Communications Committee Report

The Communications Committee is pleased to provide the Spring 2018 edition of the MPHOA Newsletter, the second of our four planned newsletters for 2018.  MPHOA has three primary means of communicating with owners and residents:  the MPHOA web site, our periodic newsletters, and e-mail “blasts” from NRP to all owners and residents for single-focus, time-sensitive issues and news items.

As a step to improve community communications, early in 2017 we began to upgrade/replace the MPHOA web site with an improved appearance, more content and features, and improved timeliness and usefulness to owners and residents.  The new web site is:  http://www.mcleanprovincehoa.com

Please take some time to access the web site, explore the growing list of content and features, and provide us with your feedback and suggestions on other enhancements that you would find useful.

A fourth method for communication has been in place for several years, but is relatively unknown.  The method is via “Google Groups” – essentially an informal community electronic bulletin board and is not an “official” means for the Board to communicate MPHOA news and is not endorsed by, nor used by, the Board to communicate with the community.  Instead, you may find it useful in posting items for sale, requesting suggestions for contractors or pet sitters, etc.  Click on the link below and it will take you to Google Groups.  On your first visit, you will need to request/create an account.  Alternatively, contact the site moderator, Howard Frost at hefrost@gmail.com for assistance.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/mclean-province 

Our Newsletter is distributed electronically to all owners and residents whose e-mail address is on file with our Property Manager, Mary Lockhart of National Realty Partners (NRP).  Should your e-mail address change, please provide the new e-mail address to Mary at MLockhart@NRPartnersLLC.com .  If you know of neighbors who currently do not receive electronic correspondence from NRP, please refer them to NRP to have their contact information added to our master e-mail list.
 

Reminders for Spring

Our snow contract with Environmental Enhancements (EE) covers the period from November 1 to April 30.  Luckily we are far enough into Spring that we won’t need snow service for another six months. 

Spring – a busy season for EE in the common area – including spreading  fertilizer, weed killer, and other potential hazards to pets and children.  By state law, contractors are required to post “chemical treatment” signs in areas to be treated – 48 hours in advance of treatment.  Please observe those signs and keep children and pets off the treated areas for at least 24 hours after treatment.

Spring is prime time for gardening, planting, and digging.  Before your dig, call 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number.  This will start the process of marking underground utility lines in your yard or garden.  The service is free.

Dog Reminders for All Seasons

Please remember, dogs being walked in the community need to be on a leash.  It is against HOA rules for your dog to be off leash.  It is also a Fairfax County ordinance that they remain on a leash.

An additional courtesy is to always pick up after your dog.  This does not mean pick up after Fido and then leave a plastic bag of dog poop somewhere in the common area for others to deal with. Thanks.

Greetings from the Board President

MPHOA Owners and Residents,

The Board of Directors is pleased to send you the MPHOA Newsletter for Spring 2018. As in the last issue, we focus here on a number of current projects and plans of special significance for the community, along with providing basic information about our community and how it’s managed.

Among other things in this issue, we cover the current status of the Board’s ongoing efforts to address erosion in Burke’s Spring Branch.  We also describe the Board’s recent decision to transfer the Association’s legal work to a new law firm and begin the process of updating the community’s governing documents.  And we have reports from our Treasurer and the various Chairs of our standing committees, followed by a few reminders of some of the community’s rules and regulations.

As always, all owners and residents are invited to attend and observe the Board’s meetings, which are held the third Thursday of every month at 7:00 PM at Longfellow Middle School (per the calendar below on page 8). Usually near the beginning of every meeting, the Board holds an “open forum” to hear directly from homeowners before proceeding to conduct the scheduled business of managing the Association.  The Board’s meeting agenda typically includes reviewing and approving minutes from the previous meeting, receiving monthly reports from our officers (such as the Treasurer and the Chairs of our various committees), and addressing an ever-varying range of old and new business items. Attending a meeting is a great way to learn more about how our community operates. Look in your email inbox early in the week of each month’s meeting for the agenda.
 

Security Reminders for All Seasons

Please remember to always lock you vehicle when parked overnight in your driveway or in the parking bays.  It doesn’t hurt to keep them locked during the day as well.  Do not leave valuables in the car – especially not in plain sight.  Consider leaving an outdoor light on if you are parked in your driveway.  There was a small “wave” of car thefts earlier this spring.  This seems to be a periodic event – every few years.  Please help deter these kind of problems by following the advice above.

Architectural Review Committee (ARC) Report

Winter is tough on the community’s properties.   Following are some of the features of our properties that may need your attention now that winter is behind us:

FENCES
Fences are the single largest architectural issue affecting the appearance of the community.  Many fences have warping and rotting boards and posts and a large number of fences are sagging and tilting.  The high winds this winter did not help.   Our fences also have aged and weathered, which exacerbates the mottled appearance in the community when pieces of the fences are repaired or replaced.   Currently, fences are not allowed to be stained, which, if permitted, might help mitigate the differences in colors as components are replaced.   Additionally, fences are required to be made of pine or cedar.   Other fencing materials, such as PVC composites are available, whose color may be less affected by weathering and which may require less maintenance over time.   The Board would be interested in your opinions about the staining of fences and use of alternate materials.   Please e-mail us with your perspective or use the ARC feedback form posted on the website.  Meanwhile, please check your fences and replace damaged components.

ROOFS
The winter wind and storms caused a number of houses to lose shingles.  Now is a good time to check your roofs for needed repairs before the summer foliage blocks your view.   Particular attention should be paid to the chimneys in Van Tuyl.  The chimneys in Van Tuyl are not real brick but rather a decorative artificial shell surrounding the fireplace smoke stack.  The wood frame supporting the shell is subject to water damage and rot, which often causes the chimney to appear to be tilting.  Additionally, the high winds may have pulled loose some of the internal guywires stabilizing the shell, again causing the chimney shell to tilt or even collapse.   We recommend that homeowners access their attic and inspect the connections lashing the chimney shell to the roof rafters.

BRICKS
Brick surfaces need to be cleaned periodically to remove dirt and mold.  When evaluating your brick surfaces attention should be paid to whether or not there is a residue of fine white crystals (efflorescence) starting to appear on the bricks.  This is salt leaching from the mortar and indicates a water infiltration problem that may cause significant damage over time.

Brick.jpg

The brick should be cleaned and “tuck pointing” done to repair the mortar.  Typically, crack filling on brick surfaces need to be done every 3 to 6 years.   You may also want to consider application of a clear brick sealer in particularly vulnerable areas to help prevent water infiltration.

ARC COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP
We are seeking applicants to become members of the Architectural Review Committee.  The Committee will meet once a quarter and the principal responsibilities of the members will be to assist in the annual assessment and other periodic inspections of the community as well as to make recommendations to the Board regarding possible changes to the Architectural Guidelines.   If you would like to participate, please send an e-mail to the Board via the property manager, Mary Lockhart at mlockhart@nrpartnersLLC.com.  We hope to hold the initial committee meeting in June.

EXTERNAL CHANGE REQUEST
Finally, please remember that most exterior repair activities do not need advance approval.  However, replacement of external features, like roofs, windows, and doors do require homeowners to submit an External Change Request.  The External Change Request form, and the overall Architectural Guidelines document, can be found on the MPHOA community website:   www.mcleanprovincehoa.com 

Status:  Fairfax County Water Main Upgrade in MPHOA

As we reported in our Summer 2017 Newsletter, on January 20, 2016 Fairfax Water sent a letter to all MPHOA property owners as well as to residents of several other nearby communities announcing county plans to upgrade the water system in our neighborhood and in those other communities – around 18-20 locations in all.  The plans and corresponding surveys were completed later in 2016 and the resulting surveys and plans had called for the actual construction work to begin in the late summer of 2017.
As of late fall 2017, the necessary permits from VDOT (required when digging up sections of public highways) had been obtained and the necessary soil sampling had been completed and work began on the Gervais Circle portion of the project.  That work was completed in late November 2017.  However, cold weather precludes this type of work and the planned upgrades at the north end of Van Tuyl Place were delayed from 2017 until this spring.

However, we contacted Fairfax Water in the latter half of April for an update on the plans and schedule for Van Tuyl Place.  Apparently an unexpected large project elsewhere in the county has diverted resources to that site.  We were advised that current plans for Van Tuyl Place are now for the work to be undertaken this summer.  As soon as specific plans and dates are announced we will have NRP send an e-mail notice to all MPHOA owners and residents.

Landscape Committee Report

After trash/recycling pick-up and snow plowing, landscaping is probably the next biggest area of importance to our community, even if we don’t think of it as an immediate and personal benefit as we might with trash pick-up and plowed streets when it snows.  In budget terms, landscaping costs are, by far, our largest expense.  While we’re probably all aware of the common area mowing conducted by our contractor, Environmental Enhancements, Inc. (EE) – 24 times per year, and leaf removal, conducted three times late each autumn, we may be less aware of more than a dozen other “one-of-a-kind” services they provide – fertilizing, mulching, weed control, perimeter control (trimming), aeration & reseeding each autumn, etc.  All of these services contribute to the very attractive appearance of the community and hopefully to the “curb appeal”, and hence, to the value of our properties.  Our landscape expenses are as much of an “investment” as they are an expense.

For 2018 our “investment” via EE is $43,391 for our basic landscape maintenance contract – the same as it was last year.  In addition to the basic maintenance contract, the 2018 budget includes $26,000 for one-of-a-kind investments, including tree cutting and tree pruning expenses, minor drainage and erosion projects, re-plantings, etc.  For the past few years we have spent more than $10,000 per year just for tree services – and that does not count planting new/replacement trees, which are paid for out of our Capital Reserves.  So far this spring we have been lucky and have not lost a significant number of trees from our heavy winds – two small magnolias have been damaged any may need to be replaced.

All of the above is coordinated by our Landscape Committee (LC).  The LC is a group of volunteers that help plan and shape how our landscape budget is spent on our common areas.  The LC meets at 7:30 PM, the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Longfellow School, Room 118.  Meetings are open to all members of the community.  Look for signs announcing our meetings – they are posted each month at the two entrances to the community.  Easy entry to the school is via Entrance #4 (rear/south side).

The LC is looking for new members that have an interest in the maintenance and enhancement of the common areas, especially those who would like to help with some of our hands-on, do-it-yourself  projects. It’s good exercise and a good way to meet your neighbors in the community.  For more information, contact Steve Smith, Chairman of the LC:  ssmith17@cox.net or call him at 703-405-8292.
 

Treasurer’s Report

Given that it is still early in 2018, our operating budget remains on track as of the end of the first quarter.  Now that we have left the winter season with no major snowfalls, the year-to-date expenditures are slightly less than the budget plan, with savings in Legal Fees, Landscape Repairs, and Snow Services. These may even out as we progress through the year, as these are more likely seasonal timing differences rather than reduced spending.

Looking ahead, the Burke’s Spring Branch Remediation discussed above in the Report of the Board will be a critical focus given the scale and scope of the project. The amount of erosion that we’ve experienced has reached a threshold, and is now something that we must address. In terms of budget, the board is currently working with a number of contractors to determine the cost and timeline of the project. This is something that is currently covered in our capital reserves and was part of our reserve study.
 
Our Capital Reserve as of 2/28/2018 stands at $160K – consistent with the recommendations from the 2015 Reserve Study.  In 2018, we will add ~$31K to that total.  Our Operational Reserves as of the same date are $25,000 (and are used to offset any deficit when snow removal (and other) costs exceed the budgeted amount).  Our Retained Earnings/Unrestricted Equity balance is $22K.
 

Trash Reminders

MPHOA’s governing documents specify that trash receptacles and bags may not be kept in public view except during the period that begins at 6 PM on the evening preceding trash collection day and ends at the conclusion of trash collection day (Monday for trash only and Thursday for both trash and recycling).  This restriction applies to trash containers not just on the days of trash collection, but also prohibits public storage of trash and recycling containers on a day-to-day basis throughout the week.  Trash cans and recycling bins may not be stored on a daily basis on driveways in front of garage doors or in the small areas between your driveway and your front steps or front entrance.  Please help us maintain an attractive appearance at the front of all homes.

McLean Trash, our trash/recycling contractor, does not pick up on the following four national holidays:
•    New Years Day
•    4th of July
•    Thanksgiving
•    Christmas Day
If a regular pick up day falls on any of those holidays, the next pick up will be on the next regularly scheduled pick up day.  On all pick up days, please make sure your trash and recycling material is securely enclosed in a suitable container.  Heavy winds and birds/animals can make a mess of loosely piled trash and recyclables.  This becomes especially messy and difficult to pick up in the winter if there is ice and snow to add to the mixture.

To prevent the picture shown at the top of the last page (Photo Supplement) of this Newsletter:

•    Put your trash in a trash can
•    Cover your trash can
•    If you don’t do either of the above, pour a small amount of ammonia in your trash bag - it will help keep crows and animals away.