Southwick Meadows Homeowners Association
October 30, 2014
Agendas and Ballots for Board elections were distributed at the sign-in table.
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 by HOA President Rick Sturm. Approximately 50 members were in attendance. Rick introduced the current Board members: Matt Gleason, V P for Architectural Review and common land maintenance, Chris Arena, VP for Compliance, Larry Schoen, Treasurer, and Mary-Alice Lynch, Secretary.
Rick asked for review and any additions to the agenda. There being none, a motion was made by Rob Meyer and seconded by Sandeep Gupta to approve the agenda as distributed. Approved.
Rick expressed the appreciation of the Board for the attendance and participation of the owners present. Special thanks go to Janet Amedio, Jessica Dembo, and Ginny Ducar for managing the sign-in table, to Jo Anne Robins for her assistance to Mary-Alice with the newsletter, to Rod Reed for management of elections, and to Bob Bylancik for chairing the Common Land Maintenance Committee.
Rick reported on major accomplishments in the past year:
• Sealing of the entire bike path.
• Enhancing (weeding and mulching) landscaped beds in the Chatsworth Loop common area.
• Working to enhance the berm with reseeding areas that have become bare.
• Continuing to manage the HOA on sound financial footing.
• Maintaining the aesthetics of the community.
• Establishing a web site. Thanks to Hiren Pathak for developing and maintaining.
• Instituting regular newsletters to all owners.
Rick thanked retiring Board members Larry Schoen and Mary-Alice Lynch for their service.
Chris reported on compliance issues.
• As promised, he tried a “gentle approach” to compliance with personal approaches to those not in compliance. While most owners were responsive, about 20 letters were sent out to 16 owners; while most complied, fines were imposed on 2 owners.
• To improve things for next year, Chris would like to institute a Compliance Committee of 3 to 5 people to assist in discovering and reviewing potential compliance issues and making recommendations to the Board. He requested interested owners to contact him. He noted that summer would be the busiest time for committee activity.
Question: What is the most difficult or prevalent compliance issue? Response: Weed control! Always difficult for us all to stay on top of.
Matt reported on Architectural review and common land maintenance:
• Thanks to Architectural Review Committee: Janet Amedio, Brian Kelly, Jodie Schoen, Robin Cohn, and Charlie Ducar. All members have reviewed all requests with diligence and speed.
• There have been 12 ARC requests since the spring meeting including requests for sheds, landscaping, satellite dish, hot tub, and decorative wall.
• Bike path sealing: While the initial intention was to seal the bike path over a 3 year period, bids were not cost prohibitive for doing the work in one year; given that there were cost savings in other areas of the budget, the Board decided to complete the work in one year.
Question: Will this need to be done again next year? Response: No. This is a seven year seal, so should be good for several years before it needs to be done again.
Question: Did payment for the sealing come from HOA reserve fund? Response: No. This falls under the general maintenance category, so comes out of operating expenses. The Reserve fund is for emergency expenses or major capital improvements such as replacing the path, retaining wall, sign, etc.
• Common land maintenance: A request for quotes was sent to 10 firms. 2 responses were received. The Board will review and award the contract at their next meeting.
Question: On what basis are the responses reviewed? Response: Price, quality of response, reputation, knowledge of responder and other factors.
Larry provided a treasurers report:
• General duties of the treasurer were reviewed: HOA assessments are sent out the first of January and are due by March 1. The treasurer collects and tracks all HOA funds, pays all bills, implements fines for non-compliance, and in conjunction with the rest of the Board, develops the budget.
• Larry distributed and reviewed the HOA 2014 budget and expenditures to date. Items of note: No legal fees are anticipated this year; sink hole repair expenses were covered from last year’s budget; there have been no unanticipated expenses this year.
Mary-Alice gave secretary’s report:
• Primary responsibilities of secretary are meeting notes and communications. Summer and fall newsletters were distributed this year (and are also available on the web site); another newsletter is planned for January and quarterly thereafter.
• The Board has also spent significant time on policy development this year to aid future Boards and to set the foundation for a well-managed HOA. Policies already past this year are the fine policy, which was distributed in the spring to all owners, an ethics policy which has been finalized and will be distributed shortly, and a records retention policy which is in its final stages of development.
The meeting was turned over to Matt Gleason for the election of new Board members.
He explained that we had 4 candidates for 3 slots for the expiring terms of Mary-Alice Lynch, Larry Schoen, and Rick Sturm.
Matt introduced the candidates and asked them to say a few words about their interest in serving on the Board. They were: Ed Aluck, Sandeep Gupta, Rick Sturm, and Tiffany Van Cleef. Nominations from the floor were invited; none were forthcoming. Owners were invited to vote and turn in their ballots.
Question: What offices are the candidates running for? Response: The elections are for a seat on the Board. According to the by-laws, the Board itself decides on responsibilities of each member and officers for the coming year.
• Question: If a property is rented, who has responsibility for compliance? Response: The owner/deed holder is responsible for compliance and should inform tenants of any restrictions or requirements of the HOA Declarations. If there are non-compliance issues, any owner should notify the HOA Board and they will follow-up with owner.
• Question regarding responsibility of town if they “wipe out” mailbox. Response: the town will replace damaged box with wooden pole and black or white mailbox, but not replace the pole required by the HOA Declarations. It is the owner’s responsibility to replace as prescribed.
• Concern was expressed regarding debris in retention pond behind Brighten homes. Response: The Board will explore remedies.
• Question: Are poplar trees in retention pond going to be removed? Response: While the retention ponds are owned by the town, the only maintenance they will do is to maintain the function, not the aesthetics of the ponds. The Board will consider/discuss alternatives. (It was noted that any alternatives should be considered for both retention ponds.)
• Several attendees expressed concern regarding excessive speed of vehicles in the neighborhood. It was noted that solutions had been discussed with the town, which owns the roads. Their policy is to not put speed signs or caution—children signs in developments in the town. It was suggested that the Board might consider a sign like that in the Bridlewood development. However, the best solution is for owners to get license plates of any speeding vehicles and report to police; this has been done and results achieved with at least one neighbor who drove at excessive speeds.
• An owner suggested the HOA develop a list of recommended plumbers, etc. to make available to owners. Response: It would be inappropriate for the HOA to make specific recommendations of businesses, but certainly any Board member might be willing to do so on a personal level. There is a Southwick Meadows w Facebook page, managed by Carrie Arena, which might be a more appropriate venue for such questions and recommendations. Access can be requested from Facebook or via Carrie.
• Mulch in landscape beds was noted, but it was not put around trees. Response: The Board felt that was not necessary or worth the expense, but will reconsider if owners would prefer.
• Question: Is there a plan to fertilize? Response: Yes, it is done 3 times a year and has resulted in significant improvement.
• Question: Why can’t the berm be mowed at 4 inches? Dan LaMarche, HOA member and owner of Revelations, which currently provides maintenance service, explained that different parts of the berm grew at substantially different rates; if all of the berm were cut to 4”, some areas would become too tall to mow in a week’s time. The mowers are set to 3.25 inches to best accommodate the growth rate of the entire area during the growing season. He also noted that while he welcomes competition in the bidding process, the reason we have difficulty getting more bids is that when constructed, the berm was made very steep, and most providers will not try to maintain such steep slopes.
• Question: Do other potential bidders have an opportunity to interact with Board members? Response: Yes. All potential bidders are invited to a “walk through” of the land with Board member/s. They are then given additional time to submit any questions that they may have to the Board about the RFQ. These questions and responses are then circulated to all potential providers. Finally, all potential providers must submit bids by designated date.
There being no other questions or concerns, the open forum was concluded and election results announced:
Ed Aluck, Rick Sturm, and Tiffany Van Cleef will be the members of the new 2015 Board along with returning members Matt Gleason and Chris Arena.
Rick thanked everyone for their attendance and participation and encouraged all to contact the Board at any time with questions, concerns, or recommendations, as robust 2-way communication was a top priority for a successful HOA.
Mary-Alice Lynch, Secretary.