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Leewood Homeowners  Association

November 2001 Newsletter

FAIRFAX COUNTY TAGS   by tony mc sorley

If you park your car at Leewood, you should have a new Fairfax county green tag for 2001 on your car, except for temporary duty military here for six months or less. All vehicles owned by military personnel and garaged in Fairfax county must "display" county decals regardless of domicile. Purchasing a tag by the military have certain requirements for exemption. For the rest of us civilians, October 5 was the deadline to pay your Fairfax personal property tax; based on the blue book value of your vehicle. The Fairfax county enforcement deadline for having the new green county sticker displayed on your car starts November 16.

From Article XVIII, Section 2 on parking restrictions at Leewood:

HOUSING PRICES UP AND RISING   by tony mc sorley

The Washington Post in mid October showed the medium purchase price for zip code 22151 to be $234,000, up $27,000 for the year. Our last three townhouse sales in October, also, show a very favorable increase for our homes.The excellent work of Pam Oliver and her architectural committee would seem to be helping this upward climb as is the sharply lower mortgage rates. Now, about 5.75% for a 15 year mortgage.

Checkbook Deals

I thought I would publish some of the “Best Deals” from the Checkbook rating magazine for highly rated services in our area.  Here are some from recent issues:

Best Auto Repair shops: (rated tops for quality and price)
Backlick Road Service Station
4715 Backlick Road 703-941-9848    (services all Japanese autos)
(I have used them when I had a Toyota and they are great!!)

Capital Car Care 7978 Forbes Place  703-321-8981  (services all but Buick, Mercedes and Porsche)

Capital Svcs Ravensworth Mobile
8011 Braddock Road 703-321-8280 (services all but BMW, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, Porsche, Saab, and Suzuki)

Exline Auto
7661 Fullerton Rd. 703-440-8900 (services all)

Best Shoe Repair (rated tops for quality and price)

Sal’s Shoe Repair   7312 Little River Turnpike  703-941-9864

Basement waterproofing (rated tops for quality and price)

Mer/Morrison Waterproofing 703-569-1666/703-690-0100
Located in Woodbridge, services all areas

More to come in next issue…

Website    by Judy Currier

This has been a busy month for the website.  Neighborhood Watch, Free Firewood, the 2002 Budget, a new contractor list, and a response to the tot lot issue were all posted on the site.  Please visit us and contribute your own messages right online, or email me an article (judyb@worldnet.att.net) to be posted in the news section.

CommunityPath seems to have continuing problems with the broadcast email feature so until that is fixed, be sure and check in more often for Neighborhood Watch messages.  I normally email them as they are more urgent (i.e. the message is “be alert now!”) but this feature is not working so I place messages in the urgent section.  I’ve also been posting new features that have been added to the site in that section – tell me whether this is helpful or merely annoying!
I noticed that community path has a trading post link now.  It is a group somewhat like e-bay but you can trade articles also.  Check it out!

Winter is Coming   by Judy Currier

A few things that are good to do before winter sets in –
  •    Before the ground freezes water your bushes, trees, perennials.  It has been a very dry fall and the roots need the water over the winter.  A deep watering is advised by the experts.  While you’re at it, water a neighborhood tree also!
  •   Drain and turn off your outside spigots.  There are two turnoff valves (they look like little wheels attached to the water line) within your house – one for the front, the other for the back..  Close the valves within the house, turn on the faucet, and then open up the bleeder valve which is near the turn off valve (a little screw like device).  This will help prevent your lines from freezing, which is a real mess if it happens.
  •   If you have a powder room on an exterior wall that gets cold during the winter – on cold, windy nights if you just leave the light on in the powder room it will warm it to an incredible degree.  This helps prevent freezing of the waste line. 
  •   Don’t leave your faucets on at a slow trickle, and do take care of any slow leaks in the toilet.  Toilet leaks are usually due to the flapper valve needing replacing which is very simple.  A slow leak or any trickle of water is a great way to freeze your waste lines.  All you need is a small blockage within the line and the drips will build up like an icicle within the waste line.
  •   If your gutters need cleaning, i.e. they don’t drain, have this done so you don’t get ice buildup in them.  This can pull your gutter off, back up into your attic or do other unpleasant things to your house!

Remember – it is your responsibility to shovel your own walk and the common area walk in front of your house.  Many times people forget the latter, and it really makes walking hazardous for the rest of the neighborhood – particularly the kids going to school.  It is ridiculous to have to wear boots just because a few people will not shovel the walks.  This is a matter of consideration of your neighbors and a liability issue for you.  Also, remember that the streets must be clear for the snow plow to be able to plow.  Don’t just give up and park your car illegally – particularly in the snow.  Check the website for news about trash pickup in case of snow, but in doubt, don’t put it out.


Opinion by tony mc sorley

A Washington Post real estate advisor in his column recently said all homeowner associations should carry a minimum of three million dollars insurance. In August our board checked with our insurance and found Leewood carries only one million but the agent said with Leewood only having grass and sidewalks this was more than enough coverage. "AND ANYWAY ALL HOMEOWNERS SHOULD HAVE RIDERS (called fault assessment) ON THEIR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE TO COVER THEMSELVES IF A JUDGMENT IS HIGHER THAN A MILLION." The board also got a price of $350. per additional million of coverage but are leaning toward not changing our insurance and leaving the homeowners to make up the difference if required by a large judgment over the million.  

Therefore, to protect yourself and hope your neighbors are doing the same by getting their own riders, we individually must spend more than $350 the homeowners association would pay. At a rate of forty cents(.40) per thousand the homeowners individual riders total share would be $390. ( $390 for every MILLION of coverage for homeowners if bought individually.) $350 for every million if bought as a community.

But what do you have an association for, if not to combine and share the load and interest. Not leave it to each individual homeowner to get a rider or NOT and leave other members exposed to possible extensive financial loss. And have a board that keeps extra cash in the yearly operational budgets or build up those reserves rather than seeing all members are exposed to a possible financial blood bath and take proper corrective action.

As the Leewood's board president said regarding funding for a possible tot lot. "Funds are available in the current operating budget from extra money left around from prior years to fund a tot lot." President Bush said its your money and you should have it if its not being used. You can use it to purchase fault insurance the board doesn't see any need. You purchase larger judgment coverage alone by yourself.

Conversely, the board should expend $350 per million to bring Leewood to, at least, the recommended three million. Or even additional insurance, if a tot lot is approved since it will be only beneficial to those who have small children. The lot will be an Leewood association sanctioned and run project and the association should provide adequate protection to the homeowners, especially, with 200,000 accidents reported per year in tot lots as reported by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Playground: Suitable in Whose Opinion?

Opinion by Joe Strickland

I write to express my strongest and most emphatic opposition to the continuing drumbeat that we hear each month regarding the possibility of constructing a playground in the common areas of Leewood.  I received the October 2001 Newsletter and read with amazement that the committee has determined that “suitable locations for a playground” include the common area directly behind my home.  Further, the alternative “suitable location” is directly behind my neighbor’s home across Leestone Court. 

My question is: Suitable in whose opinion? 

Beyond the outrageous expense, listed in this article to be “in the $15,000 range”; beyond the disturbing fact that the decision regarding something that will so adversely impact the property value of anyone so unlucky to be in its vicinity will be made solely by the Board and not as the result of a total community vote; beyond the continuing costs that such a playground would represent to our community in insurance and liability costs; the most egregious absurdity of the push for this project is that the sites proposed are directly behind the homes of single adults with no children, retired adults with no children, or married adults with no children.

I love my neighborhood.  I love living in Leewood.  I have never lived anywhere where I have had such close, supportive relationships with my neighbors.  We assist each other with household projects.  We gather for block parties to celebrate the holidays.  We work in each other’s gardens as much as in our own.  We hold each other’s house keys.  It’s exactly what we were in search of when we bought our house in 1995. 

What we were not in search of is a common area marred by the sight of a multi-colored, plastic tot lot.  In fact, we would not have purchased this home (and who would?) if the playground had been behind the property in our common area.   What attracted us was the natural beauty of our 100-year-old trees forming pockets of green and natural buffers between the closely constructed rows of houses offering, if not in actuality, at least a sense of privacy.

For those residents with children, our own Leewood Homeowners Association web site (CommunityPath.Com) lists three tot lots within a 2-mile radius of our homes.   This is in addition to the community swimming club nearby and the park at Lake Accotink.  There is no dearth of playground equipment in our area.

Due to the prevalence of playground injuries, the CDC has an entire center, the National Program for Playground Safety, devoted to their prevention.  According to their research, 200,000 children in the U.S. visit emergency rooms each year for treatment of playground-related injuries.  About 35 percent of those injuries are severe.  Most of those injuries occur when children fall off of climbers, slides or monkey bars.  Falls off of playground equipment account for more than 60 percent of all playground-related injuries.  Why would we want to introduce such unnecessary liability to the Homeowners Association?    A further statistic reveals that 70 percent of playground accidents occur when children are not supervised by adults.  An easy assumption could be made that a playground on our Leewood property would be used by unsupervised children simply because of its close proximity to their home.

Finally, after many years of much concerted effort by the Board and the ARC, in conjunction with a booming regional real estate market, our homes have begun to appreciate and sell for what they truly have always been worth.  Neighbors are sprucing up their properties, painting, roofing and making needed upgrades.  We’ve all spent countless hours in our gardens and front planting areas creating landscaping that enhances our curb appeal.  The Grounds and Maintenance Committee, under the leadership of Al Sanford, has created a landscape plan for the Boot Hill common area and executed it with a community planting day, which was tremendously successful.  Trees have been planted and color reintroduced with shrubs and bulbs.   Our ARC Committee, under the leadership of Pam Stover, has vigorously enforced our community standards.  We’re all beginning to see the fruits of this tireless labor.

I urge our Board to not make a bad decision that will negate much of this hard work.  We love the children of our community, but the expense of this project is exorbitant and the impact it will have on the home and neighborhood that I love will be negative.

I have spoken to many of my immediate neighbors and have yet to find one in favor of this project.  We promise a vigorous and vehement opposition to any further progress down this path. 


No Board Limits   Opinion by tony mc sorley

Everything has a silver lining if you look. The controversy over whether to build a tot lot for tots to the age of 8, after 25 years without one, and each homeowner assumes more monetary exposure to a possible law suit for a hurt child, while showing homeowners in the initial survey of 2 to 1 against (14/35), also, shed some light on a glaring hole in Leewood's covenants. The Leewood by-laws do "not" contain any restrictions in any way on the spending by the board. Its unlimited ; both on amount and whatever to spend it on.

Therefore, the board president with the concurrence of Leewood's lawyer told the rest of the board "the tot lot decision," spending of approximately $15,000 to $17,000 was totally the board's call. If they wanted they could even buy a plane to take them to Florida to hold a board meeting at the beach during the winter.

While it has been proven, Leewood has had responsible board directors to date, and they took their responsibilities seriously. This doesn't say it will in the future. Therefore, we need to protect the homeowner community from possible runaway boards by having in place a covenant rule which limits to $5000 or some amount spending for other than already reserve items and normal yearly budget items, such as, garbage pick-up and lawn care. Above this amount the get a vote of fifty percent or some percentage from the homeowners.

The same security should hold true of not allowing Leewood reserve money market accounts, around $300,000, be accessed by only one person's signature or password. Any minimum security would dictate at least two, as at present on Leewood's checking accounts, which hold far less than the reserve funds by a factor of ten.


Opinion by tony mc sorley

With over 5 million dog bites a year most of them to children, it is great Fairfax's Park Authority is expanding the off leash dog parks.

Leewood as a close residential townhouse community has leash laws posted and published which permits the animal control authority wardens to enforce these leash laws in Leewood. Thus, these new dog runs will give homeowner's dogs a chance to get out and run off their excess energy without homeowners having to worry about using that portion of their insurance covering their dog and his possible bite history.   

Added to the first dog run at Slake Lane Park in Oakton are the previously mentioned, in another newsletter, Mason District Park and the newly approved South Run District Park in Springfield and Baron Cameron Park.       

Special Note:
My previously dog article mentioned in passing Leewoods' old and new Fairfax supervisor. To set the record straight, I believe, the only true politician worth his salt was Huey Long, the Kingfish, who is credited with giving FDR many of his New Deal ideas in the '30s.   


Free Firewood     

Free firewood can be found in the southwest corner of the community. The association recently had some trees cut down and, as a result, there is free cherry and oak firewood stacked near the fence. First come, first serve! For more information, contact John or Cindy Wilkerson, 703-333-6159.

John Wilkerson       

Budget Information

This was posted in the newsletter.  A complete budget with backup data can be found on the website under Financials.

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