Hickory Farms Community Association Annual Meeting

October 15, 2013



Members of the Board Present

John Kitzmiller, President

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Ed Wagner, Secretary


Call to Order

John Kitzmiller called the meeting to order at 8:00 pm.  Eighteen (18) homeowners were in attendance, with an additional nineteen (19) represented through the submission of proxy forms. Since fifty (50) homeowners were not represented at the meeting either through direct participation or proxy, we did not have a quorum, and therefore could not continue with the original meeting.  The initial meeting was adjourned at 8:02 pm following a motion that was seconded and affirmed by a vote of participants.  John called a new meeting at 8:03 pm as a secondary quorum so that the community association could conduct the business planned for the annual meeting.


Approval of Previous Minutes

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


Report on Finances

Dante Gilmer reported on the community association’s finances, including the current budget and expenses and the planned budget for next year.  The community association received $29,400 in annual dues, with 196 of 198 homes having paid.  As a result of a settlement with one of the delinquent homeowners, the community association received an additional $1,039.  With some additional revenue from advertising and other sources, the total revenue for the year was $31,611.34.


The largest expense during the year was for landscaping, which was budgeted for a total expense of $19,500, with most of this expense to cover the mowing of common grounds.  Other landscaping expenses incurred to take down dead trees that created a risk to property or people.  Mowing is continuing and at least two more trees need to be removed, so the landscaping expenses for the year are not yet final.  Some additional savings resulted from lower printing costs due to publishing smaller and less frequent newsletters.  Overall, Dante was projecting a budget surplus of $6,599 at the end of this year. 


Budget for Next Year:

Project the total revenue for the community association for next year to be $30,605.  The board anticipates the need to spend additional funds on the removal of trees, which is reflected in the planned budget.  Even with this increase, Dante projects an estimated $3,075 surplus at end of next year, which if realized, will be held in reserve for future expenses.  The board anticipates an increase in tree removals, repair of paths, and other actions required as the community continues to age.


The budget for next year was approved, which allows the retention of dues at the current level of $150 per year.


Report on Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Don Lobeda provided an overview of the activities carried out and planned for the future for community grounds, paths, and woods.


Upper Common Ground:

Don mentioned that there were some areas where thickets, poison ivy, and other overgrowth that continues to encroach on the grassy areas of the common ground.  The board conducted a community event last spring to clean up an initial area.  Although the event was successful, a number of individuals ended up with poison ivy.  Conducting additional events of this nature is problematic because of the poison ivy issue.  It cost $300 to remove the debris that was pulled out of the common ground.  The preference going forward is to have professionals do this type of clean up with the objective of returning the common area to its original condition.  With the additional work required, the board has budgeted an additional $2,000 for grounds maintenance for the upcoming year. 


A question was raised about whether it was worthwhile removing the thickets.  Another member emphasized the historical importance of the upper common ground.  The original house for the Hickory Farm, the basis for the community’s name was located on the upper common ground.  Don will document proposed plans for removal of the thickets, including a map, with the objective of including this information in the December newsletter.  We may hold a discussion about this through the use of list serve.


Don has identified two dead trees that need to be taken down.  We expect the removal of these two trees will cost about $1,500.  One tree is behind 4315 Still Meadow.  Don is working with the tree removal company to ensure that they do not tear up anyone’s property or the common ground as part of the tree removal effort.


Report by Architectural Control Committee (ACC)

In addition to chairing the ACC, Kirk also writes the Hickory Farms Newsletter and maintains the community association’s web page.  Kirk plans to continue his work on the ACC, but requested a volunteer to take on responsibility for either the newsletter or the web page.  Kirk highlighted and thanked other people who support his work and other efforts throughout the community, which are documented on the cover of the newsletter.


During the past year, the ACC received twenty one (21) applications for a wide range of improvements.  Typically, the ACC does not have any problems with completing their review and making a decision about an application within the 30-day timeframe established by our base documents.  The ACC spent most of its time over the past year on dealing with one application.  It was ultimately resolved, but took quite an effort.  This specific case is the reason that Kirk decided to add announcements about obtaining help from someone who speaks English by asking them to register for list serve to obtain up to date information so that they can stay informed.  About fifty (50) percent of the homeowners in the community are registered with list serve.  One member raised concerns that this rate means that fifty (50) percent of homeowners are not obtaining information through list serve, and therefore are not being adequately served.  However, the board noted that all of the information available through list serve is also put into the newsletter, for which printed copies are delivered to every home in Hickory Farms.  Kirk noted that he repeats important information generally at least four (4) times a year in an effort to ensure that everyone is informed.


Kirk noted that the ACC is appreciative of how comprehensive and complete most applications have been.  The applications have contained aerial photographs, PowerPoint slides, and other important detailed documentation that has allowed the ACC to quickly decide on each applicant’s request.  When in doubt, more information on the ACC application is better.


A member raised concerns about whether new residents obtain the Virginia Property Owners Association Act (VPOAA) package when they buy a home in Hickory Farms.  Kirk noted that real estate agents can download a PDF of our VPOAA package, which has been very well received.  Under Virginia state law, real estate agents are required to request the VPOAA package.  The version documented on our website has ninety eight (98) percent of the information needed by the homeowners.  Once Kirk completes a walk around of the property, any issues that need to be resolved are also documented and provided to the new homeowners by the Treasurer. 


Report on Neighborhood Watch

John noted that the number of community members willing to participate in the watch continues to dwindle.  The board discussed the situation at last week’s board meeting, resulting in a proposal to suspend Neighborhood Watch in November prior to the holidays, deciding after the first of the year whether and when to start it up again.  One member noted that the holidays are a high-crime period, so he recommended deferral of any suspension until after the first of the year.  Another member noted that perhaps people do not understand the value of having a Neighborhood Watch program, and therefore are less inclined to support it.  Kirk will follow up with the Fairfax County Police Department to obtain information on the benefits of Neighborhood Watch.  During the meeting, Kathy Gillette volunteered to take on the Neighborhood Watch Program, including recruiting new participants.


Proposed Changes to Rules and Regulations

As with last year’s meeting, this topic generated the most discussion.  Unfortunately, the member of the working group that was supposed to present information on the working group’s efforts was not able to attend.  From the board’s perspective, the working group fully carried out the task requested by the community at last year’s meeting.  They have linked every rule and regulation to the founding documents for Hickory Farms.  The working group also reformatted the rules and regulations to improve their usability.  Any rules and regulations that are not authorized under the association's founding documents were not retained.  For example, the rules related to the 30-day period for the ACC to approve or reject an application where revised to maintain consistency with the base documents.  Recent Virginia court decisions have reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that association’s rules and regulations link to the founding documents.  The board understands that the updated rules and regulations were reviewed by the community association’s lawyer.  The updated set of rules and regulations was presented to the board last week, which resulted in their approval.


Although the board has authority to approve the rules and regulations, the members of the board wanted to provide the members of the community with an opportunity to raise concerns or provide any other feedback.  The rules and regulations were posted on the community website.  The board did not receive any comments on the proposed rules and regulations in advance of the annual meeting.  One question raised was whether the community should have rules and regulations that are already addressed by Fairfax County laws.  For those situations, there was a general consensus that the board does not have an interest in enforcing a Fairfax County law.  That is the responsibility of the county.  However, a number of the rules and regulations that overlap with the county reflect specific statements in the restrictive covenants for the community.  As such, including them in the rules and regulations provides information that residents may not otherwise know about.


Some discussion occurred related to whether the inclusion of too many rules, especially where enforcement would be a county responsibility puts the community association at risk of liability due to selective enforcement.  Although different opinions existed about what selective enforcement means, there was a consensus that we need to add a severability clause to our rules and regulations.  This should include language that states that the community association will defer enforcement of any rules and regulations that overlap with Fairfax County regulations to the appropriate authorities from the county. 


Some concerns were raised about select remaining rules and regulations, including 1.7 and 1.12.  As a result of these concerns, a motion was made and seconded to defer approval of the changes to the rules and regulations to the next annual meeting.  By a vote of 23 against and 13 for, this motion was rejected by the participants.  From the board’s perspective, the working group established at the request of the community had done an excellent job of carrying out its review of the rules and regulations against the founding documents.  It was not clear that any further deferral of these changes would resolve the specific concerns of some individuals.  A member of the board motioned for an approval of the rules and regulations as developed by the special working group.  This motion was seconded.  By a vote of 23 for and 13 against, the rules and regulations were approved.


Election of 2013 Board of Directors

The Board of Directors had three vacancies.  John Kitzmiller, who has served on the board for the past eight (8) years, including multiple years as president has decided to step down.  Kathy Sayyed, a member at large for the last two years has also resigned.  Other board members are willing to serve for another year, although Dante Gilmer would like to have a volunteer to assist him as treasurer.  Obtaining a volunteer to assist Dante may determine whether he is able to continue beyond this year given his other responsibilities. One member of the community, Charles Stewart, volunteered to fill a member at large position.  The board will still have vacancies due to the lack of volunteers, and currently does not have a president or vice president.  The board will meet to determine who will fill these different roles.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the remaining board and new nominee (Bruce Bernhardt, Dante Gilmer, Ed Wagner, Kirk Randall, Don/Sara Lobeda, and Charles Stewart).  The vote approved the motion.


Other Business

Unfinished business related to the rules and regulations remains, such as looking at other documents including the by-laws.  One suggestion was made to change the 30-day rule for the ACC approval, but also recognized that the seventy five (75) percent of homeowners required to approve a change to the founding documents probably negated the value of the effort.


The board is working on ensuring document retention.  Looking at options for some type of central storage; probably electronically to the extent possible.


A member of the community expressed concerns that the board was not doing enough to focus on important quality of life issues, such as group homes for college students, etc. that are occurring in the community.  In fact, members of the board have undertaken efforts to contact Fairfax County, including documenting specific information that they can use as part of their investigation.  This is a Fairfax County regulation and enforcement issues, and not something that the board can take on itself.


The board noted that one student group home is now occupied by a family.  The group of young men living on Country Squire has been reported to Fairfax County.  The county has found that this home is in violation and notified the owner that they have 30 days to bring this home in compliance.  The board recognizes that these group homes create problems for our community, but this is a county enforcement issue over which the board has no control. 



The meeting adjourned at 10:00 PM.



Hickory Farms Board Meeting

October 9, 2013

8:00 – 9:15 pm 



John Kitzmiller, President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Bruce Bernhardt, At Large Member

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Kirk Randall, Architecture Control Committee

Ed Wagner, Secretary

Perry Singh (observer)


Rules and Regulations (Presented by Bruce Bernhardt)


Board Membership  (Presented by Kirk Randall)


Budget (Presented by Dante Gilmer):

October 2013 Community Association Meeting (Presented by Kirk Randall)


Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods (Presented by Don Lobeda)


Architectural Control Committee  (Presented by Kirk Randall)


Neighborhood Watch (Presented by John Kitzmiller)


Social Committee (Presented by John Kitzmiller)


Retention of Records (Presented by Bruce Bernhardt)


Meeting Adjourned


Respectfully submitted,

Ed Wagner, Secretary



Hickory Farms Board Meeting

July 24, 2013

8:00 – 9:10 pm



John Kitzmiller, President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Bruce Bernhardt, At Large Member

Kirk Randall, Architecture Control Committee

Ed Wagner, Secretary


Rules and Regulations (Presented by Bruce Bernhardt)

The working group has continued its review of the existing rules and regulations for purposes of doing a comprehensive comparison of the founding documents to our current regulations, as required by the Virginia Property Owners Association

        Bruce planned to visit the Fairfax County Courthouse to do a final search for the original legal documents.

o   Bruce has original homeowner package from February 1996; just before the previous set

o   The first declarations were done in the mid 1970s

o   An amendment was done in February 1977

o   The Board discussed the need to keep the original court-based copies; share the content of regulation changes with members, but not the detailed legal documents due to the potential use of these documents for identity theft or for some other nefarious action against a homeowner

o   Bruce plans to scan all of the documents that he finds

        The working group planned to meet on July 29 to complete the finishing touches on the revised final set of regulations

        Will present the revised regulations at the annual meeting in October for which the working group has developed a slide deck to help with informing the membership

        As agreed to at the October 2012 Annual Meeting, the board will review the changes prior to presenting them to the membership at the annual meeting.  The schedule for completing this effort is as follows:

o   Provide a final draft to the board by July 31, 2013

o   Board will review to determine if any questions or issues need discussion

o   The Board will hold a special meeting early in the week of August 26, 2013 only if any

o   Bruce will draft a summary article for the September edition of the newsletter by questions or issues are identified and require further discussion September 1, 2013

·         Plan to distribute the newsletter by September 6, 2013 to the community to provide a month for their review in advance of the annual meeting


·         The article will provide a URL to see the detailed regulations, with option to call if someone needs a hard copy

·         Community can provide comments through ListServe

·         This approach is consistent with providing the VPOAA package; homeowners obtain get most of their information from the website with house-specific information provided through hard copy

        No one has raised any questions about the need to change the association by-laws, so nothing planned at this point; will look at whether there is a need over the next year

        The board discussed the need for a document repository

o   Agreed that the retention of documents needs to have a specific person assigned to it

o   The board discussed the idea of obtaining help from the community to support the

o   Need to have the same type of focus on tracking insurance tasks for the association board through this task, such as establishing a deputy secretary position


Budget (Presented by Dante Gilmer)


October Meeting (General Discussion)


Trash on Back Path (General Discussion)


New Virginia Laws  (Presented by Kirk Randall)

Succession Planning (Presented by Kirk Randall)


Directory (Presented by Dante Gilmer)


Meeting Adjourned


Respectfully submitted,

Ed Wagner, Secretary



Hickory Farms Board Meeting

June 5, 2013 - 8:00 – 9:20 pm 



John Kitzmiller, President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Bruce Bernhardt, At Large Member

Mike Mehrman, Rules Committee Member

Pam Barrett, Rules Committee Member

Ed Wagner, Secretary


Rules and Regulations

·         The Rules Committee has developed some slides to help the residents of the community understand the process that the committee has followed in developing recommendations for consideration by the entire membership

o   Briefing includes the hierarchy (i.e., order of precedence) of the Association’s documents (i.e.,  rules and regulations)

o   Mike will distribute the briefing to the board for review prior to its release to the entire community

·         The rules committee reviewed some background on the basis of their review process

o   The committee started with the restrictive covenants, followed by rules and regulations

o   Each document is intended to provide additional clarity to the higher-level documents

o   The higher the level of the document, the more difficult it is to change; that is the requirements for changing the document become more stringent

o   The community association cannot make a change to a document that puts it in conflict with a higher-level document

·         The Rules Committee used the Deed of Declaration and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, which include the restrictive covenants

o   Restrictive Covenants are documented in Article 7

o   The By-Laws represent a document that is lower than the Restrictive Covenants

o   The Rules and Regulations reflect a lower level document that provides more details based on the Restrictive Covenants and By-Laws

·         The Rules Committee has contacted to Fairfax County for purposes of validating that they have the correct copy of the legal documents; as of the date of the board meeting,  the county had not responded

·         The Rules Committee tried to match the Rules and Regulations back to the higher-level documents to ensure consistency

o   If rule or regulation appeared to be in conflict with the higher-level documents, they identified it for deletion – For example, the committee identified the rule on constraining the number of pets as inconsistent with the number of pets limitation specified within the Restrictive Covenants

o   If the rule or regulation matched the higher-level document, the identified it for retention, with the possibility of revising the language to provide further clarity

o   The Rules Committee tried to review every rule or regulation change that had been made over the years

·         The Rules Committee has proposed a redesign of the structure of the Rules and Regulations document, which will be covered in the briefing

·         The committee reviewed the Due Process document, but didn’t make many changes other than to some titles and headings; an example was that the document refers to Exhibit C, but Exhibit C does not appear to exist

·         The Deed of Declaration and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions include references to charges – the board meeting included a discussion about the extent of the board’s authority to fine or assess liens on individual homeowners

o   The original regulations were documented in 1991, and were amended in 1997

o   The reason for implementing the due process procedures were the result of the issue related to whether a fence in the front yard was allowed

o   The due process document covers “assessment of liens”, which are allowed for “charges and assessments” against a property

§  Subsequent documentation focuses on “annual charge” (i.e., our dues)

§  The committees review indicates that this language may limit the board’s ability to assess charges only for issues related to the payment of annual dues

o   The Declaration focuses on common areas; need to ensure that the community is focused and disciplined in relation to ensuring that the rules enforced are based on the Declaration and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions

o   The Rules Committee recommended that the board should take the most conservative route to avoid the type of litigation with a homeowner that bankrupted an Alexandria HOA; focus entirely on the common areas and yearly dues

·         A discussion between members of the Rules Committee resulted in a disagreement on whether the changes previously adopted by the community association are valid; may need to have an attorney review to make this determination

·         As part of this discussion, it became uncertain as to whether the Rules Committee had the most complete set of by-laws for their review

o   Pam’s copy differed from the one used by the committee

o   Pam indicated that changes to the by-laws had involved an attorney to ensure their validity

o   The Rules Committee took an action to do another document review based on the different version of the by-laws

o   One aspect of the review is to ensure that the by-law changes are supported by the founding documents

o   The committee will contact our law firm to discuss this situation

·         The Rules Committee also provided some recommendations/guidance on rules and regulations that their review identified as valid

o   Guidelines on submitting plans for home modifications to the Architectural Review Committee

§  The issues is how to define the term “submitted”, since it drives how the committee operates and the rights of the homeowner

·         The Declaration states that the board has 30 days from submission to review the application

·         The committee thought that the current language in the rules and regulations was not consistent, so they plan to provide revised wording that provides a clear concise method for both the committee and homeowner to know the submission date

§  A second issue related to language around approval or rejection

·         Approval is valid only as described

·         Deviation from the approved plan requires a new application

·         The committed will propose adding some specifics about impact for rejecting and returning property to original state

·         The Architectural Review Committee also is not authorized to grant exceptions, which the proposed regulation allows

o   Self Storage Containers: The original documents define the restriction as being “forward of dwelling”

§  Need to revise the wording in the rules and regulations to note that the prohibition references forward of the dwelling to ensure consistency with the restrictive covenants

§  The restrictive covenants contain no statement about the duration, but only their prohibition, therefore the rule allowing up to 30 days is invalid

o   The board had proposed a rule covering the use of Common Grounds that required advance notification of the board if you planned to host event of 20 or more kids

§  The Rules Committee’s review raised question about whether this is valid

§  Reason for rule was related to ensuring that users did not leave a mess on the Common Grounds

§  The Rules Committee recommended that the regulation focus on the requirement for clean-up

§  We already have a requirement that common areas limited to use by residents, so at least one Hickory Farms resident must be involved

·         One additional recommendation made by the Rules Committee was the establishment of a record retention policy

o   Under this policy, it would be the responsibility of the incumbent for each position to turn over records to his or her replacement

o   The recommendation was to add this policy to the by-laws, which define the responsibility of each officer


Budget (Presented by Dante Gilmer):


Succession Planning (Presented by Kirk Randall)


Meeting Adjourned


Respectfully submitted,

Ed Wagner, Secretary



Hickory Farms Community Association (HFCA) Board Meeting

March 13, 2013

8:00 – 9:20 pm



John Kitzmiller, President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

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

Bruce Bernhardt, At Large Member

Kathy Sayyed, At Large Member

Ed Wagner, Secretary


Budget (Presented by Dante Gilmer):


Common Areas (Presented by Don Lobeda):


Rules Working Group (Presented by Bruce Bernhardt):


Neighborhood Watch (presented by John Kitzmiller):


Meeting Adjourned


Respectfully submitted,

Ed Wagner, Secretary