HFCA Board Meeting Minutes
2017 Annual Meeting
Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
Green Acres Community Center
Opening, Welcome and Introductions
Bruce Bernhardt welcomed the Members to the Annual Meeting and thanked them for attending.
He introduced the members of the Board of Directors:
Bruce Bernhardt, President
Chuck Stewart, Vice President
Tom DeMott, Treasurer
John Kitzmiller, Secretary
Melissa Stark, Common Areas
Debbi Buchanan, Neighborhood Watch
Brian Roethlisberger, Architectural Control Committee (ACC) Chair
Dante Gilmer, Member at Large
Kirk Randall, Member at Large
Don Seymour, Newsletter Editor
Forty four (44) members of the Hickory Farms Community Association (HFCA) were present, with 32 members represented via proxy. This provided a total of 76 members represented, providing the quorum required for the meeting.
2017 Property Inspection Results
Brian presented a report on the status of the property inspection conducted since the 2016 Annual Meeting.
He stated that a team of eleven inspectors had been formed, headed by Dante. A checklist had been developed for the inspectors to standardize the scrutiny to which each property would be subject.
Issues had been identified with 68 properties, with only 4 presenting issues of significance. By the time of this meeting, all of the properties had either corrected the issues or had submitted plans to the team for correcting the issues.
Deed and Declaration Changes
Bruce provided an overview of the documents that govern the HFCA for purposes of facilitating a discussion on options to address compliance issues.
HFCA operates based on a series of documents as outlined below.
- Articles of Incorporation
- Deed of Dedication, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (Declaration)
- Rules and Regulations
The Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act (VPOAA) establishes legal requirements related to the authority of homeowner associations (HOAs). The VPOAA, as interpreted by District and Virginia Supreme Court decisions, establishes a requirement that the HOA’s authority to act must be based on express language found in the legal documents that founded each HOA, specifically the Declaration.
The District Court states that a HOA’s ability to levy fines is limited to cases where the founding documents “expressly” authorize the imposition of such fines.
The Supreme Court affirmed that the HOA’s authority is limited to what is defined in the founding documents.
HFCA’s lawyers recently reaffirmed that the HFCA founding documents do not appear to include “express” language that would authorize the use of monetary fines to address noncompliance with the Declaration and the Rules and Regulations.
At the 2016 HFCA Annual Meeting, it was determined that the Board should pursue amending the Declaration so that monetary fines could be assessed against HFCA members that 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 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 that 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 that may authorize assessment of such charges.”
An Instrument for Homeowner Agreement to Amendment of Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions had been prepared. Bruce noted that 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 that all parties to the deed to a property must sign the instrument.
(A number of completed instruments were collected by the end of the meeting.)
The Board plans to contact all homeowners personally to obtain their signature on the instrument indicating approval of the amendments. If insufficient signatures can be collected, then the Board would remove language authorizing monetary fines from the Rules and Regulations, since the HFCA founding documents, if left unchanged, provide no basis or authority for imposing them.
Bamboo Eradication in Common Areas
Melissa gave a presentation on efforts made to date to eradicate the patches of bamboo that had been planted in the past in Hickory Farms, noting that bamboo was recognized by the Commonwealth as an invasive species that should be eliminated.
She explained with a series of slides how the bamboo was cut down and sprayed with herbicide. Several more applications of the herbicide would be required in order to eradicate the bamboo completely.
Strategic Plan for Common Areas in 2018
Melissa explained that the Board had approved a plan to complete the eradication of the bamboo and to pursue the eradication of other invasive plant species.
In addition to ridding HFCA of invasive plants, she explained how it was determined that the company that had been hired to mow the common areas was doing a sloppy job, leaving some grass uncut and allowing undergrowth to encroach onto the mowed areas, leaving those areas to shrink over time. Prospective vendors for 2018 were being interviewed that the Board believed would do a significantly better job of mowing the common areas, keeping them in a condition more suitable for use by the homeowners.
Finally, she called for volunteers to help clean up vines, to remove sticks and branches from the mowed areas, to provide input to plans for what to plant in the newly cleared areas, and to assist with planting. She hoped to bring the community together in events in the common areas.
Debbi noted that the wanted to increase the number of teams participating in Neighborhood Watch from 29 to 50, to reduce the number of times each time would need to do the watch to no more than twice a year.
Report from Vice President
Chuck reported that HFCA had locked in rates for liability insurance, keeping the rates low. As the result of an incident that illustrated the vulnerability to cyber threats, cybersecurity provisions had been added to the HFCA website.
He noted that Fairfax County was examining the issue of short-term rental, such as airbnb.
He further noted that the County was considering increasing the share of the 24-foot setback from the rear of a property that a homeowner could cover with structures.
Melissa gave a brief presentation on the activities of the Social Committee during 2017, listing the events. She noted that most of the expenses to hold the events had been borne by the committee members, and that an increase in the budget for the Social Committee was being proposed that would cover such expenses in 2018, relieving the burden on the committee members. She further noted that a chair was needed for the Social Committee in 2018.
Bruce noted that copies of the 2018 budget had been distributed for consideration.
He noted that HFCA had a year’s worth of assessments in reserves, as was recommended for homeowners’ associations. He added that, although there was an increase in the budget for legal services, it was not the result of a decision to pursue legal action.
Among changes to the budget from 2017 were splitting the provision for Common Grounds into three separate line items:
- Lawn mowing
- Fallen tree removal/grounds maintenance
In addition, the Social Committee budget had almost doubled, in order to relieve members of the Social Committee from paying out-of-0pocket for expenses incurred in putting on HFCA-endorsed events.
An attendee asked whether the increase in the assessment was sufficient to fund HFCA’s needs. Bruce stated that level of income should be sufficient for the next 3 to 4 years. (The last increase was 8 years earlier.)
He noted that the Board had approved the budget, including an increase in each homeowner’s assessment to $200. However, he further noted that the Board had always sought affirmation by homeowners of the Board-approved budget. The attendees expressed unanimous support of the 2018 budget.
A motion was made, seconded, and approved to elect by affirmation the slate comprising the following as Members of the HFCA Board.
Bruce thanked the members of the community who have volunteered over the past year. Note was made of the HFCA Board members retiring and resigning this year. Also noted were new volunteers stepping forward to serve our community. A request for a new listserv director was made.
A call for more volunteers would be included in coming Newsletter and listserv articles. Every homeowner was encouraged to volunteer in some capacity.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.
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