Growth, Changes Mark Association’s 19th Year
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 2011 (FY11) 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 Asmi Panigrahi. Michael Cornell completed the second year of his second term as the community’s Columbia Council Representative and an ex Officio Board Member.
In FY11, the Village Board worked to define the role of local teens in the Association’s governance structure and created a Student Member of the Board Committee and a Teen Advisory Committee. During the year the Association was fortunate to have the following very active Committees made up of dedicated volunteers: Architectural Committee, Resident Architectural Committee, Master Plan Committee, and Teen Advisory Committee. In addition, the Association’s Block Captain Network continued to expand over the course of the year.
Village staff continued to support the needs of the community. During FY11, Association Staff were: Susan Smith, Village Manager; Evamarie Lambright, Covenant Advisor; Lisa Buckmaster and Mary Harris, Facility Coordinators; Mary Harris and Tracy Boullé, Special Events/Newsletter Coordinators; Sonal Parikh, Administrative Assistant; Joyce Lozado, Receptionist; Kathy Jackson Chavers, Laura Lui, Teressa Spencer, Elaine Tocco, and Sheila Williams, Facility Assistants.
The Year in Review:
Traffic and Safety:
In FY11, the Association continued to advocate on behalf of residents regarding traffic and safety issues. The Association coordinated with the Police Department regarding speeding, crime, property damage, and quality of life issues in the Village by:
•Holding a National Night Out Celebration and Bike Rodeo;
•Sponsoring a Block Captain Training Session that focused on reporting suspicious activity;
•Coordinating with the Police Department regarding crime in the community and disseminating important information to residents;
•Expanding the Neighborhood Watch Program and coordinating with the Block Captains; and
•Requesting traffic enforcement in critical areas.
The Association also:
•Coordinated with Kimco Realty, owners of the Village Center, and the Village Center Merchants;
•Provided testimony on behalf of the community during the County’s budget process; and
•Met with representatives from the County and the Columbia Association, elected officials, and members of the local biking community to pursue the addition of bike lanes and signage along Great Star Drive.
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 Village Board considered in more detail the installation of a fitness trail and/or disc golf course. After much discussion, the Board of directors decided to focus efforts on obtaining bike lanes and improved signage for bikers along Great Star Drive.
In an effort to reduce maintenance costs, in FY10 CA initiated efforts to reduce the number of tot lots Columbia-wide. 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. The tot lot was removed in FY11. In response to numerous resident requests, Association staff coordinated with the CA Open Space Management Division to address concerns.
The Association continued to provide input on issues affecting all of Columbia.
The Village Board provided testimony on CB 55-2010, legislation permitting 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 FY11, the following River Hill residents put in many hours on behalf of the Association: Karen Jespersen (AC), Mohammad Saleem (AC), Karen Smith (AC), Marshall Hand (RAC), Takashi Komatsu (RAC), Ilona Mallon (RAC), Jim Peirce (RAC), and Debbie Trapuzzano (RAC). Prior to the meetings, the RAC Members spend considerable time reviewing the application details and conducting site visits.
A major accomplishment of the RAC and the AC during FY11 was the drafting of revised Architectural Guidelines. The Guidelines had not been substantially modified since they were implemented in 1994. The Committees worked diligently to establish a Fast Track process for the following exterior alterations: Attic Fans, Clotheslines, Gutters and Downspouts, House Numbers, Exterior Lighting, Radon Units, Roofs, Skylights, Storm Doors, and Trees that meet specific criteria. The Fast Track process will enable these modifications to be more quickly approved and will also reduce the RAC workload. In addition, the following new guidelines were drafted in response to changing technologies, recent legislation, and the community’s needs: Apiaries, Firepits, Rainbarrels, Rebuilds, and Security Cameras. In addition, the format of the document was modified to highlight the submission requirements. A 60-day comment period began on May 1, 2011 and the draft Guidelines were available for review online at www.villageofriverhill.org and at Claret Hall. Following the integration of public comments, the Guidelines are expected to be approved by the Board of Directors in July 2011.
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 151 architectural and in-home business applications in FY11. This represents a 19% increase over the number of applications reviewed in FY10.
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 FY11, the Covenant Advisor received 53 requests for compliance inspections. This represents a 38% decrease in the number of requests and likely reflects the downturn in the real estate market. One property was sold in Non-Compliance status and the new owners are working with the Covenant Advisor. Each letter requires research, site isit(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 123 complaints submitted to the Village during FY11 and of these 99 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 FY11, 2 properties were referred by the Association to CA for further action and both were accepted for further action. At the end of FY11, there were 6 active cases with the Columbia Association’s Architectural Resource Committee (ARC), 3 of which are ready to be closed. From time to time, the Association incurs costs for legal fees associated with the operation of the Association and covenant enforcement.
The Village Board established a Committee to develop a Master Plan with respect to future development within and adjacent to the boundaries of the Village of River Hill. A Committee Charter was approved and the following River Hill residents volunteered to be on the Committee: Jacqueline Easley, Peter Engel, Roger Jones, Elik Livay, Tony Miceli, Robert Runser, and Livi Vaught. The Committee was chaired by Todd Harrison and Trevor Greene and was provided with considerable assistance by Jane Dembner and Scott Templin from CA’s Community Planning Division.
In FY11, the Master Plan Committee (MPC) focused on defining the boundaries of the Village Center and identifying the areas that highly impact the future of the Village Center. The Committee began work on the development of a Village Center Master Plan and focused on developing a Village Center Community Profile. As a part of its efforts the MPC held a community Walkabout of the Village Center and MD 108 in November 2010, nterviewed numerous Village Center and Clarksville merchants, held a Community Brainstorm Session in April 2011, and distributed a survey to gain additional resident input.
The Association has continued to monitor plans for commercial and residential development in areas near the Village. This has included:
•Monitoring plans for redeveloping the Gateway School Property;
•Monitoring plans for re-zoning the River Hill Garden Center property;
•Monitoring residential infill development plans;
•Monitoring plans for a funeral home in Clarksville on MD 108; and
•Submitting testimony to the Planning Board 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 implemented new advertising rates for class programs and the Board of Directors approved policies for accepting submissions to the newsletter and clarifying the requirements of the Council Corner section.
The Association successfully launched its new website, www.villageofriverhill.org, in June 2010. The website allows the Association greater flexibility in maintaining the site, enables residents to submit comments and complaints online, includes a photo gallery for Association sponsored events, and provides links to key community resources. The Association continues to be interested in resident feedback on the site and will be continuing to upgrade the site.
The following local youth were responsible for newsletter delivery in FY11: Morgan Markwood, Luke Duncan, Riley Ross, Kira Thompson, Kieran Reynolds, Michael Mandl, Nitesh Parikh, Ethan Simon, Pedro Romero, Giovanni Romero, Isabella Romero, Ryan Harrison, Andrew Huang, Jordan Stull, Sara, Caroline, and Melissa Kleinberger, Chauncy Briggs, 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 tenth school year at The Meeting Room. 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 began utilizing the facility for its services and programs. A variety of classes continued to be 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. New programs that were successful in FY11 were: Arya Dance Classes, KidzArt, Rosestan Persian Language School. 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: Cub Scout Pack 702 – Den 7, Cub Scout Pack 702 – Den 4, the Pointers Run Piranhas Swim Team, the Pheasant Ridge Rapids Swim Team, and the Columbia Association.
The Village Board updated the Association’s Facility Usage Policy and approved revisions to the class rental rates.
In FY11 the Association supported the following community building programs and events:
•Block Party Grants (throughout the year)
•Flea Market (May 2010)
•Columbia Home Tour (June 2010 – co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
•Middle School Pool Party (June 2010)
•Independence Day Parade (July 2010)
•Columbia International Day (July 2010)
•National Night Out Celebration and Ice Cream Social (August 2010)
•Village Wide Yard Sales (September 2010)
•Pumpkin Palooza (September 2010, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants and Kimco Realty)
•Master Gardener Composting Seminar (October 2010)
•Haunted Hallow’s Eve (October 2010, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants)
•Volunteer Appreciation Dinner (November 2010)
•Dumpster Days (November 2010)
•Block Captain Training (November 2010)
•Family Bingo Night (November 2010 and February 2011)
•Howard County Food Bank Donation Drive (November 2010)
•Breakfast & Lunch with Santa (December 2010, in conjunction with Kimco Realty).
•Nutcracker Performance (December 2010)
•Master Gardener Seminar on Deterring Deer in the Garden (January 2011)
•School’s Out Program – Mad Science (March 2011)
•Roots of Howard County Event (February 2011, co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
•One Day Multi-Cultural Event (March 2011)
•Breakfast with the Bunny (March 2011)
•Master Gardener Seminar on Native Plants (March 2011)
•Searching for Spring (April 2011, cosponsored with the Columbia Villages)
•Rockfest ’11, a teen coffee house (April 2011)
•School’s Out Program – Butterfly Program with Master Gardeners (April 2011)
•Community Clean-up (March 2011 in conjunction with the CA Watershed Advisory Committee and Open Space Management)
•Village Election Day (April 2011)
The Board was fortunate to have five members of the Teen Advisory Committee: Poulomi Adhya (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School), Tina Chen (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School), Keshav Kowtha (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School), Jake Kotler (Pointers Run – Atholton High School) and Pauline Shih (River Hill High School). These enthusiastic members of our community worked with Asmi Panigrahi, the Student Member on the Village Board, and Association staff to plan and execute the Haunted Hallow’s Eve event, the Association’s annual Breakfast and Lunch with Santa, and One Day. They engaged volunteer support for these events from other teens in the community. The Committee organized Rockfest ’11, a coffee house featuring local teen bands, and raised $511 for Special Olympics of Howard County. They also planned the first ever River Hill Music and Arts Festival held in May 2011.
Claret Hall once again was a collection spot for backpacks and school supplies for the Prepare for Success program. The Association also partnered with the Food on the 15th program to be a drop-off site for coupons and with Liberty Tax Services to collect used cell phones for soldiers. Claret Hall was also a drop-off location for the Food for Tomorrow Project.
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. The River Hill Village Board encourages residents to be involved in the operation of the Association and engaged in our community.
River Hill Community Association FY12 Operating Budget