Hickory Farms Community Association – 40th Anniversary Year!

Board of Directors Meeting

November 10, 2015, 7:30 – 8:35 pm


The attendees at this meeting of the HFCA Board of Directors are documented immediately below.

Bruce Bernhardt, President

Chuck Stewart, Vice President

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Vanessa Franck, Neighborhood Watch

Kirk Randall, Member at Large

Ed Wagner, Secretary, Member at Large

Brand Niemann, Member at Large, Records Management

Brenda Denny, Treasurer

Stefan Schwarz, Listserv Coordinator


Old Business:

·        Don requested $1,200 in funding to remove some dead trees and brush that was getting out of control; the board unanimously approved this request

·        The board approved Vincent Dasalla, 4356 Farm House, who volunteered to take on the responsibilities as the community association’s webmaster, as an officer

·        Annual meeting recap

o   The entire board was re-elected at the meeting

o   Bruce thanked the nominating committee for its work in preparation for the meeting

o   By-Laws and Rules and Regulations amendments

§  Regarding the By-Laws provision regarding fines for non-compliance with the HFCA restrictive covenants, the board was directed by the membership to redraft the language and have the association’s attorney review the specific wording for consistency with Virginia Property Owners Association Act and court interpretation of the statutes.  The Board will then present a revised amendment to the Membership at the 2016 Annual Meeting.

§  If the board identifies any other wording in the existing By-Laws that needs to be clarified, they will undertake that effort concurrently

§  The Membership affirmed the amendment to the Rules and Regulations to remove the reference to storage “PODs” as requested by the PODS Corporation to avoid the copyright infringement.  The Board of Directors will notify the company that the association has made the change that they requested.

o   Community Walkthrough – Vanessa is compiling the results provided by various board members walk through the community to identify any violations of community covenants and Rules and Regulations

o    George Mason University student house complaints

§  Members of the board spoke to one of the residents about the concerns raised by neighbors in an effort to improve the situation

§  In following up with Fairfax County, the board found out that the county has closed the complaint about whether the more than four (4 ) unrelated people were residing at the house

§  Although Fairfax County has closed this complaint, the board is investigating the law related to identifying the residence as a nuisance

·        Vanessa is working on obtaining a copy of the County ordinance so that the board has the specifics

·        If the residence is declared a nuisance under this ordinance, it changes the actions that the police will take if called with a complaint;  the police would no longer provide a verbal warning, but instead issue a summons or make an arrest, depending on the situation

·        Once the board obtains a copy of the ordinance, it will distribute it to the community members who live near the house

·        The board will also provide a copy of the ordinance to the residents of the house, which will put them on notice that further inappropriate activity will not be tolerated

·        Bruce plans to contact the property owner about the frequent disturbances at the house.  The property owner is a professor at George Mason University.

·        The board requests that the residents notify  a Board member every time they call the police about this house

§  It is noted that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed amendments to the County’s noise ordinance that take effect February 17, 2016.

o   Speeding in the neighborhood

§  A community resident provided the board with an inventory of traffic through part of the neighborhood, including indicating which vehicles appeared to be speeding

§  It’s clear that the “slow down” signs have not resolved the speeding issue

§  Fairfax County’s review of speeding in neighborhoods has determined that most speeding is done by residents within each community rather than people passing through

§  The board will undertake two actions: 1) insert an article in the next newsletter reminding people to slow down; and 2) follow up with supervisor Cook about having the county install a speed monitoring device to collect the data necessary to warrant stepped up enforcement

§  If these actions are not successful, the board may raise the question at the next annual meeting about whether the community wants to pursue the installation of speed bumps

New Business:

·        Access to list serve

o   The board reviewed a request from a community resident who submitted  a  posting for distribution on the association’s Listserv

o   The Listserv coordinator notified the resident that the submitted content was not consistent with the established rules and the resident could appeal to the HFCA Board.

o   Bruce followed up with the resident about the opportunity to appeal this decision to the board

o   The resident decided to request removal of their email address from Listserv rather than appeal the decision

o   Although no appeal was received, the board reviewed the situation and determined that the Listserv coordinator acted according to the HFCA Listserv rules

o   The community association maintains the Listserv for the purposes of communicating  information to its members to improve living conditions within Hickory Farms

o   Based on what transpired, the board decided to further clarify the Listserv rules, including:

§  Formally documenting the appeals process; and

§  Changing the policy to limit renters’ access to one year, requiring that they renew their request for continued access – this will help the coordinator ensure the currency of the listserv membership, since the association has no way of knowing when renters move out of the community

§  The board plans to publish the updates in the newsletter issued after next meeting

·        Annual Meeting Raffle

o   The raffle that the board ran for the annual meeting appeared to have the desired effect, resulting in the largest in-person turnout for the annual meeting in a number of years

o   The winner received a $150 credit, which covers their annual assessment  for 2016

o   The board allocated newsletter advertising revenues to fund the prize

o   It has been brought to the attention of the board that the raffle process of limiting participant to those physically attending the Annual Meeting may need legal review.  That legal review is underway.  

·        Appointment of Officers for 2016

o   A motion was made, seconded, and passed to appoint the four HFCA officers: Bruce Bernhardt - President, Chuck Stewart - Vice President, Ed Wagner - Secretary, and Brenda Denny - Treasurer

o   Bruce will reach out to remaining officers and HFCA volunteer leads to confirm their interest in continuing

·        Check signatures

o   A motion was made, seconded, and passed to add Kirk Randall as having signature authority for HFCA checks

o   Every check requires two signatures, so adding Kirk provides back-up for making timely payments if one of the other members with signature authority is away

·        A motion was made, seconded, and passed to give Brenda Denny, Treasurer,  voting rights on the board

Standing Reports:

·        Treasurer’s Report

o   Brenda requested an opportunity to discuss reallocating selected duties at the next meeting. 

o   Brenda will meet with Dante to discuss suggested changes, and bring a set of recommendations to the next meeting

·        Architectural Control Committee Report – had two requests (shutters and a shed) to approve since the last meeting

·        Community Grounds, Paths and Woods Report

o   Obtained an estimate on clean up and sealing of the entrance signs on Burke Station Road and Roberts Road; estimate was $900  -- Don plans to get a second estimate

o   A motion was made, seconded, and passed to authorize up to $1,200 to complete this work

o   Don has started marking trees in the common area that need to be taken down

o   Clean up of the briar patch went well

·        Neighborhood Watch

o   Vanessa is purchasing four new signs; she will receive mock-ups for approval before they are produced

o   She noted that in past years the community had experienced some Halloween decoration thefts; the board planned to add an article to the upcoming newsletter with suggestions on how to reduce the risk

o   The board will include a reminder for Christmas as well; Vanessa will draft the article

Vice President – Nothing to report

Capital Improvements – Do not plan to initiate any improvements before the winter

40th Anniversary Year – Bruce asked the Board to think about events that we could hold to celebrate the community’s anniversary and incorporate the 40th Anniversary theme in all activities this year

Next meeting

The next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm at Vanessa’s house.

Meeting adjourned

Hickory Farms Community Association – 40th Anniversary Year!

Annual Meeting

October 20, 2015; 8:00 pm – 9:55 pm


Members of the Board Present

Bruce Bernhardt, President

Chuck Stewart, Vice President

Dante Gilmer, Assistant Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Areas

Vanessa Franck, Neighborhood Watch

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee Member, Member at Large

Mike Mehrman, Member at Large

Brand Niemann, Member at Large – Records Management

Brian Rothlisberger, Architectural Control Committee Chairperson

Ed Wagner, Secretary


Opening, Welcome and Introductions


·        Bruce Bernhardt welcomed the members of the community to the annual meeting and thanked them for attending.

·        He mentioned that this is the 40th anniversary of the incorporation of the Hickory Farms Community Association; the board plans to hold some events during the year to celebrate the anniversary.

·        He introduced the members of the board.


Quorum Verification


·        Thirty one (31) members of the community attended in person, with twenty eight (28) members submitting proxies in advance.

·        This provided a total of fifty nine (59) members represented, which provided the quorum required for the meeting.


Board Member and Officer Reports


·        Secretary:

o   Bruce asked the members if they had any adjustments, clarifications, or other comments about the notes from last year’s annual meeting; none were offered.

o   A motion to approve the meeting notes was made, seconded, and approved.



·        Treasurer: 

o   2015 Budget/Actuals

§  All homeowners have paid their annual assessments, with a number resulting from Dante’s efforts to personally contact those who had not paid. 

§  The association collected $1,200 in late charges, with no assessment or property liens outstanding.

o   2016 Proposed Budget

§  The board’s proposed budget is essentially the same as for 2015 with the exception of the $12,000 increase for grounds maintenance and tree removal.

§  The association may also initiate some capital improvements, such as repairs to the asphalt paths.

§  Based on the planned budget, the board recommended that the annual assessment remain at $150.

§  A motion to endorse the $150 annual assessment was made, seconded and approved.


·        Common Grounds & Paths 

o   2015 Accomplishments

§  Cut down or cleaned up a number trees that had either fallen or had become a hazard to the community. 

§  Deferred the clean-up of the briar patches due to community concerns about the extent and potential impact on animals that rely on it for protective habitat.

o   2016 Plans

§  Plan to clean up some of the briar patch in the upper common area to save some trees and reduce its encroaching on the paths that people use, which should be completed by early November.

·        This type of clean up typically costs around $1,000.

·        May initiate clean-up of another smaller area in the spring of 2016.

§  Don may have the common areas contractor clean up the briar patch areas.

§  Increase on grounds maintenance estimates was planned to deal with additional tree removal.

·        Six trees are dead and need to be removed so that they don’t fall, which could be a risk to people or property.

·        Cost typically is about $500 - $1,000 per tree due to the need to clean up and haul away the debris.

§  Need to consider repairing the asphalt paths where tree roots are causing them to break up.

·        These paths were originally installed in 1996 at a cost of around $20,000.

·        Don asked for volunteers to work on obtaining estimates for these repairs.

·        A member mentioned that work by Cox Cable at the top of Country Squire was not done properly, which she believe has contributed to the path issues.

·        Don will look at that area to see what repairs may be needed.

§  If members of the community have any other capital improvements that they think should be considered or identify a tree that needs to be considered for removal, they should notify Don Lobeda.


·        Architecture Control Committee (ACC):

o   2015 Re-cap

§  Kirk thanked Keith Ferguson for his willingness to take over the ACC on an interim basis until a new chairperson could be found.

§  Kirk introduced board member Brian Rothlisberger, who has volunteered to chair the ACC.

§  Kirk noted that since the last annual meeting, the ACC approved twenty one (21) requests for upgrading properties.

§  A discussion of the ACC’s role on enforcing the restrictive covenants was then initiated.

·        Bruce stated that the ACC and Board will try to resolve issues directly with homeowners, with the use of legal proceedings as a last resort.

·        He noted that individual homeowners also have the right and ability to seek legal recourse if another homeowner is not abiding by the restrictive covenants.


·        Neighborhood Watch Committee

o   2015 Re-cap

§  Vanessa provided an overview of incidents during 2015, which were very few.

§  She noted that we did have one incident of an individual or group rifling through unlocked vehicles.  Hickory Farms was not the only community that experienced this problem. 

§  Fairfax County Police have provided some tips on how to minimize the risk of this occurring again. 

§  Vanessa noted that we need more volunteers, which would reduce the number and frequency of nights that any individual volunteer is required to patrol.

·        With 198 homes, if we had a volunteer from every home, the commitment would drop to less than one night per year.

·        Bruce asked community members to approach new neighbors about participating.

o   2016 Plans

§  In addition to recruiting additional volunteers, Vanessa plans to replace the signs, which are old and worn.


        At-Large Board Member Comments

o   Brand Niemann

§  Brand noted that he has supported two (2) service projects, which involved clean-up and erosion repair on the northern path and assisting a homeowner with maintenance of their property.

§  Brand is assisting the board with automation activities to transition to electronic records keeping.  He presented a proposal to the board at a recent meeting.

o   Kirk Randall

§  Kirk noted October 20, 2015 is the 40th anniversary of the incorporation of Hickory Farms, with people moving into the community ten months later.

§  Kirk is looking for a volunteer to take over managing the web page www.hickoryfarms.org, which he created back in 2004.

§  He indicated that this work would only require about twenty five (25) minutes per month to upload new information to the website.


·         Vice President:

o   Chuck Stewart

§  Chuck chaired the Nominating Committee, with Dante Gilmer and Don Lobeda as members, to identify candidates for board positions.

·        The committee did not receive any nominations other than the existing board members.

·        There were no nominations from the meeting.

§  Chuck supports the board on research as needed, such as county policies, regulations, etc.


·        President:

o   Statement of Acts and Corporate Affairs

§  The Community Association has no liens on properties, law suits, or equity actions.

§  The board has adopted a “reach-out” approach of talking to residents one-on-one to resolve issues, with pursuit of legal action, which is expensive, to be used as a last resort.


New Business


·        The board proposed one amendment to the By-Laws and two amendments to the Rules and Regulations.  The purpose of these amendments is to ensure consistency with our founding documents and updates necessary to stay current with legal interpretations of the Virginia Property Owners Association Act.


·        Bruce reviewed the four (4) documents associated with the Hickory Farms Community Association, which are:

o   Articles of Incorporation, which is very difficult to change;

o   Restrictive Covenants, which can be changed only if approved by 75% of the homeowners in writing;

o   By-laws, which can be changed based on a majority vote of the homeowners; and

o   Rules and Regulations, which can be changed based on a vote by the Board of Directors.


·        The first change involves Article IV, Section 2, Number 1 of the By-Laws.

o   The current wording specifies that the Board will consist of seven (7) directors.  The Board recommended that this be changed to requiring at least three (3) directors, with the Board having the authority to add more directors to meet the needs of the community.

§  This recommended change reflected the need for more Board members, while recognizing that in the past the lack of volunteers has resulted in as few as three or four directors.

§  Some members expressed concern that the change represented too few directors.

§  There was a discussion about retaining seven (7), changing the minimum to five (5), and proceeding with the minimum of three (3) adopted by the Board.

§  The Board’s proposal reflected an effort to stay within hierarchy of the founding documents, along with the fact that the composition of the Board is revisited at every annual meeting.

§  As part of this discussion, Bruce noted that the Board was committed to bring all big changes to the annual meeting for discussion.

§  A motion to change the by-laws to a minimum of five (5) was made, seconded, and approved.


·        Changes to HFCA Rules and Regulations (1, 1.11, c); 1.2 d); and 1.3 b)

o   Although the Board has authority to change the Rules and Regulations, this Board is operating under an approach of bringing proposed changes to the annual meeting to provide the homeowners with an opportunity to discuss and whether to approve them.

o   The proposed changes reflect updates based on the founding documents and the 2014 and 2015 updates to Virginia Property Owners Association Ace.

§  Based on the Board’s review, the HFCA does not have the authority to impose monetary fines related to the restrictive covenants.  Specifically, the founding documents have no reference to fines, so the rules and regulations cannot authorize the use of fines.  This interpretation has been validated in court cases.

§  The Board proposed removing the language on fines in an effort to protect the Board and the homeowners.

§  Although the Board had already reviewed the substance of this this change with our lawyers, members of the community requested that we have our lawyer review the specific wording of the proposed change.

§  A motion to have our attorney review the specific wording of this change was made, seconded, and approved.  This proposed amendment was therefore tabled until the next Annual Meeting.

o   The Board needs to remove references to “PODs” from the rules and regulations as a result of a letter from the company that has a trademark on this this word.

§  The company has noted possible legal action if the association did not comply voluntarily. 

§  The Board proposed changing the reference from PODs to storage containers.

§  The Board also noted that the restrictive covenants allows seven (7) calendar days for these temporary storage units to remain in place.

§  Members expressed concerns about construction dumpsters, which need to be in place longer than seven days.

§  The Board does not have the authority to grant longer periods given the wording in the restrictive covenants; however, there is no requirement for immediate enforcement after the seven day period has elapsed.

§  A motion to adopt the wording change was made, seconded, and approved.


·        Covenant Compliance Community Walk-through Plans

o   The Board plans to conduct a walkthrough of the community to identify any issues with property compliance with the restrictive covenants.

o   Board and ACC members have been conducting this walkthrough for about two weeks, with Vanessa consolidating the data and preparing letters to homeowners who are in violation of the Declaration and/or Rules and Regulations.

o   The Board has the responsibility to enforce covenants with a level hand, so before letters are delivered, we plan to talk to the homeowners in an effort to amicably resolve any compliance issues.


·        Volunteer Performance Assessment: Feedback

o   Bruce thanked the various people who have volunteered over the past year. 

o   He noted that we plan to rework the landscaping at the entrances to the community to improve their appearance.

o   Bruce requested that members of the community notify the Board if they would like to participate in this effort.


·        Elections of 2016 Board of Directors

o   No nominations were identified by the community members at the meeting.

o   A motion made to approve the current list of nominees, which reflects the current Board members by an affirmation vote was made, seconded, and approved.

o   Bruce noted that Brenda Denny, who is not a fee owning, property owning individual will be our next treasurer, which is authorized under our legal documents.  Brenda’s position is as an Officer, not as a Board Member.

o   A motion to approve all of the nominees was made, seconded, and approved.


·        Raffle for $150 Credit of Annual Assessment – the raffle was conducted.  Wheatfield Court homeowner Cathy Basl was selected at random and will receive a full 2016 Annual Assessment credit.


Other Business

o   Judy Cosgriff proposed the idea to conduct an “open house” event for people to visit homes to allow people to see improvements that have been made to get ideas for updating their homes was suggested.

§  This would be voluntary on the part of the homeowners who were willing to allow people to visit their properties.

§  An alternative option would be to take pictures if a homeowner doesn’t want to open up their home to neighbors.

§  Judy will prepare an article for the newsletter.

o   The house being used by GMU college students was raised due to how it’s impacting the quality of life for community members who live nearby.

§  Residents want the Board to contact George Mason University to see if we can get their assistance with these issues, which include the number of people and cars, noise, and other inappropriate behavior.

§  Bruce said that he will follow up, but noted that we need evidence, such as pictures, dates and times of issues, etc.

§  A member of the community noted that the police have been called to the house approximately twenty (20) times for disturbances.



The meeting was adjourned at 9:55 pm.


HFCA Board Meeting

October 6, 2015, 7:30 – 8:35 pm


The attendees at this meeting of HFCA Board are documented immediately below.

Bruce Bernhardt, President

Chuck Stewart, Vice President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Vanessa Franck, Neighborhood Watch

Kirk Randall, Member at Large

Mike Mehrman, Member at Large

Brian Rothlisberger, Member at Large

Ed Wagner, Secretary, Member at Large


Priority Issues:

·        Kirk reminded the board that articles for the upcoming newsletter are due on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

·        The board discussed a number of topics related to the community’s Articles of Incorporation, By-laws, and Rules and Regulations

o   Topic 1 – number of directors

§  Articles of Incorporation states that the Community Association will have three 3 directors, unless specified differently in the by-laws

§  Currently the Rules and Regulations establishes the number of directors at seven (7)

§  The board consists of both directors and officers

·        Directors, which must be fee owning, deed owning members of the community, have the authority to vote

·        Officers do not have to meet these criteria, may or may not be members of the board, and cannot vote

·        HFCA’s insurance covers both types of positions

§  Over time, the board has added other director positions as needed to support the community

§  The board developed a recommended wording change to the by-laws that are consistent with the Articles of Incorporation and provides some flexibility to continue to meet the needs of the community, while also recognizing that these are volunteer positions

§  The Board members approved the following proposed amendments to the By-Laws which will be put to the members for their approval at the Annual Meeting:



Section 1. Number.  The affairs of this Association shall be managed by a Board of at least three (3) directors, all of whom must be members of the Association.  The Board has the authority to add Directors as required to meet the needs of the community.


o   Topic 2 -- Rules and Regulations Changes

§  Violations of the Restrictive Covenants

·        The board has continued its review of rules and regulations to ensure that they are in compliance with the most recent Virginia Property Owners Association Act (VPOAA)

o   Under the VPOAA, the HFCA has authority to charge fees and assessments as allowed under the Articles of Declaration

o   Since the HFCA Articles of Declaration do not reference fines, the board plans to delete any the reference to fines from the current rules and regulations

o   This change further limits the board’s or individual community member’s options to gain the cooperation of a homeowner to bring their property into compliance with the restrictive covenants

§  One option is to request the homeowner’s cooperation or agreement to take the actions necessary to bring his or her property into compliance

§  If the initial approach does not resolve the compliance issue, the only remaining option is for either the Community Association or an individual member of the community to initiate a court action in an effort to force compliance

§  Storage pods containers and portable storage units

·        The board received a letter from the PODS company that has trademarked the use of the term POD, notifying us that they consider its use in the rules and regulations as a violation of their trademark.

·        The board has decided to remove the verbiage “including so-called storage pods” from the Rules and Regulations

·        Given that the Restrictive Covenants specify a limit of seven (7) days for this type of temporary storage, the board is also removing the language that authorizes the granting of an extension in time authorized

§  The Board approved the following changes to the Rules and Regulations, which will be presented to the members at the Annual Meeting for their affirmation:

1.2 When Approval of the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) is Required [Declarations, Article VII Restrictive Covenants, Section 2]:

d)   In the event a structure alteration is not approved, the Architectural Control Committee shall direct the homeowner to make any necessary changes to comply.  If the homeowner fails to make application or make the required changes to comply, the Architectural Control Committee shall advise the Board of Directors.  The Board or any homeowner may initiate legal proceedings to bring any property into compliance with the Deed of Dedication and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions and the Hickory Farms Rules and Regulations.  See the Due Process Procedures for amplifying information.

·        1.11 Restriction on Parking Boats, Trailers, Tents or Temporary Structures or Portable Vehicles other than Automobiles Forward of a Dwelling for Longer than Seven Calendar Days [Declarations, Article VII Restrictive Covenants, Section 11]:

·        c)  Storage containers and portable storage units may be kept on a homeowner’s property for no more than seven (7) calendar days.  Such storage containers may only be for the personal use of the resident; business or trade uses are prohibited.

 Standing Reports:

·        Secretary Report

o   A motion to approve the minutes from the August 18, 2015 meeting was made, seconded, and approved.

·        Treasurer’s Report

o   The board reviewed the proposed budget for 2016.

§  Next year’s budget will have a significant increase in expenses for landscaping for purposes of tree removal and if funds are available, initiating capital improvements, such as path repairs. 

§  Revenue from selling newsletter advertising is projected to be $1,600 given the commitments already made

§  Reduce the total revenue by $150 to account for the lottery winner.

o   The board approved the 2016 budget with the above changes.  The approved budget will be presented at the annual meeting for affirmation by the members.

·        Architectural Control Committee Report

o   Brian Rothlisberger has volunteered to take over chairmanship of this committee

o   Brian replaces Keith Ferguson, who had graciously agreed to chair the committee on an interim basis to ensure that requests were processed in a fair and timely manner.

·        Community Grounds, Paths and Woods Report

o   Don reviewed the plan for his presentation at the annual meeting.

·        Neighborhood Watch

o   No report.

Vice President

·        No report.

Old Business

·        Water run-off in the lower common area

o   A member of the board checked on this area following the recent storm

o   Drainage culvert appeared to be working

o   The board plans to arrange for some bushes near the culvert to be trimmed back as recommended following a recent visit by a Fairfax County official

·        Annual Meeting

o   Lottery –

§  In an effort to increase participation at the annual meeting, the board agreed to run a lottery where one member of the community will have their annual fee waived for 2016

§  Members of the board or their families are not eligible for this lottery

§  Dante Gilmer with Vanessa Franck’s assistance will  manage the distribution of tickets (one per home owner) at the meeting

o   Members of the board posted the annual meeting signs immediately following the meeting

·        Hand-outs – each board member was asked to bring forty (40) copies of any document they plan to use at the meeting

·        Members of the board and Architectural Control Committee plan to walk around the community to identify whether any properties are not in compliance issues with the Restrictive Covenants and Rules and Regulations;  will discuss at the annual meeting

·        HFCA Records Retention

o   The secretary distributed a draft spreadsheet outlining the proposed record retention requirements for review by the board members

o   Bruce asked the board members to provide any comments prior to the next board meeting

New Business

·        The board discussed how to remove the green graffiti on entrance sign at Burke Station road; will investigate viable options for cleaning and sealing the sign.

·        The board discussed the issues related to one property that is not in compliance with the Rules and Regulations and Restrictive Covenants.

·        Bruce requested that board members provide him with a list of any community members who have volunteered to community support activities so that we can thank them at the annual meeting.

Next meeting

The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 7:30 pm at Bruce’s


HFCA Board Meeting

August 18, 2015, 7:30 – 9:00 pm


The attendees at this meeting of HFCA Board are documented immediately below.

Bruce Bernhardt, President

Chuck Stewart, Vice President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Brenda Denny, Treasurer Designee

Vanessa Franck, Neighborhood Watch

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee Member, Member at Large

Brand Niemann, Member at Large, Records Management

Ed Wagner, Secretary


Priority Issues:

·        Introduced Brenda Denny, who will become the new treasurer following the annual meeting on October 20, 2015

·        The Board agreed to add Brenda to the Board of Directors pending her election to the Board at the Annual Meeting.

·        The board continues its efforts to find a volunteer to take on the Architectural Control Committee chairmanship; Keith Ferguson is the interim chairperson pending identification of a replacement

·        The board is looking for a volunteer to replace Kirk Randall to take responsibility for updating the community’s webpage.  Articles for inclusion in the next newsletter must be sent to Kirk by August 27th.

Standing Reports:

·        Secretary Report

o   A motion to approve the minutes from the previous board meeting was made, seconded, and passed.

·        Treasurer’s Report

o   2015 Budget/Actuals Reports

§  The Hickory Farms Community Association has received annual dues payments for 100% of homes, largely as a result of Dante Gilmer’s effort to follow up personally with households for which payment had not been received.

§  The community association has collected $2 thousand more than planned due to late fees and advertising revenue from the newsletter.

§  The treasurer noted a discrepancy in the bank statement related to the annual dues collected; plans to meet with the bank to resolve this discrepancy.

§  The board agreed to start investing in some capital improvement projects, such as path repair, which are needed given the age of the community.

§  The chairperson of the Community Grounds, Paths and Woods Committee will provide the board with a list of recommended improvements, which will be incorporated into the budget plan for discussion at the annual meeting in October.

§  The board agreed to investigate whether to implement an option that would allow residents to pay their annual fees electronically; would limit this to a single option.

·        Architectural Control Committee Report

o   The committee approved a number of requests since the last meeting, including sidewalk, front stoop, two sheds, patio, etc.

·        Community Grounds, Paths and Woods Report

o   No report.

·        Neighborhood Watch

o   During recent watches, the community has not experienced any incidents.

o   The board has authorized the purchase of 4 new signs and 2 bags so that a back-up set exists to ensure that Neighborhood Watch can be conducted even if we experience an issue with the timely transfer of the equipment between scheduled sessions.

o   The board discussed the need to develop a plan for monitoring traffic speed in the neighborhood in response to complaints received from community members; Vanessa Franck has agreed to coordinate this effort.

Vice President

·        No comments

Old Business

·        HFCA Directory – the board agreed to put the update of this directory on indefinite hold because of the lack of volunteers to take on the work.

·        Rules and Regulations Subcommittee – continues its work on the review of recent Virginia Homeowner Association laws to determine whether and how they impact Hickory Farms; upon completion, will have the association’s lawyer review the results.

·        HFCA Records Retention – Brand Niemann presented some ideas on how to meet the requirements for the retention of documents.

o   Board needs to transition to electronic storage of records to ensure their long-term retention

§  Need to ensure long-term viability while minimizing cost and risk.

§  Use of a portal or secure cloud services provides better security than the use of email and storage on local PCs.

§  Will consider use of options for providing electronic control to access and associated rights for modifying or approving documents and records.

§  Board plans to see a demonstration of one solution at the meeting planned for September 22, 2015.

§  Work is underway to define the requirements in terms specific documents and associated time periods for retention.

§  The secretary will distributed a spreadsheet to all board members for completion in advance of the next board meeting.

·        Entrance Garden Club – five (5) residents have expressed interest in supporting the effort to improve and maintain the landscaping at the community entrances.

New Business

·        The board and ACC members plan to conduct a neighborhood walk through in the fall to identify any issues that violate the community’s covenants and rules and regulations.  To ensure consistency, the board will use a checklist; Kirk Randall agreed to draft a checklist for review at the meeting in September.

·        The board continued its discussion of options for increasing attendance at our annual meeting in October; agreed to have a raffle to win a cash prize of 1 year’s annual assessment that can only be won by residents attending in person.

·        Election of board members – the board plans to establish a nominating committee as required.

·        40th Anniversary Celebration of Hickory Farms – The board wants to schedule some events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Hickory Farms.  Hickory Farms was incorporated on October 20, 1975 and the first residents moved into the community in late summer 1976.

Next meeting

An information technology presentation will be given to the  Board by Brand Niemann on September 22 at 7:30 pm at Vanessa Franck’s house.  The Board will meet again on October 6 to plan for the Annual Meeting.


HFCA Board Meeting

June 10, 2015, 7:30 – 9:15 pm


The attendees at this meeting of HFCA Board are documented immediately below.

Bruce Bernhardt, President

Chuck Stewart, Vice President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee Member, Member at Large

Mike Mehrman, Member at Large

Brand Niemann, Member at Large

Brian Rothlisberger, Member at Large

Ed Wagner, Secretary, Member at Large


Standing Reports:

·       Secretary Report

o   A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes from the previous meeting

o   The motion to approve the notes passed

·       Treasurer’s Report

o   2015 Budget/Actuals Reports

§  Dante personally visited all of the residents whose 2015 annual dues were outstanding

·       Resulted in a commitment from all to pay up on their dues without the need for involving the community association’s lawyer to place liens 

·       Expected to receive all outstanding payments by June 11, 2015

§  Community Association only had one lien that was outstanding, which has now been resolved with the payment of annual dues, late fees, and attorney costs

§  Community Association has collected $1,000 in late fees, along with additional money for advertising, with a total of $1500 more than budgeted for this year already collected

§  Dante is researching a firm to audit the community association’s books

o   Conducting a review or the association’s tax liability given our status as a non-profit corporation

§  Plan to provide the tax information to the auditor

§  September 2015 due date for our taxes provide some time to check into the association’s tax liability prior to making this year’s payment

o   Dante has been treasurer for 8 years so the board needs to find a replacement, Bruce will write an article for the upcoming newsletter

·       Architectural Control Committee Report

o   Keith Ferguson has agreed to take on the chairmanship position on an interim basis, so the board still needs to find a replacement for Kirk

o   Recently the committee has received a variety of requests, such as for decks, sheds, driveways, etc.

o   Braddock District Council Feedback – the board is trying to cover these types of meetings to obtain information on legal changes, best practices, etc., to help the board make improvements in our activities over time

·       Community Grounds, Paths and Woods Report

o   Received a request to have a birthday party on our common grounds; request was approved on the condition that the residents clean up after the event

o   Association needs to remove a couple of dead trees in common area to mitigate the risk of falling and associated liability

o   Monitoring a second area of bamboo to ensure that it is not spreading into the common area; if there is a need to cut some of it back, we may use some high school volunteer hours

o   Northern Path improvements/clean-up (drainage)

§  Obtaining the engagement of Fairfax City and County remains a work  in progress

§  Plan to follow up with our Fairfax County Supervisor to obtain his support in getting the City and County to conduct a walkthrough of the area and discuss possible improvements to resolve the issues, including extension of the existing drainage pipe

·       Neighborhood Watch

o   Speeding in the neighborhood

§  Posting of signs have not resolved the problem; board continues to receive requests about speeding and the need for monitoring

§  Board has requested that Fairfax County provide a speed monitoring device that would record the rate of speed and time of the day; used by police to determine when to monitor traffic speed for enforcement purposes

·       Request is pending with the county, with no known resolution date given the limited number of speed monitoring devices

·       Board will follow up with Fairfax County police about obtaining a speed monitoring device

§  One resident has contacted several board members asking that the board take action on speeding and reckless driving on Still Meadow Road.

·       Board has no authority to enforce speed limits or any other aspect of state roads

·       Board recommended that the resident contact Supervisor Cook and get other neighbors to call/visit to express concern about the problem

·       Fairfax County Police needs objective facts about how many speeders and the speed levels before they will take further monitoring or enforcement action

·       Given the continued concerns expressed by residents and the uncertainty about when the county police will provide a speed camera, the board approved a maximum of $200 to the purchase a radar gun that could be used to collect information to be presented to the county and police


Vice President

·       Drainage issue—corner of Farm House and Cotton Farm

o   Resident has raised concerns about the amount of drainage that is impacting his back yard

o   Members of the board visited the location to see if they could identify any potential issues that may be causing the problem

§  Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Transportation have responsibility for maintaining or fixing the drainage system, which actually runs under this property

§  The board will contact the county and VDOT to have them investigate whether their drainage culverts are causing this issue because of a need to be repaired or cleaned out

§  The board agreed that one of its members should participate in the county walkthrough to ensure that it receives the appropriate review

§  The board will investigate whether some clean up around the drainage culvert on the common ground is needed; will have the association’s maintenance firm provide an estimate for cleaning up around that area

o   The board will provide the resident with a written response about our plans to assist with the resolution of this drainage issue

o   Chuck will write an article for the newsletter about the drainage issues that the board has addressed


Old Business

·       HFCA Directory –

o   One person has volunteered for compiling this directory, but this is not a one-person project given the community’s request that each individual be contacted to determine what information that they want to include in the directory

o   Board has put the project on hold for now with a plan to raise it at the annual meeting to see if other residents are interested in assisting

·       Rules and Regulations Subcommittee:

o   The placement of an article in the last newsletter seeking volunteers for this effort proved unsuccessful - no residents volunteered

o   Mike has initiated researching some new laws recently enacted to determine what, if an impact they would have

§  Working to obtain a copy of a new law that goes into effect in July 2015

§  Research on the late fees the HFCA is allowed to charge is a work in progress

§  Plan to discuss these questions with the association’s attorney

·       HFCA Records Retention

o   HFCA must retain specific records under Virginia law  for purposes of providing access to these records on request

o   Law was amended in 2014; compliance is self-managed; must be able to provide access within 14 days

o   Based on research, the following records require permanent retention

§  Minutes from meetings

§  Board resolutions

§  Annual meetings

§  Financial information

§  Tax records

§  Architectural approvals

§  Governing documents

o   Other records, such as bank statements and election records require retention for a specific period

o   The board discussed use of a cloud solution to provide electronic copies of records in a secure manner

§  Microsoft SharePoint is an example of a cloud service that could meet this need

·       This Microsoft service provides a number of capabilities, some of which may not be required to meet the board’s document retention responsibilities

·       A board member has access to some licenses, which he offered provide for the board’s use free of charge

·       After the first year, the costs for accessing SharePoint may be higher than for other services available

§  The board agreed to develop a set of requirements based on each committee for use in identifying the best and most cost-effective solution

·       Each committee’s requirements are to be documented and sent to the secretary for consolidation into a single document

·       Due date for receipt of requirements is August 11, 2015

·       Some board members expressed concerns as to how much a records retention system may cost and hope that the committee will investigate off-the-shelf solutions.

o   Given the records retention requirement in Virginia law, the board agreed that we need to establish a board position to manage this effort; Brand agreed to fill this position

·       Entrance Garden Club – three residents have volunteered to manage the landscaping at both entrances; board will recognize then in the next newsletter

·       Walks around the community noted that multiple sidewalk, driveway and curb repairs are needed; plan to republish a news article that provides the VDOT contact information to request repairs


New Business

·       Board noted that some residents have not been maintaining clean organized carports as required under the community association’s rules and regulations

o   The following provision of our Restrictive Covenants applies:  "All lots and yards in the above described subdivision shall be maintained in a neat and attractive manner so as not to detract from the appearance of the above described development."

o   Plan to conduct a walkthrough of the community; likely after Labor Day

o   Will use a checklist to ensure consistency, with follow up letters sent to residents whose car ports are not in synch with our rules and regulations

o   Schedule the walkthrough for some time after Labor Day – decide at the next meeting

·       Board discussed options for increasing attendance at our annual meeting in October

o   Considering having a raffle to win a cash prize for attending

o   Kirk will develop a proposal for the board to discuss at its meeting in August

·       40th Anniversary Celebration of Hickory Farms

o   Although it was incorporated in 1975, the first homeowners moved in in late summer 1976

o   The board is considering kicking off a 40th anniversary celebration starting with our annual meeting in October 2015


Next meeting

The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm



HFCA Board Meeting

March 25, 2015, 7:30 – 9:15 pm


The attendees at this meeting of HFCA Board are documented immediately below.

Bruce Bernhardt, President

Chuck Stewart, Vice President

Vanessa Franck, Neighborhood Watch

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Mike Mehrman, Member at Large

Kirk Randall, Architectural Control Committee

Ed Wagner, Secretary, Member at Large


Standing Reports:

·        Secretary Report

o   A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes from the previous meeting

o   The motion to approve the notes passed

·        Treasurer’s Report

o   Current budget

§  Fifteen (15 ) have not yet paid their annual dues for 2015

·        Treasurer will attempt to contact the homeowners one additional time in an effort to obtain payment, including the $50 late payment charge

·        Homeowners for which this follow up is unsuccessful will be referred to the homeowner’s association for processing of liens

·        If that occurs, the homeowner has responsibility for the dues, late charge and attorney fees

·        Even though the board has made extensive efforts to communicate the deadlines for submitting annual dues, the board agreed to include an article in the next newsletter about the process and costs to the homeowner if a lien is issued on the property

·        Vanessa offered to write the article

§  Homeowner’s association received $1,100 more in advertising revenue than anticipated so far this year

§  Expenses to date have been pretty low

·        Most of the expenses to date have been for landscaping/maintenance

·        Other minor miscellaneous and mailing expenses have been incurred

o   Taxes

§  Treasurer has applied for an extension for filing he association’s tax return

§  Extension runs through September 2015 at no cost to the association

§  Treasure is pursuing an audit of the books in the interim period prior to the tax filing extension deadline

·        Cost of the audit has not been determined

·        Treasurer will obtain multiple estimates, which the board will review to determine which to select

·        A board member noted that HR Block Premier provides audit services for community associations

·        Community Grounds, Paths and Woods Report

o   Trimming of trees that were encroaching on community paths have been trimmed

o   The board plans to post some additional no-trespassing signs that common areas and paths are restricted to community residents and their guests

§  The board authorized Don to purchase new posts for these signs

§  Plan involves posting additional signs at limited locations on the small paths leading to the north community path and at the western end of the path at Roberts Road

o   Cost of the annual contract for maintenance of the common areas has remained stable (i.e., no increase in cost from last year)

§  Stakes around the bamboo area have been posted so that the crews know what to mow and not mow

§  Will investigate an issue about the lack of maintenance of a small area behind Tumbleweed Court that a community resident raised to the board

§  Maintenance company did not charge the association for cleaning up some debris in upper common area

§  Plan to get an estimate for clearing out some of the thickets; will require further discussion by the board to determine whether and how to proceed

o   Board member will investigate a drainage issue raised by a local homeowner

§  Will follow up with the homeowner to check on an evidence as to the cause of the drainage issue

§  Board will also investigate how Virginia law related to water flow/drainage to determine what, if any, obligations or liability for the homeowner’s association

·        Neighborhood Watch

o   Chairperson attended the West Springfield Citizen Advisory Committee meetings in February and March

§  Obtained information from Fairfax County Police on crime prevention for vehicles and homes

§  Plan to incorporate this information into a future news letter

o   Plan to search for a smaller bag for storing the binder, flashlight, and Neighborhood Watch signs; old bag is significantly larger than required

·        Architecture Control Committee

o   Have received only one application for replacement windows over the past couple of months

o   Received a general inquiry about a gas fireplace; board needs to review the rules and regulations to see what applies related to the installation of a propane tank which may be considered noncompliant with requirements for maintaining consistency with the existing architecture of the community

o   Kirk Randall is resigning as chairman effective May 1, 2015, but will remain on the committee

o   The board will follow up with other committee members to determine if any of them are willing to take on the chairmanship role


Old Business

·        Directory

o   Although some members of the community have expressed interest in developing an updated directory, the board determined that this project cannot be done unless someone volunteers to take the lead

o   Plan to develop an article about the directory and need for a volunteer for the May newsletter

o   Bruce offered to write the article

o   Need to define what information we want to include

·        Rules and regulation

o   The working group will look at new Virginia legal changes to determine whether they impact homeowner association regulations, such as the assessment of charges for late payment of dues

o   Review will include the by-laws and covenants to ensure that we have the statutory linkage

·        Document Retention Matrix

o   The board has not yet addressed this issue

o   President plans to have a discussion with each board member prior to the next meeting

o   Consideration of a cloud service for storing electronic documents remains an open question

·        Volunteer Entrance Improvement Team

o   Effort involves improving the look of the entrances on both Burke Station and Roberts Roads

o   Due to an issue with a recent newsletter, the board plans to republish the article in the next newsletter

o   Board will consider whether adding a sign with the association’s web address may be a positive addition to inform outsiders about our community

·        Sidewalk & Curb Repairs

o   Members of the board plan to walk around the community to identify cracks in walks, curbs, etc.

o   Will inform the residents about how to notify Fairfax County about needed repairs by publishing this information in an upcoming newsletter

o   If enough members of the community call, then perhaps we can get our community’s repairs elevated on the priority list

·        Run-off on Northern Path

o   Board is checking on the appropriate Fairfax County organization/person for obtaining input on how to resolve this issue, which also involves property located in Fairfax City

o   The objective of this work would be to redirect the water that runs across our path

o   Expect that any work will require a permit from Fairfax County


New Business

·        New Board Members

§  A motion was made, seconded, and approved to add Vanessa Franck and Pete Scala to the board given their roles in supporting the community

§  This allows these individuals to be covered by the association’s insurance while carrying out their community association activities


Next meeting

The next board meeting is scheduled for June 10, 2015 at 7:30 pm



HFCA Board of Directors Meeting

January 28, 2014, 7:30 – 8:37 pm


The attendees at this meeting of HFCA Board are documented immediately below.

Bruce Bernhardt, President

Chuck Stewart, Vice President

Dante Gilmer, Treasurer

Don Lobeda, Community Grounds, Paths, and Woods

Vanessa Franck, Neighborhood Watch

Brian Rothlisberger, Member at Large

Ed Wagner, Secretary, Member at Large


Board Updates:

·        Bruce introduced Vanessa Franck who has graciously agreed to take over as the coordinator for the Neighborhood Watch program.

·        Car vandalism – Hickory Farms had about 17 cars vandalized during a recent Saturday night/Sunday morning. 

o   All of the cars were unlocked.

o   Bruce reported the occurrence to police; they took the information, but did not come to the house; they provided him with a report number.

o   Apparently Hickory Farms was not the only community that experienced this problem.

·        The board discussed some next steps to try to reduce the chance of having this reoccur.  These steps included:

o   Writing an article for the community association newsletter on suggestions that can make vehicles less susceptible to this type of issue, such as locking cars, avoiding storage of valuables in cars, adding lights focused on the driveway, etc.

§  Vanessa will work with Bruce on developing this article.

§  Plan to have a draft completed by the end of February for publication in the March newsletter

o   Look at options such as cameras to record cars that enter either end of the community during selected hours so that we have some information for police in the event of some issue

o   Raise the issue at the next meeting with the police that occurs on a monthly basis to get other ideas.


Standing Topics

·        Secretary Report

o   Minutes from the previous meeting were approved

o   Provide no trespassing sign to DOn

·        Treasurer Report

o   Current budget

§  Deposited $12,550, which reflects the annual dues for about 90 homes

§  Have to stagger deposits over two months to avoid service charges from the bank, with the next deposit to occur on February 1st.

§  Have received the annual dues for 179 homes, however, 3 residents were late with their payments, but did not include the required late fee; letters will be sent about the need to pay late fees.

§  So far this year, have dispersed $1,674 to cover bills

§  The board discussed the idea of including a form in the newsletter for residents to identify their lot number and other information to make it easier to properly record the payment of dues; Dante will follow up with Kirk

o   Dante plans to follow up with the attorney on outstanding payments related to liens, since these expire; Bruce indicated that he has a couple of questions for the attorney as well, so they plan to go together to minimize the charges

o   Dante is investigating the possibility of an audit, including for the purpose of determining whether the association is paying too many taxes

o   Hickory Farms has received an invitation to attend a round table on community associations; meeting is sponsored by a service company, which is likely using the meeting for marketing purposes

·        Community Grounds, Paths and Woods Report

o   Don plans to meet with the lawn service to talk about some issues

o   Don has met with JL Service about some trees that require trimming; cost estimate is $630

§  Also discussed the removal of the bamboo; JL indicated that they do not do this type of work

§  The only viable way to permanently remove the bamboo is to dig out the roots, which go down as far as four feet; existing trees in this area could not be saved

§  Requires refilling this hole with new soil

§  Don plans to follow up with a couple of nurseries to determine if they have any recommendations for dealing with the bamboo

o   Bruce plans to follow up with Fairfax County and Fairfax City on water drainage issue on the north path; will work through Supervisor Cook to arrange for this.

·        Neighborhood Watch

o   Of the two signs posted about slowing down, one was vandalized

o   The board reviewed the information provided by Fairfax County police on handling the speeding issue in the neighborhood; approach involves education, speed camera for obtaining information, not for enforcement or ticketing, then if requested by the community, initiation of speed enforcement actions by the police

o   Actions agreed to by the board include:

§  Obtaining additional watch your speed signs to post in other areas of the neighborhood; will be reviewed by Vanessa

§  Bruce plans to incorporate an non-speeding resolution into the newsletter

§  Also need to communicate the steps to the community

o   The board thought that we should use the recent car vandalism to reinforce the importance of and try to increase participation in neighborhood watch


Old Business

·        Directory

o   The board reviewed the discussion at the annual meeting, which found that there is general interest in a directory, but with the need to protect the information

o   The board decided to deliver forms for residents to complete with the information that they would want included in the directory; this will be done with the delivery of a one of the newsletter

·        Rules and regulation

o   Mike and Bruce agreed to review the rules and regulations to determine if any updates are required given recent changes in state laws on homeowner associations

o   This effort will include talking with the association’s attorney about any developments to confirm that we have the appropriate interpretation

·        Records Audit

o   Research did not identify any formal requirements on retention of records, including about any retention duration required

o   As a non-profit, the board agreed to retain selected records for 7 years, with other records, such as property-related documentation retained indefinitely

o   The board is investigating access to a cloud service for storing documents, with use of topic files to make it easier to delete outdated records that can create confusion

o   The board agreed to the concept of creating a matrix that identifies the types of documents and their associated retention times; Bruce will draft an example for the board to discuss at the next meeting


New Business

·        The board is interested in improving the appearance of both entrances to the community by planting some attractive plants and flowers; Don will develop an article about this effort, including asking for volunteers for the March 2015 newsletter

·        Sidewalk and curb repairs

o   Bruce’s walks around the neighborhood have identified of places where repairs are needed

o   Will develop an article for the newsletter that provides people with information on what to look for and a contact in the county to call

o   If enough people from the community report issues, Fairfax County may raise the level of priority for this work

·        The board had sent a letter to a member of the community on the need for repair or removal of a fence; subsequent to the meeting, the homeowner replaced the entire fence, resolving the issue


Next meeting will be on March 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm at Vanessa Franck’s house