Hickory Farms Board Meeting

November 14, 2012

8:00 – 9:20 pm



John Kitzmiller, President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee

Kathy Sayyed, At Large Member

Ed Wagner, Secretary


Board Position Assignments:


Newsletter Distribution:


Annual Dues:


Posting “No Hunting Allowed” Signs in Common Grounds:

 Neighborhood Directory:

 Scope of HFCA jurisdiction: 

November 13, 2012 -- Governmental Center Briefing Regarding Home Owners Associations:

A Board member attended this meeting to learn about the common challenges, changes in laws, etc. that could impact the Hickory Farms Community Association.

·         Key points learned at the meeting include:

o   VPOAA, the law that governs home owner associations has been amended to require that an association must have a complaint process to deal with any potential claims that a Board ruling or decision is in violation of the law.

o   There are 8 – 10 thousand home owners associations in Virginia.

o   Representatives from the Virginia State Government were not willing to develop a template or example of a complaint process that the associations could use.

o   The Board will ask Bruce Bernhardt to have his working group examine a specific complaint process as part of their rules and regulations work.

·         Subsequent to the meeting, a Board member found that a template for the complaint process was in fact available from the Virginia Common Interest Community Ombudsman.  This template was adapted for use for the Hickory Farms Community Association.  The Board approved the document by unanimous email vote, with the last vote cast December 5, 2012.


 Water Runoff in North Path Area:

·         At the request of residents, Don Lobeda has gone out to the north path during different storms to examine what’s occurring with the runoff, including speaking with residents.

·         One of the issues appears to involve a French drain that has been installed by a resident of another community, which results in water emptying within 4 feet of our path.  Unfortunately, this is a situation that the Board cannot resolve.

·         A second issue appears to result from a neighboring street, which the drain installed by the city is emptying across the Hickory Farms path and is wearing it away.  Don will contact Fairfax City Soil and Water Conservation in an effort to get this issue resolved.


Rules and Regulations Working Group:

·         The working group established at the annual meeting has met and is making progress.  They are following the process outlined at the annual meeting.

·         The working group needed the approval of the Board to look at the by-laws as part of their effort.  The Board approved the addition of this scope to the working group.


 Next Meeting:

·         The next Board meeting will be in February, with the date and location to be determined.

·         The Board may have earlier meeting if rules committee has something to be reviewed.



Hickory Farms Community Association Annual Meeting, October 10, 2012


Members of the Board Present

John Kitzmiller

Kirk Randall

Don Lobeda

Kathy Sayyed

Dante Gilmer

Ed Wagner


Call to Order

John called the meeting to order at 8:10 pm.  The 37 members in attendance, along with 18 proxy forms submitted provided a quorum for the meeting (55 of 198 homes represented).


Approval of Previous Minutes

The minutes from last year’s meeting were approved, with no issues raised.


Report on Finances

Dante reviewed the financial report for the year, noting the following key points.

·         Provided an overview of the budget and $29,550 dues received, noting that 96 of 198 homes had paid their annual dues.  

·         He explained the entry fees and expenses associated with the GMU membership to aquatic center, which up through this year could only be done through the community association.  Over 50 people took advantage of this opportunity, which inflated the funds collected for the year by $9,000.  The community association simply provided a pass through for the membership fees because the GMU representative did not want to accept personal checks from individuals.

·         Members may now purchase these discounted memberships directly without the community association’s involvement.

·         The board had shortened the timeframe for paying dues to provide sufficient time to recoup unpaid dues if in certain circumstances, such as homes in foreclosure, in process of being sold, etc.   The process for recouping annual dues can involve letters from our lawyer and liens, which takes time.  The objective is to ensure that the buyer of a house in Hickory Farms knows about outstanding dues and legal fees at settlement.

·         The board has continued its efforts to meet the objective of having a reserve fund equivalent to one year’s worth of dues (about $30 thousand) to deal with unexpected costs, such as repairs to walkways in the common grounds, higher than expected common ground expenses, such as for fallen trees, etc.  Although the association has not reached the $30 thousand goal, the board does not plan any type of dues increase or special assessment.  

·         The board will continue to fund he reserve from any excess funds resulting from lower than planned expenses.


The membership approved the 2013 budget, for which the dues will remain at the current level of $150 per year.


Report on Common Grounds

This year was costly in terms of common grounds maintenance due to the number of trees and branches knocked down.  To date, the community association has spent about $1,500 for downed tree cleanup, not including another tree that recently fell.  The cleanup of trees has caused an overrun of the budget for this year, with the final cost of cleanup likely to reach $3,000.


Based on questions raised, Don reviewed the general criteria for deciding on the cleanup of downed trees in the common area.  In general, the community association will pay for cleanup only if a tree comes down in the area that needs to be mowed.  In the cases of dead trees or branches, cleanup will be done only if the tree/branch is a hazard to a walkway area or to a resident’s home.


A discussion about various areas of the common grounds occurred, with the primary focus on concerns about overgrowth of trees and shrubs causing a narrowing of pathway areas.  This narrowing is occurring naturally, in part because of invasive plans and the lawn service may not be mowing as broad an area as previously done.  If the community association wants to work on these issues, it would need to do them for all of the common areas.  Paying for this effort would likely be very expensive.  The discussion noted that many people are already contributing to the maintenance of common grounds.  Given the potential expense, the idea of establishing a cleanup crew of community residents was discussed.  The idea would be to try to clean up these areas before Spring to make it easier.


A member noted that there was a change in the law in 2007 related to who is responsible should a noxious tree fall down.  If the tree had been identified as needing to come down for health or other reasons, the owner of the tree is responsible for the costs to remove.  If the owner does not remove the tree, they would be responsible for the cost of damages should the tree fall down.  The owner must be notified in advance in writing for this law to apply.  For purposes of the Hickory Farms community, residents who know of a noxious tree that may be a problem should notify the board in writing so that the appropriate assessment and action can be taken.  

A question was raised about whether the board considered a group purchase for tree cleanup.  Although the board does not organize group purchases, if someone would like to organize a group purchase for tress services, he or she may contact Kirk Randall for information.


Report by Architectural Control Committee (ACC)

Kirk reported that it has been a fairly normal year for the committee, with requests handled for fences, windows, doors, and fairly extensive addition.  As part of this discussion, a question was raised about the status of 1008 Cotton Farm, which has been a concern due to the lack of maintenance, etc. for a number of years.  The house is under contract, with the new owner apparently planning to rehab it.  The ACC will play a role by reviewing for approval any plans for the rehab consistent with the home design within the rest of the community.


Report on Neighborhood Watch

John reported that we have about 25 teams involved in Neighborhood Watch.  As a result, participants are required to conduct watches every 8 weeks.  John appealed for other members of the community to participate.  Participating in Neighborhood Watch involves spending a couple of hours driving around the community.  Magnetic signs are provided for display on the watch participant’s vehicle.  The watch participants simply observe, calling Fairfax County Police if they note anything suspicious.  In the past, Fairfax County Police have been very responsive to calls from Neighborhood Watch.  As part of the discussion, members were reminded to call police if they see anything suspicious regardless of whether they participate in Neighborhood Watch.


Proposed Changes to Rules and Regulations

Kirk led this topic, which generated a lot of discussion at this year’s meeting.  Kirk thanked Pam Barrett and Pete Scala for all their work on the original rules and regulations, which were developed in 1997.  The first part of the discussion involved attempting to identify those areas that were of most interest to the members.  Feedback received prior to the meeting included the following.

·         8 people expressed a general concern about too many rules

·         Some raised concerns about the pet provision, which has been withdrawn by Board

·         2 people wanted more rules and regulations

·         1 person expressed concern about the changes related to enforcement on the height of grass allowed.


Some of the key concerns mentioned during the discussion included:

·         Too many rule changes being proposed

·         Reasons for expanded rules about common grounds

·         Changes on the rules on grass height

·         Temporary structures as living quarters

·         How enforcement would be handled


The discussion included background about why the board was proposing these rules changes.  The board provided an explanation that the purpose of these changes was to provide the board with tools to protect the community by providing a better framework for making decisions.  Some issues that have been brought to the board are not clearly covered by the current rules and regulations.  There was an acknowledgement that the board was trying to protect the quality of life in the community, however some concerns were raised that needed to be addressed before a decision or agreement can be reached by the membership on which of the changes to adopt. Some key concerns included:

·         Time constraints at the community association meeting would not allow sufficient discussion of each proposed change;

·         Need to ensure that every proposed change is backed up by the restrictive covenants;

·         Value of rules and regulations in lieu of other existing laws and regulations (from both a need and enforcement perspective);

·         Changes included some items, such as Item 15 that members did not consider appropriate.


Based on the concerns, the membership agreed to table the proposed changes.  The membership also agreed to set up an ad hoc committee to: 1) review the proposed changes against the founding documents; 2) prepare a response for submission to the board; 3) have the board review the response to resolve questions, decide on approval; and, 4) following board approval, conduct a general membership meeting no later than next October 2013.  


Bruce Bernhardt agreed to chair this committee.  The board requested that Pam Barrett participate because of her knowledge and experience based on her role in establishing the original set of rules and regulations.  Bruce will organize the committee, including providing Kirk with the membership and other information for inclusion in the November 2012 newsletter.  Bruce committed to operating in a manner that is consistent with the level of transparency in which the board has addressed the proposed changes.  


Election of 2013 Board of Directors

Bruce Bernhardt was nominated for a position on the board, with the specific position to be defined.  The current board members agreed to serve for another year.  The membership approved the nominations.


Other Business

Concerns were raised about some situations that have occurred that are impacting the community, such as people renting their home to multiple persons, and homeowners renting the residence to college students, including potential violations of Fairfax County’s ordinance limiting occupancy to a maximum of 4 unrelated people.  Noted during the discussion was that Hickory Farms covenants relate to property rights, but provide no authority to enforce Fairfax County laws.


The need to need to network with our county supervisor (John Cook) to help obtain the cooperation of Fairfax County agencies was discussed.  Having a board member attend monthly supervisor meetings would be useful.  In the past, John Cook’s office has been very responsive.  At a minimum, his office can help us identify whom to call within the county government to call to obtain support in resolving an issue.  


A final suggestion made during the meeting was to encourage residents to move their cars into their driveways in advance of snow storms.  This would clear the streets, which would make it easier to plow, most likely providing more widely plowed streets.  The board was requested to include this recommendation in an upcoming newsletter.



The meeting adjourned at 9:55 pm.




Hickory Farms Board of Directors Meeting, September 19, 2012, 8:00 – 9:20 pm



John Kitzmiller, President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don & Sara Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee

Kathy Sayyed, At Large Member

Ed Wagner, Secretary



Proposed HFCA Rules and Regulations:

·         The board has received feedback from about 12 members of the community. Comments indicate some people want fewer regulations while others want more.

·         A topic that generated a moderate level of interest was the proposed regulation about the number of pets allowed.  The proposed rule merely tracked the provision in the HFCA Restrictive Covenants, which limit the keeping of pets to "two domestic pets."  The board decided to simply add the word “restrictions” to the title of section 8, which refers readers to the restrictions contained in the Restrictive Covenants, and to withdraw proposed section 8(b).

·         The board discussed some misperceptions about its actions related to the proposed regulations.  The board has proposed additions of changes to the regulations in an effort to clarify the covenants and to address issues that have been raised by members of the community.  All proposed changes are documented and available for review.

·        An email was posted on the Listserv with questions about the basis and evidence for some of the changes and updates to the regulations that have been discussed.  The discussions of the basis and evidence related to proposed changes to the regulations are documented in the September 2 email circulated by Kirk Randall and board meeting notes, which are available to community members through the association’s website. The board will send a follow up email regarding the proposed regulations to the residents through the Hickory Farms Listserv.


Tree Cleanup:

·         The most recent storm knocked down some additional tress that the community association must pay to clean up.  The work is in progress. 

·         The board is obtaining an estimate for the most recent fallen tree.  The board agreed to proceed with the work if the cost is $800 or less for this additional clean up.



·         Expenses this year are on target with the budget.  The board recommends that annual dues remain at the current level of $150.  The board estimates that in 2013 it will raise the balance of its reserves up to the target level of about $30,000 which is the amount of expenses the board expects the Association will collect during 2013.

·         Given ongoing difficulties with our current auditor, the board is looking for a new auditor.  Dante Gilmer will reach out to the association’s lawyer or neighboring community associations to identify other auditors.

·         Residents of Hickory Farms can purchase the rights to use George Mason University’s gym facilities for $200 per year, including a parking tag.  Residents may contact the board for more information.


Annual Meeting:

·         The annual meeting will be October 10th.  The meeting will be held at Green Acres, room 110 starting at 8:00 pm.  The board will issue emails to remind residents of the date, time, and location, including directions to Green Acres.

·         The board will post a sign at both entrances to the development with the annual meeting information.


Neighborhood Watch: 

·         Participation in neighborhood watch continues to decline.  The board plans to discuss ideas for increasing participation at a future meeting. 


College Students:

·         The board has been notified about a home within the community that appears to have more than the allowable number of unrelated people living there.  Six to seven cars are consistently seen at the house during both the morning and evening, 7 cars are at the house

·         Fairfax County regulations prohibit more than 4 unrelated people residing in a home.  The number of cars may mean that more than 4 people are living there

·         The board plans to contact the owner about this possible violation of Fairfax County regulations, with follow up to Fairfax County if necessary.


Next Meeting:

·         The next meeting will be in November, with the date and location to be determined.



·         Hickory Farms Board Meeting - August 15, 2012, 8:00 – 9:45 pm

John Kitzmiller, President
Don & Sara Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods
Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee
Kathy Sayyed, At Large Member
Ed Wagner, Secretary

Property maintenance:
• The board discussed concerns about selected homeowners not maintaining their properties in a manner consistent with community association requirements, which include:
o Grass shall be mowed regularly and maintained in a neat, even manner.
o All curbs, driveways and sidewalks of lots shall be edged as needed to maintain a neat appearance and so that grass does not grow over curbs and sidewalks.
o Flower beds and landscaping shall be maintained in an attractive manner so as not to detract from the appearance of the neighborhood or encroach on public and Common Areas. Trees, shrubs, and bushes shall be trimmed on a regular basis.
• The board plans to add encouragement about the proper maintenance in next newsletter. John agreed to write article for the newsletter.

Storage Pods:
• The HFCA regulations allow the use of storage pods in a driveway for a period of no more than 30 days. The board will provide information about the regulations on pods in the next newsletter.

College Students:
• The board is collecting information on homes that are occupied by college students in support of George Mason University’s efforts to contact students about appropriate actions when living in a residential community.

Annual Meeting Date:
• The next community association meeting will be held in the first or second week of October (date to be determined.)
• The board will publish information about the community association meeting in the September October newsletters, including providing a separate proxy form in color that residents can complete if they cannot attend the meeting.
• The newsletter will be delivered by members of the community.
• Kirk will also send out an announcement email around October 3, 2012.
• The board agreed to put up temporary signs at both entrances the weekend before the meeting to remind residents.

Common Grounds Issues:
• The board has been contacted by concerned residents about use of common grounds, such as:
o Coach using common grounds for an athletic practice
o Mopeds running on the black path behind Wheatfield and Country Squire
o Creation of a fire pit for a party
• The fire pit issue has already been addressed with the people involved. The board will continue to monitor concerns about other types of incidents to determine whether any further action is required, such as signs prohibiting use of motorized vehicles on community paths.

Rules and Regulations Review:
• The board reviewed the community association rules and regulations to determine what updates or clarifications were necessary to bring them up to date with the current time and to address some of the issues that have arisen..
• The board approved a number of changes, which will be circulated to members of the community association. as necessary
• The board also decided to review the instructions included in the Neighborhood Watch manual to determine if any additional information was necessary. John agreed to conduct this review.

Next Meeting:
• The next meeting will be on September 19th to prepare for Community Association meeting.



 February 12, 2012 Board of Directors Meeting


Board Members in Attendance:

John Kitzmiller, President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee

Kathy Sayyed, At Large Member

Ed Wagner, Secretary


The board agreed to take the following actions.

·          Investigate alternative businesses that provide stump grinding services to determine if we can obtain a low price for grinding the remaining stumps of the Bradford Pear trees that were removed along Cotton Farm Road.

·         Include an article in the homeowner’s association newsletter requesting that community residents to provide maintenance for their cars to resolve problems such as leaking oil that can cause pollution problems.

·         Fill in the large hole that was dug into the lower common grounds to eliminate the danger of someone falling in or getting hurt.

·         Take three actions in an effort to resolve the problems being experienced with the home occupied by college students who are using the home as a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house with numerous parties.  The issues created by these students include actions that violate of community association covenants, excessive trash around the home and on common grounds, loud music and other noise until early morning hours, possible violation of Fairfax County zoning ordinances on the allowable number of unrelated persons allowed to occupy a single home, lack of property maintenance, etc.    The board plans to take the following actions.

o   Have the community association lawyer write a letter to the owner of the house notifying her of the problems with two objectives: 1) get the current residents to tone down their actions in respect to their neighbors; and 2) dissuade the owner from renting to college students again.  

o   Attempt to contact the Sigma Alpha Epsilon governing body about the problems that this chapter of their fraternity is causing for our neighborhood.

o   Contact Supervisor Cook’s office for suggestions on how to resolve situation.

·         Update the Hickory Farms Directory for purposes of providing secure access to it to community residents through the community association website.  The directory would be encrypted with password protection, with the password available only to community residents.  An upcoming Hickory Farms Newsletter will include a form that residents can complete and email or drop off at any board members home for inclusion in the directory.  The directory will include list the names, address, telephone number, and email addresses of the adult residents.  The targeted date for completing the update of the directory is June 2012.

·         Allow residents to contact board members for information about viable contractors based on information contained in Angie’s list.