Brookshire Cluster
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Brookshire Cluster General Assembly Minutes 2013

Here are the meeting minutes from the 2013 Brookshire Cluster General Assembly meeting held on Tuesday evening, Feb 12th 2013. The purpose of the meeting was to review past-present-future events related to the overall Cluster’s wellbeing. The minutes are broken down as follows:

ATTENDEES

MISCELLANEOUS

LANDSCAPING

SOCIAL

FINANCIALS AND BUDGET

OPEN DISCUSSION

ELECTIONS

Attendees:

13 of 26 (50%) houses present, Quorum of 40% achieved.  Cluster President Mike called the meeting to order at 7:46PM.

Miscellaneous:

·       Mulch will be delivered by Lions club on Saturday, March 23rd 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.

·       Gutter Cleaning will occur in late May, interior units will be $99, exterior units $125.  Please let us know if you would like to schedule your gutters to be cleaned.

·      Shari True is organizing Relay for Life in Herndon again this year. Brookshire will have a team there, please contact Shari if you want to participate in this great event. acsshari@aol.com

·       Brookshire Cluster Website recreated on line with cluster documents, by-laws, minutes, guidelines for paint, trash removal etc online – www.brookshirecluster.org

Landscaping by Cathy F

2012 In Review

·        Trees were the biggest challenge in 2012. Tysons removed in mid year. The phenomenon Derecho wind struck at the end of June and killed a batch of trees.  October 26th saw storm Sandy wipe out 5 trees in the front lawn and the Bradford pear by 1552.  Tysons Tree tree service was initially  scheduled to remove the trees downed by the Derecho but were backed up so much they kept delaying our service. Hence in November we recruited a separate tree service to remove the trees in the front lawn, the Bradford pear and the Derecho downed trees. Tree removal in general is very expensive so for 2012, we were $5300 over budget on tree removal alone.

·       Front Garden replaced and replanted in April 2012.  Plants held out during the summer due to daily watering.

·       Slope garden up by sherry’s house was also planted around April with creeping raspberry. Unfortunately, this wasn’t watered so most of the plants died, and need to be replanted this year. Please water as often as possible.

·       Mosquito service was on time and worked well for 2012, where the cluster purchased 6 sprayings and some members kicked in for a 7th spraying.  It has the desired effect of keeping the mosquitos at bay.

·       Rats all gone thanks to Hunter the cat. While we dilly-dallied on non-toxic solutions and the impact to the budget, Hunter steadfastly killed the rats and delivered them to Dave and Shari’s house. Hunter is also doing a nice job of keeping the squirrels from over infestation. 

·       The front garden should be stronger and bigger this year as the plants have had a chance to season over. It was noted that the weeds were wicked later in the summer so we will need to assist with weeding whenever we can.

·       Replanting bulbs and shrubs did not go well. Most  transplanted  items did not survive the move or the lack of watering.

·       Drainage project deemed a huge success.

·       Extra lamps deeded a huge success although still very bright into close by bedroom windows.  

2013 Plan by Cathy F

Cathy discussed seven items

a)    Landscaping Contract for 2013

b)    Upkeep of gardens

c)    Mosquito Sprayings

d)    Tree Replacement

e)    Tree Replacement Budget

f)     Grass replacement

g)    Committees for Landscape Strategy

 

a)  Landscaping Contract for 2013

Cathy 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. 

b)  Upkeep of Gardens. 

The creeping raspberry plants suffered with drought last year.  New plants will be replanted by Cardinal, but Cathy recommended that each homeowner do as much as possible to help water the gardens through the summer. Our involvement in keeping the gardens alive is vital to the long-term life and maintenance of all our gardens.

c)   Mosquito Sprayings 

Our budget covers six sprayings for 2013. 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.  Neither bats nor bat cages were mentioned for the first time in 10 years (editorial comment…)

d)  Tree Replacement. 

Reston approved six tree types for general planting around the area. Our mission in 2013 is to focus on replanting trees throughout the neighbourhood.  It was noted that the cluster has been losing an average of five fully grown trees per year for the past 10 years, and we have been remiss in maintaining our tree quota as it were. Deirdre recommended we focus on planting 20 trees throughout the cluster to begin 2013 replanting.  Here are the Reston approved tree list but we have more flexibility on the smaller, fruit-bearing tree options:

·         Red Oak

·         Black Gum/Tupelo

·         Maple “October Glory”

·         Eastern red-bud

·         Dogwood “Princess”

·         Cherry “Yoshino”

·         Magnolia “Sweetbay

 

 e)  Tree Replacement Budget:

We need to set aside a certain budget, larger for the initial year and a set amount each year thereafter, to replant trees.  It was noted that we spend thousands each year removing dead trees and limbs, yet haven’t spent any serious money on replanting new trees. This year, as it was in 2012, the tree budget is $4,000.  It was argued that 50% of that should be set aside for replanting new trees as a priority.  Any more funds needed for replanting would need to be gathered through special assessment. 

f)    Grass replacement:

The grass seems to be getting worse year after year. It was discussed that this could be drought related, poor clay-soil related, traffic related, overrun by weeds, insufficient aeration, insufficient phosphates etc., lack of other lawn-cure chemicals. No matter what, the clay soil prohibits much growth, the soils are uneven so the lawnmowers scrape some patches until they are bald.  The area where the five trees were removed is a mini-disaster area so it is a priority in 2013 to help restore our lawns. Funding for grass replacement would be covered by special assessments.

g)  Committees for Landscape Strategy:

For both tree and grass replacement options, it was decided that we need to establish a Landscape Strategy Committee  to oversee:

 

a)    Options for replanting Trees

 

b)    Options for replanting/replacing/tilling soil for new grass

 

c)    Creation of a Master Plan for Brookshire Cluster. This master plan would include an aerial diagram of the cluster with an overlay to show where trees would need to be planted – height/width/season/color to be considered, and grass would need to be revitalized. This would also include other landscape options – such as natural fence by Moorings Drive, Erosion retaining walls, slope plant options etc. 

 

d)    Aaron, Jessica and Deirdre were voted to establish the Landscape Strategy Committee with Mark voted in in absentia. Any recommendations or plans will be published for cluster approval and budget re-evaluation.

Cathy Leaving:

Cathy is stepping down as Landscape Director for the cluster. Mark Moody was unanimously voted in as the new Director. Thank you Cathy for some great work done on landscaping and all of your efforts. Good luck to Mark as the new Landscape Director for Brookshire Ct.

Social Update:

2012 In Review

o    Fun year was had with a lot of social events, some planned, some impromptu. 

2013 Plan

o    New schedule for upcoming events will include dates for:

 

Social Events:

 

·         Book Club:                       Ongoing. Please contact Amanda for details.

·         First Friday Gathering:       First Friday of each month.  Locations TBD.

·         Easter Egg Hunt:              March 30th

·         Yard Sale:                        May…

·         Camping:                         May tbd

·         Picnic:                              June 1st  

·         Relay For Life (Herndon):   June 8th   

·         Halloween Party:               Saturday, October 26th

·         Holiday Party:                   Saturday, December 14th 

·         Pajama party:                   TBD

·         New Year’s Eve Party:        New Year’s Eve, place tbd.

 

Planned Events:

·         General Assembly:             Tuesday, Feb 12th 1554   7PM

·         Cluster Cleanup Spring:       Saturday April 20th Rain date 21st.

·         Cluster Cleanup Spring:       Saturday October 19th Tentative date. Rain date 21st.

 

·         See the online calendar of events - Calendar.html

·         There is a general opinion to add more philanthropic activities for the cluster to engage, such as “Relay for Life” support. If you have an idea for volunteer work and would like to share it with others, please notify us contact.html to co-ordinate activities.

Financial:

2012 In Review

Ann presented the budget plan for 2013 and actuals for 2012. The Cluster ended the year with a deficit of $8,741.48.  The deficit is due to:

a)    Felling and removing the many trees we lost from storm damage during the Derecho in June and Sandy in October, and

b)    The unbudgeted expense relating to the resealing of the parking lot. This expense came from Capital reserves. 

 

Also included is the budgeted 2011 assessment revenue for the plantings on the slope and around the lamp post.  The last adjustment needed is to add back $200 one of our neighbors gave money to trim the pear tree. 

 

Deficit  from 2013 (actual vs. Budget)                ($8,741.48)

  Budgeted from 2011 assessment for plants       $1,252.37

  Parking Lot Resealing from reserve                    $3,525.00

  Money received for pear tree                                (200.00)

         Net Deficit for 2012                                 ($4,164.11)  

Net Deficit split per house /26                                $160.16

 

Ann recommended that to stay on track with our long-term Capital Reserves goal, we recover the net deficit of $4,164.11 or $160.16 per household this year.  Initially, this was recommended as two special assessments of $80 per house for the 2nd and 3rd quarter to make up the difference. (see Special Assessment Increase)

 

Budget Adjustments for 2013:

Preliminary Budget Highlights:

·       Assessment to make up deficit from 2012 two $80 2nd and 3rd quarter

·       Current reserve balance, including this year’s deficit   $22,256.46

·       One property in arrears on HOA Dues. Two properties pre-pay for year.

·       Increase in electric, adding new lamp posts added $120 to electric 2013 budget.

·       Increase in insurance to reflect prior year.

·       Increase in landscaping to reflect new garden areas, and small cost of living increase.

·       Increase in mosquito spraying to reflect additional estimated cost for 6 sprayings. No decision was made about adding a 7th spraying, it is currently not on the budget.

·       Reduction in snow removal due to past two years not having snow.

·       Increase in trash removal based on contract annual increase of 5% landfill charge in July.

 

Initial assessment is that with no projects, and no special additional work on cluster, and with the two quarterly assessments of $80 per house in 2nd and 3rd quarter – we should be OK with the budget for 2013.

There are, however a number of projects pending that needed to be addressed and prioritized for the cluster. These would fall into either

·       “Reserves” which would include structural elements of the cluster – parking lot replaced or resurfaced, concrete pathways restored or replaced, steps rebuilt, retaining walls, curbs, refurbish storm drains, restore railings.  

Action: Board to more clearly outline what should structural elements should be on the capital reserve budget, and assign cost estimates and dates of restore/replace so we can more accurately build our reserve amounts.

·       “Special Projects” which includes any other project designed to maintain, improve or enhance the cluster property as a whole. Projects discussed at the General Assembly were:

o      Getting a larger chainsaw:  We may be able to remove more downed limbs/trees ourselves and save some serious budget by owning and managing a larger chainsaw, budget estimate $200.  Incredibly, this is how much we’ve spent clearing downed trees in the last five years:

2012     $10,050

2011      $2,600

2010      $1,200

2009      $7,450

2008      $3,500

            $24,800

 

o      Swing-set replacement:  In November 2012, we had ordered a new metal A-frame swing but changed that plan mid-way. Mike replaced some of the worst limbs of the existing wooden swing set. The carpenter bees will ravish it again, so we believe we need a better solution in place by 2015.

o      Entrance sign (yes we actually talked about it this year): lovely granite with Brookshire  written simply across it.  We didn’t talk about a date or a plan to estimate costs.

o      Tree Stump removal: Remove tree stumps in high visibility common grounds as they prohibit regrowth and are very unsightly. Removal will enhance the area and is a pre-requisite to allow trees to be replanted there. Ann had 2 initial estimates from vendors that are licensed and insured (and will call Miss Utility) for $600 to $1425. Later estimates came in at $600 per stump as we would need to grind down 40” for newly planted tree roots to have space.

o      Grass replacement: Seriously renovate the common area grassy grounds (see Landscape committee), initial estimates for resodding are plain silly @ $1.40 per square foot, each acre we have has 40,000 sq. ft., So, we move on to option b which is adding soil, new seed and a straw tarp to hold down the soil and prevent run-off.

o      Tree Planting:  Create an initial plan to actively plant mature trees between 5’ and 8’ tall throughout cluster.   Initial Estimates from Cardinal are $100-$120 per tree that would be 5’ – 6’ tall, vs. $250 - $600 for 6’ – 8’trees, soil extra.  Initial plan is to establish the master plan, then plant 20 trees in 2013 for a budget estimate of $2,200.   

Special Assessment Increase:

Given that the cluster will be moving forward with Special Projects in 2013, in particular landscape renovation, it was decided that we would proceed with some budget allocation for special assessments in 2013.  We discussed increasing the actual budget amount for landscaping on an annual basis but opted against that in favor of adding a special assessment amount instead. The reason being that special project results are tangible and the costs are finite and limited in term.  

 

We discussed options for additional assessments and it was decided that we would replace the originally approved option for 2 additional special assessments of $80 for the 2nd and 3rd quarter, and instead create 4 new assessments of $100 per quarter in 2013.  This would include special assessments of $100 per house for 1Q, 2Q, 3Q and 4Q2013. This means that we owe $250 dues and $100 special assessment = $350 per quarter 2013.

Hence, Ann will bill each household for the additional assessments immediately.

Budget-wise, this will translate as follows:

·         26 houses x 4 quarterly assessments x $100 = $10,400

·         Deduct $4,164,11 Deficit  leaves $6,236 for  Special Projects.

Note: all projects will be publicized for review and comment before we proceed. All projects that exceed the special assessment budget will be put to the Cluster for approval and assessment re-evaluation.

Open Discussion:

Just a reminder - each house and resident needs to:

o      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.

o      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.

o      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.

o      Cluster Cleanup: Get ready for a very active cluster clean up this spring which may include re-mulching/sodding the grassy areas. Do you know how to drive a baby bob-cat?

o      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.

o      Reset Brookshire Cluster classification: DPOR and Virginia housing committee somehow have Brookshire Listed as a condominium, which makes re-financing more difficult with condo HOA requirements. We submitted a change request to DPOR to change the status to home-owners of independent homes.

Vote on board members:

o      Mike H – Stepped down. David Neal (in absentia) was nominated, seconded and unanimously elected as our new cluster President.  Many thanks to Mike for such an excellent job over the last few years. Congratulations to David Neal on his new mantle as president.

o      Cathy F – Stepped down. Mark Moody (in absentia) was nominated, seconded and unanimously elected as our new cluster Landscape Director.   Mark was also nominated for the Landscape Strategy Committee.

o      Ann D - Unanimously re-elected as Treasurer

o      Amanda and Shari – unanimously re-elected as Social Directors.

o      Deirdre – unanimously re-elected as Secretary.

 

Meeting concluded at 10:04PM

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