ORCHARD KNOLLS HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION (HOA)

A Self-Managed, All-Volunteer Community

WWW.ORCHARDKNOLLS.ORG

 

MINUTES

2004 ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

(Annual Membership Meeting Substitutes for Monthly Board Meeting)

 

November 08, 2004

 

BOARD MEMBERS (BOD) PRESENT:

PRESIDENT               Richard Schinner                    301-977-5196  evantage@aol.com

SECRETARY              Jerry Way                                301-977-0523  jerway@comcast.net

TREASURER             Mohammed Homaitabar         301-318-8446 homaitabar@yahoo.com

VP TOWNHOMES      Eileen Solomon                       301-330-2876  zeppsol@aol.com

VP S.F. HOMES         Lisa Goodwin                          301-963-3807  goodgrl@attglobal.net            

 

ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE (ARC) PRESENT:

PRESIDENT                           Kathy Wyatt

MEMBER                                Rita Becker (Absent)

MEMBER                                Dennis Zepp

 

LOCATION:    Quince Orchard High School, Rooms 221, 224        TIME:  7:30 Pm

 

SIGN-IN VOTING VALIDATION TABLE:  An up-to-date owner’s list was obtained from ABS to validate incoming owners for a ballot.  Lisa and Eileen greeted owners, cross checked against the owners list, and handed out one ballot per address for voting tonight.  Eileen and Lisa also handed out printed information items as noted below:

 

HANDOUTS – The following printed items were handed out or made available on a front table by the door:

 

            2005 Budget (Handout)

            2004 Accomplishments – Board of Directors (Handout)

            2004 Accomplishments – Architectural Review Committee (Handout)

            2005 Planned Projects and Goals (Handout)

            2004 Balance Sheet (Through 10/31/2004) (Available on Table)

            20-Year Reserves Fund Requirements (Annual Community Asset Replacement Plan) (Handout)

            Ballot - Open BOD Position (Handout)

            2003 Final Audit Report (Available on Table)

          Illegal Disposing of Paint in Trash – Flyer (Handout)

 

CALL TO ORDER:  Called to order 7:40 Pm (Delayed, waiting larger turnout).   President Richard Schinner introduced Board of Directors and President of Architectural Review Committee, noting that an election for an open board position was an agenda item tonight.

 

Rick specifically thanked Eileen Solomon for use of her home all year for board meetings, and owner/volunteer Brian Zarchin for his time and skills publishing two professional and comprehensive newsletters.  He thanked all BOD and ARC members for their volunteer participation and community improvement efforts this year. Rick then reviewed the following 2004 events.  (Unless noted, items reviewed went without floor comment.   Specific comments  from the floor and BOD Responses are shown in italics):

 

1.  ARC ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   ARC meets separately each month as needed.  President Kathy Wyatt attends board meeting (or sends a chairperson representative). ARC chair’s function at board meetings is to report ARC activity for recording in the minutes.  In addition, chair presents any controversial ARC submissions or issues, and identifies approved or rejected Change Requests voted on by ARC that month.  ARC Chair also prepares and mails follow up notices to owners after approval or rejection of submissions.  Rick reviewed the following ARC accomplishments and thanked Kathy Wyatt and other committee members for their volunteer effort:

 

Reviewed And Processed 23 Arc Change Requests

 

Conducted Spring and Fall  Property Maintenance Inspections Resulting in the Following Actions:

Mailed 59 Letters Of Concern

50 Owners Corrected Maintenance Problems

Transferred 9 Properties To Attorney For Violations Exceeding 2 Years

6 Owners Responded to Attorney – Corrected Maintenance Problems (3 Remain)

 

Approved New Arc Guideline – 2nd Location For Townhome Numbers (Emergency Vehicles)

 

Approved New Arc Guideline - Artificial Wood Decking, Rails and Patterned Floor

 

Approved Arc Guidelines Administrative Clarification Procedure  – Revised Language To Clarify Ambiguous Definitions

 

Added Arc Guideline Standards – Six Missing Standards Defined

 

Revised Arc Guideline - Townhome Trim Paint - New Duron Color Names

 

Revised Arc Change Request Form - Include Financial Responsibility for Common Area

 

A member questioned “Why do we need ARC since BOD overrules ARC decisions?”  BOD responded that this position was blatantly false, and erroneous.  BOD suggested that member may be confused due to an unfortunate difficult community organizational period in 1999-2000. During that time, there was no BOD president. ARC chairperson and several members took personal advantage of the community having no leadership. No one enforced community rules. Organizational chaos prevailed in ARC that year.  The chairperson of ARC failed to conduct ARC meetings, improperly approved ARC change requests without approvals required by covenants, and inaccurately entered information in the ARC records for their own interests and gain.  When confronted, the ARC disbanded. It cost the community a lot of money to resolve legal issues and get reorganized according to the By-Laws and Covenants.  In 2000, a new BOD consulted with legal counsel for the problem, implemented mediation through Montgomery County’s Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC) and was forced to also act as ARC for one year  – a responsibility required of BOD and outlined in Article VIII of the Covenants.  Since that time, with legal approval, BOD determined to retain the right to override ARC if needed, but in four years since - has not once had to override an ARC decision.

 

2.  BOD ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   Rick reviewed the following accomplishments noting that all members of the board contributed to accomplishing many other less visible tasks.  (Unless noted, items reviewed went without floor comment.   Specific comments from the floor and BOD Responses are shown in italics):

 

Corrected Annual Meeting To November (From January) to Meet Required Budget Submission Dates

 

Added By-Laws To Web Page

 

Re-elected Eileen Solomon

 

Passed Common Area Behavior Rule 2003-1

 

A member stated:  “No one wanted that rule”.  President responded that was not accurate.  The rule was requested by membership, not the board, had gone through three separate reviews with membership, updated by membership twice, and edited and approved by membership..  Drafts were submitted to the entire community (all 150 members) on two separate occasions six months apart. All community input was incorporated into the final rule.  On last distribution to all 150 members, not one negative comment came back.  

 

Published 6-Page Newsletter With Rule Attachment  - (Thank You Brian Zarchin!)

 

Senior Center – Obtained Concessions - HOA/Sr Center Boundary Landscape

 

Landscape and Lawncare Contract - Improved Quality, 2005 Price Freeze – Contract Awarded for 2005

 

Assigned Townhome Parking Spaces To Visitors (Montgomery County Code)

 

Renegotiated New Snow Removal Contract – Limited To 10% Increase – Contract Awarded for 2004-5

 

Conducted Two “Special Membership Meeting(s) For Assessment Increase”

Increased Assessment July 1st – (First In 6 Years) - Flat For 2005.

            Improved Formula Accuracy - Reserve Funds – Switched  From Inflation Factor To CPI

            Resolved All Reserve Deficits and Known Contractor Price Increases

            Resolved Outstanding Community Repairs

            Added Operating Contingency To (Reduce Cash Flow Problems)

            Added Four New Community Tree Budgets

            Restored Schedule for Annual Asset Replacements

            Financially Positioned For Increased Quality Repairs and Additions - across the Community

 

Member stated that a correction to assessments, identified at June 21 meeting, had not been made.   Therefore current budget was not correct.  Member further stated that the correction involved Detached Homes having to pay for some Townhome Assessments.  Secretary responded that position was without basis, without evidence, and incorrect.  Secretary pointed out that the correction was noted at the end of the June 21 meeting and is noted again in minutes of the meeting.  As pointed out at the end of the meeting, the item was a typo isolated to Replacement Reserve Projects, consisting of a TH assessment amount in the Detached Home column.  After the meeting, it was removed from the Detached Home column and correctly placed in the TH column. Offsetting amounts were then adjusted in the appropriate “Transfer From Reserves” Credit line.   Neither assessment bottom line changed.  The correction was made within 24 hours of the meeting.  The corrected Assessment and Budget were posted on the web that day – and on the web every day since, including now.  Secretary further responded that the current assessment and budget includes that correction – therefore the current budget is accurate and sound.  Secretary invited member to review the master assessment and budget  document available on the table tonight. 

 

Another member stated the $7,900 allocation of required contribution for TH Streets Reserve Funds for 2005 was being incorrectly assessed to Detached Homes.  Secretary explained that was not true and explained as follows:  The amount only appears once and in the correct TH Assessment Column  - not the Detached Homes Assessment Column. The “Assets Replacement Plan” document, shows that the $7,900 is the difference between replacement plan needs at the end of 2004, vs. the replacement plan needs at the end of 2005 – for TH Streets assessment only.  After the detailed review – member conceded the assessment and formula was correct.

 

Completed Calendar Year 2003 Financial Audit

 

Restructured Auditor Firm Reporting   - Now Reports Directly To BOD Vs. ABS

 

Treasurer noted that the Final 2003 Audit was available on the table for review.

 

Towed 3 Vehicles  - Violating Parking Covenants

 

Member asked why they were towed. Secretary responded:   1 Stolen Vehicle, 1 Stolen Plates, 1 No Plates with Flat Tires.

 

Legal Research – Identify Private Residence Day-Care Requirements In HOA

 

Development Of Legal HOA Rule To Enforce Property Maintenance (In Process)

 

Member asked why we need this rule.  President and Secretary responded that it came about as a result of Montgomery County strengthening its Annotated Code for HOAs.  The new code requires that HOA’s provide a “BOD Hearing” mechanism for homeowners – before proceeding with entering the property and correcting Property Maintenance Violations.  It will be a replacement for and strengthen the enforcement elements of our current 6-Step procedure derived from our covenants.  The new rule will also allow for owners Vs BOD arbitration by COCC.

 

Resolved Alleged Past-Due HOA Land-Tax Bill and Related Issue

 

Member asked what this was about.  Secretary explained that this was originally depicted by the county as a past due tax for land to Montgomery County.  Upon initial investigation, our HOA was told if we did not pay it, some HOA land was being sold at public auction within 2 weeks.  Our alert Treasurer, Mohammad Homaitabar, paid it immediately to save the sale, concluding we could investigate in our own time.  However, because the bill was so vague and repleat with errors in billing contacts, account numbers, and but demanding in nature, we turned it over to our attorney. After weeks of research, our attorneys discovered this was a new county tax on HOAs for storm water management fees.  This will be an annual tax of about $544 for 2005 – included in the new budget.

 

Averted Huge (12 X 17) State Highway Sign In Our Entrance

 

Crepe Myrtle Trees For Orchard Knolls Rt 28 Median

 

Grass (Not Concrete) In New Blackberry Drive Center Island

 

Added Purple Plum Tree In New Blackberry Drive Center Island

 

Removed Dangerous 100 Year-Old Maple Tree in Tot-Lot area

 

Contracted for Emergency Removal of 5 Felled Common Area Trees After June 7 Storm

 

Upgraded Landscape And Added Crepe Myrtle Trees In 5 Cul-De-Sac(s)

 

Upgraded Entrance Flowers (Doubled Quantity from 2003)

 

Removed 19 Dead Common Area Trees

 

Authorized Landscape Work At PGC/Orchard Knolls West Boundary – Near Rt 28

 

Added 2005 Early Spring (3rd Rotation) Community Flowers – Added 4 Small Additional Areas

 

Repaired All Broken Split-Rail Fence Rails and Posts

 

Repaired Paint Spills OnTownhome Streets.

 

Several members complained about having large paint spills on their streets.  President and Secretary reviewed the legal and financial position data included in handout as follows:

 

Disposal Of Liquid Paint In Trash Is Illegal In Montgomery County

 

Eight, Large, Ugly Spills Onto Our Streets This Year, Neighbors complained to Board of Directors on six different occasions this year - of Orchard Knolls’ streets where illegal disposal of paint has spilled from trash pickup trucks onto our black asphalt streets in front of homes.  The original spill, followed by vehicles tracking hundreds of feet past the spill has caused a mess beyond description.  Some culprits are Orchard Knolls homeowners.

 

Large Multiple Spill Requires HOA Cleanup:  This spring, someone illegally disposed of about ¾ gallon for pickup by Titus Trash.  the operator accomplished a normal “compression” of trash in the truck.  The can exploded and spilled pools of paint onto the street in front of 27 Orchard Knolls homes.  Damage was so extensive that Board of Directors was forced to spend HOA funds to have the street sealed over the stains.

 

Orchard Knolls Home Owner Required to Correct Damage:  This summer, a contractor for a homeowner illegally disposed of a large quantity into nearby shrubs.  A rainstorm surfaced the paint.  The paint spread and stained a wide swath across 2,000 square feet of parking surface.  The paint then ran into the nearby storm sewer and our creek staining the surface of rocks and vegetation. (State of Maryland Storm Water Management Violation).  Board of Directors photographed the damage and traced the illegal disposal to the owner.  We contacted our attorney. Owner agreed to pay a restoration contractor to have the extensive mess cleaned up.

 

Two more:   Another illegal disposal resulted in an ugly spill recently at Blackberry Dr entrance to Cherry Blossom Lane.  It was tracked by vehicles nearly 300 feet into our development. Another homeowner’s illegal paint disposal recently resulted in an ugly spill on Pineapple Grove Dr into Blackberry Dr.

 

Trash Contractor Not Responsible, May Sue:  The pickup contractor is not responsible for identification or cleanup.  Worse, contractor and Montgomery County may both file a damages law suit against the person that illegally disposed of the paint.

 

Proper Disposal:  Montgomery County ‘s Waste Transfer Station (Shady Grove Entrance) has facilities for proper disposal of paint.  If you contract for painting – you should include proper disposal of waste .

 

Waste Paint Preparation:  Home Depot, Lowes, and many paint dealers sell inexpensive “paint hardener” for preparing liquid paint for disposal. One product is Home Depot’s “Waste Paint Hardener” in orange packets.

 

Board of Directors will Prosecute:  Effective immediately, Board of Directors will report all such spills to Montgomery County for investigation and prosecution.  In addition to major Montgomery County fines, this matter is now a violation of our “Common Area” Rule and will result in a minimum fine of $100, plus expense of cleaning and restoring all street areas.  The board will spend whatever funds are necessary to identify and prosecute owners damaging our asphalt streets by illegally disposing of liquid paint in the trash.

 

Replaced Damaged Streetlight Pole In Cherry Blossom Court – Added Steel Barrier

 

Repaired And Repainted Gazebo Mailbox Unit

 

Added New Streetlight To Cherry Blossom Place – Improved Security, Reduced Vandalism

 

Added Decorative Landscape Shrubs To Screen Transformers - Cherry Blossom Place

 

Repaired And Upgraded Pedestrian Bridge

 

Member stated that no one ever uses the bridge.  President responded that member’s information was wrong.  Board members surveyed before and after the construction.  There were 12 to 25 Townhome based children,  and 4 – 12 adults that use the bridge daily to cross to the other play area or to get to Blackberry Drive.   It is a discretionary convenience, but the community voted in a majority straw vote at June 21, 2004 Special Membership meeting -  to repair and keep it. 

 

3.  PLANNED PROJECTS AND GOALS FOR 2005:  Rick identified the following projects and goals would be addressed during noting that not all will be accomplished and others may be substituted as the year unfolds (Unless noted, items reviewed went without floor comment.   Specific comments  from the floor and BOD Responses are shown in italics):

 

Budgeted Projects:

 

New Early Spring Entrance Flowers (3rd Rotation) – Added 4 Smaller Locations

 

Re-Seal Townhome Street Surfaces  (Replacement Reserves)

 

Re-Stripe Townhome Parking (Replacement Reserves)

 

Replace Worn North-East Tot-Lot Equipment  (Replacement Reserves)

 

Upgrade “Orchard Knolls” Marque Lettering (2004 Annual Meeting Survey Results Top-5)

 

Upgrade “Orchard Knolls Marque Lighting (2004 Annual Meeting Survey Results Top-5)

 

Replace Key Common Area Storm Damaged Trees

 

Hire Civil Engineer to Evaluate, Define, Cost Estimate – Solving Creek Bank Erosion

 

Member asked why these projects vs. others? BOD responded that the first four are pre-scheduled by our “Assets Replacement Plan” as assets having exhausted their useful life.  The remainder are priorities determined by membership in the survey conducted last January at annual meeting.

 

Member asked why the survey results were not published.  BOD responded that they were published – in the minutes - which were immediately made available on Orchard Knoll’s  web page, have been, and still are on the web page.

 

Install New South-West Tot-Lot Equipment (Replacement Reserves)  -  or,

Install Cedar-Shake, Covered Community Picnic Pavilion in South-West Lot

 

Several members asked about the alternative covered picnic pavilion.  BOD explained a pavilion was only a proposal from several members but would not proceed without a total membership vote.  On the positive side, it would be in lieu of replacing tot-lot equipment in the Blackberry Drive lot – therefore would not cost new money.  In fact, it would be a savings because the pavilion is less cost than the tot-lot equipment.  Further positive, the picnic pavilion would be reservable by any owner for family or neighborhood gatherings.

 

However, there was much significant negative discussion – particularly an unfounded but obvious popular fear that a pavilion would attract unwanted noise and potential nefarious activities by adolescent teens.  Previous BOD President Diane Quinn noted that county police would not be able to assist if the reported culprits were children of HOA owners.  When asked how many would use such a proposed pavilion – there was no interest at all.  Some members expressed opinion to “do nothing” and save the money in the reserves.

 

BOD noted that this matter will surface again soon as BOD must decide whether to proceed to fit-up the Blackberry Drive tot-lot or not in 2005.  It is currently in the approved budget for 2005.  Matter was deferred to next board meeting.

 

Administrative Goals:

 

Develop, Pass and Execute Property Maintenance Enforcement Rule (Montgomery County Code)

 

Reduce Cost – Bid for a contract for HOA “Annual Electrical Maintenance Contract”

 

Reduce Cost – Bid for a contract for HOA “Annual Sprinkler System Maintenance Contract”

 

Organize Volunteer Entrance Landscape Committee

 

Non-Budgeted Safety Improvement Projects

 

Add Streetlight (Match Existing) Cherry Blossom Lane Intersection to Blackberry Drive – Est. $1,200

 

Members asked why the need for a new streetlight now?  BOD responded they had received a complaint from several neighbors near that corner (the 15700 CBL corner) that the area was always dark.  BOD noted this is the area where black ice regularly forms on the street in the winter, and the area where at least two pedestrian accidents have occurred.  It is also the most high-traffic and dangerous intersection in our community. The visitors parking directly adjacent to the corner is totally in the dark at night, as is the stop sign.  This is private HOA property – therefore Montgomery County will not address the issue.  Two busy streets join Blackberry Drive at this intersection. In addition, from a symmetrical perspective – all other corners of the garaged townhome community have a street light – except this one.  It appears as though it was forgotten in the original plan.  BOD will likely proceed with this budget if surplus funds can be found near end of year.

 

Remove all above-grade exposed stumps in Common Areas – Est. $1,800

 

Add 2 Streetlights (Match Existing) to Blackberry Drive Center Island – Est. $3,000

 

4.  APPROVED 2005 BUDGET REVIEW:   Secretary handed out 2005 Budget to all.  He made the following points:  1)  Budget remains unchanged from that approved by membership June 21st at “Special Membership Meeting for Assessment Increase”.  2)  BOD is not recommending any further increase.  3)  No vote is needed unless membership now wishes to make further changes (there were none). 4) Several internal account adjustments have been made as follows: 

 

New Montgomery County Stormwater Tax for HOAs, Three new “Tree” accounts to better track our expenses on tree work in the community, Relocation of ABS and Audit line items from “General Administrative” to “Contracts”.   Funds for the new tree accounts were transferred directly from work planned for 2005 but completed early in 2004.  Those completions were identified as:  Added streetlight in Cherry Blossom Place, Screening of Transformers in Cherry Blossom Place, Repair of all broken fences, Replacement of Cherry Blossom Court broken street light post.  In addition, funds were made available to new tree budget line items from BOD’s early negotiating the planned “Early Spring Pre-Mothers Day Flowers” into the annual Lawncare and Landscape Contract for 2005 – thus making Spring Flowers line item unnecessary.

 

5.  GENERAL OPEN DISCUSSIONS AND REVIEWS: 

 

2003 Audit Complete - Treasurer made the Final 2003 Audit available for review on the front table.

 

Balance Sheet - Secretary noted that it was too early for ABS to get us the October Financial Statement, however he obtained a faxed copy of month-end balance sheet.  It showed no financial problems and would be available for review on the front table.

 

Assets Replacement Plan - Annual Reserve Funds Budget – Secretary noted that there were copies of the plan and budget left over from the June 21st Special Meeting.  They would be available on the front table.

 

 6.  NO ELECTION OF OPEN BOARD POSITION - INSUFFICIENT QUORUM:  Due to a disappointing turnout a sufficient quorum to conduct an election was not obtained.  Quorum requires 15 owners, only 13 owners signed in.  The open position is Treasurer Mohammad Homaitabar, by expiration of term.  Mohammad has agreed to run for re-election for another term.  Although an election could not be conducted BOD want ed information from those present if there were any that planned nominations from the floor.  There were none.  Due to evidence of lack of attendance - BOD concludes that the community has no interest in filling the position and by absentia would not object if the current position was extended until next annual meeting.  Board will review By-Laws and will likely extend the expired position an additional year until next annual meeting scheduled for November 2005.

 

7.  EXAMINATION OF ANNUAL MEETING NOTICES; DATE, TIME, PLACE OF ELECTION:

 

Large Illuminated Back-to- Back Announcement Sign 7 X 24 at Entrance and Exit for 1 Week:  HOA’s large double-sided sign:  ANNUAL MEETING, MONDAY NIGHT, QUINCE ORCHARD HIGH SCHOOL, 7:30 PM  was installed early am of November 2.  It is impossible to miss when entering or leaving Orchard Knolls.  It was viewable 24 x 7.  It was illuminated after dark, all night.

 

Web Page Announcement for Seven Weeks  – Large multi-color banner announcing Annual Meeting, date, time, and location has been posted on HOA web page for seven weeks.  Banner also announced that election for a Board of Directors open position will take place.

 

Announced in Minutes for Twelve Weeks  - Annual meeting announcement and related open position election info has been identified in the minutes for last 3 months.  Minutes are available on Orchard Knolls Web Page.  The web page address (www.orchardknolls.org) has been permanently and boldly identified at the Blackberry Drive exit and entrance for 4 months.

 

8.  OPEN BOD POSITION TERM EXTENDED - Subsequent to annual meeting, BOD reviewed the By-Laws to determine their options.  Whereas the annual meeting was properly advertised to all owners, and whereas the community was properly made aware of a pending election of an open position on the board, (See “Notices” at top of minutes), and whereas the community did not respond in sufficient quorum quantity to conduct that election, and whereas those present expressed no interest in conducting a follow up meeting within 15 days to re-conduct an election - BOD concludes that the community has no further interest in backfilling the board position at this time.  This being the case, BOD concludes the community has provided abstention or tacit approval to extend the term of the open position until next annual meeting.  The following By-Laws apply: 

 

By-Laws - Article IV, Section 6 Quorum Requirements:  If the number of members at a meeting drops below quorum and the question of a lack of a quorum is raised, no business may thereafter be transacted. The members present thereat shall have power to adjourn the meeting and call an additional meeting giving at least fifteen (15) days notice.  At the additional meeting, the members present in person or by proxy shall constitute a quorum.

 

By-Laws - Article V, Section 5:  Action Taken Without a Meeting. The directors shall have the right to take any action in the absence of a meeting, which they could take at a meeting, by obtaining written approval of a majority of such directors. Such approval shall be filed with the minutes of the proceedings of the Board of Directors. Any action so approved shall have the same effect as though taken at a meeting of the directors.

 

The following motion was made to all board members (Mohammad Homaitabar abstaining):

 

 "Extend the term of office for Treasurer, Board of Directors, Mohammad Homaitabar, one additional year, or until next regularly scheduled Annual meeting".

 

The motion was seconded, and passed unanimously without objection.  Mohammad’s Term is extended to November 2005.

                                   

9.  ADJOURNMENT:  A motion from the floor to adjourn.  President allowed the floor motion to stand.   Motion was seconded.  There were no opposed.  The Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Membership of Orchard Knolls Homeowner Association was adjourned by membership at 9:30 pm.  Next board meeting is December 13, at 7 pm.  Location to be determined.