 12*** Pineapple Grove Drive – Not Discussed.
Owner has not been notified. Letter from 12005 (above) cites neighbor at 12004 with same unapproved storm door. Board should respond
OWNER Complaint: 15*** Cherry Blossom Lane – Trim Color Violation – Not Discussed.
Owner sent us an email responding to our letter citing property for having unapproved white color trim rails. Owner says they have been white for 3 years and declines to change the color now. Board needs to respond.
OWNER Complaint: 12*** Blackberry Terrace – Cul-de-Sac Azaleas Dying: Lisa expressed that this is an urgent need with a lot of attention by the detached home community. We have 6 cul-de-sac(s). Jerry responded that we estimate the cost at about $500 per cul-de-sac, therefore the project will cost about $3,000. There are no funds at this time. Lisa suggests this is a candidate for raising assessment in 2004.
Unpainted Deck Rails: 12*** Cherry Blossom Place. Not Discussed.
Owner in long-term violation of ARC Change Request which required painting of deck rails to match trim.
OWNER Complaint: 15*** Cherry Blossom Lane - Common Area Eyesore. – Not Discussed.
Owner requested help at Annual Meeting. Between 15728 & 15732. Collects water/mud. Shrubs overgrown.
12*** Cherry Blossom Place – Unlicensed Business (?) Not Discussed.
Owner recently rented 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. The 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.
Gazebo Mailbox Unit Damaged by Children: This month, Jerry had to wash down the entire mailbox unit with strong cleaner due to chalked graffiti and mud damage by children. Some will not come off. Both Eileen and Jerry have had to remove children from on top of mailboxes in gazebo last month. HOA had to repair wood top several times due to this situation. Children climb up front of unit to get on top. Gazebo & Mailbox unit was painted last year – in need of painting again. Repainting and proposed measures to extend the top to the ceiling were discussed but not approved.
Trash In Around Gazebo: Children are bringing mud and trash inside and around the gazebo, under shrubs and throughout Cherry Blossom Place - requiring Eileen and Dennis hours of cleanup. Neighbors have complained of a significant increase in the quantity of children hanging out in the Gazebo. Rick advised that the proposed Behavior Rule and Enforcement Procedures may help this type situation in the future.
In August, Rita Becker led a team of neighborhood children a cleanup of trash in the gazebo area. Thank You Rita. Rita feels that more can be done to involve the children in taking care of the neighborhood.
OWNER Complaint: 12*** Cherry Blossom Place: Gazebo Shrubs Overgrown - Rick will contact our landscaper, or JL Landscape to have this trimming done this month.
Senior Center Construction:
Excavation Limbs and Trash dumped on our property – Not Discussed.
In August, Jerry met with Mike the General Contractor. Mike agreed to have it cleaned up immediately.
Add Screening Trees to Sr Home Center’s Rt 28 Island: Rick contacted the partners this month. Partners agreed that if SHA did not do this – they would have it done.
OWNER Complaint: 15*** Blackberry Dr: Sprinkler Flooding Yard and Drive. – Not Discussed.
This re-work to be done by Unity, will cost, and must be authorized to be done either at shutdown next month, or in spring 2004 startup.
Owner Complaint : 15*** Cherry Blossom La: Water Pooling at Gazebo; Mosquitoes – Not Discussed.
Several owners 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.
Owner Complaint: Low Hanging Limbs over Sidewalks need Cutting: Not-Discussed.
This matter is addressed in the Newsletter.
Owner Complaint; 15*** Cherry Blossom La - Limbs Over South Townhome Parking – Not Discussed.
Owner Thomas Provost sent us a letter complimenting community on progress and upkeep. However, Tom cited dangerous large limbs overhanging the striped parking in the South Cherry Blossom Lane lot.
Owner Complaint: 12*** Cherry Blossom Place – 2 Large Dead HOA Trees. Rick added these two trees to the list to be removed by JL Landscape. (See above).
Community Directory Update: Not Discussed.
Rita Becker volunteered to work with Rick’s data base information and initiate a new update of the directory and begin the process to publish. Jerry noted that Brian Zarchin had offered to assist with this effort in the past. Rita will contact Brian.
VI. BOARD OF DIRECTORS; NEW BUSINESS
Children Blocking Traffic, Excessive Noise, Confrontations – South-East Cherry Blossom Lane
Several complaint letters have been received regarding 10-12 children regularly playing in the street at the intersection of Cherry Blossom Place and Cherry Blossom Lane. One letter states that the situation is making it uncomfortable for nearby neighbors. The problem seems to be focused on the children refusing to move for cars, throwing balls and rocks in the street, making excessive noise, and refusing to go elsewhere to play. In addition, neighbors are not convinced that all the children are HOA residents. BOD is proceeding with nearby tot-lot upgrade but will consider possible alternative actions.
HOA Meeting Info: Guests complained that our community did not know when or where board meetings were taking place, or how to contact the board. Board meeting dates have not changed in many years. They are consistently the second Monday of every month, communicated in newsletters and on web site. Annual Meeting date, time and location is also communicated in prior minutes on web, and with a large sign posted at our community exit, one week before meeting every year. Monthly BOD meeting time and date is posted on web site – call any board member for location. Guests also incorrectly asserted they had no way to contact board members. Board responded that every segment of the community is represented by a member on the Board and ARC. They know where members live, and that BOD telephone numbers for every member are on web at top of the minutes. Board reminded guests that there is also an email link from web site to contact the board of directors and reminded them that they had successfully used that link several times.
Abandoned Treadmill Letter, Guests want Action - Guests complained that in their view, BOD has a responsibility to take action against an owner that earlier e-mailed a letter to BOD complaining of an abandoned Nordic-Track, high-value, treadmill into the creek behind non-garaged townhomes. In the letter (addressed only to BOD), guests allege that author took poetic license in a fashion which tended to incriminate several possible culprits in the non-garaged townhome area. After investigating, BOD replied to the author via email advising that: 1) It would have been easier to transport and dump the large treadmill into the creek from Single Family Homes side – rather than the non-garaged townhome area, 2) BOD called police in the event the expensive unit was stolen, 3) a plan was in motion to get rid of the trashed treadmill. BOD copied ARC on the response, because trash in the creek was an ARC issue. Apparently, a member of ARC unilaterally circulated the original letter to residents of non-garaged townhomes raising much anger, nasty phone calls and negative email toward members of the board. Board read resulting emails derogatory to BOD, for guests.
BOD stated they do not get involved in neighbor to neighbor disputes, therefore it chose to ignore non garaged townhome demands for response. BOD noted that author of the letter, along with volunteers from BOD, removed the trashed unit to the dump within two weeks. BOD collectively stated that they found ARC member’s unilateral circulation of HOA email to be out of line, and that resulting unfounded and unwarranted anger generated toward BOD members was beyond offensive. BOD advised guests tonight that it will not pursue that matter. Culprit remains in hiding. No appreciation for removal of the treadmill was noted.
Early September Storm Damage (Pre Hurricane Isabel Damage) - Rick reported that there were several large Bradford pear trees down on common areas, as well as a dozen or more large limbs. He had contracted with JL Landscape to cut them up and remove them.
Other Dead Trees in Common Areas – Rick made arrangements with JL Landscape to immediately remove obvious dead trees and downed limbs on all common areas
White Fence Parallel to RT 28 East of Blackberry Drive is Unsightly – Not Discussed.
(Editorial Comment): Since SHA excavated and removed the 30-Foot grass area between our berm and old Rt 28, then added a sidewalk, about ½ of our white fence appears to go downhill behind the sidewalk. SHA says their surveyors noted that the fence is in their right-of-way. It provides very unkempt appearance from Rt 28. HOA should relocate the fence higher on berm, or remove that section east of the Verizon switch unit.
Sprinkler System Shutdown: Jerry alerted Unity to provide a system shutdown date.
Gazebo Photo Cell Damaged by Children; Replaced and Relocated: Neighbors noticed the lights constantly on in the gazebo. Jerry called our electrical contractor who did repairs and reported that the photo cell located behind the gazebo rails at grade level was physically damaged. Jerry authorized contractor to replace it and relocate the new one high and out of site on the gazebo away from children’s reach.
Long-Life Bulbs Added to Entrance Colonial Lamps and in Gazebo. Not Discussed.
(Editorial Update) Gazebo bulbs added this month. This project is complete.
G&G Landscape – Complaints Continue. Mulch around beds and trees quickly disappeared this summer and has not been replaced. Many Common area shrubs were not trimmed. Streetlight trees were not trimmed. Townhome edging not done. Some common areas not cut. Damage done to private plantings. Mower caused turf damage is evident on many common area hillsides. Spring re-seeding did not materialize. Front entrance flowers were sparse. Common area trees were not trimmed. There was no on-site English speaking supervision. "Contractor Ownership" was missing. On a positive note, weeds are less. Rick met with owner this month. Not much promise for future correction was accomplished. BOD agreed not to release 2004 contract exclusively to G&G, but instead to rebid. Rita Becker volunteered to assist Mohammad in that effort. Meade Landscape is interested in bidding. Rick already provided a draft of our RFP to Mead.
Creek Erosion Worsening - Bridge Twisting – Replace with Longer Span? – Rick was instrumental in involving Mead Tree & Turf Care in this problem – Mead strongly recommends 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 Streetlight Out – The County’s Rt 28 colonial fixture streetlight at the west corner of Blackberry Drive is vital to that corner at night. It has been out for nearly 2 years – most likely due to the construction. Jerry called county for repair this month. They agreed to repair it in 7 – 10 days.
VII. FINANCIAL ISSUES, ABS BOOKKEEPING, AND TREASURER’S REPORT:
Increase Assessments for 2004? Jerry noted that he forwarded a list of current unfunded community-requested upgrade project costs to each board member. Quotes and estimates approximate $52,350 – exclusive of upgrading remaining tot-lots. Operating costs have risen dramatically. Reserves will be under funded after tot-lot upgrade approved tonight. BOD members are mixed on approving an assessment increase.
BOD has unilateral power for a 10% assessment increase over previous year, plus a percent equal to the consumer price index for the preceding year - without a community vote.
BOD must decide if they wish to raise the assessment - or cut costs and services. The new budget must be cast and distributed to the community by November 15 if there is to be an assessment increase. Jerry alerted BOD that research for an assessment increase is not an easy task due to the disproportionate impact on community segments.
Budget: 2004 Preparation: BOD decided to implement a series of work meetings to prepare a draft budget. The first will be a preparation session from 7-7:30 before next monthly board meeting
ABS’ August Financial Report:
15*** Delinquent Tree Assessment - Bad Debt? - ABS wants to know if HOA wishes to write off the amount as bad debt. BOD discussed and decided to leave as a delinquent – collectible when unit is sold.
Assessment Delinquencies: Reduced from previous month. No New reports
2001-2002 Storm Damage Insurance Reimbursement- Not Discussed.
2002 Property Losses from lightning are still not paid, however Mohammad reports that he has provided all the correct receipts to State Farm. Mohammad will continue to pursue collecting these funds.
Reserves Allocation Adjustment – Not Discussed.
Jerry and Mohammad will request that ABS correct the percentage of reserve funds between Townhome (Currently 31%) Vs General Reserve Funds (Currently 69%) to more accurately reflect asset replacement needs by each fund.
Budget: 2002 Annual Meeting Request; Break Reserves into Townhome and General - Not Discussed.
Members asked for this breakout in the current budget. Board agreed to accomplish before next budget publication. Jerry and Mohammad will discuss with ABS.
Budget : No Method for Funding New Capital Asset Projects – Not Discussed.
HOA Mail Distributed by ABS – Not Discussed
Should it be mailed to owner’s "alternate" address? Duplicated for residents of owners HOA property?
VIII. UNFUNDED COMMUNITY PROPOSED PROJECTS:
Duplicate the Entrance Marquee on our East Side
Upgrade Underground Circuits Before Adding Center Island lighting.
Up Lighting Center Island
Add 2 Streetlights to Center Island
Colonial Lamps at Townhome Entrance
Permanent Flagpoles at Front Entrance
Increase East Berm Height at Senior Housing Boundary
Security Lighting along Creek and Bike Path – (Address after Tot-Lot Upgrade)
Pressure Wash and Seal Rotting and Unsightly Retaining Walls
Pressure Wash and Seal Rotting and Unsightly Benches in Tot-Lots
Install Creek Bank Erosion Control at Pedestrian Bridge
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
Upgrade all cul-de-sac landscaping (Azaleas)
Trim Trees on Common Areas.
Remove Stumps and Replace trees that have died and been removed.
IX. LEGAL ISSUES CURRENTLY ADDRESSED BY ATTORNEY(S):
12*** CB Place – ARC of Montgomery County
Owner Landscape Issues for Townhomes (Do Covenants Apply?)
Delinquent Assessment Collections
Tot-Lot Upgrade Contract Review
PGC Dispute Consulting
X. VOLUNTEER COMMITTEES AND SUPPORT
Tot-Lots: Rick Schinner, Kathy Wyatt, Rita Becker, Maria Siravo
Newsletter: Brian Zarchin, Eileen Solomon
Directory: Rita Becker, Rick Schinner
Grounds: Mohammad Homaitabar, Rick Schinner, Rita Becker
Sprinkler System: Jerry Way, Terrence Chan
XI. ADJOURNMENT Monthly meeting adjourned at 9:20 Pm.
XII. NEXT MEETING - Monday, October 13, 7:00 Pm, location to be determined. 7-7:30 pm is reserved for 2004 pre-budget planning session. Call any board member for location. All Orchard Knolls property owners welcome. Input by letter (P.O. Box 4225, North Potomac, MD 20885), email, or webpage is welcome.