Hickory Farms

HFCA Board Meeting Minutes

June 6, 2017

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
10110 Round Top Ct., Fairfax, VA 22032

Board Member Attendees:
President, Board of Directors: Bruce Bernhardt
Vice President: Chuck Stewart
Secretary: Melissa Stark
At Large: Neighborhood Watch: Debbi Buchanan
At Large – Newsletter Editor: Don Seymour
Treasurer (Acting): Dante Gilmer
At Large: John Kitzmiller

Opening, Welcome and Introductions:

Bruce B. welcomed the board members and introduced new neighbors, Tom & Desiree DeMott to the meeting.


Bruce B. made a motion to approve 4.4.2017 Board of Directors meeting minutes as revised (see HFCA website). The motion was made, seconded, and passed.

Old Business

Property Inspection Update (Brian R.)

Dante and his team did a great job completing the inspections in a very timely manner (all completed in the month of April). His idea of dividing the neighborhood up into manageable areas (20 or so homes) and assigning a single inspector to each area seems to be a great approach vs. having all inspectors look at all 198 homes which was the model in the past. Using the property inspection checklist also worked well to standardize what is evaluated on each residence and lot. When it came time to preparing the letters, having photos of the violations was invaluable in minimizing the time I would have spent riding around and validating many of the findings or notes recorded on the checklists.

In all, there were sixty-eight notices of violation distributed to homeowners. Four of the letters went to properties that had several violations that were marked as high severity. The other sixty-eight were distributed to homes with low to moderate issues. HereÕs a quick snapshot of the violations cited.

Violation/Issue Number of Properties
Significant, noticeable algae growth on the siding or other exterior components 49
Excessive storage/cluttered carports 15
Peeling paint or severe weathering on exterior components 10
Excessive grass/weed growth 10
Significantly faded vinyl window/door shutters 8
Significantly overgrown/unmaintained trees, shrubs and other landscaping 8
Yard debris (e.g., tree limbs, branches, leaves, pine needles, grass clippings stored on lots 8
Missing or significantly damaged window/door shutters or gable vents 7
Moss/lichen growth on roof (visible tufts/colonies) 6
Significantly sagging/warped fence, missing/broken components 6
Excessive material/equipment storage on lot 5
Significantly damaged or spalling driveway concrete 4
Encroachment/storage on common areas 2
Vehicle parked on lawn 1

Hickory Farms Property Encroachment along Rabbit Run Commons Area (Bruce)

Bruce didn't have a chance to talk with the homeowner yet, but he will have a conversation with the homeowner before the next meeting.

Updating Signatures at the Bank (Bruce & Team)

Chuck Stewart, Dante Gilmer, Kirk Randall and Bruce Bernhardt will work on scheduling a time to meet at our bank for the HOA, this way they can remove the previous treasurer's signature and add Dante's name temporarily until the Treasurer position is filled. Please note: Tom DeMott, a new Hickory Farms resident, is considering taking over the Treasury position.

Declaration Changes and Subcommittee (Bruce)

Bruce has emailed the volunteer group information about the declaration changes and the team will meet on Wednesday, June 14th.

Water Runoff on Northern Path (Bruce and Chuck)

Bruce met with an Engineer from Fairfax County on Thursday, April 6th and showed him the water issues that we are having on the Northern Path behind lot 45 and 46. The Fairfax County Engineer said that since the Northern Path is owned by Hickory Farms, the county doesn't take any action for run off issues on privately owned property. The Fairfax County Engineer did take a look at the culverts along the path and they look to be correct and doing their job.

It was mentioned that we can break the path and put in a bridge or gutter to redirect water to the culvert on lot 45 or make a channel on the northern side of the path and cross it over to the other side to redirect water. Chuck said that a spring clean-up of the area is needed, since there is a lot of overgrowth. More research is to be done and the next step Bruce and Chuck will attend the meeting that Melissa has set up with the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation District.

A motion was made, seconded and approved to authorize Melissa to put together a Northern Path clean up in June/July. Any costs that are needed for this clean up will be sent in an email for approval from the board.

Neighborhood Watch Signs Placement (Don L.)

This action item is still pending.

Updating the Neighborhood Watch Web Page with More Detailed Information (Debbi)

This action item is still pending.

Moss & Asphalt Issues on the Northern & Lower Commons Path (Melissa)

Melissa went to Merrifield to discuss the moss issues on the Northern and Lower Commons Path. Merrifield said that Lilly Miller Moss Out would be the best product to take care of the issue. It comes in spray and granular form. They recommend the spray vs. the granular form, since it will not cause the black top to disintegrate. Since we do have water that drains from the path into culverts, Melissa also looked into a natural way to rid the moss. These remedies include using baking soda or vinegar to change the alkaline of the soil/moss. In order to rid the moss entirely and permanently, we will need to improve the amount of light, drainage and air circulation, as well as, change the soil from fungal to bacterial domination. Just spot treating it will be a temporary solution to the problem.

In conclusion, Melissa contacted the NoVA Soil & Water Conservation District and will be meeting with a Watershed Specialist to discuss the issues on our common grounds. After gathering information from that meeting, a Northern Path clean up will be scheduled and moss treatment will be started. At the meeting Bruce and Chuck showed interest in attending. Meeting details were sent via email to Bruce and Chuck, as well as, the HFCA board was also invited to attend via email.

Hickory Farms Common Grounds (Melissa)

The health of the common grounds was brought up in our April 2017 BOD meeting. The board decided that it would be favorable to put together a 5 year plan to clear out invasive plants and restoring our grounds to a healthier state.

Over the past two months, Melissa has called, met with and walked the common grounds with numerous landscaping professionals that specialize in clearing, natural drainage/runoff solutions, landscaping and lawn care. The following areas are looked at being improved:

  • Northern Path: clearing overgrowth and invasive plants, removal of dead trees, conservation landscaping, drainage/runoff solutions and moss on asphalt.
  • Upper Commons: clearing bamboo and invasive plant overgrowth, removal of dead trees, restoring tree lines and conservation landscaping.
  • Lower Commons: clearing overgrowth and invasive plants & trees, restoring tree lines, drainage/runoff solutions off the path near the Cotton Farm Rd. entrance and moss on asphalt.
  • Rabbit Run: clearing overgrowth and invasive plants along the railings/tunnel off of Cotton Farm Rd., restoring tree lines, drainage/runoff solutions.

Of the companies that bid, there was one that stood out from the rest. They provided the most effective approach to clearing the bamboo in the upper commons, as well as, the least amount of grade disturbance. Below is information about what this company can do for Hickory Farms and what we, as a board and community, need to do afterwards.

  • Clearing: This company would bring in a forestry grinder, 33 hp tractor and brush hog, and three laborers for a full day (7 AM – 3:15 PM). Two of the laborers would have hand trimmers with steel blades. With this type of equipment and number of labors, they can clear an acre to an acre in a half of our property. The result will be the area cleared down to roughly 2 inches from the ground and mulched. The professional landscaping company is confident with this type of equipment, they can clear the bamboo in the Upper Commons and clear the overgrowth in the target areas listed in the paragraph above.
  • Treatment After Clearing: It was noted that after much research, removing invasive plants and grasses (bamboo) from the area is the first step in the process. Everything will grow back if it is not treated with herbicide and maintained. In regards to the bamboo, multiple applications of herbicides and frequent (weekly) mowing will need to be done in order to keep the bamboo from re-establishing. Through research once a bamboo shoot is cut, it will send out multiple rhizomes and shoots up to re-establish itself. It was brought up to the board that they bamboo in the Upper Commons has grown to .5 acres and is encroaching into residents lawns along Still Meadow Rd. If the board decides to tackle clearing the bamboo this year. The time to clear is now, during the bamboo's growing season.
  • Planting After Clearing: In regards to the Upper Commons, planting new natives where the bamboo currently resides will need to take place once the bamboo has been eradicated. Non bamboo affected areas can be replanted in fall or spring.

After presenting this information, Bruce said he would like to move forward in getting proposals and clearing the Upper Commons and Rabbit Run area. Melissa will work on gathering the proposals and providing an action plan to put in front of the board for a vote in June 2017.

The following questions/statements were brought up about this topic:

  • Calling the Smithsonian National Zoo to see if they will clear and take the bamboo for the pandas.
    • Unfortunately, the zoo is not taking bamboo donations. They want to make sure the bamboo they are feeding the pandas meet their diet requirements.
  • Making sure the chemicals we use don't cause birth defects.
    • Research was done on the chemicals safeness prior to being presented to the board. A list of the chemicals to be used will be presented to the board for review, prior to voting. Constant communication with the community will need to be done about the spraying of herbicides on the bamboo via the following methods: monthly newsletters, community listserv, signage posted about the area being sprayed and the bamboo shoots are not to be harvested.
  • Possibly endangering wildlife and their homes in the Upper Commons. Example: Eastern Box Turtles
    • It was noted in the meeting that these turtle(s) frequently visit neighboring yards and they have to catch them and put them back in the Upper Commons. Melissa will request that the community surrounding the Upper Commons to try and collect the turtle(s) from the area and she will relocate them to the Lower Commons.


  • Melissa mentioned to the board that while showing and discussing the commons area with the prospective landscaping companies, many of them noted how long our grass was and that it is going to seed. Our current landscaping companies mowing frequency is more than two weeks between mows. The prospective landscaping companies said even with the current rain days, it should still be no more than 7 – 10 days between cuttings. A bid was requested from those companies on mowing our common grounds and entrances in 2018.
  • After receiving a competitive bid from a company that cuts the neighboring community of Aspen Grove off of Roberts Rd., a couple of things were found.
  • The first, we are paying way to much money per mow with our current company. The data that was provided to the board, was based off of 4 mows (2 in April and 2 in May). With our existing mowing company we are paying nearly 2.5 times per mow, vs. the company that quoted us. This may be due to the structure of our current proposal, which has been the same for the past 10 years. A majority of the mowing companies charge on a per mow rate, with a set number of mows guaranteed per year. With our current agreement, it doesn't state how many mows they will do, it just states a basic common area mowing fee for the grounds and front entrances for the season.
  • The second, is that after speaking with neighbors, our commons area used to get mowed weekly, like clock work. There was a change in hands of our current company not to long back, the son took over the father's business. This could be the reasoning for areas in our commons area being missed when mowing, the spacing between mowings being greater than in years past and the lack of attention to detail around borders, curbs/walkways and bird feeders. The current companies that bid on the project, were provided a mowing map of the commons area and that area is reference in their proposals. They have also included the following wording:
    • Mow all designated turf areas on a weekly (7-10 day) basis
    • Trim around all obstacles and areas not accessible to a mower
    • Edge all walkways and curb areas every other mowing
    • Clean and remove debris as a result of services.
  • Melissa did inform the board that we should consider switching companies in 2018 and with our current agreement wording with our existing mowing company, it does not look like we are binded into an agreement with them. We could give our existing company a 30 day notice and switch over to the new one July 1st of this year. The board decided they would like to ride out the existing agreement with the current landscaping company and then have new bids come in for 2018 and consider switching.

New Business


We did file an extension on our taxes, but as of the date of the meeting, they have not been completed. He will continue to follow up with our tax preparer to see when they have gotten paid.

Once the paperwork is received back from our tax preparer, Dante will be doing an review of the numbers and updating Brenda's last spreadsheet.

Neighborhood Watch

Debbi did update the group that she has lost more long term volunteers of the neighborhood watch. This is due to them being on the schedule too often and the neighborhood watch not having enough volunteers. 50 neighborhood watch volunteer teams will be needed, in order to only have the teams scheduled twice a year.

Should the neighborhood watch continue? The board has agreed it should continue and has decided to use the newsletter to explain why it is important to have a neighborhood watch in the community, as well as, further explain the volunteer role. The board should also try to recruit their neighbors via word of mouth. Dante did bring up why the neighborhood watch was originally started and that can be information to included in the newsletter. Bruce will work with Debbi on putting together a campaign.

This topic will be put on the agenda for the annual meeting and the question will be raised to those in attendance, ÒDo we keep the neighborhood watch?


Girl Scout Brownie Troop 6898 wanted to thank the board for donating edging pavers and allowing them to build two small pollinator gardens around two of the bird feeders in the lower commons. The girls really enjoyed the experience and once it was completed, they wanted to know what other projects they can help with in our common grounds. They are planning on helping out the HFCA in Spring of 2018.

At Large

Kirk was unable to attend the meeting, but mentioned in an email that we should look at revising the Revisions to the Rules and Regulations & By-Laws for inconsistencies. Bruce would like to hold off on this action item until the changes to the declaration have been made. A topic to revisit in October or December BOD's meeting.

At Large – Newsletter, Vice President, Webmaster

No topics to present

Next Meeting

Confirm date, time, location for next HFCA Board Meeting:
Tuesday, August 1st @ 7:30 PM - Location: 10110 Round Top Ct, Fairfax, VA 22032
Meeting Opened: 7:50 PM - Meeting Adjourned: 9:50 PM