Brookshire Cluster General Assembly Minutes 2014
Vote on board members
17 of 26 (65%) houses present, Quorum of 40% achieved. Cluster President David called the meeting to order at 7:12PM.
- Mulch will be delivered by Reston Lions club on Saturday, April 5th, 2014 with 3 cubic feet double-shredded hardwood mulch at $4.70 per bag (less than 50 bags ordered), or $4.50 if we go over 50 bags. Please let us know how many bags you would like before Wednesday, March 26th.
- Gutter Cleaning will occur in late May, after the spring cat tails fall. Interior units will be $99, exterior units $125. Please let us know if you would like to schedule your gutters to be cleaned.
- AAA trash has added one more run to our pickup during the spring/summer and fall – it is a yard waste pickup on Wednesday mornings. If you have yard waste (only vegetation) – please bundle neatly for pickup on Wednesday mornings.
- Brookshire Cluster Website recreated on line with cluster documents, by-laws, minutes, guidelines for paint, trash removal etc online – www.brookshirecluster.org
- Thanks to Leann and Mark for hosting the General Assembly.
- Welcome to all new homeowners in Brookshire Court. Last year, four new sets of homeowners came to live here, and Clarence – a long-term owner but new resident – also started living in the cluster. At the start of the meeting, David called an intro moment so the cluster members did a quick roll call and brief introduction.
- Congrats to Wilson and Rosa getting married in April.
- Congrats to German and AnnMarie on expecting a new baby.
- Congrats to Doc for beating his illness and doing so well. We are delighted and relieved.
- Congrats to David D on being in the cluster for twenty years!
- Shari T is organizing Relay for Life in Herndon again this year on June 7th. Brookshire had the biggest non-corporate sponsor group rally at the event in 2013 for our ‘What’s Up Doc?’ support team for Doc. Shari hopes for a repeat stellar gathering in 2014. Brookshire will have a team there, please contact Shari if you want to participate in this great event. firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up here click Join a Team and select “What’s Up Doc”.
- From last year, it was noted that the swing needed to be replaced or repaired. Kudos to Mike H for single handedly replacing wood parts and fixing the swing completely – all while we were just thinking about it. Many thanks Mike!
- Also thanks to Mike for power washing the retaining wall on the way down to the swing. The before and after pictures of the wall were like night and day.
- It should be noted that the rat situation we had the year before last was completely resolved by Harper, David and Shari’s tabby cat.
- Safety, weather, traffic and social alerts – many thanks to Amanda for keeping us in the loop with news and juicy info.
- Reston turns 50 – an exciting time for the cluster. As we were among the first clusters built in Reston, Julie recommended that we pay special tribute to Robert Simons on his amazing 100th birthday. Everyone unanimously agreed.
2013 In Review
Ann presented the budget plan for 2014 and actuals for 2013.
The cluster ended the year with a surplus of $11,094.17. Based on massive tree and limb removal in 2012, there was a carryover deficit of $4,164.11 to 2013. The cluster added a special assessment of $100 per quarter/house in 2013 to cover this deficit and put money back into tree & grass landscaping projects. In 2013, the tree service budget of $4,000 ($3k tree removal budget + $1k tree replanting budget) was only used to plant 12 trees. Net, net there is a carryover of ~$8,800 to 2014.
Special assessment $100 X 4 X 26 $10,400
Recovery of 2012 deficit ($4,164.11)
Purchase of trees 2013 ($1,433.26)
Unspent tree service budget 2013 $4,000
Reserve Carry-over for special Landscape $8,800
Or special project
Ann proposed we move the assessment and extra carryover from the tree budget- $8,800 budget surplus – to special landscape fund for 2014. The cluster unanimously approved this vote.
Ann discussed the actuals from 2013 and the planned budget for 2014. Most cluster service costs didn’t expand too much so based on steady costs, Ann recommended that the dues remain stable at $250 per house/quarter. The assembly unanimously approved.
As there were no special projects proposed with budget at the assembly, baring no unforeseen events, there will be no special assessments levied in 2014. The assembly unanimously approved.
Ann noted that receivables were down in 2013 with five houses delinquent with paying 1st quarter dues. Ann reminded folks that there is a late fee of $25 per delinquent payment.
Anne noted we are on track with our long term capital goal for infrastructure items such as parking lot, sidewalks, stairs & rails, storm drains, retaining wall etc. The strategic long range plan for infrastructure includes:
2017 Resealing parking lot to preserve the layers beneath
2032 Mill and pave parking lot (last done in 2006). Estimate $60k
- Structural walls’ status is unknown.
- Stair & rail structure repair estimates are unknown
- Concrete pavement estimates unknown, drains unknown.
- Action: Board to get assessments on work for infrastructure and present to Ann. The goal is to ally repair timeframes with cost estimates to complete the long range infrastructure plan/budget.
Preliminary Budget Highlights:
- Dues remain stable at $250 per house/quarter. Dues are due by 30th of first month in each quarter. Late fees of $25 for dues 60+ days late.
- No special assessment estimated for 2014
- 2013 planned budget shows increase in electricity to reflect actual costs 2013
- Landscaping contract increased 3% from $8,632 to$ 8,890 (3% increase to cover enhanced grass fertilization and aeration)
- Increase in trash removal based on contract, this increases about 3% each year based on Fairfax county landfill surcharges.
- No snow removal in 2013. Need to recruit a new vendor as 2014 saw more snow and current vendor was not as responsive as he used to be, or as we need him to be. New vendor will be selected for 2014/2015.
- Mosquito spraying estimate came in much the same as 2013 for 6 sprayings
- Additional charges in 2013 included Quickbooks cost for 5yr program and website domain charge $110 for 5 years.
- 2014 budget will include a new sub-line for planning trees, to come out of reserve thus showing budgeted deficit
- Current reserves:
Reserve for parking lot $31,924
Reserve for trees/grass 8,800
Budget Adjustments for 2014:
Initial assessment is that the budget remains much the same for 2014 as 2013, hence there will be no homeowner dues increase for 2014.
2013 In Review by Mark M
- Mark noted that there was minimal tree removal work done in the cluster in 2013. Thankfully we were unaffected by storm damage in 2013 for the first time in many years.
- Mark spoke of our mission to put back the trees we lost and plant for the future residents. He noted that we planted 12 of 20 planned trees in 2013. The plan is/was to strategically place ornamentals and native deciduous trees throughout the cluster. In springtime 2013, there was a fear that the 17 year cicadas would come out in force (which never actually came to being) and these would ruin any new ornamentals planted so we held off planting until Fall 2013. In fall, the cluster planted 12 trees through-out the cluster.
- As a left over from hurricane Sandy, the front lawn area trees and soil by the retaining wall were gravely affected. Part of the front was corrected in 2013 but we plant to renovate completely in 2014 as part of the special landscape budget.
2014 Plan by Mark
Mark discussed ten items
1. Overall Landscape Plan
Mark proposed creating an overall landscape plan for the cluster for the next 5, 10 years to cover stages of landscape renewal and budget estimates.
2. Co-ordinate with Neighbors
For 2014, Mark noted that he is working with Chatham Colony to identify both removal of and replanting new trees between the two communities. Technically each cluster’s border ends 10 feet behind each row. The patch in the center is no-man’s land, not owned by any community – including Reston at large. There is much work to be done to renovate the area after the tree debacle caused by replacing the Chatham Colony retaining walls a few years ago. Mark will come up with a united concept and approach to correcting this area with Chatham Colony board members. Mark will present this to the cluster members as an action item later this year.
3. Renovate Front Lawn area by wall
This area was ravaged during hurricane Sandie by five beautiful old trees falling so the ground is ripped up and looks terrible for the cluster. One of the trees that fell was the Pawlonia (fast growing Japanese tree w’ purple flowers). The stump and part of the bark were not removed and are currently sprouting many little trees which will clutter the area and affect the retaining wall there. Mark proposes this area be corrected immediately and plans to:
- Remove the oak tree stump
- Remove the pawlonia saplings
- Replace, level and reseed soil
Action: quote from Cardinal under review to renovate this area in Spring.
4. Improve Run-off from 1567-1571 right side entry to cluster
This area has had run off issues for years with the heavy rains. One option under review is to re-build the soil up by the sidewalk and support it (with drainage) with a new mini-retaining wall behind the dogwood. The goal is to create this in a way that would also be a scenic addition to the cluster entrance.
Action: collect and review estimates for project as part of landscape projects.
5. Estimate Drainage situation by back row of houses
This row of houses has a drainage situation where water traps between the houses and the cross-pavement. It doesn’t run east or west off this area and affects some of the basements in this row of houses. Mark recommended that we look at the drainage needs for this area and assess whether we do a full drainage replacement like we did from Cathy’s to Doc’s two years ago, or raise the soil level infront of the affected houses. More to follow..
6. Estimate Retaining wall, pavement, stairs and storm drain repairs
In 2014, Mark plans to get long range estimates for infrastructural aspects of the cluster including the two retaining walls, cluster sidewalks, stairs & rails throughout common areas and the storm drains at the front of the cluster. These estimates will be addressed in the long range strategic plan and budget for the cluster going forward.
7. Review and renew Landscaping Contract for 2014
Mark renewed the Cardinal contract for the year with small cost increase for the standard maintenance and extra weeding and ground cover for the newly added garden areas. This contact also includes enhanced fertilization and aeration to help the current grass growing.
As an add-on, Cardinal also proposed doubling up on the lawn seed to increase grass growth. Cardinal also proposed laying weed killer on the grassy areas to stop the grass from being smothered in weeds.
8. Maintain Upkeep of Gardens.
Any garden plant placed by Cardinal in the front garden or the lightpost garden that died will be replaced in April by Cardinal. As always – anything you can do to help the plants grow in the drought of summer is much appreciated. Our involvement in keeping the gardens alive is vital to the long-term life and maintenance of all our gardens.
9. Mosquito Sprayings
Our budget covers six sprayings for 2014. Unless some cluster members wish to have an additional spraying, we will be set with six sprayings over the summer to ward off the pesky mosquitos.
10. Tree Replacement.
Plant many more ornamentals and native trees throughout cluster. This will be a combination of organizing ornamentals to be planted at the April cluster cleanup, and by paying landscape vendor Cardinal to plant larger natives throughout area.
11. Grass replacement:
Options for grass replacement were discussed. The Cluster does not have the budget to resod the area, and soil replacement w’ new seed is very costly with no guarantee of success since we have no inbuilt watering system or no consistent way for the grass to be watered. The options discussed were:
- Sod and seed the high-visibility common areas that are most needy: left of front garden, by steps going to swings, by back row of houses.
- Spread week kill on other high visibility areas to give the grass a chance to grow.
- Heavily fertilize and seed all areas.
12. Railway ties and Fire lane painting
By the firelane, the railway ties are broken and shoddy. This may be a cluster cleanup event in Spring. Fire lane and yellow curb will need to be redone in Spring cleanup.
2013 In Review
- Fun year was had with a lot of social events, some planned, some impromptu.
- Amanda noted she has access to traffic, security, weather alerts and that she will be happy to continue notifying us in 2014. We are grateful to Amanda for all the news and updates.
- New schedule for upcoming events will include dates for:
Book Club: 3rd Friday of month. Please contact Amanda for details.
- March book: Bury our dead by Louise Penney.
First Friday Gathering: First Friday of each month. Locations to be decided.
Easter Egg Hunt: April 19th
Yard Sale: June… tbd…
Camping: Lake Fairfax
Picnic: June 14th on common area by swings
Relay For Life (Herndon): June 7th
Halloween Party: Saturday, October 25th
Holiday Party: Saturday, December 13th
Pajama party: Brunch event at Mon Ami Gabi
New Years Eve Party: New Year’s Eve, place tbd.
- General Assembly: Tuesday, Feb 4th 1528 7PM
- Cluster Cleanup Spring: Saturday April 5th Rain date Sunday 6th .
- Cluster Cleanup Fall: Saturday October 18th Tentative date. Rain date Sun 19th.
See the online calendar of events
Relay for Life
- Last year, Brookshire’s “What’s Up Doc” was the largest non-corporate team at the Relay for Life in Herndon. Shari suggested we make it bigger and better this year and urges everyone to sign up early for the Relay for life event on June 7th in Herndon – sign up to http://relay.acsevents.org/site/TR?pg=entry&fr_id=61518
The parking lot situation is unclear as the parking spaces are limited and only marked with ‘Guest’ or ‘Reserved’ labels. There was no documentation for new home owners to identify the rules around the reserved spaces, and/or which reserved spaces are for which houses. With this confusion, it was identified that the rules/space definitions should be clearer in the home transition process and with all home association documents online at brookshirecluster.org. We discussed and rejected:
- numbering the spaces by real household numbers, dangerous for break-ins while away.
- assigning parking permits, hard to maintain and conflicts with guests who don’t have permits
- capturing car license plate details – again hard to maintain and does not work for guests who are not included.
An option that may work is to have a non-house number or alphabet letter on each spot, then have a cross-reference for the home number to the spot which would clarify the matter across the board and not expose vacant houses by the real house numbers on the spaces. We will go to this option if the next option does not work.
Approved option: As the parking situation came from lack of awareness with all our new members, the team decided t:
- include more parking documentation in the home-owners-guide when moving into the cluster. This should clarify spot/home number. The web site has been updated with a map of all spaces and the house numbers. Click here for a copy of the map.
- work with each other to monitor use of the spaces. It was noted that the guests spaces are very limited near the back of the cluster, so if you are using a guest spot – please use one near your house if possible.
There are towing guidelines in place in the bylaws and in the cluster documents. We haven’t used it in a while but need to set that up for the cluster members, worst case scenario. Note – all towing costs will be paid for by the car owner, not the cluster budget.
Action: Board to identify and publish car towing company for cluster parking violations.
Snow Plough, Sand and Salt:
With the very bad snow season, our snow plough vendor didn’t show up in December for the snow removal, and had to be called for the other snow episodes. As it turns out, the vendor is from Manassas and we’re the last client in Reston.
Action: Board to find suitable and cost-effective snow plough replacement vendors.
Update By-Laws, Rules and Articles of Incorporation:
With Reston metro coming and Lake Anne being overhauled in 2 years, it is time to review and bring up to date our cluster documents. The bylaws were last revised in 1988 so it is a good time to review and bring up the date the by-laws and rules. At the very least, we update the parking nomenclature to be clear and specific about reserved and guest parking spaces, and install snow-day regulations. With some recent legal changes in dues collection for Fairfax, we need to be more current on processes to collect negligent payments.
Action: All cluster members – please review the by-laws and send any comments or requests for update to the board members before April 30th 2014. The by-laws and other documents will be revised and presented back to you for approval by June 15th before publication on June 30th 2014.
It was noted that the Brookshire Ct website could use an infusion of new life. Rosa mentioned she develops and creates websites and would be happy to work on and renovate the Brookshire cluster website.
Sidenote: Brookshirecluster.org domain ownership was extended to May 2019.
Just a reminder – each house and resident needs to:
- Follow trash guidelines: Trash goes out no earlier than sun-down night before pickup, pull your trash can and recycle bin in asap next morning, hide the trash can in your back yard or in an obscure place where it will not cause consternation with neighbors.
- Tidy front yard: Remove any item that is not in line with the neighborhood or general aesthetic appearance. Notice most houses have greenery and shrubs and nothing else.
- Unclutter Decks: Decks are not extra storage units, and for those houses whose backs are exposed to walking areas – keep your deck clear of clutter.
- Participate in Cluster Cleanup: Get ready for a very active cluster clean up this spring which may include re-mulching/sodding the grassy areas.
- Plant Replacement trees: Depending on the master plans, costs and general generosity – we may be planting some of the trees ourselves to help with budget. Please check with Mark on master plan for cluster landscape plan
- Comply with Parking regulations: Parking is limited so only one reserved parking space is per house and one guest spot if available. This would be a total of no more than 2 cars per household in the parking lot. Luckily, with the mix of single and multi-car houses in the cluster, we should be OK with the number of spaces we have.
Vote on board members:
- David N stepped down. Wilson P was nominated, seconded and unanimously elected as our new cluster President. Many thanks to David for being president, sorry it was such a short term. Congratulations to Wilson on his new role as president.
- Mark M – Unanimously re-elected as cluster Landscape Director.
- Ann D – Unanimously re-elected as Treasurer
- Amanda– unanimously re-elected as Social Director.
- Deirdre – unanimously re-elected as Secretary.
Meeting concluded at 8:45PM