Annual Report: The Year in Review (May 1, 2018 – April 30, 2019)

The River Hill Community Association (RHCA) Board of Directors (RHBOD) is responsible for overseeing the Association’s operations, establishing Association policies and procedures, advocating on behalf of the community, and generally ensuring that the Association is working to enhance the quality of life for the property owners and residents of the Village of River Hill. During FY19, Richard Thomas served as RHBOD Chairperson, assisted by Vice Chair Harjeet Jandu. Also serving on the RHBOD were Renée DuBois, Matthew Levine, Angela Ling, Tony Miceli, Dalia Shlash, and Adam White. Chao Wu served as River Hill’s Columbia Council Representative and ex officio RHBOD member for part of the year. Renée DuBois was appointed to complete the remainder of his term. High School seniors Yamini Ananth (Atholton High School) and Cindy Tian (River Hill High School) served as the Student Members on the Board. Day-to-day operations of the Association are handled by a paid staff.

Informing the Community:
The association’s offices are located at Claret Hall, 6020 Daybreak Circle, Clarksville (in the River Hill Village Center). The facility is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon. The building is also open to the public during meetings of the Board of Directors and its committees. Association staff are available during these times to respond to residents’ questions, concerns, and requests. A variety of information is available for residents at Claret Hall, including:
• Architectural Guidelines;
• Exterior Alteration Application forms and worksheets;
• Association’s and Columbia Association’s (CA) legal documents;
• Resale packets;
• Welcome packets;
Columbia Flier;
The Villager;
• Association service provider lists for: lawn mowing, babysitting, and snow shoveling;
• Special event and class information from CA, Howard Community College, and local non-profits; and
• Publications including Parent’s Guide to Howard County, Howard Magazine, Her Mind magazine, Howard County Resource Guide for Older Adults, Persons with Disabilities, and Caregivers, Business Monthly, JMORE, and the Howard County Beacon.

The association uses multiple tools to communicate with residents: The Villager, a monthly newsletter delivered to all properties by carriers who live in the community. In FY19, the carriers were:
Sean Boullé, Garrett Donnelly, Trevor Donnelly, Erin Duncan, Luke Duncan, Sarah Gezewich, Hannah Gitelman, Lucas Gitelman, Jacob Hamet, Adam Hawthorne, Connor Hawthorne, Josh Hernandez, Matt Hernandez, Kenzie Kleinberger, Melissa Kleinberger, Sarah Kleinberger, Eric Key, Maddie Lynott, Sydney Lynott, Woodie Lynott, Nitesh Parikh, Sayyeed Mohammed, Alison Siil, Caroline Siil, Samantha Smole, Sean Smole, Jack Smoot, Tyler Windsor, and Robby Windsor;
• The Association’s website: www.villageofriverhill.org;
• Facebook – www.Facebook.com/RiverHillCommunityAssociation;
• Facebook – www.Facebook.com/ClaretHallMD;
• Facebook – www.Facebook.com/WatershedCommittee;
• Twitter – @RHCAClarksville; and
• Constant Contact emails.

Involving the Community:
The association continually seeks to involve and engage members of the community. Residents serve on association committees, special events are held throughout the year, and classes that are open to village residents and others are offered at facilities managed by the association. The association offered the following community building programs and events in FY19:
• Block Party Grants
• Cul de Sac Beautification Grants
• Food on the 15th Collection Drive (all year)
• Master Gardener Seminar: Composting (May 2018)
• Flea Market (June 2018)
• Bugs That Bite Presentation (June 2018)
• Independence Day Parade (July 2018)
• Prepare for Success School Supply Donation Site (July/August 2018)
• River Hill Pool Party (August 2018)
• River Hill Meeting Room Open House (August 2018)
• WatershedPalooza (September 2018, sponsored by Watershed Committee)
• Neighborhood Yard Sales (September 2018)
• Haunted Hallow’s Eve (October 2018, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants and Kimco Realty)
• Breakfast with Santa (two seatings) (December 2018)
• CA Open Space Management Appreciation Luncheon (January 2019)
• Leveling the Playing Field Sports Equipment Collection Drive (January 2019)
• Master Gardener Seminar: Herbs – Indoor Herb Gardening (January 2019)
• CA’s Teen Outreach Committee Toiletries Drive Donation Site (January 2019)
• School’s Out Bingo (February 2019)
• Claret Hall Open House (February 2019)
• Master Gardener Seminar: Trees, Wonderful Trees (February 2019)
• Flavors of Haiti Event (February 2019, co-sponsored with CA’s International Exchange and Multicultural Program)
• Coffee. Crafts. Karaoke. (March 2019, sponsored by the Teen Advisory Committee)
• Columbia Clean-up Day (March 2019)
• Master Gardener Seminar: Growing & Maintaining a Fescue Lawn (March 2019)
• Indian Summer Drive Tot Lot Ribbon Cutting (March 2019)
• Columbia-Wide Searching for Spring Egg Hunt (April 2019)
• Master Gardener Seminar: Baywise Landscaping (April 2019)
• Rain Garden Planting and Oyster Reef Ball Making Event (April 2019, sponsored by the Watershed Committee)
• Shredding & E-cycling Event (April 2019)
• Village Election Day (April 2019)

The following class programs were held at Claret Hall and the River Hill Meeting Room: GOSU Martial Arts, Chinese Wushu, Music Together with Miri, Tien Shan Kung Fu, Zumba, Aphasia Book Club, and Bollywood Cardio. The association also makes space available at both facilities for rent to River Hill residents and others. Columbia lien payers receive a 10% discount on the rates and the buildings are rented for a variety of social events and meetings.

The association is committed to involving residents of all ages and its Teen Advisory Committee (TAC) is key to meeting this objective. The TAC helps make many association-sponsored events a success. Yamini Ananth, and Cindy Tian chaired the TAC in FY19. The members of the TAC for the 2018 – 2019 school year were: Ashley Chen, Jeffrey Du, Anna Feng, Tudhjot Jandu, Maddie Lynott, Alexander Oh, Alena Shen, and Isabelle Zhan. The TAC’s Coffee, Crafts, and Karaoke event raised funds in support of suicide prevention. The TAC debuted Teen Talk, a new column in The Villager, written by teens for teens. RHCA also supported local youth by continuing to charter Boy Scout Troop 618. Michael Cornell, a former River Hill Columbia Council Representative and Board Member, serves as the Chartering Organization’s Representative.

River Hill’s Watershed Advisory Committee (WAC) focuses on educating and engaging residents on efforts to reduce storm water runoff and erosion and improve watershed quality. WAC Members are Simone Smith (Chair), Sari Chapman, Bruce Eberle, Cara Heilveil (also River Hill’s representative to the CA Watershed Committee), Elisabeth Hoffman, Heidi Hoffmeister, Rae Correll-Brown (Student Representative), Jack Sacchetti, and Iris Zhan (Student Representative). Adam White served at the RHBOD’s liaison to this committee.

Throughout the year, the association seeks to support local organizations that are integral to and benefit the community. In FY19, free usage of space was given to the following organizations: Columbia Association, Columbia Clippers Swim League, Pheasant Ridge Rapids Swim Team, and Boy Scout Troop 618. The association made donations to Howard Heroes, in memory of fire fighter Lt. Nathan Flynn, Fifth District Volunteer Fire Department, Howard County Police Foundation, River Hill High School PTSA Post Prom Event, Atholton High School PTSA Post Prom Event, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Improving the Community:
The association continuously works with residents, the county, CA, and others to maintain and improve the quality of life in the Village of River Hill. These efforts take many forms including advocating for vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle amenities, providing community input on local development projects, and enforcing the association’s architectural and maintenance covenants.
In FY19:
• CA Tot Lot RH-25 (Indian Summer Drive) was upgraded as a result of association advocacy.
• The association advocated for the retention of street trees and screening at the Grace Drive/Quiet Night Ride intersection as part of the planned installation of pedestrian and bike amenities associated with the Cedar Creek (formerly Simpson Oaks) development.
• The association testified in support of Council Bill 59-2018 amending PlanHoward 2030 to enable Erickson Living Properties II, LLC plans for a continuing care retirement community fronting on MD 108 to continue to the next step in the development process.
• RHCA also testified before the Planning Board in support of changing the zoning to a Community Enhancement Floating Zone for three properties on MD 108 for the Erickson Living project.
• Plans for the Robinson Overlook project were reviewed and opportunities provided for residents to learn about and provide input on this mixed-income, multi-family rental housing development.
• The association coordinated with the Howard County Office of Transportation (OOT) to address the community’s need for overflow outdoor pool parking when bike lanes are installed along Summer Sunrise Drive.
• The association monitored the River Hill Square (former River Hill Garden Center) commercial project as it worked its way through the county’s review and approval process.
• The association supported the implementation of the Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines during meetings with the OOT and State Highway Administration.
• The association submitted written input to the County Executive regarding the County’s priorities for Maryland Department of Transportation projects. The association requested funding for traffic and safety improvements along MD 108 and noise barriers along MD 32.

The following residents volunteered on the Architectural Committee (AC) and Resident Architectural Committee (RAC) to ensure the village’s covenant process runs smoothly, changes made to residential properties are in keeping with the community, and architectural and maintenance violations are addressed: Mohammad Saleem (AC Chair), Karen Jespersen (AC), Karen Smith (AC), Debbie Trapuzzano (AC), Ilona Mallon (AC), Syed Ahmad (RAC), Roy C. Brown II (RAC), Thomas D. Johnson (RAC), Jim Munro (RAC), Gary Sauers (RAC Chair), and S. Jennifer Zhai (RAC). In FY19:
• 163 exterior alteration applications were reviewed by the RAC and final decisions were made by the AC. One AC decision was appealed.
• The Covenant Advisor received and processed 156 requests for Letters of Compliance (LOC).
• During the LOC inspection process 25 properties were found to be non-compliant at the time of their first inspection and required follow-up. Of these 25 properties, 2 were sold in noncompliance. One property has since been brought into compliance with the architectural and maintenance covenants.
• The association received 182 complaints, the majority of which were residential property maintenance issues. When appropriate, complaints were referred to the responsible departments within CA, Howard County government, Kimco Realty, and the State Highway Administration.
• When a property owner does not resolve covenant violations, the association can proceed with further action which may include restricting residents from using CA facilities and programs, flagging CA’s assessment files, and/or proceeding with legal action. At the end of FY19, the association had 2 active covenant enforcement cases with CA’s Architectural Resource Committee (ARC).

What Lies Ahead:
The association signed a 5-year Management Contract with CA in FY19. This contract enables RHCA to manage Claret Hall and the River Hill Meeting Room and retain the rental revenue to fund association operations. It also defines the operational relationship between the village and CA and various reporting requirements. Having a 5-year contract, rather than the standard 1- or 2- year contract, provides longer term certainty for the association and frees up staff and the Board of Directors’ time to focus on other matters of importance.

CA continued its evaluation of Columbia’s neighborhood centers in FY19. To aid in this analysis, RHCA provided CA with more usage, income, and expense data for the Meeting Room than has been provided in the past. In FY20, CA will analyze the data and is expected to involve the village associations as it makes decisions regarding the long-term future of the neighborhood centers. Meanwhile, toward the end of the fiscal year RHCA staff began working with a client hoping to utilize the Meeting Room on a regular, weekday basis beginning in September 2019.

In FY19, the association experienced a shift in the types of exterior alteration applications reviewed by the RAC and AC. Requests for tree removals, followed by applications for color and material changes, were at the top of the list. A rise in requests for water remediation projects, likely caused by the extremely wet weather, also occurred. These trends are expected to continue as the community ages and property owners find they need to focus on maintenance, replacement, and updates. In FY20 the association will advocate with CA to update a tot lot in the Pointers Run neighborhood and make other capital and operating improvements to maintain the quality of CA amenities in the community. The association will also continue to advocate on behalf of River Hill residents with respect to the various development and redevelopment projects occurring in the Clarksville/River Hill area with the goals of improving safety and creating a sense of community.

What can River Hill’s residents do to help? Let the association know what is important to you. Share your concerns and ideas with the Board of Directors and staff. Participate in programs the association offers or volunteer in some capacity. Stop in at Claret Hall to check out the space or pick up some information. Let us know what you want the future of the village to be.

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