The Association relies on the commitment and energy of its volunteers to enable its smooth operation and to provide a variety of community services. During Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) the Association’s Board of Directors oversaw many accomplishments on behalf of village residents. Todd Harrison served as Village Board Chairperson, assisted by Vice Chair Frank Saletel, Trevor Greene, Tony Miceli, and Sunil Sinha. Michael Cornell completed the first year of a second term as the community’s Columbia Council Representative and an ex Officio Board Member. The Board also was fortunate to have six Teen Representatives: Asmi Panigrahi (Pointers Run – Atholton High School), Arjun Punjabi (Pointers Run – Atholton High School), Poulomi Adhya (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School), Nikita Mehta (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School), Nisha Sinha (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School) and Sophia Vazquez (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School).
In addition to the aforementioned individuals, the following River Hill residents played key volunteer roles during FY10: Karen Jespersen (Architectural Committee), Mohammad Saleem (Architectural Committee), Karen Smith (Architectural Committee and Resident Architectural Committee), Marshall Hand (Resident Architectural Committee), Ilona Mallon (Resident Architectural Committee), Debbie Trappuzzano (Resident Architectural Committee), Cindy Ensenat (Resident Architectural Committee), and Ron Ensenat (Resident Architectural Committee).
Village staff continued to support the needs of the community. During FY10 Association Staff were: Susan Smith, Village Manager; Evamarie Lambright, Covenant Advisor; Jessamine Duvall and Lisa Buckmaster, Facility Coordinator; Mary Harris, Special Events/ Newsletter Coordinator; Sonal Parikh, Administrative Assistant; Joyce Lozado, Receptionist; Barby Greene, Teressa Spencer, Elaine Tocco, and Sheila Williams, Facility Assistants.
The Year in Review:
Traffic and Safety:
In FY10 the Association continued to advocate on behalf of residents regarding traffic and safety in the River Hill/Clarksville area. Traffic and Safety Committee Chair Tony Miceli and Members Robert Runser, Rosanna Mazzella, Sophia Vazquez, and James Robertson conducted analyses of pedestrian crossings and safety along Great Star Drive (from MD 108 to Summer Sunrise Drive) and along Linden Linthicum Lane, Indian Summer Drive, and Fall Moon Ride. Their efforts resulted in the: the relocation of two pedestrian crossings on Great Star Drive; addition of four pedestrian refuge islands and several additional crosswalks in the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood; installation of sections of sidewalk on the Linden Linthicum Lane and Great Star Drive; re-striping of Great Star Drive to add turn lanes; and trimming of street trees and relocation of traffic signs to improve visibility. The Committee also met with a representative from the State Highway Administration (SHA) and reviewed the results of the SHA analysis of the Linden Linthicum Lane/MD 108 intersection. Unfortunately, the intersection did not meet the requirements for a traffic signal. During FY10 several residents received Speed Monitoring and Awareness Radar Team (SMART) training from the Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Division. The Association coordinated with the Police Department regarding crime, property damage, and quality of life issues in the Village by: Holding a National Night Out Celebration and Bike Rodeo; Sponsoring a community meeting to discuss a rash of break-ins; Expanding the Neighborhood Watch Program and coordinating with the Block Captains; Requesting traffic enforcement in critical areas; and Coordinating with the Kimco Realty, the Village Center Merchants and the Police Department to kick-off a Business Watch program in the Village Center.
The Village of River Hill includes 14.25 miles of pathway and twenty- five (25) tot lots that have been installed and are maintained by CA. The Village Board reviewed CA’s proposal for a community-wide playground and concluded that the proposed location was not ideal and that other amenities might have greater value to the community. The Village Board worked with CA to evaluate appropriate sites for installing basketball courts, a dog park, fitness trails, and/or a disc golf course. After considerable study, the installation of a fitness trail and disc golf course emerged as the leading options. The Association will continue to work with CA in FY11 to develop concept plans and solicit resident input on these amenities. In an effort to reduce maintenance costs, CA initiated efforts to reduce the number of tot lots Columbia-wide. In the Village of River Hill, CA recommended six tot lots for consideration. The Village Board obtained a significant amount of resident input on this issue and in early FY11 selected RH9 – Mellow Wine Way Tot Lot as the Association’s recommendation for removal. In response to numerous resident requests, Association staff coordinated with the CA Open Space Management Division to address concerns.
Columbia -Wide Issues:
The Association continued to provide input on issues affecting all of Columbia. The Village Board provided testimony on CB-29-2009, legislation affecting the redevelopment of Columbia’s Village Centers. The Village Board provided testimony on CB-58-2009 and CB-59-2009, legislation affecting the redevelopment of Down Town Columbia. The Village Board provided testimony on CB 60-2009, cable installation enforcement legislation. The Village Board provided testimony on ZRA-117, apiaries (beehives) in residential areas including Columbia New Town. The Association continued to be an active participant in the Community Resource Partnership meetings held by District 4 County Council Representative Sigaty and other members of the County Council.
Enforcement of the Village Covenants on residential properties is one of the prime responsibilities of the community association. Covenant enforcement falls into three main functions: the architectural and in- home business review process, the letter of compliance process, and complaints. The Association’s Covenant Advisor is the staff liaison on covenant-related issues and supports the Village Board, Architectural Committee (AC), and Resident Architectural Committee (RAC) in the implementation of the Covenants. General Growth Properties retains architectural control for all commercial properties in the Village of River Hill. During FY10 the RAC, a standing committee of the Village Board, put in many hours reviewing exterior alteration and in-home business applications and making recommendations to the AC.
The RAC’s philosophy is to adhere to the Village’s Guidelines and Covenants while considering each homeowner’s request and the uniqueness of each property. The Committee reviewed 127 architectural and in-home business applications in FY10 and conducted over 254 site visits. Following review by the RAC, the AC is responsible for the final approval of all exterior alterations and in home business applications for residential properties and for hearing and making decisions on all appeal requests. There were no requests for appeal hearings in FY10. The Committee 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 Village Association and CA. In FY10 the Covenant Advisor received 86 requests for compliance inspections. Four properties were sold in Non-Compliance status and the new owners are working with the Covenant Advisor. Each letter requires research, site visit(s), coordinating with the RAC for exterior alteration applications and communicating with the homeowner or realtor to cure compliance related issues. The objective is to have each property in compliance with the Covenants when ownership is transferred in order to maintain property values and aesthetics in the community.
There were 136 complaints submitted to the Village during FY10 and of these 116 were resolved. The Covenant Advisor is responsible for following through on all covenant-related complaints on residential properties. Other complaints are referred by the Association to the appropriate departments within Howard County Government, CA, or Kimco Realty (the owners of the Village Center). 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 fiscal year 2010, no properties were referred by the Association to CA for further action. One CA Architectural Resource Committee (ARC) case was closed in FY10. At the end of FY10 there were four active cases with the ARC.
Most notably, the Village Board agreed to establish a Committee to develop a Master Plan for the community with respect to future development within and adjacent to the boundaries of the Village of River Hill. Volunteers stepped forward and at the end of FY10 a Committee Charter was under development. The Association has continued to monitor plans for commercial and residential infill development in areas near the Village. This has included: Monitoring plans for redeveloping the Gateway School Property. Several River Hill residents and a representative of the Association served on the Gateway School Advisory Committee; Monitoring plans for re-zoning the River Hill Garden Center property; and Continuing to monitor the following residential infill development plans including the redevelopment of 5835, 5847, and 5857 Trotter Road. The Village Board submitted written input to the Department of Planning and Zoning in opposition to the request to re-zone the River Hill Garden Center property.
The monthly newsletter, The Villager, the Association’s website, and the listserv continued to be successful as the Association’s prime methods of communicating with residents. The Association engaged the services of Real Fresh Creative and undertook a redesign of the website. The new site was successfully launched in June 2010. The following local youth were responsible for newsletter delivery in FY10: Kieran Reynolds; Travis Stright; Andrew Huang; Michael Feroe; Gary, Carolyn, and Melissa Kleinberger; Jake and Jordan Stull; Alex CitaraManis; Michael and Reed Olsen; Justin Mauritz; Michael Mandl; Nitesh Parikh; Ethan Simon; Chauncey Briggs; Tommy and Elian Jacobs; Pedro Romero; Ryan Harrison, Harris Akogyeram; Patrick Duncan; and the Mohammed Family.
Claret Hall and The Meeting Room continued to be well utilized during the fiscal year. The Middle Patuxent Nursery School completed its ninth school year at The Meeting Room. Easy Method Driving School continued offering driver education classes at The Meeting Room. The Family World Church continued to use The Meeting Room for Sunday services and special programs. The River of Life Christian Community continued to hold Sunday services and programs at Claret Hall. A variety of classes and summer programs were held at both facilities including Abrakadoodle art classes, Drama Kids, Jazzercise, Central Maryland Youth Ballet, Pilates, Yoga, Friday Night Dance Club, Music Together, and Tien Shan Kung Fu. Both facilities were used for a variety of social and business rentals.
In addition to uses of Claret Hall and The Meeting Room for a variety of Committee meetings, work sessions, and community meetings, free usage of The Meeting Room was given to the following organizations: Girl Scout Troop 1928, Cadet Scout Troop 2258, Cub Scout Den 4 (Pack 702), Cub Scout Den 7 (Pack 702), Girl Scout Troop 358, the Pointers Run Piranhas Swim Team, the Pheasant Ridge Rapids Swim Team, and River Hill High School. The Association purchased new banquet chairs for Claret Hall and the Columbia Association installed a new water heater and thermostats at The Meeting Room.
In FY10 the Association supported the following community building programs and events:
- Block Party Grants (throughout the year)
- Flea Market (May 2009)
- Volunteer Appreciation (May 2009)
- Merchant Appreciation Event (June 2009)
- Dumpster Days (May and October 2009)
- Readings of the Declaration of Independence (July 2009)
- Independence Day Parade (July 2009)
- Columbia International Day (July 2009)
- National Night Out Celebration and Ice Cream Social (August 2009)
- Middle School Pool Party (August 2009)
- Village Wide Yard Sales (September 2009)
- Master Gardener Bay Wise Seminar (September 2009)
- Haunted Hallow’s Eve (October 2009, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants)
- Newsletter Advertiser Appreciation Event (October 2009)
- Family Bingo Night (November 2009 and February 2010)
- Howard County Food Bank Donation Drive (November 2009)
- Breakfast & Lunch with Santa (December 2009, in conjunction with Kimco Realty).
- Nutcracker Performance (December 2009)
- School’s Out Program (January 2010)
- Roots of Howard County Event (February 2010, co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
- One Day Multi-Cultural Event (March 2010)
- Breakfast with the Bunny (March 2010)
- Searching for Spring (April 2010, co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
- Rockfest ’09, a teen coffee house (April 2010)
- Community Clean-up (April 2010 in conjunction with the CA Watershed Advisory Committee and Open Space Management)
- Election Day (April 2010)
- Claret Hall once again was a collection spot for backpacks and school supplies for the Prepare for Success program.
River Hill’s Teen Representatives had another very successful year. They assisted with the Haunted Hallow’s Eve event, the Association’s annual Breakfast and Lunch with Santa, and One Day. They organized Rockfest ’10, a coffee house featuring local teen bands, and raised $970 for the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center.
What Lies Ahead:
The Association will continue to respond to resident concerns, follow issues affecting Columbia and the quality of life in Howard County, and continue to work with CA and the other villages to ensure that Columbia retains its unique character and that the Columbia Vision continues to be a standard by which we operate.
Approved: July 19, 2010