Leewood Homeowners Association
September 2000 Newsletter
President's Notes (by Judy Currier)
I messed up last month and amongst all the files I was sending to Larry, I sent the 1999 newsletter files. So, observant readers, no, there is not a drought on Leebrad Street in 2000, we are as soggy as the rest of Leewood this year. The rest of the information though was reasonably timeless, and I had thought about re-running the windows article anyhow. Maybe my subconscious took over! I quickly posted the missing information on our website, and will cover what was most important in it in this newsletter. Look on the bright side, you were spared some of my enthusiastic ramblings concerning the website.
As you know, we had been talking about a website for over a year, but no one ever seemed to have the time to sit down and do the legwork to find out about the cost, develop it, and so forth. Then one day I was reading an association type magazine and saw an ad for a free site for associations. I went there, and was impressed that it was pretty much set up - all that was needed was information to be uploaded to make it our own. It really is exciting to me - sort of like planting a tree and seeing it grow overnight! Of course, things weren't quite as simple as I thought, and a huge thanks goes to William Wilkinson for his help, both in the beginning and continuing. He found errors created by my naivete (some things only worked if you used my computer!) and the things that make it more a website rather than a listing of documents are due to his expertise. We have our Leewood Links list which links you to other interesting sites, and, as we were afraid that one might get lost in the Library and never return, added an index to the categories that were so full where you can link directly to the articles. We have coerced CommunityPath into uploading our tree for us, so the homepage looks more like Leewood, and William is figuring out how we can sprout that tree on our other documents. So far, we can not have any graphics there except what they provide and our tree, although we are told that will be changing in the future.
I have been happy with the initial response to the site. There are some that I thought totally ignored the Association that have visited, and that is gratifying. Oddly enough, there are those that suggested a site that have never even bothered to see what we were up to. As the site is a first for Leewood, you are all in on the ground floor of developing something that will be useful both to you now and to future residents. I hope you will keep us informed with suggestions for how it can be made more into a wonderful communications and time-saving tool for you. At the moment, we are just guessing. Putting up the documents is standard, but we also have our much sought after contractor's list there, ARC forms, news articles, agendas, budget, monthly financials, floor plans, a fully linked list of parks, etc. near us sorted by distance, and our reserve schedule. We have the newsletter on the site, without graphics, thanks to Larry Westberg's support of the project. William Wilkinson just finished the enormous project of cross-linking our Leewood Manual. Now when all those pesky references show up, you can just shoot to them and read them. He is starting in on the Standards Manual, and it should be up in a few weeks.
Those that have visited have noticed that we are posting news articles, so you can be informed of Leewood news as it happens. For example, what is that pipe sprouting in the common area behind the West side of Leestone Ct. ? Be proactive about what you would like the site to become - you can email us directly from the site through the Directory that is there and if you'd like to be part of a website committee email me about that, too!
The Association is considering having a survey of residents and owners at the end of this year. We would like to know your opinions on various services within Leewood, and solicit your suggestions. If you have any burning questions in your mind that you would like to see posed, please contact me. I've set up a file for such so they won't get displaced. A couple that have come up in the last few months in my mind are concerning abandoned cars (or cars that don't move) and yard sales. There are articles about each in this newsletter to get you thinking about the subject!
At the July Board meeting, the follow up letters to people with ARC notices were discussed and if you are in that category, you have probably already received a letter. Also, there was a problem with one resident who called Koger to report an ARC letter and the response was "call Judy". Hmmmm. We are trying to get us on the same track as far as procedures go, as it is unacceptable for homeowners to be given the run around like that. The board did write a letter to Koger several months ago outlining deficiencies in their contract performance. We have received a response from them offering to reduce the fees, and a meeting will be set up between Leewood and Koger, once again, to hopefully get on the same page as far as their functions.
At the July Board meeting we also started up a nominating committee. The nominating committee's job is to find candidates for the board of directors of Leewood. At the next election, we will have at least two positions open. So far the nominating committee consists of Pam Stover and Al Sanford. We need at least one more homeowner on the committee. They will be writing articles for the newsletter concerning volunteering, and also be trying moral suasion. The association absolutely cannot function without volunteers. No matter what you contract out, there is still a need for a strong board and committees.
The nature of the job changes, depending on how much is contracted to outsiders, but not the need. There are many reasons to volunteer. For homeowners, the most important one is your home is the biggest investment that many have, and if you have no association, or a poorly run one, you will definitely see the result in lowered property values. Another reason: studies have shown that volunteering is good for your health - no joke, people who volunteer and help others live longer, happier lives. First and foremost, though, is that this is your community and it can not exist without you. I always say there are rights and responsibilities. One of the responsibilities is to help in the functioning of the community. It can be both intellectually and personally challenging, and carries with it all the rewards of using your mind and self to help others and the community in which we all live. If you will volunteer for the nominating committee, contact Al Sanford. Even if you don't, search for neighbors that would be good for the association and encourage them to volunteer. We can have all of Leewood be an ad hoc nominating committee.
Thanks to Barbara Rolling for organizing our window washing group rate, Bob Nelson for delivering the website fliers, Joe Strickland for web support, and a big hero star to William Wilkinson for his great help on the website.
Check out our website, and have a terrific September!
Welcome New Neighbors (by William Wilkinson)
Welcome to all the new neighbors who have moved into the community recently. In the first six months of 2000, over 20 new owners moved into Leewood.
We hope you received a welcome packet. Some packets were mailed, more recently they have been delivered personally by Aggie Meyer or Barbara Rolling. If we missed you, please give Aggie a call. Sometimes it is difficult to catch you at home!
Among the items included in the welcome packet are the Leewood Directory, our community telephone/email book, answers to your trash and recycling questions, and important information on architectural review. New to the packet is a list containing the location and a brief description of nearby parks, historic sites, schools and parcel services.
Most of the information in the welcome packet, and a lot more, can be found on our new web site, http://www.communitypath.com, in the "Other Documents" section of our "Library." So, new members, we encourage you to join us on the web!
Infill and Residential Development Study - Draft Report
The draft recommendations are now available in each Supervisor's office, at the Department of Planning and Zoning, and at www.co.fairfax.va.us/gov/dpz/homepage.htm.
Infill is the zoning code name for almost any development near Leewood. It is when development finally takes place on vacant lots which are surrounded by other development. All of the projects that we have talked about in recent years are infill development. As there is always so much concern about infill development, the County organized a study, with citizen input, of the problem, and proposed solutions. The draft of that study is now out and the next step is public hearings. The recommendations from those hearings will be incorporated into the final report. Many of the recommendations involve potential changes to the policies and regulations that shape residential development in Fairfax County.
One of the proposals is to allow cluster development by right if certain conditions are met. This means there would be no use arguing about it, essentially, and the particular circumstances of any one neighborhood would not be considered. These are important issues that deserve your attention.
The two public hearings of interest to us are:
Tuesday, Oct. 10 - 7:30 p.m. - at the Braddock District Office, 4414 Holborn Avenue, Annandale.
Wednesday, Oct. 11 - 7:30 p.m. - at the Board Auditorium, Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.
The Tuesday meeting coincides with our Board meeting, so no member of the board will be able to attend. It should be a more manageable size group for those interested in this issue.
Abandoned(?) Cars (by Judy Currier)
First the facts, so you will see the dilemma we are in when someone calls with a report of an abandoned car. Cars do get abandoned in Leewood from time to time; I have no idea where they come from. One would hope that the Association could get the address of the owner of a registered vehicle from the police, but that is not so. There have been a few occasions where I have played 20 questions with them - does the owner live on Leebrad Street, Leestone Court, etc. - but they are getting resistant to this game also. So, the fact of the matter is we do get unidentified cars that don't move and we have no way of finding out who owns them, if anyone legitimate to Leewood.
Are all cars reported to me truly abandoned? Not at all. Sometimes it is a car owned by someone in Leewood, they have parked in an area where the people do not recognize their car, and they have not moved it for a long time (or have moved it and put it back in the spot without people realizing that fact).
Now, there are those that say all cars should be moved regularly, and Leewood should have a rule to that effect. The problem with this is: what happens if you go on vacation for 1 month without your cars? If you just have one car it can be put in your reserved slot. What if you take a plane and leave both cars behind? What if you are in the hospital/nursing home? Another issue is: who would enforce this? Would you be willing to volunteer for a committee to go around and mark tires or look at odometers? Certainly the board does not have the time to do this with all their other duties.
It appears that Fairfax considers a car abandoned if it has been left in one place for ten days (four days if it is not properly registered). So, we are within Fairfax's law to consider cars that have not been moved for ten days as abandoned. As we have adopted all relevant county and state laws as they pertain to vehicles, the association is within their rights to tow such a car. In practice, since we have no specific rule about moving vehicles regularly, if we know a car belongs to a resident or a guest presently we do not tow even if the car has not been moved. How can you insure that we know this? I always peer in the windows of "abandoned cars" and try to get a clue as to who owns it. So, you could leave a note on the seat - this car belongs to XXXX at YYYY address. That would help. Of course we could have all cars registered with the association, but that is something of a mess to keep up with as you change car ownership, have guests, etc.
Question: What should we do? Do you want us to have a "car must be moved" policy? If so, would you help enforce it?
Yard Sales(by John MacDonald)
While I realize many people derive great pleasure from yard sales, I wonder it they are appropriate for our community. I admit to only attending maybe half a dozen yard sales in my life and being caught in yard sale traffic maybe another half dozen times. On all of these occasions I was struck by the frenzy of the yard sale shoppers. My major concerns with yard sales are the traffic generated and the potential that careless and frenzied drivers will cause an accident. Plus with our home values rising, do yard sales diminish the image of the community? Or put another way, if you were selling your home would you appreciate a yard sale in progress during a visit by a prospective purchaser. There are other considerations, especially problems with parking and impeding the assess of residents running errands on the weekend. Further, yard sale shoppers may leave trash and some may even "case" our homes for return visits of a criminal nature.
There are numerous options. We could leave the situation as it currently exists; permitting individuals to have yard sales with no approval of the Board and with yard sales conducted either on the common grounds or in front of individual homes. The other extreme option is the outright banning of yard sales. Options in the middle could place restrictions on location, time and require approval of the Board.
I would be interested in my fellow residents' opinions on this matter. I am sure there will be space in the next newsletter for your opinion if you write, E-mail or call Judy. At present, as I am sure is obvious, I tend to an outright ban on yard sales in Leewood. I donate items to charity and write them off at fair market value on my Federal and State taxes. Since I understand yard sales do not generate high sale prices my fair market value is probably twice the yard sale price. With recovery of Federal and State taxes of around a third of the fair market price my "return" is not that far behind the yard sale seller.
President's Note: I would be interested in your opinions; any you want to be published can be sent along and they will be run in the newsletter. You could also mark them as private if you don't want them published. As I stated earlier, I think this is an excellent question for a poll.
Leewood Nursing Home Expansion/Traffic (by Judy Currier)
The Leewood Nursing Home expansion was approved by the Mason District Land Use Committee. It goes before a vote of the Planning Commission in September and then on to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Chances of passing those two groups appear to be good.
I am sure it will interest all of you to know that our traffic problems in this area are not impacted at all by the expansions and new development that has been approved. So say the wizards of land use. I would like to get them out as all the vans are turning into First Immanuel Church, as the Mustafa Center lets out, as the church lets out, and also to be run into by people making U-turns after visiting someone at the Nursing Home or the Phillips School and see whether they still believe that. Looking at the traffic patterns around here, I believe one of the problems is that there is no way for people to head in the direction they want to after going to the School for Contemporary Education, Leewood Nursing Home, First Immanuel Church, etc. People have suggested "No U Turn" signs, but these cars have to get turned around somehow. They might just come into our community to do that, or go through Bradlick Shopping Center, which is what I do. No joke, three times this last month, I have had to head East on Braddock in order to go pick up the Association mail. I turned around in the shopping center, but that could explain why it sometimes seems worth your life to drive in that shopping center parking lot.
I was not enthusiastic about this project from the beginning because I have become convinced that Fairfax does not give a whit about the increasing traffic here and its causes. I can't even get them to put a crosswalk at Leestone Street so people can have a chance to get to the bus stop across Backlick, or maybe even go to Deerlick Park. There seems to be no concern for the safety and well being of the current residents - just a rush to increase the population with more high intensity development. Now I have a quote from the Mason District supervisor's office that they don't know what our problem is, as people complained about Leewood when we went in. Those people were right, if Leewood was going to be used as an excuse for denser and denser development. The concept that you should let anything happen to you that the County wants if you have a density of 8 houses per acre or up seems ridiculous to me.
By the way I have also tried to find out when Manor Care is to be built, and no one seems to know.
Website (by Judy Currier)
When the idea was first suggested to me that Leewood have a website I envisioned just a site with forms, documents, etc. Since working with the site provided by Communitypath.com, however, I realize it can be so much more. It is a tool by which we can keep you posted on the most recent events, as they happen. We can also communicate to you things that are sent to us between newsletters where the event is over before the next newsletter. If there are Neighborhood Watch issues, you can know that almost instantly. This month I sent out an email to all members that had visited the site to inform them to be more alert as some cars had been broken into. If people make it a habit to visit the site, then the message board that anyone can use to post an event, things for sale, babysitters needed or wanted, etc. can be extremely useful to us. It seems the site will be far more useful to the community as a whole if people do keep revisiting. To encourage that, I have kept posting news articles so there will be new things to see when you visit. So, please, don't just check it out once, but make it a part of your routine!
I am really excited by the cross-referenced Leewood Manual. It is so useful in that form, and suspect that all of us with computers will find it a real boon when we want to research something. Also the "Nearby Facilities" list that is now on the site has been a long time dream of mine. It shows all sorts of spots within three miles of us that are either useful (post offices, etc.) or fun - parks, tot lots, and so forth. William made it far more exciting by adding links to all the things that I mentioned in the list. What I really would love to have is a map to go along with it. I could not find any that would be readable, and think it will have to be a custom map drawn by someone more artistically talented than I.. To make it readable, only the roads of interest would be mentioned. If anyone would like to tackle this, your talents would be greatly appreciated. Don't we have any engineers out there? (Maybe engineers don't have to be able to draw anymore, I just always assume they can). It would be a great spare time project with no meetings or interference.
Remember, if you have your computer set up to accept cookies, all you have to do is hit the login button when you re-visit the site. You don't have to keep logging in (as they seem to indicate).
Children(by Len Lillard)
I am concerned for young children playing in our Community. Recently, I observed two activities that I feel could result in serious injuries.
Children climb and sit on the roof of our Mailbox Stands. This type of play is very dangerous. A roof shingle could pull loose causing the child to slip and fall.
Leewood's good neighbor, Tony McSorley, works hard keeping our mailbox roofs in good repair, We can all show our appreciation by not causing extra repairs for him,
Children are also seen, unintentionally, damaging the trees and shrubs on Common Area Property. Branches cannot support their weight and are frequently broken. The damage increases the risk for disease.
The Common areas are planted and cared for by the Association. With proper care they will give us many years of enjoyment. Prospective buyers are attracted to Leewood because it is a well-maintained community. We should all strive to keep it that way.
We all understand a child's need to play and explore. Through caring and mutual respect, we can also insure their safety while maintaining the beauty of our Community.
Letter to the Editor:
Some Residents in Leewood are concerned that articles in our Newsletter dictate rather than educate. So please correct me if I am wrong. Am I mistaken to assume that pet owners already know that they should pick up after their pets? Is Leewood solely responsible or is Braddock Mews contributing to this problem?
Please think about it - the Community where we walk our dogs is the same place our children play. We can probably all agree that we care very much for our pets. They are faithful companions and we consider them an important part of our family. They enjoy daily walks in Leewood. Therefore, the solution is actually very simple - we are responsible for our pets and cleaning up after them.
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