December 2017 Hickory Farms Newsletter
- Editor, Don Seymour (Farm House Ln)
Change to Deed and Declaration Signature Drive
- Bruce Bernhardt, HFCA Vice President
At the HFCA Annual Meeting on 10/10/2017, the drive was initiated to obtain 149 out of 198 (75%) signatures on proposed changes to our Deed of Dedication and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (Deed and Declaration). Sixteen (16) signed petitions were collected which gets us to 11% of our goal.
Over the next few months, each Hickory Farms property owner will be contacted and requested to sign the petition.
The changes are required due to recent Virginia court decisions which now require an express authorization in a Homeowners Association Deed and Declaration document for assessment of charges for restrictive covenant violations. Our current HFCA Rules and Regulations contain charges for restrictive covenant violations and they are aligned with Virginia Property Owner Association Act (VPOAA) provisions. However, without the amended Deed and Declaration changes, the Rules and Regulation provisions cannot be enforced.
The overwhelming number of property owners in Hickory Farms are in compliance with our restrictive covenants. When a property owner is in violation, there are three actions our Association can take:
- Inform the property owner of the violation and work out a correction plan. This is the pre-ferred option and works almost all of the time.
- Assess charges for violations of the restrictive covenants. This provides incentive for property owner action without both our Association and the individual property owner incurring legal costs. This option has been impacted by recent court decisions and is not currently valid.
- Initiate court action to force compliance with restrictive covenants. This is very costly and time consuming. We currently have no pending court actions.
The Board of Directors and Architecture Control Committee volunteers work very hard to resolve all restrictive covenant issues without resorting to options #2 and #3 above. However, every once in a while, a property owner will not comply and the need arises to proceed to op-tions #2 and #3.
How you can help:
Step 1: If you haven’t reviewed our HFCA property documents recently, please go to www.hickoryfarms.org and review our Deed and Declaration document and Rules and Regulations document. All key documents are available on our website for your information and review.
Step 2: Included in this newsletter is a copy of the Instrument for Owner Agreement to Amendment of Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. Please print out this page, sign the document (if property is owned by two co-owners, include both names and signatures), and send to:
HFCA Deed and Declaration Drive
P.O Box 2239
Fairfax, VA 22031
In each HFCA Newsletter going forward, progress will be reported until we reach our goal of 75% property owner signatures! If you have any questions regarding the Deed and Declaration Amendment, please call Bruce Bernhardt, 703-989-0751.
We all have a stake in keeping Hickory Farms a well maintained, safe, great place to live as well as continuing the consistent trend of all our properties increasing in value over time.
Annual Assessments Due
Your $200 Hickory Farms Annual Assessment is due by JANUARY 1, 2018.
Please send check or money order, made payable to “Hickory Farms Community Association,” to:
P.O. Box 2239
Fairfax, VA 22031
- Do not mail or hand deliver your payment to the Treasurer’s house.
- Write the house number and street name of your property on your check.
- Moved? New homeowner? Email the owner’s name, address, and telephone number to Kirk_Randall@Hotmail.com.
- Renters and tenants, please give this notice to your landlord.
Payments not postmarked or in possession of the Treasurer by 1/7/18 are late and the homeowner will be charged $50. Payments received after 1/7 that do not include the $50 charge (total of $250) will be returned for non-payment. On 2/1/18, delinquent accounts will be turned over to attorneys for collection.
If you have not received your postcard bill by December 15, please contact Treasurer Tom DeMott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thank you goes to Brand Niemann (Still Meadow) who aided in the preparation and mailing of the annual assessment postcards for the past several years.
We need volunteers to quickly fill two roles for the community: Newsletter Editor and Social Committee Chair. Compiling, producing, and printing the newsletter takes only a few hours each month. There’s an excellent social committee already in place—we just need someone to manage it. If you’re interested in either position on the HFCA, please email email@example.com. We’d love to have you!
2017 Annual Meeting Summary
- John Kitzmiller, HFCA Secretary
The HFCA 2017 Annual Meeting was held on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at Green Acre Community Center. Based on the number of attendees and the number of proxy state-ments received by the HFCA Secretary, a 25% quorum was confirmed in order to continue the meeting.
Elections were held for 2018 Board of Directors positions. Several members of the 2016 Board did not to seek reelection and one new volunteer stepped forward. The following slate of candidates was elected by acclamation:
The 2018 budget was affirmed unanimously as submitted. The Annual Assessment was increased, for the first time in eight years, to $200 per lot, with the unanimous endorsement of attendees. The 2018 assessment is due 1/1/2018.
Current efforts to remove bamboo and other invasive plants from the common areas, and a plan to expand those efforts, were endorsed. These efforts were reflected in increases to the budget for 2018.
The number of social events increased in 2017, and additional funding was approved for such events in 2018.
A more systematic, detailed inspection of HFCA properties was conducted in 2017. The overwhelming number of properties in Hickory Farms were found to be swell maintained. For those found to be in violation of our Restrictive Covenants and Rules and Regulations, all received letters requesting corrections. Many have been either corrected violations or provided plans have been submitted to the ACC Board on how and when the corrections will be made. Next property inspection is targeted for April 2018.
In years past, HFCA had the power to assess financial penalties against homeowners found to be in violation of HFCA Restrictive Covenants and Rules and Regulations. New interpretations of the laws governing homeowner associations in Virginia removed the ability to assess these penalties. As a result, HFCA had no way to encourage homeowner compliance without initiating a lawsuit against the violators. (It was noted that no lawsuits had been initiated in a number of years.)
Amendments to the HFCA Deed of Dedication and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions were drafted by our attorney to restore the ability of HFCA to impose penalties on violators. An Instrument for Homeowner Agreement for Amendment of Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions was prepared and will need to be signed by the owners of at least 75 percent of the 198 properties (149 out of 198) in Hickory Farms in order for the amendments to become effective. All parties to the deed to a property must sign the instrument.
It had been noted that many visitors from in nearby neighborhoods make use of the Northern Path on HFCA common grounds. Signs have been installed along the Northern Path, noting the path is HFCA property and those using the path do so at their own risk, to give HFCA some protection against lawsuits.
A new mowing contractor, at competitive pricing, is being sought so that common areas will be better maintained.
Efforts are also underway to increase the number of teams serving on the Neighborhood Watch. A total of 50 teams are needed so that assignments will be once every six months! NW is currently around 30 teams. If NW cannot be fully staffed, HF may need to reevaluate having a neighborhood Watch.
Detailed minutes of the meeting will be posted to the HFCA website.
2018 HFCA Budget
|Annual Assessments (198 homes at $200 each)||$39,600||Tax Preparation/Audit||$400|
|Late Fees||$500||Bank Charges||$50|
|Interest - Checking||-||Director's Insurance||$1,850|
|Interest - Money Market Acct||-||Liability Insurance||$500|
|Legal Costs/Fees||-||Surety Insurance||$275|
|Other||-||Common Grounds Maintenance||$23,000|
|Common Grounds Improvement||$7,000|
|Common Grounds Remediation||$4,000|
|Total Income||$40,400||Total Expenses||$43,275|
|Net Income (Loss)||($2,875)|
The 2018 budget and setting of the 2018 annual assessment were approved by the Hickory Farms Board of Directors on October 3, 2017. Under the Hickory Farms Bylaws and the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, the Board of Directors must approve a budget and set an annual assessment for the forthcoming year. This budget was affirmed by the members at the October 10, 2017 Annual Meeting.
Board of Directors & Volunteer Changes
- Kirk Randall
At the October Annual Meeting, the association members reelected Bruce Bernhardt, Debbi Buchanan, Tom DeMott, Dante Gilmer, John Kitzmiller, Kirk Randall, Brian Roethlisberger, Melissa Stark, and Charles “Chuck” Stewart to the Board of Directors. At the November meeting of the Board of Directors, all of these members - with the exception of Bruce and Chuck - volunteered to continue in their current positions for another year. Bruce and Chuck, however, agreed to switch positions. So, effective December 1, Chuck is the new HFCA President and Bruce is now Vice President. Cotton Farm resident Telah Jackson was also elected to the Board and has taken an At-large position.
We’ll also soon bid farewell to Farm House residents Don and Kendra Seymour as they move a few miles down the road in Fairfax. Both Don and Kendra did outstanding jobs in their positions as Newsletter Editor and Social Committee Coordinator, respectively. If you would like to volunteer for either Don’s or Kendra’s positions, contact Bruce or Chuck at HFCA@HickoryFarms.org.
Let’s not forget our other community volunteers: Bryan Crabtree, who manages our web site; Pete Scala who coordinates our Fall community yard sale; Stefan Schwarz who is our listserv/email coordinator; Architectural Control Committee members Brian Roethlisberger (Chairperson), Keith Ferguson, Donna Garfield, Ed Kiechlin, Kirk Randall, Debbi Buchanan, and Josef Gasimov; and the Newsletter delivery crew Sondra Arnold, Debbi Buchanan, Claire & Sean Coleman, Dante Gilmer, Ed Kiechlin, John Kitzmiller, and Heather Webb.
The current Board size and number of community volunteers is the largest – EVER! As we enter our fifth decade as a community, Hickory Farms will continue to be a wonderful community for young and old alike, in large part thanks to our volunteers. Please give all these folks a hearty thank you the next time you see them!
These are improvements to the neighborhood that were submitted to the Architectural Con-trol Committee (ACC) for review:
- 4330 Still Meadow: Install Retaining Wall and New Garden Shed
- 4330 Still Meadow: Install Second Retaining Wall
- 10117 Round Top: Install Pavers Between Sidewalk and House.
Common Areas Update
The board voted Commercial Landscaping Services (CLS) as the new landscaping company for 2018.
Two new Northern Path signs and two Rabbit Run/Resource Protection Area signs will be placed along our paths in December.
A big shout-out to the social committee for organizing another wonderful Halloween parade and party. Turnout was great, everyone had fun, and the setup gets better every year. Thank you!
- Turn off outside water faucets using the inside shutoff valves; open the faucets to drain water; drain hoses.
- Lawn mower shutdown: after cutting the lawn for the last time this season, add a bit of gas stabilizer to the fuel. Let the mower run out of gas. Remove and clean the spark plug (don’t replace it just yet!). Change the oil. Replace the air filter. Remove and sharpen the blade. Scrape off grass clippings under the deck, and apply a light coating of oil. Squirt a spoonful of oil in the cylinder and pull the starter rope a few times to coat the cylinder wall. Replace the spark plug.
- Clean out gutters: overflowing gutters lead to erosion and wet basements.
- Schedule furnace checkup.
- Dehumidifier shutdown: clean out the dehumidifier bucket and vacuum the coils.
- Test water overflow alarms: avoid floods by placing water overflow alarms near your washing machine, hot water heater, etc.
- Test smoke alarms & carbon monoxide detectors: we recommend you replace smoke alarm batteries and don’t wait for them to die. Open each unit and vacuum dust that could interfere with operation. Replace when indicated on instructions.
- Check your fire extinguishers: you should have one on each floor and in the garage. Make sure the pressure dial indicates green; if not, replace it. Check the manufacture date and replace when more than 12 years old.
Garden Club Updates Robers Road Entrance Corners
On October 26th, Bob and Judy Cosgriff along with Melissa Stark updated the Hickory Farms entrance corners on Roberts Road with additional flowers.
Over the past year and a half, extensive volunteer efforts were expended on making both the Roberts Road and Burke Station Road entrances to Hickory Farms more inviting and colorful.
Next time you see Bob, Judy and Melissa, please thank them for their efforts!
If you would like to assist with updating the entrance corners in spring and fall, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be contacted!
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Get the latest neighborhood news and events; ask for recommendations on contractors, repairmen, and services; receive an advance copy of this newsletter; and much more!
- Change to Deed and Declaration Signature Drive
- Annual Assessments Due
- Volunteers Needed!
- 2017 Annual Meeting Summary
- 2018 HFCA Budget
- Board of Directors & Volunteer Changes
- ACC Update
- Common Areas Update
- Community Kudos
- Maintenance Checklist
- Garden Club Updates Robers Road Entrance Corners
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