May 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012
The River Hill Community Association was incorporated on August 13, 1991. Almost 21 years later, the village is home to over 7000 residents and completely built out except for the single parcel adjacent to Giant. Over time the Association has transitioned its focus from new construction issues to those of a more mature community including maintaining the vibrancy of the village center, re-development along MD 108, improving traffic flow and overall community safety, and meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse population.
It is the responsibility of the Association’s Board of Directors to address the needs of the community and advocate on behalf of residents, establish Association policies and procedures, and oversee the Association’s operations. During Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12), Tony Miceli served as Village Board Chairperson, assisted by Vice Chair Todd Harrison, Cynthia Asoka, Kenny Kan, Zachary Marks, Dipper Wettstein, and Chao Wu. Michael Cornell completed the first year of his third term as the community’s Columbia Council Representative and an ex Officio Board Member. In September 2012, Sean Salisbury began serving a one year term as the Student Member on the Board. To fulfill its purpose, the Village Board was supported by the following volunteer committees: Architectural Committee, Resident Architectural Committee, Master Plan Committee, and the Teen Advisory Committee. The Association’s network of Block Captains continued to expand during the year.
The following Association staff members worked on behalf of the community: Susan Smith, Evamarie Lambright, Mary Harris, Donna Bruhn, Tracy Boulle, Sonal Parikh, Maureen Cogan, Joyce Lozado, Kathy Jackson Chavers, Sharyn Eirich, Laura Lui, Teressa Spencer, Elaine Tocco, and Sheila Williams.
The Year in Review:
Traffic and Safety:
In FY12, 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 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 on three Fridays 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; and
• Requesting traffic enforcement in critical areas and coordinating with the County’s Department of Public Works to add traffic and pedestrian signage and trim street trees to improve visibility.
The Association also:
• Coordinated with Kimco Realty, owners of the Village Center, to address safety issues; and
• Provided testimony on behalf of the community during the County’s FY13 budget process in support of roadway and traffic improvements.
The Village of River Hill includes 14.25 miles of pathway and 24 tot lots that have been installed and are maintained by CA. During the year, Association staff received over 35 complaints dealing with open space issues and worked with CA staff to have them resolved. The Village Board testified before the County Planning Board in support of a County variance that enabled the solar panel array to be installed in the open space adjacent to the River Hill Outdoor Pool. The solar panels were installed in the spring and are reducing energy usage at the pool. During the non-pool season the panels will offset usage at The Meeting Room managed by the Association.
Columbia -Wide Issues:
The Association continued to provide input on issues affecting all of Columbia.
• The Association was an active participant in the Community Resource Partnership meetings held by District 4 County Council Representative Sigaty and other members of the County Council. One success that resulted from this partnership is the County’s implementation of the Bulk Item Pick-Up program.
• The Board of Directors and Village Manager worked with the Columbia Association’s External Relations Committee and the other Columbia village associations to review and update the formula for determining the Village Association’s Assessment Shares. The Assessment Share is the portion of the CA annual charge that is passed on to the Association to assist in providing services to our residents.
• The Village Board provided testimony on the County’s FY13 Capital Budget. The Association specifically supported: bike lane, sidewalk, and resurfacing projects; adequate funding for street tree maintenance; funding for drainage projects which included the slope stabilization project recently completed on Trotter Road; funding for maintenance of the water and sewer infrastructure to include the Grace Drive water main loop, and school improvements at Atholton High School.
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. The Howard Hughes Corporation retains architectural control for all commercial properties in the Village of River Hill.
During FY12, 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), Takashi Komatsu (RAC), Ilona Mallon (RAC), and Jim Peirce (RAC). Prior to the meetings, the RAC Members spend considerable time reviewing the application details and conducting site visits. Following a period of public review and comment, updated Architectural Guidelines were approved. A Fast Track process is now in place 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. This Fast Track process speeds up the review and approval cycle and reduces the workload for the RAC.
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 201 architectural and in-home business applications in FY12. This represents a 33% increase over the number of applications reviewed in FY11.
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 appeal hearings in FY12. 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 FY12, the Covenant Advisor received 68 requests for letter of compliance inspections. This represents a 28% increase in the number of requests and reflects the positive turn 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 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 175 complaints submitted to the Village during FY12 and of these, 171 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 FY12, one property was referred by the Association to CA and was accepted for further action. At the end of FY12, there were five active cases with the Columbia Association’s Architectural Resource Committee (ARC), one of which was closed in June 2012. From time to time, the Association incurs costs for legal fees associated with the operation of the Association and covenant enforcement.
During FY12, the Association’s Master Plan Committee (MPC) continued to work on the development of a Master Plan for the River Hill Village Center. The Committee is chaired by Trevor Greene and other members are: Jim Burnett, Jacqueline Easely, Robert Runser, and Livi Vaught. In FY12, the Master Plan Committee (MPC) met with representatives from Kimco Realty and began drafting the plan. The Village Board and the MPC are 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. The commercial district along MD 108 has been the Association’s primary focus. During FY12, the Association
• Provided testimony to the County Council in support of the transfer of funds for a traffic study of the Route 108 corridor in Clarksville.
• Provided testimony to the County Council on the General Plan 2030 Guidelines which resulted in the inclusion of a sector/small area plan for the Clarksville/River Hill area.
• Presented testimony to the Zoning Board in opposition to the request to re-zone the River Hill Garden Center. However, the Zoning Board approved the zoning change from residential to B-1 (business local) to allow for uses that might include a restaurant or coffee shop.
• Monitored plans for the Donaldson Funeral Home in Clarksville on MD 108. Towards the end of FY12 the Board began hearing from opponents to this project. In early FY13, the Association developed testimony to the Board of Appeals expressing the Association’s concerns about the impact of this project on traffic and safety.
The Association has also 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 the addition of an office building on the Pizza Hut property; and
• Monitoring a variety of residential infill development plans;
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. In fall 2011, the Association launched its Facebook Page. Association staff is currently working on upgrades to the website and evaluating ways to improve communications while minimizing costs. 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 lawn mower, babysitter, and snow shoveler lists as a service for village residents.
The following local youth were responsible for newsletter delivery in FY12: Morgan Markwood, Luke Duncan, Riley Ross, Jackson Feroe, Brien Boulle, Clayborne Chavers, Kira and Thomas Thompson, Michael Mandl, Nitesh Parikh, Ethan Simon, Pedro Giovanni, and 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 eleventh 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, Arya Dance classes, Jazzercise, Central Maryland Youth Ballet, Music Together, Rosestan Persian Language School 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: the Pointers Run Piranhas Swim Team, the Pheasant Ridge Rapids Swim Team, the Columbia Association, Girl Scout Troop 2258, and Daisy Troop 5917.
During CA’s FY13/14 budget process, the Association advocated for the installation of onsite parking at Claret Hall for catering vehicles. The plans for this project are now under development.
In FY12 the Association supported the following community building programs and events for all ages:
• Block Party Grants (throughout the year)
• Flea Market (May 2011)
• Music and Arts Festival for Teens (May 2011)
• Columbia Home Tour (June 2011 – co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
• Independence Day Parade (July 2011)
• Columbia International Day (July 2011)
• National Night Out Pool Party Celebration and Ice Cream Social (August 2011)
• Village Wide Yard Sales (September 2011)
• Adult-Only Casino Night (September 2011)
• Pumpkin Palooza (October 2011, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants and Kimco Realty)
• Haunted Hallow’s Eve (October 2011, in conjunction with the River Hill Village Center Merchants)
• Family Bingo Night (November 2011)
• Volunteer Appreciation Event (November 2011)
• Breakfast & Lunch with Santa (December 2011, in conjunction with Kimco Realty).
• 50+ Group (January, February, March, April 2012)
• Singing with the Scouts (January 2012), in conjunction with local Girl Scout Troops
• School’s Out – Wild Life Adventures Program (January 2012)
• Family Movie Night (February 2012)
• Block Captain Training (March 2012)
• Breakfast with the Bunny (March 2012)
• Project Linus Blanket Making Event for Teens (March 2012)
• Searching for Spring (March 2012, co-sponsored with the Columbia Villages)
• Community Clean-up (April 2012 in conjunction with the CA Watershed Advisory Committee and Open Space Management)
• Saving makesCent$ Event (April 2012, co-sponsored with makingCHANGE)
• Electronics Recycling (April 2012)
• Village Election Day (April 2012)
Due to the efforts of Joy Cheung, a relatively new resident of River Hill, a 50+ group of local residents began meeting at Claret Hall on a regular basis. We hope that this group will continue to grow in FY13. The Board was fortunate to have five members on the Teen Advisory Committee: Pradyun Dixit (Pheasant Ridge – River Hill High School), Tiffany Kan (River Hill High School), Sanjay Kunchakarra (River Hill High School), Pauline Shih (River Hill High School), and Deep Singh (River Hill High School). These enthusiastic members of our community worked with Sean Salisbury, the Student Member on the Village Board, and Association staff to plan and execute the Pumpkin Palooza, Haunted Hallow’s Eve, Breakfast and Lunch with Santa, and Breakfast with the Bunny. They engaged volunteer assistance for these events from other teens in the community. The Committee organized an afternoon for teens to come together to make fleece blankets for Project Linus. The teens made 40 blankets that were distributed to local hospitals.
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. Claret Hall was a collection point for gently worn shoes for the Soles 4 Souls program and multiple boxes of shoes were donated by village residents. The Association sponsored a collection drive in support of the Day Resource Center for the homeless in Howard County. Throughout the year, residents were able to pick up information on CA’s Soil Testing program and drop off samples at Claret Hall.
What Lies Ahead:
The River Hill Village Board encourages residents to become actively involved in the Association and make a difference in our community. At every Board Meeting there is an opportunity for residents to Speak Out on issues of importance to them. The Village Board and Association staff members want to hear from you! What is important? What would you like changed? How can we better serve your needs? We are often in need of help to run the various community events. Even the contribution of a couple of hours of your time can have an impact. If you have a special talent or skill that you’d like to share, let us know. Who knows, maybe your interests will lead to the creation of a new group or a grassroots based initiative that results in improvements to our community. In the meantime, the River Hill Village Board 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.