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Brookshire Cluster General Assembly Minutes 2015

Tuesday, Feb 10TH2015 7:00PM

Contents

Attendees     

Miscellaneous         

Community  

Finance        

          2014 Budget Review         

          2015 Budget Estimate discussion 

Landscape

          2014 Landscape Review

          2015 Landscape Discussion

Open Discussion

Vote on board members

 

Attendees

11 of 26 (42%) houses present (Amanda represented by Mark), Quorum of 40% achieved.  Cluster President Wilson called the meeting to order at 7:18PM.

Miscellaneous:

·        Mulch will be delivered by Reston Lions club on Saturday, March 28th, 2015 with 3 cubic feet double-shredded hardwood mulch at $4.70 per bag. Please let us know how many bags you would like before Friday, March 20th.

·        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 trashcontinues the extra Yard Waste Pickup each Wednesday during the spring/summer and fall. If you have yard waste (only vegetation) – please bundle neatly for pickup on Wednesday mornings.

·        Electric Sundays are no longer scheduled for select days, and are now open daily for electronic waste and hazardous material every day http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/trash/disphhw.htm

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

·        Calendar of Events: Calendar.html 

 

Community:

·        Thanks to Wilson and Rosa Paine for hosting the General Assembly.

·        2014 was quiet in that we didn’t receive any new homeowners to the cluster, or lose any.

·        The now annual “What’s Up Doc” relay for lifeCancer event was a great social opportunity for cluster members in June 2014.  This year, the team title changed to “Never Ever Give Up” and it will be another great opportunity to be social and do some good for Cancer research. It will be on May 16th-17that the Herndon Middle School. If you want to sign/join up – please contact Leann Yoder leyoder67@gmail.com    

·        Doc snapped a shot of a lovely Bald Eagle in the cluster trees.

·        As a special treat during the Spring cluster Cleanup, Wilson invited Delegate Plum to meet-and-greet us around noon on April 25th(or 11th)…tbd. Wilson promised that Delegate Plum wouldn’t get his hands dirty, but it should be a perfect opportunity for us to focus in on topics and questions that directly affect us and our fiefdom.

·        For Winter 2014, we switched to a new Snow Plough vendor. We may be switching again in 2015.

·        Safety, weather, traffic and social alerts – many thanks to Amanda for keeping us in the loop with news and juicy info.

·        2014 saw the introduction of Metro to Wiehle Avenue (Reston “East”).  Excellent in concept but deadly if you’re wearing heels after a night out in DC and have to do that wretched long walk between the station and the garage. Still, it is good to have it and it will improve our land value more.

·        Lake Anne renovation is full steam ahead for 2016 and includes modern and expanded housing at the Crescent Property—with 185 units of dedicated affordable housing—and 193,000 square feet of new mixed-use space at Lake Anne Plaza, including a boutique natural-foods market.  This should impact us positively in the long run as it will again increase land value, but in the meantime we’ll suffer the growing pains as the development is underway.

·        Wilson chatted with William Keefe, an attorney on the RA board, about our concerns regarding parking, trash, etc during the construction period.  He said that they have worked out agreements with RA and LARCA (Lake Anne Reston Condo Association) to ensure that there is adequate parking and trash cans.  However, as issues arise, we can contact him or someone at RA to handle the matter.

Finance

2014 Budget Review:

2014 Year for Brookshire closed out with a deficit of $6,334.66. This was part of a planned deficit connected to the land/trees landscaping special assessment carried forward from 2013. Even with this deficit, $450 extra (more than budget) went into the capital reserves for 2014 closing the year with $35,576 in Capital Reserves.

 

Through the year, 3 families paid in advance and one household is in arrears. Late fees are applied when payments are not received by the next quarterly cycle due date, the cluster garnished $400 in late fees in 2014.

 

Outside of the special landscape budget, actual costs came in very close to estimated budget for the year.  Early 2014 saw a lot of snow, with snowfalls weekly, so it is remarkable that we had a low actual cost of $875 for snow removal, this was $85 over budget.

 

2015 Budget Estimate discussion:

Budget increases in 2015

We re-assessed some annual expenses and raised the budget estimates to include 3% standard living increase and other expected increases such as:

·        Increase Cardinal                  $8,890 to $9,100  

·        Increase Mosquito spraying:   $1,637 to $1,686

·        Increase insurance budget:      $600 to $640

·        Increase Snow removal:          $790  to $1,100

·        Increase Electrical:                  $737 to $756

 

Expansion of Capital Reserves

We discussed the definition of Capital Reserves and what that budget item includes for the cluster. There was no formal definition of what that meant in the by-laws, so our informal assumption is that it was money set aside to cover expected maintenance/replacement costs for the driveway and parking lot, as well as concrete pavement throughout the cluster. We expanded the definition of ‘Capital Reserves’ to include all major infrastructure items throughout the cluster such as stairs, railings, retaining wall, light posts, curbs, storm drain in addition to the sidewalks and driveway/parking lot. Based on estimates, guestimates and quotes, we built a plan of estimated renovations through 2032 on the cluster’s infrastructure.  To cover these changes, and to avoid special assessments where possible, the annual capital reserve will increase from $3,200 to $4,500 per year starting 1Q2016 to cover long all planning maintenance and repair of infrastructure.

New Budget Line Item – “Operating Reserves”

While discussing the definition of Capital Reserves, we realized we needed a separate reserve bucket for operating expenses to also prevent deficits in the annual budget or other special assessments. The goal of the new budget item “Operating Reserves” is to cover non-line expenses like legal costs, incidentals or over-budget costs in snow removal, insurance, tree maintenance etc.  “Operating Reserves” line item is added to the budget starting January 2015.  The estimated contribution is $675 in 2015, accruing $1,000 per year from 2016 onwards plus any other budget surplus until it caps at $5,000. Once it caps at $5,000, all surplus cash will be put towards the Capital Reserves.

Legal Fees for By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation

Our cluster by-laws and Articles of Incorporation have been in place since 1965 and were last updated 30 years ago. We’ve redone both documents and are working with legal counsel to ensure all the I’s are dotted, and t’s are crossed. The primary goal is make sure the cluster is covered for new events coming our way – notably the renovation of Lake Anne in 2016 and the impacts to us for traffic, noise, use of green space, parking on Moorings etc.

 

The new by-laws add accountability to the ‘what if’ scenarios, including but not limited to clearer definition of parking violations, applicable fees, delinquency in paying dues, rights of homeowners, and violation of cluster property etc. We estimated $2,350 for the legal costs in 2015 to finalize the documents.  To offset this cost in 2015, we delayed the Capital Reserve increase of $1,300 until 2016 and lowered the Operating Reserves from $1,000 to $675 this year.  All documents will be posted on line as well as printed and distributed to each household upon completion and final approval.

Dues increase of $35 per house/quarter

To cover the budget increases from 2015 onwards, the increase in Capital Reserves and the addition of the Operating Reserves, it was proposed that the dues would increase by $35 per house, per quarter starting from Jan 1st 2015. This would raise the quarterly dues from $250 to $285, (annual cost from $1,000 to $1,140).  It was noted that this is still below the average per house fee in Reston of $1,600.

Ann put the dues increase to a vote and it was unanimously approved by all present.  Ann will send the dues notice to each household reflecting the $35 increase to $285 per household/quarter.

 

Other Financials to note
Two new suggestions for costs related to the cluster cleanup events:

·        The board will meet before cluster cleanup to identify all action items and plan what items to get. Budget will be allocated appropriately for all items needed for cleanup.         

·        Approval for last minute changes or additions to the cluster cleanup budget, all go through the Landscape Director (Mark).

 

Landscape                 

2014 Landscape Review:

 

Mark discussed the trees that were removed in 2014 included removing dangerous hanging dead trees by Dave/Shari and by Mark/Leann’s, as well as large limbs down by the swing area.

 

The cluster cleanup events in 2014 were successful, a lot of areas were cleared of debris and yard waste, garden areas tidied, loose tree limbs removed, the curb and fire lanes were re-painted, and the drainage issue by Mark/Leann’s was almost resolved.

 

Mark recapped that our mission in 2014 was to improve the landscape throughout the cluster. Based on monies set aside in 2013, specific goals were targeted for 2014 – most of which were completed successfully.

 

Recap of Special Landscape Projects Completed in 2014         Costs/Estimates                                   

·        New retaining wall completed by front entrance.                        $1,992.00           

·        Grass project - Aerate, spray post-emergent weed killer, over-fertilize and reseed front lawn.  Phase 1 of 2 completed by Cardinal:                  $380.00 

·        Fix front retaining wall area, resodded, reseeded by Cardinal       $995.00         

·        Ornamental Tree planting - stage 1 - 18 trees planted   May 15th   $1,126.08

·        Ornamental Tree planting - stage 2 - 15 trees planted   Oct 20th   $1,301.58 

·        Bradford pear tree trimmed                                                          $400.00 

·        Total to date                                                                               $6,194.66

 

2015 Landscape Discussion:

 

We plan some energetic landscaping activities in 2015 to further improve the cluster.  Activities discussed for 2015 include:

 

General Improvement:

·        Review old growth area trees and determine what new trees need to be planted and where.

·        Improve the view from Moorings into the cluster by improving curbside appeal. Further to this is to also protect our green area from the onslaught of workers renovating Lake Anne and Crescent apartments, and new homeowners with their dogs and kids.

·        Remove dead tree by tennis court area, or possibly wait for a storm to remove it.   

·        Organize the Spring Cluster clean-up for April 11th or 25th, and the fall Clean-up for October 17th (rain dates are set for the next day Sunday).  

·        Plan all activities for Spring and Fall Clean up to include:  Tasks to complete, items needed to complete them, planned outline for larger tasks etc. Planned mission for group activities such as tree planting or garden restoration.   (Mark)

·        Mulch & fertilize all new trees.    

·        Decide whether to recommend a no-show contribution of $50 for those unable to make the cluster cleanup.  (Ann/Mark)

·        Estimate Stump removal for primary tree stumps in key locations around cluster. (Mark)

·        Replace Railway ties by fire lane, straighten the FIRE LANE signs again.   (Mark)

 

                             

Special Landscape Project (estimates):

Decide which of the following options we pursue in 2015:

·        Renovate Garden by stairs up to 1563-1567:   $600.00

·        Renovate Garden by fire lane area                   $600.00

·        Renovate garden entrance by holly tree in front of Carol’s    $320

·        Plant 15 - 20 new trees                            $1,200.00

·        Aerate, spray post-emergent weed killer, reseed (in Cardinal budget)  $0

·        Replace/repair plants in front garden  (included in 2 year plan)             $0

·        Drain or raise soil level (resod, reseed) from Sherry's to Mark & Leann's   $2,500.00

·        Estimate for 2015 Landscape budget                  $5,220          ($2,414.66)

Open Discussion:

As mentioned, by-laws and Articles of Incorporation have been updated. Final, revised versions will be posted and published for you once they pass legal inspection and final approval.

Mike noted the pathway right of the stairs to the swing area gets muddy when it rains. Cathy noted the trees have grown so much they block the light so grass won’t grow.  Note to add tree trimming and layering more pachysandra there, extending the garden across, will be added to the Spring cleanup.

Folks mentioned that with the impending updates to Crescent and the Chimney house road area, that Moorings will become a primary parking/work area for the staff, that it will become messy and noisy, and that it will be a constant eyesore while redevelopment is in progress.   Update: Wilson checked with RA – William O’Keeffe- who claims there are provisions make for the workers in Crescent Apts while the renovation is under way. If the noise gets to be too much, he invites us to contact RA and let them know.

Under discussion too was the lack of drainage between Sherry DeReuters and Watt/Julie’s house. The easiest solution is to regrade the soil evenly in front of all houses to force water run-off away from the houses.  Mark will be looking for some quotes from Cardinal and Newborg to make this happen in 2015. Cathy F asked to be included in the quote as her home is having the same issue, even though her property is not contiguous to the back row. If you need re-grading of the areas surrounding your house, let us know. If may be less expensive with a larger-effort throughout the cluster.

Vote on board members:

·        Wilson P was re-elected as president of the cluster for another year.

·        Mark M - Unanimously re-elected as cluster Landscape Director.

·        Ann D - Unanimously re-elected as Treasurer

·        Amanda opted to step down from her 6 year tenure as Social Director for the cluster.  Mick and Jen were nominated in absentia, seconded and unanimously elected as our new cluster Social Directors.  Many thanks to Amanda for her great work with the social events. Congratulations to Mick and Jenn as the combined new Social Directors J

·        Deirdre – unanimously re-elected as Secretary.

Board Members 2014:

Contact a board Member  contact.html

Meeting concluded at 9:21PM

 

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