In the Village of River Hill, it is the responsibility of the River Hill Community Association’s (RHCA or Association) Board of Directors (hereinafter referred to as RHBOD or Board) to address the needs of the community and advocate on behalf of residents, establish Association policies and procedures, and oversee the Association’s operations. In Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13), Dipper Wettstein and Todd Harrison, served as RHBOD Chairpersons, assisted by Vice Chair Tony Miceli. The other members of the RHBOD were Jenny Chu, Kenny Kan, Dengfeng Liu, and Liyan Zhang. Michael Cornell completed the second year of his third term as the community’s Columbia Council Representative and an ex Officio RHBOD. In
September 2013 Kaede Johnson and Tiffany Kan began serving one year terms as the Student Members on the Board. To fulfill its purpose, the RHBOD was sup- FY13 Annual Report River Hill Continues to Thrive ported by the following volunteer committees:
• Architectural Committee
• Resident Architectural Committee
• Master Plan Committee
• Teen Advisory Committee
• Watershed Committee
The Association’s network of Block Captains continued to expand during the year. The following RHCA staff members worked on behalf of the community: Susan Smith (Village Manager), Evamarie Lambright (Covenant Advisor), Donna Bruhn (Facilities Coordinator), Tracy Boulle and Maureen Cogan (Communications and Events Coordinators), Eudene Rossi (Administrative Assistant) and the following Facility Assistants: Kathy Jackson Chavers, Sharyn Eirich, Emily Hogenson, Laura Lui, LaTonya Long, Elaine Sheridan, Teressa Spencer, and Sheila Williams.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Traffic and Safety
In FY13, the Association continued to advocate on behalf of residents regarding traffic and safety issues. The Association along with the County Police Department coordinated efforts with regard to safespeeds, crime prevention, and destruction of property and addressed issues affecting the overall quality of life within the Village by:
• Hosting a National Night Out Celebration at the River Hill Pool
• Sponsoring a Block Captain Training Session and holding individual one-on-one training for new Captains
• Working with the Association’s Police Department Liaison to have a presence in the village during the summer
• Communicating with the Police Liaison Officer regarding crime in the community and disseminating important information to residents
• Expanding the Neighborhood Watch Program and coordinating with the Block Captains
• Requesting traffic enforcement in critical areas and speed analysis on Great Star Drive, River Run, Summer Sunrise Drive, and Indian Summer Drive
In response to the community’s advocacy over the last several years, the County repaved the street and installed bicycle lanes on Great Star Drive, modified the pedestrian crossings, and developed plans for improving the lighting at these crossings. The RHBOD met with a representative from the State Highway Administration to learn of plans for a bicycle commuter route that will likely come through the village. The Columbia Association (CA) installed a bike rack at Claret Hall. The Board also discussed local transportation issues with the County’s Administrator of the Office of Transportation. The RHBOD advocated with BGE on behalf of residents in the Pointers Run Neighborhood who have been plagued by lengthy power outages in contrast to surrounding homes not affected to the same degree. Representatives from BGE met with residents and presented plans to improve electric reliability. A schedule for completion of the improvements was established and the work is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2013.
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. CA presented plans for the planting of American Chestnut Trees in the open space as part of an effort to return these trees to the ecosystem since their loss to the chestnut blight” about 100 years ago. The RHBOD supported the project and the trees are expected to be planted in the fall 2013. The RHBOD established the Watershed Committee 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: Dipper Wettstein, Elisabeth Hoffman, Bruce Ebersole, Sari Chapman,
and Kathy Chavers. To date the Committee has focused primarily on educational efforts and is pursuing efforts to have pet waste stations installed in strategically located spots in the open space.
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. As Covenant Advisor, Ms. Lambright is the staff liaison on covenant-related issues and supports the RHBOD, Architectural Committee (AC), and Resident Architectural Committee (RAC) in the implementation of the Covenants. The Howard Hughes Corporation retains architectural
control for all commercial properties in the Village of River Hill.
During FY13, the following River Hill residents put in many hours on behalf of the Association: Karen Jespersen (AC), Mohammad Saleem (AC), Karen Smith (AC), Kathy Chavers (RAC), Sue Furman (RAC), Takashi Komatsu (RAC), Ilona Mallon (RAC), and Sheela Rajasekhara (RAC). Prior to the meetings, the RAC Members spend considerable time reviewing the application details and conducting site visits.
The Committees reviewed 135 exterior alterations and in home business applications in FY13. This represents a 33 percent decrease from the number of applications reviewed in FY12. 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 was one appeal hearing
in FY13. 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 Village Association and CA. In FY13, the Association received 70 requests for letter of compliance inspections. This represents a 3 percent increase in the number of requests. One property was sold in Non-Compliance status and the new owners are working with Eva Lambright, Covenant Advisor, to achieve compliance. 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 132 complaints submitted to the Village during FY13 and of these, all but one was resolved. Eva Lambright, Covenant Advisor, is responsible for following through on all covenantrelated 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 FY13, no properties were referred by the Association to CA for further action. At the end of FY13, there were four active cases with the Columbia Association’s Architectural Resource Committee (ARC). From time to time, the Association incurs costs for legal fees associated with the operation of the Association and covenant enforcement.
During FY13, the Association’s Master Plan Committee (MPC) continued to work on the development of a Master Plan for the River Hill Village Center. Robert Runser served as committee Chairperson and was assisted by Jim Burnett, Jacqueline Easely, Trevor Greene, and Livi Vaught. The MPC presented the draft plan to the RHBOD in February 2013. The MPC collected residents’ input on the draft plan during a community engagement session offered concurrently with Village Elections, through the Association’s website, and hand-delivered comments. The MPC is
in the process of integrating residents’ comments. The RHBOD and the MPC continue to be concerned with development/re-development occurring along the boundaries of the village and the impact on traffic, pedestrian safety, and the quality of life for village residents. During FY13 the RHBOD:
• Testified before the Board of Appeals on Case #BA 10-001 the Donaldson Funeral Home case and expressed concerns regarding the impact of this use on traffic and safety.
• Met with representatives of the owners of properties on Grace Drive seeking zoning changes and initiated an effort to restrict some less desirable uses from these properties.
• Monitored plans for commercial and residential development in areas near the Village including plans for redeveloping the Gateway School Property, constructing an office building on the Pizza Hut property, and residential infill.
The monthly newsletter, The Villager, the Association’s website www.villageofriverhill.org, and the listserv continued to be successful as the Association’s prime methods of communicating with residents. During FY13 upgrades to the website were made, the Association’s use of Facebook expanded, and the Association began utilizing Twitter. A resident survey showed that The Villager is still the prime source of communication used by residents. A wealth of information on local events, area non-profits, and community resources is available at Claret Hall as are copies of the
Columbia Flier, CA Monthly, and other local publications. The Association also maintains lists of services offered to village residents for:
• lawn mowing
• snow shoveling
In FY13, the delivery of the The Villager community newsletter was dutifully executed by the following local youths: Morgan Markwood, Erin and Luke Duncan, Riley Ross, Jackson Feroe, Andrew and Brien Boulle, Clayborne Chavers, Kira and Thomas Thompson, Michael Mandl, Nitesh Parikh, Ethan Simon, Giovanni, and Isabella Romero, Ryan and Jack Harrison, Andrew Huang, Jordan Stull, Sarah, Caroline, and Melissa Kleinberger, Chauncy Briggs, Tariq Masood, Caroline Siil, and the Mohammed Family.
In October 2012 the RHBOD agreed to become the Chartering Organization for Boy Scout Troop 618. This troop, previously chartered by the Hickory Ridge Community Association, is primarily made up of boys who reside in the Village of River Hill. Therefore, troop leadership felt that they would have a stronger connection to the River Hill community which would lead to more community service involvement by troop members. Michael Cornell, Columbia Council Representative and an ex Officio RHBOD member, was appointed as the Chartering Organization’s
Representative. Troop volunteers supported Village Elections and the Independence Day Parade and we look forward to greater collaboration
in the future.
In FY13 the Association supported the following community building programs and events for all ages:
• Block Party Grants (throughout the year)
• Cul de Sac Beautification Grants (two were awarded during the year)
• Flea Market (May 2012)
• Columbia Home Tour (June 2012 – co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
• Independence Day Parade (July 2012)
• National Night Out Pool Celebration (August 2012)
• Village Wide Yard Sales (September 2012)
• 50+ Club Bee Keeping Presentation (October 2012)
• Block Captain Training (October 2012)
• Haunted Hallow’s Eve (October 2012, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants and Kimco Realty)
• Teen Outreach Committee Clothing Drive Donation Site (November/ December 2012)
• Internet Safety Presentation for Adults and Kids (November 2012)
• Howard County Food Bank Donation Drive (January 2013)
• School’s Out – I Love Honeybees (January 2013)
• Happy Helpers for the Homeless Jeans Drive Collection Site (March 2013)
• Raising Compassionate Kids Event (March 2013)
• Searching for Spring (March 2013, co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
• Community Clean-up (April 2013 in conjunction with the CA Open Space Management)
• Electronics Recycling (April 2013) Village Election Day (April 2013)
The Association was fortunate to have a very active Teen Advisory Committee: Tina Chen, Pradyun Dixit, Atman Panigrahi, and Deep Singh. These enthusiastic members of our community worked with Tiffany Kan and Kaede Johnson, the Student Members on the Village Board, and Association staff to plan and execute the Haunted Hallow’s Eve and the Raising Compassionate Kids events. Members also participated in the Association’s
Annual Independence Day parade.
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. In FY13, the RHBOD established two sub-committees to streamline administrative operations and address complex legal concerns (as needed): a Special Litigation Committee whose members are Kenny Kan and Liyan Zhang; and the Village Manager Oversight Committee whose members are Dengfeng Liu,
Kenny Kan, and Liyan Zhang.
Claret Hall and The Meeting Room continued to be well utilized during the fiscal year. Unfortunately, the Middle Patuxent Nursery School closed at the end of the 2011 – 2012 school year. Easy Method Driving School continued offering driver education classes at The Meeting Room. The River of Life Christian Community continued to hold its services and programs at Claret Hall and the Church of God continued utilizing the facility for its
services and programs. A variety of classes continued to be held at both facilities including Arya Dance, Booty Beat, Central Maryland Youth Ballet, KidzArt, Music Together, Rosestan Persian Language School, Tien Shan Kung Fu, and Zumba. Both facilities were used for a variety of social and business rentals.
In addition to uses of Claret Hall and The Meeting Room by the Association for a variety of committee meetings, work sessions, and community meetings, free usage of The Meeting Room was given to the following organizations: the Pointers Run Piranhas Swim Team, the Pheasant Ridge Rapids Swim Team, CA, Girl Scout Troops 1985 and 2802, and Cadet Troop 67.
During CA’s FY14 budget process, the Association advocated for the installation of new carpeting and a new refrigerator for Claret Hall and improvements at the Meeting Room to accommodate a nursery school or daycare facility.
The Association continued to provide input on issues affecting all of Columbia.
• The Association, in conjunction with the other village community associations, reviewed CA’s proposal to request legislation that would reclassify CA and the villages as “nonprofit community service corporations.” The RHBOD recommended that CA take no action on the proposed legislation.
• Association staff worked with CA staff and the other villages to update the Management Contract to reflect the new Assessment Share Model, changes in insurance and licensing requirements, and the Contingency Fund Policy.
• The Association joined with CA and other villages to advocate with the Maryland General Assembly to have CA and the Columbia villages excluded from Senate Bill 794 and House Bill 576 which proposed a new law entitled the Maryland Common Ownership Community Manager’s Act.
What Lies Ahead:
In the first quarter of FY14, the Association has been very involved in a number of comprehensive zoning and development issues that impact the community. CA’s FY15/16 budget cycle has begun and the RHBOD is interested in receiving input from residents. The RHBOD hopes more residents will become engaged and make a difference in our community, whether it is by volunteering to help with an event, raising issues of importance during the Resident Speak Out portion of each Village Board meeting, or providing comments on our website or Facebook page. Meanwhile, the RHBOD and staff will continue to respond to your concerns, advocate on behalf of the community, and work with CA and others to enhance the quality of life for residents.
Approved by the River Hill Board of Directors: August 12, 2014