Southwick Meadows Homeowners Association
Spring 2015 Minutes
May 18 2015 (Clifton Park/Halfmoon Library)
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 by President Rick Sturm. Other Board Members attending: Chris Arena, Tiffany Van Cleef, Matt Gleason and Ed Aluck. 17 Homeowners Meeting
Rick provided an update on the Kendra subdivision. Rick had sent an e-mail to John Scavo of the Town Planning Department inviting him to our meeting. Mr. Scavo told him that Rick’s e-mail had been directed to his spam folder and by the time he received it, he had another commitment and was unable to make our meeting. Per Mr. Scavo, the project is on hold at this time. Rick advised that, per Mr. Scavo’s e-mail, at this time that project is delayed due to concerns raised at the Town’s April 14, 2015 planning board meeting. Specifically, the Town is concerned about Wetlands in the area, and that builder has not as of yet proven that the construction will not adversely affect them. The applicant needs to respond to the concerns, but as of our HOA meeting, has not done so. Depending on when the additional information is submitted by the applicant, a public hearing for preliminary consideration will be scheduled at a future date.
In response to questions raised by homeowners, Rick responded as follows. Roads are owned by the town. Woodlands behind Quince that go up Kendra will still be left, forming a natural boundary between the new subdivision and S/M. Homes will be estate homes, with values between $500,000 and $750,000. Rick also noted that as an HOA, we do not have the power or resources to block the subdivision, but he will monitor developments and continue to provide updates.
Priorities for 2015
Need for new Board members, Two Board members, Chris and Matt, are leaving Board at the end of the year. Matt oversees ARC work, and Chris is responsible for compliance aspects of HOA by-laws. Need homeowners with the time and desire to take over those responsibilities. Rick asked for volunteers to consider running for those positions. All are welcome to run. Elections are in the fall
Website: HOA has spent significant time trying to get website up and running. Homeowner who got website up and running has advised he no longer has time to continue maintaining it. Rick is going to meet with him to try to learn to maintain it, but he asked for volunteers to assist.
Matt’s ARC Report:
Matt thanked his ARC committee for their participation/assistance. Still looking for one more volunteer. Job consists of reviewing ARC applications and advising whether they approve. Has approved 5 requests so far this year, two doors, a deck, a shed, removal of a dead tree, with 1 ARC being reviewed as of the meeting. Matt reminded homeowners that ARC requests need to be made for any alterations, especially anything outside that is visible. Matt will be following up on 1 or 2 alterations where no ARC application was made in advance; did not see anything illegal about the specific alterations, but still needs to make sure paperwork is properly filed and updated.
One homeowner indicated that removal of dead trees is not subject to ARC approval because dead trees are required to be removed. However, Matt noted in this instance the homeowner was replacing dead tree with landscaping, and landscaping does need to be approved
Chris’s Compliance Committee Report
Asked for volunteers; he has 2 homeowners assisting him currently. Notices were sent to homeowners who need to replace mailboxes. Weeds will be the next issue to be addressed as weather gets warmer. House on intersection of Kendra and Chatsworth that does not have landscaping was asked about by a homeowner. Chris advised that landscaping will be required for that homeowner; board is addressing it.
Survey results: Chris noted he sent out a link with a survey to all homeowners; 72 responses were received. Chris summarized results. Homeowners responded that the most helpful source of information to keep current was e-mail blasts from Rick. After that was the HOA newsletter. Chris noted that survey determined that very few homeowners are using the website or Facebook page.
Board will review the website concept at its next Board meeting, scheduled for May 28, based on feedback and lack of ownership/interest.
48 homeowners indicated they have attended a spring or fall mtg. over the last 2 years. 65% of those responding said they wanted a spring board meeting. Rick noted this meeting is the smallest one attended so far (17 homeowners).
Board Priorities. Consensus is most homeowners want assessment maintained where they are, status quo on maintenance and HOA costs controlled.
60% of respondents said yes to resumption of annual picnic. Tiffany asked if anyone was willing to organize; Rick noted it is not a board function.
38% of respondents still want to participate in garage sale.
94% said they were satisfied with overall maintenance of common areas.
How many fertilizations should be done annually? 60% said 2 (which is required) and 40% said 3, which has been the practice. Chris noted that this is not entirely consistent with prior question, regarding maintenance of common areas, as a majority wanted status quo maintained, which is 3. Chris noted that we will not get the same results with only 2 fertilizations. Some debate among homeowners. Matt noted Revelations suggested 3 applications. Rick noted that any changes would apply to future years and not this year.
75% of respondents were satisfied with “wild” area of the berm along Van Vranken. Chris noted that letting it go wild has cut down on erosion caused by frequent mowing, which ultimately saves on repair costs. Chris wants to consider lengthening wild areas around Berm, particularly around retaining wall area. Rick suggested sending out a second survey on that issue. About half of homeowners surveyed at meeting agreed with allowing more of the berm to grow wild.
Tiffany updated on collection of annual assessments. Still 3 unpaid assessments as of meeting. Also, 3 unpaid penalties for compliance violations, and one late fee for assessment still outstanding. (Tiffany noted that Board imposes a 10% penalty for not paying assessment on time.) If homeowners continue to not pay, will consider legal action. Rick pointed out that under bylaws, homeowner(s) who do not pay and are successfully sued are responsible for attorney’s fees, but that such fees must still be ordered by the court. Rick also noted that these legal fees would first need to be paid by the HOA to be followed by homeowner reimbursement upon success in court. Rick also noted that homeowner cannot pass title without paying assessments.
In response to questions regarding what is done with assessment, Tiffany stated that $50 of each assessment goes to capital fund. Capital account has $23,144. All expenses are in line with budget. $372 refund from property school taxes received this year, from taxes paid two years ago. Biggest expense is property maintenance. $125 allocated to admin. expenses (postage, office supplies)
Tiffany advised that CPA assessments were sent to all homeowners on April 8.
Special Presentation, can emergency personnel see house number. Allen Van Cleef, who is a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Vischer Ferry Fire Department, gave a presentation. Mr. Van Cleef discussed the variety of calls that the Fire Department responds to, which is all types of emergencies that police or ambulances do not respond to. He advised that it is very difficult to find house numbers at night if lights are turned off. He advocates strongly putting a number on both sides of the mailbox, which will assist them in finding house numbers quickly. He noted all kinds of numbers can be purchased. Speeds up time to be able to get to the house. Rick will send out e-mail blast to homeowners urging them to consider this.
Open Forum: One homeowner noted that trees are overtaking drainage ditch behind Brighton and Quince. Rick noted that sinkholes would be an issue if we took them out. Currently, presence of trees is not stopping any of the drainage. If there is a “plug” in the drainage, town must fix.
One homeowner thanked Board for survey.
Rick got an inquiry from homeowner asking what to do about Canadian geese. Rick noted they are protected by law. Another inquiry about mosquitos; can we spray drainage areas? Rick will find out the answer. Chris noted that the town gives away mosquito “dunks,” which kill mosquito larvae. Chris also noted that frogs also kill mosquitos, and that the presence of frogs is a sign of living in a clean neighborhood.
Rick will send note about homeowners taking their dogs to common areas to relieve themselves, and not picking up after walking their dogs in common areas.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Ed Aluck