Bruce Bernhardt, Debbi Buchanan, Dante Gilmer, Telah Jackson, John Kitzmiller, Kirk Randall, Melissa Stark, Chuck Stewart, Heather Stewart
The Board approved the October 2018 minutes, with minor changes.
The Board discussed the positions to be filled for 2019, and agreed upon the following:
President - Chuck Stewart
Vice President - Bruce Bernhardt
Secretary - John Kitzmiller
Treasurer - Jim Bever
Assistant Treasurer - Dante Gilmer
At Large - Debbi Buchanan, Telah Jackson, Kirk Randall
Architectural Control Committee Chair – Pam Barrett
Common Areas Coordinator – Melissa Stark
Ms. Stewart reviewed the results of her mapping project for Hickory Farms and circulated maps of the floodplains and easements in Hickory Farms. It was noted that nothing could be done in a Resource Protection Area that would affect the flow of water.
Messrs. Bernhardt and Stewart explained they had taken a Civil Engineer on a walk thru the North Path area and asked for suggestions to remediate the flooding taking place there.
The engineer recommended that a tree be removed and that a trench be dug and riprap added. He also suggested researching the industry standard for the slope of the path. All such work would be performed on HF property and none on adjoining properties belonging to Fairfax City residents. It was noted that the riprap would need to be maintained, i.e., cleared of leaves, branches, etc.
Bruce suggested funding the project through HFCA reserve fund. He noted that neither Fairfax City nor Fairfax County had funds available for small projects such as alleviating flooding along the North Path.
The cost of such work was estimated at about $5,000. The Board discussed the need to have such an expenditure approved by homeowners and determined it was not necessary.
It was further agreed that articles would be placed in the HFCA newsletter explaining the problem and possible solutions.
Bruce agreed to solicit bids on path repair and for digging the trench and adding riprap.
Dante reviewed the year-to-date budget, noting that the actual YTD deficit was below the budgeted deficit.
Melissa noted that there were several trees in the common areas that needed to be cut down and removed, and would solicit bids.
She noted Image Works had submitted a proposal for aerating and overseeding, and Tru-Green for applying fertilizer and herbicides to the Common Area, to control crabgrass and weeds. The Board approved the contracts with Image Works and Tru-Green.
The Board discussed the appearance of the entrance signs to Hickory Farms. Telah noted that the homeowner survey showed that homeowners were concerned about the signs.
Debbi showed new Neighborhood Watch magnetic signs and noted that the Watch had a new member.
Telah distributed copies of the results of the neighborhood survey. It was agreed that the results would be published in the newsletter.
The Board agreed that homeowners should be reminded of the existence of the Listserv, and that contact information for homeowners should be updated. It was suggested that updating contact information might be the first task of Block Captains, if such were created.
The next regularly scheduled Board meeting would be December 11, 2018, at Debbi Buchanan’s house.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 pm.
DATE: October 11, 2018
TIME: 8:00pm - 10:00pm
LOCATION: Green Acres Community Center
HFCA President Chuck Stewart welcomed the Members to the Annual Meeting and thanked them for attending.
Forty six (46) members of the Hickory Farms Community Association (HFCA) were present or represented by proxy, which did not provide the required quorum of 25 percent of homeowners. The Annual Meeting was then adjourned.
A new meeting was then called to order, with 46 members either present or represented via proxy. This provided at least the minimum to constitute a quorum.
A member proposed changing the quorum to one-eighth of homeowners, given it was almost impossible to achieve a regular quorum of 25 percent.
Mr. Stewart introduced the members of the Board of Directors:
Chuck Stewart, President
Bruce Bernhardt, Vice President
Dante Gilmer, Treasurer
Jim Bever, Assistant Treasurer
John Kitzmiller, Secretary
Melissa Stark, Common Areas Coordinator
Debbi Buchanan, Neighborhood Watch Coordinator
Brian Roethlisberger, Architectural Control Committee (ACC) Chair
Kirk Randall, Member at Large
Telah Jackson, Member at Large
Mr. Stewart introduced Heather Stewart, a Geographic Information System (GIS) intern, who had created a variety of maps of Hickory Farms. These maps will be used by the Board in making future plans.
Mr. Stewart recognized a number of volunteers who have served Hickory Farms in varying capacities during 2018, but noted approximately 50 volunteers accounted for only one volunteer per every four households.
Special recognition (plaques) for efforts by volunteers was given to Dante Gilmer, Brian Roethlisberger, and Melissa Stark.
Mr. Steward added there were needs for a new Chair of the Architectural Control Committee, for a Newsletter Editor, and for a Listserv Manager. Also, volunteers were needed for help with the Common Areas and for the Neighborhood Watch.
The minutes of the Hickory Farms 2017 Annual Meeting were approved by the Members.
Mr. Roethlisberger reviewed the role of the ACC in the HFCA covenants. He noted there were a near record number of applications during the year.
He also noted this was the second year in a row of property inspections. In 2017, the ACC sent eighty (80) letters to homeowners whose property violated the covenants. In 2018, the ACC found it necessary to send only 29 letters. The most frequent issue found during the inspections was algae on siding. Other frequent issues were trashcans left in front of houses and mailboxes needing repair/replacement.
He added the ACC has little leverage over homeowners to correct problems without a change in the Deed of Dedication and Declarations.
Upon discussion, it was agreed that reminders would be distributed quarterly to homeowners, separate from the newsletters, highlighting the most common issues of concern.
Finally, he stated he would be retiring from the ACC at the end of 2018, so a new chair was needed.
Ms. Pam Barrett volunteered to serve as ACC Chair.
Mr. Randall reviewed proposed changes to the by-laws (see attached). Changes to the by-laws do not require approval by three-quarters of homeowners, unlike the Deed and Declarations, just a simple majority of Members.
A member objected to the word “cause.” Another member objected to the word “review” instead of “audit.” It was noted by the Member that “audit” was a term of art in accounting and should only be used in the proper context. All of the proposed revisions were adopted by the Members with the exception of the accounting review/audit.
Other suggestions from members included:
- Quarterly review of finances
- Adding bank statements to minutes (redacting account numbers)
Mr. Bernhardt briefly reviewed the need for changes to the Deed of Dedication and Declaration. The Board had collected 78 “ayes” and 3 “nays”. One hundred forty-nine “ayes” are needed to approve the changes; 51 “nays” would make it impossible to achieve the required number.
At the 2016 HFCA Annual Meeting, it was determined the Board should pursue amending the Declaration so monetary fines could be assessed against HFCA members who did not comply with the Declaration and the Rules and Regulations.
A Committee, which was formed to draft the amendment, prepared the following draft amendment to the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions of the Hickory Farms Community Association:
Add a new subsection (g) to Article V, Section 1, as follows:
“(g) The right of the Association to assess charges for rules violations in accordance with provisions of the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, as the same may be amended from time to time, or in accordance with any other provisions of Virginia law may authorize assessment of such charges, as is more fully described in Article VIII, Section 1 hereof.”
Add a new subsection (b) to Article VIII, Section1, as follows:
Insert “(a)” before existing Section 1 text.
Insert subsection (b) as follows:
“(b) In addition, the Board of Directors shall have the authority to assess charges for violations of the Declaration or Bylaws of the Association and /or of the Rules and Regulations adopted pursuant to authority given in those documents, in accordance with provisions of the Virginia Property Owners Association Act as the same may be amended from time to time, or in accordance with any other provision of Virginia law may authorize assessment of such charges.”
An Instrument for Homeowner Agreement to Amendment of Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions had been prepared with the assistance of the Association’s attorneys. Bruce noted it would be necessary to acquire the signatures of the owners of at least 75 percent of the 198 properties (149 out of 198) in Hickory Farms in order for the amendment to become effective. He further noted all parties to the deed to a property must sign the instrument.
Ms. Buchanan noted Neighborhood Watch patrols were only conducted on Friday and Saturday nights. Since there are 44 volunteers for the Neighborhood Watch, on some nights only one volunteer was patrolling, instead of the desired team of two, and some nights had no patrols at all. This low number of volunteers was in despite of the finding in the survey of homeowners that three-quarters of respondents thought the Neighborhood Watch reduced the rate of crime in the neighborhood. She is looking for another 25 volunteers, so she could increase the number of teams participating in Neighborhood Watch from 29 to 50, and reduce the number of times each team would need to do the watch to no more than twice a year.
She added she was in the process of obtaining “Slow Down – We Live Here” signs from Fairfax County and new Neighborhood Watch magnetic signs for cars.
Ms. Meredith Perkins gave a brief presentation on the activities of the Social Committee during 2018. She noted the next event scheduled for 2018 would be held at 4:30pm on October 20 in the Upper Common Area.
Mr. Bever explained the Board was considering a program for “Block Captains,” in order to improve communications between the Board of Directors and homeowners.
It was noted copies of the 2019 budget had been distributed for consideration.
Mr. Gilmer stated that all dues had been collected for 2018 without the need to turn any accounts to attorneys for collection. He added the projected deficit for 2018 was lower than had been anticipated originally. A deficit of $2,500 was projected for 2019.
He noted HFCA had a year’s worth of assessments in reserves, as is specified in the HFCA Rules and Regulations and By-Laws.
He noted the Board had approved the 2019 budget. Homeowners’ assessment remained at $200. He further noted the Board always sought affirmation by homeowners of the Board-approved budget and level of the Annual Assessment. The attendees expressed unanimous support of the 2019 budget and of the $200 assessment per homeowner.
On a motion made and seconded, the current members of the Board were elected as members of the 2019 Board of Directions by acclamation, with the addition of Pam Barrett and resignation of Brian Roethlisberger.
Ms. Jackson explained a survey was conducted in 2018 to ascertain the views of homeowners, with the goal of guiding the Board in its efforts in 2019. The results would be distributed with a forthcoming Newsletter.
Mr. Randall offered to serve as a deputy Listserv Manager. He added he would also organize a winter group purchase for tree work.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 PM.
Bruce Bernhardt, Jim Bever, Debbi Buchanan, Dante Gilmer, John Kitzmiller, Melissa Stark, Chuck Stewart, Lauren Crabtree
A homeowner presented a complaint regarding houses that had been rented to George Mason University students. The biggest problem was street parking. Although it was probable that only 4 names were on the lease, she was convinced that more than 4 people were living in the house. She noted that the road had been closed off while a number of couches were offloaded into the house. Residents claimed the couches were for a media room, but she was convinced that more people were living there than were on the lease. Added to those people were visitors, creating even more of a parking problem.
After hearing the homeowners complaint, the Board discussed the issue. Noting that it was very difficult to prove that there were more than 4 people living in the house, the Board resolved to explore the possibility of parking permits for Hickory Farms. The Board further resolved to contact the GMU Community Relations office to see what they could do. It was noted that in years past, GMU had been helpful in controlling the actions of a fraternity that had rented a house in Hickory Farms. However, the current problem wasn’t a fraternity, so GMU likely had less leverage.
The Board approved the September minutes, with minor changes.
Melissa noted the had $2,900 left in the Common Grounds budget. She noted there was a locust tree that needed to be taken down. J&L had estimated the job would cost $350, and the Board approved having it taken down. She noted there were also 2 walnut trees that might need removing, but they could be looked at again in the spring.
She noted that aerating and seeding of the upper and lower common areas could be performed for $3,000, the lower area only for $1,300. On a motion made and seconded, the Board approved the aerating and seeding of the lower area only.
She added that the northern path remained a problem. Mud continued to flow after rains and would likely overtake any planting. Chuck noted that HFCA should be concerned with access to the path by those individuals covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He suggested that, if a tree root was buckling the path, then perhaps the root could be cut from the tree.
It was noted that a Fairfax City homeowner and Fairfax City proper were both causing a problematic flow of water into Hickory Farms. Chuck and Bruce agreed to speak with Elli Codding, who worked for Fairfax County, hoping to find a solution.
Melissa advised that she was continuing to search for a new grounds crew. While CLS had done a great job, the owner of CLS did not want to renew the contract because of personal issues which had nothing to do with HFCA. Quotes from other vendors varied widely, from $400 to $1,200 per mowing.
She then showed copies of her slides for the annual meeting. It was suggested that the slides include fewer graphics and more photos. Chuck noted that slides were needed no later than Monday evening, October 10.
The Board reviewed year to date expenditures. It was noted that reserves were approximately $40,000, as had been directed at the Board’s September meeting.
Lauren reported that the Social Committee had scheduled a “Monster Mash Bash” on Saturday, October 20, at 4:30 pm. There would be a Halloween parade followed by a party with snacks.
Brian reported that he and Chuck had met with one homeowner in an effort to get the homeowner to comply with HFCA rules and regulations.
The Board noted the continuing need for a new chair for the ACC.
Debbi noted that there were currently 34 Neighborhood Watch volunteers, but efforts were continuing to increase these numbers.
Bruce noted that 80 signatures had been collected supporting the change to the deed and declaration to empower HFCA to assess fines against homeowners that were not complying with HFCA covenants, rules, and regulations. He noted that only 3 homeowners had refused to sign, and only 69 more signatures were needed. In the effort to get more signatures, he agreed to provide to Board members a list of those homeowners that had signed (or refused to sign) so that they could meet face-to-face with homeowners and try to collect their signatures. He also agreed to write a brief explanation of the need for the change that could be used by Board members in their meetings with homeowners.
Chuck noted that the mapping project had been completed and vuegraphs were being prepared for exhibit at the annual meeting.
He added that the search for a newsletter editor continued.
The Hickory Farms Annual meeting was scheduled for October 11, 2018, at 8:00 pm at the Green Acres Community Center.
The next regularly scheduled Board meeting would be November 13, 2018, at Debbi Buchanan’s house.
Jim proposed the creation of “block captains” in Hickory Farms. The block captain would become familiar with his neighbors and serve as the point of contact of first resort for homeowners. Such a program had proven successful in his previous neighborhood. The Board thought such a program could be valuable and would explore it.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 pm.
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.
The Board approved the minutes of the April 2018 meeting.
The Board reviewed the Treasurer’s report. It was noted that the money market account had provided a modest income.
The continuing need for an Assistant Treasurer was noted.
A room was reserved for the HFCA Annual Meeting, scheduled for October 11, 2018, at the Green Acres Community Center. A projector would be required; Bryan Crabtree may be able to provide one.
Melissa said that she was negotiating a new contract with CLS, which had been very responsive to requests during 2018. Her intent was to continue mowing; drop the fixed schedule for herbicide application; and request a “menu” of services that could be performed on an as-needed basis.
She noted that it would be necessary to get rid of Japanese stilt grass that was growing throughout the common area, because its shallow root system wouldn’t prevent topsoil erosion.
She further noted that weed management and grass overseeding would be a major expense in the fall. Aeration would be performed on 8 ½ acres of common ground that were grass. CSL would aerate, HFCA would spread grass seed and topsoil.
There was a lengthy discussion on flooding from Fairfax City into HFCA property owners’ yards. There was a need for a meeting with Fairfax City and the Fairfax County water boards. Melissa suggested having those homeowners that had been affected at the meeting, and expressed the need for Bruce ??. Kirk urged the Board to contact Fairfax City homeowners and alert them regarding such a meeting.
A volunteer appreciation day was scheduled for September 8. 2018. All board members were urged to be present.
Brian Roethlesburger advised that 30 letters had been mailed to date to homeowners, advising of violations that needed to be corrected, and probably no more than 10 letters remained to be sent.
Two homes would require individual visits.
The proposal by a homeowner to install a propane tank with which to fuel a gas fireplace that had been rejected at the Board’s last meeting had been revised, re-submitted, and approved.
The ACC now is searching for a new Chair.
Debbie advised she was following up on Neighborhood Watch signs, which should already have been received. She added that Neighborhood Watch had one new volunteer.
Kirk had three recommendations for the annual meetings:
Also, the Board should strive to have a more orderly transition of documents from one year to the next.
HFCA cannot afford to hire the services of a CPA annually. Perhaps a committee could oversee the finances for several years at a time, after which a CPA could be retained for a year.
He raised the question of whether there was a need for Board members to sign any document in order to finalize changes to the Rules and Regulations. Board members were asked to submit comments no later than close of business Sunday, August 12, 2018.
The question of charging homeowners to participate in official community yard sales was raised, and it was agreed that HFCA would pay for advertising, rather than charging homeowners.
It was noted that the search for an editor for the newsletter continued.
The question of how to get the streets in Hickory Farms paved was raised. Kirk offered to draft a request to be sent to VDOT.
Telah suggested a meeting in September specifically to address the Mission Statement and Vision Statement. She noted the importance of getting homeowners feedback via survey. Perhaps one could be prepared in time to be distributed at the Annual Meeting. Melissa suggested the use of “Survey Monkey.”
Telah said she would circulate draft statements via e-mail. A meeting would be held September 19 at 7:30 to discuss these statements.
The Board’s September meeting would be September 11 at Debbi Buchanan’s house.
The Board’s October meeting would be October 2.
The HFCA Annual Meeting would be October 11 at the Green Acres Community Center.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 pm.
Location: 4301 Still Meadow Rd
Time: 7:30 PM (Thanks Bruce)
Board members Present: Charles Stewart, Dante Gilmer, Bruce Bernhardt, Kirk Randall, Melissa Stark, Brian Roethlisberger, Telah Jackson
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.
The Board approved the minutes of the January and February 2018 meetings.
Patrick Tomlin presented a proposal for a “Little Free Library” project, which he would use as his Eagle Scout project. He proposed to build two library boxes and install them in Hickory Farms (along with a third on the Fairfax pool property), without cost to HFCA. He proposed to place one box near the intersection of Cotton Farm Lane and Farmhouse Road and the other in the upper common area. During discussion, it was asked that a box for HFCA newsletters be added to the boxes ad that brick be used to surround the posts supporting the boxes so that the grass around them could be mowed readily. The Board approved his proposal.
Bob Cosgriff presented a summary of what was being done to the NoVa Training Center property. (See Kirk Randall’s article in the most recent HFCA newsletter). Bob noted that the county had created a task force to assess needs that could be satisfied by the property, and published a report in January 2018. A community meeting was scheduled in April 2018 to gather comment, the Fairfax Planning Commission planned to address the property used at its June 2018 meeting, and a staff report was due in the fall of 2018. Rezoning the property would require approval by the Board of Supervisors.
Dante reported that all assessments had been collected for 2018, without requiring that any be referred for collection. The HFCA post office box was renewed for another year, corporate income taxes were being prepared.
It had been determined that HFCA was required to complete a 1099 form, “Miscellaneous Income,” for any contractor that HFCA paid $600 or more during the year. The CPA used by HFCA offered to handle all 1099 forms needed for an additional $100 per year; the Board approved this expenditure.
It was noted that CLS had been paid $4,000 to spray herbicide on invasive growth. Concern was expressed over the use of herbicide; however, Melissa advised that the spraying was targeted, not broadcast.
She added that there had been some storm damage in the lower common area, but not a significant amount.
Also, there was a walk scheduled for April 7 along the Northern Path and Rabbit Run to identify problem areas.
The Board approved a planting project proposed by the Girl Scouts.
Debbi noted that the NW bag with spotlight and notebook was missing, but it was expected to turn up again.
Kirk offered to back up Stefan Schwartz in running the listserv.
It was noted that some neighbors had suggested that use of a listserv was antiquated. Telah suggested that the community use Facebook to communicate, and offered to set up a page for HFCA. Bruce noted that any social media would require maintenance.
The Board discussed the form a strategic plan should take, noting that, whatever form it took, it must be in harmony with existing restrictive documents. It was agreed that a meeting would be held April 3 at Telah’s house to begin crafting the plan.
Bruce noted that the weather was finally getting nice enough that Board members could go door-to-door to seek approval of the proposed change to the deed and declaration.
Chuck noted that his daughter would be mapping easements, cable television lines, telephone lines, etc., for a college project.
Chuck highlighted the need for additional articles for the newsletter, especially since a new editor had not yet been determined. Chuck offered to edit the May 2018 newsletter while the search continued. Given what HFCA had experienced with the wind storm, he asked Debbi to provide an article on emergency preparedness.
The next meeting of the HFCA Board was scheduled for April 24, 2018, at the home of Debbi Buchanan.
John advised that the minutes of the HFCA Board meeting of January 9, 2018, were not yet drafted.
A committee comprising Tom, Bruce, Dante, and Kirk reviewed the 2017 HFCA accounts and confirmed their accuracy.
Kirk noted that younger owners were complaining about the need for checks with which to pay the annual assessment. He asked whether the Board would consider establishing an online payment system. Chuck noted that the Board would need to be certain that cyber insurance would protect the HFCA in the event of fraud.
Dante noted that only 3 homeowners had not yet paid the assessment for 2018. He planned on giving one more warning before submitting the bills to collection. He added that he had the date to provide the CPA in Manassas that did the HFCA income tax filing. In addition, the net loss for the year was about $5,700, larger than originally anticipated due to additional landscaping that was approved by the Board.
A need to follow up with newsletter advertisers was noted, to explain and perhaps remedy a decline in advertising revenue was noted.
The budget compared with actual 2017 numbers would be posted in the newsletter in a summary form. Dante asked how much should be taken from the capital fund and added to checking. It was noted that the Board wanted to increase the money market account to $39.5 thousand, equal to one year of assessments, over the coming years.
Moving the money from the SunTrust money market account to American Express was discussed, where the monies could earn more interest. However, it was determined that there was more value in the nearby presence of the bank than in the small amount of interest to be earned.
Melissa advised that mowing was to start at the end of March.
Most of the bamboo is dead.
She and her husband will try to remove dead vines.
They would also mark dead trees for removal.
She raised the idea of installing a water spigot in the upper common area, with which new vegetation could be watered, at a cost of roughly $2,800. The Board took the proposal under advisement. A later check with Fairfax Water revealed that water service to the upper common area could cost significantly more.
Brian noted that there had been only 2 approvals in the last 3 months. He reminded the Board that annual inspections would take place in April, and he would need volunteers. A notice would be posted on the listserv. He added that last year’s inspection form may need some revisions.
Debbi advised she had drafted new rules for the Neighborhood Watch, that were posted on the HFCA website.
Telah asked if the Board had goals and objectives, in the form of 3- or 5-year strategic plans, and posited that plans were necessary to keep up with the times and to make the neighborhood more friendly. Among possible goals were more community activities, better entrances to Hickory Farms, and better street lighting. Chuck asked Telah to provide an outline of the process for establishing such a strategic plan. A brainstorming session was proposed for the April and May Board meetings.
Kirk offered to look into solar-powered lights to illuminate the entrances to Hickory Farms.
Chuck said he would send a calendar of HFCA events to Board members.
Kirk noted that the Commonwealth of Virginia had entered into an agreement with Erickson Living to buy the 78-acre campus of the training center on Roberts Road, which could be developed into an age-restricted retirement community.
It was noted that HFCA was still recruiting a newsletter editor. The next issue of the newsletter was scheduled for publication in April.
The next meeting of the HFCA Board was scheduled for March 20, 2018, at the home of Debbi Buchanan.
The minutes of the HFCA Board meeting of November 21, 2018, were approved.
Board members were asked to send HFCA schedule items to Chuck for inclusion on a Hickory Farms calendar.
Tom advised that the 2017 closeout had been mailed out.
Tom noted that all but eight of the assessments had been received on time and were deposited to the money market account. Of the eight remaining, half were homeowners and half were nonresident landlords. He added that this year’s collection of assessments has never been more timely.
He noted that the HFCA had spent about $5,800 over budget for the year 2017, which was not a surprise. He asked that Board members submit bills to him on a timely basis, and that all bills be submitted to him by mid-December, if possible.
Melissa advised that the common areas signs she had ordered in November had been received, but were of such poor quality that they needed replacing before they could be installed.
The bamboo that had been cut back and sprayed with an herbicide was dying.
She said she would wait for warmer weather before announcing a grounds-cleanup day. She wanted to clean out the boxwood grove in the upper common grounds.
Chuck explained that state regulations require that Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) be designated around all water bodies with flowing water. RPAs extended 100 feet on either side of such bodies, which means that a number of properties within 100 feet of Rabbit Run are considered RPAs. Any modifications to the grounds that would affect the flow of, or into, RPAs would need prior approval from Fairfax County.
He noted two issues that remained of concern:
Debbi is still trying to increase the number of teams.