River Hill Community Association
May 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015
FY15 Annual Report
The River Hill Community Association’s (RHCA or Association) Board of Directors (RHBOD or Board) is responsible for overseeing the Association’s operations, establishing Association policies and procedures, addressing the needs of the community, and advocating on behalf of residents. In Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15), Kenny Kan served as RHBOD Chairperson, assisted by Vice Chair Esti Schabelman. The other members of the RHBOD were Choith Atlani, Melissa Bradshaw, Kathy Chavers, Dave Clark, John Herron, Will McCullough, Dipper Wettstein, and Liyan Zhang. Michael Cornell completed the second year of his fourth term as the community’s Columbia Council Representative ex officio RHBOD member. Michael Dai began serving as a Student Member on the Board in September 2014. To fulfill its purpose, the RHBOD was supported by the following volunteer groups:
● Architectural Committee (AC)
● Block Captains
● Development Committee
● Master Plan Committee (MPC)
● Resident Architectural Committee (RAC)
● River Hill Garden Center Committee
● Simpson Oaks Advisory Committee
● Student Member Committee
● Teen Advisory Committee
● Watershed Advisory Committee
The following RHCA staff members worked on behalf of the community: Susan Smith (Village Manager), Eva Lambright (Covenant Advisor), Donna Bruhn (Facilities Coordinator), Maureen Cogan and Jennifer Lynott (Communications and Events Coordinators), Eudene Rossi (Administrative Assistant) and the following Facility Assistants: Diane Cavuoti, Emily Hogenson, Catherine Howie, LaTonya Long, Ashley Sherrod, and Teressa Spencer.
The Year in Review
Open Space and the Environment
The Village of River Hill includes 14.25 miles of pathway and 24 tot lots that have been installed and are maintained by CA. The Association’s Watershed Advisory Committee (WAC) continued to enhance the well-being of the community by addressing issues related to storm water runoff, erosion, and watershed quality in and around the Village. The current members of the Committee are: Sari Chapman, Bruce Eberle, Nathalie Eegholm, Elisabeth Hoffman, Lauren Marcus, Alan Schneider, and Simone Smith. Based on the WAC’s recommendation, in FY15 CA installed pet waste “leave a bag, take a bag” stations in strategic locations in the open space. The WAC applied for several grants; participated in the Independence Day parade; conducted the storm drain painting
project along Great Star Drive; held two invasive weed pulls; co-sponsored the Pick-Up America event; co-sponsored a weed warrior training session; held informational sessions on slowing the flow of stormwater runoff and the use of native plants; co-sponsored the community clean-up; and participated in the County’s GreenFest. The WAC uses the following communications tools to reach residents: “Tip of the Month” column in The Villager, website (http://villageofriverhill.org/watershed/), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/WatershedCommittee).
Enforcement of the Village Covenants on residential properties is one of the Association’s prime responsibilities. This responsibility typically has three main aspects: the architectural and in-home business review process, the letter of compliance process, and complaints. The Association’s Architectural Committee (AC) is the decision-making authority for architectural matters. The Resident Architectural Committee (RAC) assists and advises the AC by conducting site visits for properties where exterior changes and in-home businesses are proposed and by providing recommendations regarding approval. Eva Lambright, the Association’s Covenant Advisor, provides administrative support to the AC and RAC and works with residents to ensure compliance with the Covenants. In River Hill, the Howard Hughes Corporation retains architectural control for all commercial properties.
During FY15, the following River Hill residents put in many hours on behalf of the Association: Karen Jespersen (AC), Mohammad Saleem (AC), Karen Smith (AC), Steven Grippando (RAC), Takashi Komatsu (RAC), Peter Robinson (RAC), and Ron Yozwiak (RAC). The Committees reviewed 206 exterior alteration and in-home business applications in FY15. This represents a 7% increase over the prior fiscal year. The AC is responsible for hearing and making decisions on all appeal requests. There were 0 appeal hearings in FY15which is testament to the work the committees do to balance the needs and wants of the residents with the Covenants and Architectural Guidelines. The AC also reviews all covenant enforcement actions reaching the 15-Day Violation Notice stage and evaluates the need for further action on the part of the Association and CA.
To aid in maintaining property values and the aesthetics of the community, one method used is to encourage properties to be compliant with the Covenants when homes transfer ownership. On behalf of the AC, Ms. Lambright conducts Letter of Compliance inspections, coordinates with the RAC and AC as needed, and communicates with the homeowner or realtor to cure compliance related issues. In FY15, the Association received 145 requests for Letter of Compliance inspections. This was a 31% increase over the prior year and indicative of the improving real estate market overall and the strong market in the Village. Of the 145 properties inspected, 40 were non-compliant and had to be re-inspected to receive a Letter of Compliance. No properties in the Village were sold while in non-compliance status.
The Association processed 175 complaints during FY15, a 56% increase from FY14. Ms. Lambright is responsible for following through on all covenant-related complaints on residential properties. Non-residential complaints are referred by Association staff to the appropriate departments within Howard County Government, CA, Kimco Realty (the owners of the Village Center) or the State Highway Administration. From time to time, the Association incurs costs for legal fees associated with the operation of the Association and covenant enforcement. When a property owner does not resolve a covenant violation, the Association has the ability to proceed with further action. This action may include restricting residents from using CA facilities and programs, flagging CA’s assessment files to identify a covenant violation should the property transfer ownership, and/or proceeding with legal action. During FY14, no new properties were referred by the Association to CA for further action. At the end of FY14, there were 2 active cases with the CA’s Architectural Resource Committee (ARC).
During FY15, the Association continued to advocate on behalf of the community on a variety of development/re-development issues by:
• Participating in the County’s MD 108 Design Guidelines process;
• Providing testimony in favor of a zoning change to permit the Simpson Oaks residential development on the 66.8 acre Grace Drive parcel located between W.R. Grace and Quiet Night Ride;
• Working with CA and the developer to seek the annexation of the Simpson Oaks development into the village;
• Continuing to monitor plans for the River Hill Garden Center property;
● Meeting with representatives from Greenstone Ventures to discuss plans for the Clarksville Commons (the former Gateway School site) mixed use development;
● Monitoring residential development plans for the Enclave at Tierney Farm (located at the intersection of Guilford Road and MD 108);
● Meeting with elected officials to address concerns regarding the construction of a funeral home on MD 108;
● Coordinating with the developer/owner of 7410 Grace Drive to establish use restrictions; and
● Establishing a Development Committee to advise the RHBOD.
Connecting the Community
The Association employs a variety of methods to inform and engage residents and to build a spirit of community within the Village. Maureen Cogan and Jennifer Lynott, the Association’s Communications and Events Coordinators in FY15, were responsible for organizing the many special events and informational programs and ensuring that information is shared in a timely manner. In FY15, the Association continued to use its monthly newsletter, The Villager, the Association’s website (www.villageofriverhill.org), Constant Contact emails, Facebook (www.Facebook.com/RiverHillCommunityAssociation), and Twitter to communicate with residents. The Association also maintains a Claret Hall website (www.ClaretHall.org) and Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/ClaretHallMD), to promote facility rentals. The Association has a variety of information available at Claret Hall on events, area non-profits, and community resources. New resident Welcome Packets, copies of the Columbia Flier, CA Monthly, and other publications are also available. The Association maintains lists of services for:
● lawn mowing
● snow shoveling
In FY15, the following residents delivered The Villager community newsletter: Andrew and Brien Boulle; Trevor Donnelly; Luke and Erin Duncan; Jacob Hamet; Jack Harrison; Matt Hernandez; Sara Jain; Caroline, Kenzie, Melissa, and Sarah Kleinberger; Morgan Markwood; Sara Sophia and Tariq Masood; Sayyeed Mohammed; Nitesh Parikh; Isabella and Giovanni Romero; Riley Ross; Carolyn Siil; and Robby Windsor.
RHCA continues to be the Chartering Organization for Boy Scout Troop 618. In FY15, Michael Cornell, River Hill’s Columbia Council Representative and an ex officio RHBOD member, served as the troop’s Chartering Organization’s Representative.
One of the Association’s goals is to build community spirit and involve residents of all ages. To strengthen these connections, the following programs were offered during FY15:
● Block Party Grants
● Cul de Sac Beautification Grants
● Food on the 15th and Asian Pantry Collection Drives
● Flea Market (June 2014)
● Teen Tech Help Bar (June 2014)
● Columbia Home Tour (June 2014 co-sponsored with the Columbia villages)
● Independence Day Parade (July 2014)
● Prepare for Success School Supply Donation Site (July/August 2014)
● River Hill Pool Party (August 2015)
● Health Fair (September 2014, in conjunction with the Coalition Halting Obesity in Children Everywhere)
● Village-Wide Yard Sales (September 2014)
● Haunted Hallow’s Eve (October 2014, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants and Kimco Realty)
● Volunteer Appreciation (November 2014)
● Teen Outreach Committee Clothing Drive Donation Site (November/December 2014)
● Breakfast with Santa (December 2015)
● Howard County Food Bank Donation Drive (January 2015)
● Book Drive (January 2015)
● School’s Out Planetarium Show (February 2015)
● Multicultural Crafts Festival (February 2015)
● Master Gardener Seminar: Creating a Rain Garden (March 2015)
● Village in Howard Presentation (March 2015)
● Searching for Spring (March 2014, co-sponsored with the Columbia villages)
● Columbia Wide Clean-up Day (March 2015)
● Gold Party Event (April 2015)
● Village Election Day (April 2015)
The Association has a strong commitment to involving youth in our community and has established a Teen Advisory Committee (TAC) and a Student Member of the Board Committee. In FY15, the members of the Association’s TAC were: Nathalie Eegholm, Arienne Guiv, Ali Hovet, Victoria Kogan, Karen Ni, Madison Sage, Nicole Young, Stacy Young, and Jennifer Zhang. These enthusiastic members of our community worked with Michael Dai, Student Member of the Board, and staff to plan and execute activities for the annual Halloween event, the Health Fair, and Breakfast with Santa. They also organized the Teen Tech Bar, Multicultural Craft Day, and created a float for the annual Independence Day parade. As a part of their efforts, these teens were instrumental in arranging for many teen volunteers who were essential to making RHCA events a success. As a result, even more local teens have had an opportunity to contribute to our community and connect with residents of all ages.
Susan Smith, the River Hill Village Manager, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Association and the management of Claret Hall and The Meeting Room. Ms. Smith serves as an ex officio member of the RHBOD and Secretary and Treasurer of the organization. Ms. Smith’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, personnel matters, financial reporting, advocating on behalf of residents, administering the community’s Neighborhood Watch Program, serving as editor of The Villager, and representing the Association with elected officials, numerous departments within the County government, CA, the Columbia villages, and a variety of local organizations and businesses. Two sub-committees of the Board help to streamline administrative operations and address complex legal concerns (as needed): a Special Litigation Committee and the Village Manager Oversight Committee.
The Association generates revenue to help fund programs and services by renting space at Claret Hall and The Meeting Room. Donna Bruhn, the Association’s Facility Coordinator, is responsible for administering all facility rentals and ensuring that the buildings and furniture and fixtures are maintained and updated as needed. Both buildings continued to be well utilized by the community for a variety of social and business rentals. Easy Method Driving School offered driver education classes at The Meeting Room. The River of Life Christian Community and the Church of God continue to use Claret Hall for their services and programs. The following class programs were offered at Claret Hall: Boot Camp, Music Together, Qi Gong, Tien Shan Kung Fu, Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, and Zumba.
The facilities are used by the Association for a variety of community meetings. Free usage of space was given in FY15 to the following organizations: the Pointers Run Piranhas Swim Team, the Pheasant Ridge Rapids Swim Team, CA, Girl Scout Troop 67, and Boy Scout Troop 618.
What Lies Ahead
In 2016, the Village of River Hill will turn 25! Over the next few years, we know the Association will continue to focus on local zoning and development-related matters. Improving pedestrian and vehicular safety will also remain high priorities. As a resident, what is important to you? Do you have ideas for programs and services that you would like the Association to offer? Are there issues that you want the Association to address? Let us know how the Association can assist in improving your quality of life. Let us hear from you and help us moving forward!
Approved by the River Hill Board of Directors: July 13, 2015