Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment

Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment

On December 7, 2015, Kimco realty notified the Hickory Ridge Village Board of its intent to redevelop the Hickory Ridge Village Center. This marks the beginning of the lengthy “Village Center Redevelopment-Major” process developers are required to follow according to the  Howard County Zoning Regulations, Section 125.J.

Since that initial meeting, Kimco Realty has hosted the required Village Center Concept Planning Workshop, which was held on February 18 at Atholton High School. Meeting minutes and Kimco’s written responses to the comments and questions received at that meeting will be made available once the Village Board has received them.

The next step in the Village Center Redevelopment process will happen on March 23, 2016. Kimco will host the first of two required pre-submission community meetings at 7 pm in the Atholton High School cafeteria. Residents are encouraged to attend, as this is one of your key opportunities to comment on Kimco’s proposed plan and suggest changes to improve it. After this meeting, a second pre-submission meeting will be scheduled, at which Kimco will present their revisions to the redevelopment plan based on community input.

If you live in Hickory Ridge, please do what you can to participate in the redevelopment process. Attend community meetings and share your views with the Village Board. You are being given the opportunity to have an impact on determining the future of the Hickory Ridge Village Center. Seize it!

If you have questions about the redevelopment process, please visit our dedicated web page for more information. You can also direct questions to the Village Manager by phone (410-730-7327) or e-mail.

 

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Do You Really Need to Fertilize?

Soil Sample BagsBy Deborah Wessner, Hickory Ridge Watershed Advisory Committee

In preparation for the fall fertilizing season, the Watershed Resident Advisory Committee for Hickory Ridge suggests you first determine how much and what type of nutrients your lawn needs.  Much like a blood analysis for a person, a soil analysis can indicate what levels of chemicals and minerals are present in a lawn, and what type of nutrients may need to be added. Your lawn may already be rich in nutrients, so why pay for expensive fertilizer if you don’t need to?

A soil analysis can be provided for your lawn, FOR FREE, thanks to a program provided by Columbia Association. Soil sample collection bags are available at the Hickory Ridge Village Center office and can be returned to the same office once you have collected your samples (a ten minute task!)  Soil samples you collect from your lawn will be analyzed by a recognized laboratory in Delaware , and the results provided back to you by mail or email.  If you are unable to collect samples yourself, please contact the Hickory Ridge Village office at 410-730-7327 and we will ask a watershed volunteer to set up an appointment to collect the sample for you.

Remember, fall is the best time to fertilize but Maryland law requires homeowners to complete any fertilizing by November 15, so get your soil sample submitted today!

 

FY 2015 Annual Report

Our fiscal year ended April 30, 2015. During that year, our village’s Representative to the Columbia Board of Directors was Gregg Schwind. The members of our Village Board of Directors were:

  • Linda Hitzelberger, Chair
  • Jerry Lioi, Vice-Chair
  • Miles Coffman
  • Tom Louden
  • Michelle Wood

Village Board Projects

The Village Board worked on the following issues this past fiscal year:

  • Hickory Ridge Village Center Park development
  • Survey about CA parcel at Hickory Ridge Village Center
  • Signage at the Hickory Ridge Village Center
  • Mailing absentee ballots to every village household
  • Changes to Architectural Guidelines & RAC/AC By-Laws
  • Discussion of New Town Zoning with Howard County Council
  • Street parking around Atholton High School
  • Howard Community College Master Plan
  • Formation of the Hickory Ridge Watershed Advisory Committee
  • Planning the Open Streets Howard County event
  • Various building projects in and around Hickory Ridge
  • Joint meeting of Hickory Ridge’s smaller homeowners’ associations


Covenant Work

This year the Resident Architectural Committee reviewed 234 Exterior Alteration Applications, approving 189 through the regular process, and 38 via our Fast Track process. The RAC denied 1 application. The following volunteers served on the RAC this past fiscal year:

  • Dianne Earley, Chair
  • Linda Loesch, Vice-Chair
  • Debbie Cline
  • Barbara Condron
  • Kathy Mardaga
  • Skye Anderson
  • Bob Opatovsky

Appeals are heard by the Architectural Committee, which is composed of three Village Board members and two RAC members. No appeals were heard in FY2015. Tom Louden chaired the AC, joined by Michelle Wood, Miles Coffman, Dianne Earley and Linda Loesch.

During this period, the covenant advisor handled 218 new covenant violation cases and resolved 215 covenant cases. In FY2015, 2 cases were sent to Columbia Association for legal action, and 11 cases carried over into FY2016. The Association received 105 requests for a Letter of Compliance, and issued 87 Letters of Compliance.

Special Events

Our Special Events Coordinator, Joan Lancos, planned the following events in FY2015:

  • 4 Family Bingo Nights
  • 50+ Lunches (3)
  • Wine Tasting
  • Family Pool Party
  • Village Yard Sale
  • Landscaping Classes
  • Volunteer Party
  • Family Holiday Event
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Holiday Craft Show
  • Searching for Spring
  • Village Election
  • Ladies Night Out
  • School’s Out Lunches
  • Open Space Crew Lunch
  • Flea Market
  • Prepare to Care Event
  • Lifetime Transitions
  • 2 Shredding/E-cycle Events

Services

In FY2015, the village offered the following services:

  • Notary Public
  • Postage stamps
  • Laminating
  • Reader’s Exchange Ads
  • Block Party Grants
  • Mowers list
  • Faxing & Copy Services
  • Maps & schedules
  • Cul-de-sac Grants
  • Snow Shovelers List
  • Columbia Cards
  • Scoop the Poop signs
  • Storm water assessments
  • Soil sample dropoff site

FY15 Budget

The village association brought in $359,470 income. Expenses were $360,743. The village reserve account (savings) totals $44,948. $256,798 of our income is our share of the CA special assessment that all Columbia residents pay yearly. Here is a breakdown of the budget:

Income
CA Assessment Share $256,798
Rentals $  88,192
Interest $       123
Special Events $    4,631
Fees $    1,583
Miscellaneous $    8,142
Total $359,470
Expenses:
Staff Salaries & Benefits $213,403
Payroll Taxes $  14,357
Contract Labor $       241
Janitorial Expenses $  28,280
Fees $  14,339
Operating Expenses $  17,064
Taxes/Insurance $    5,445
Advertising $    4,812
Newsletter $  31,721
Contributions $       450
Special Events $    8,836
Utilities $  11,929
Maintenance $    5,190
Furniture & Fixtures $       164
Depreciation $    4,512
Total $360,743

What We Did in FY2014 (May 2013-April 2014) — aka The Annual Report

Every year, the village staff produces an Annual Report that is shared with the Village Board and with residents. This report lets our residents know what we have been up to in the past  year, and the many ways that we work to keep Hickory Ridge looking good and running smoothly. Here is the report that was published in the July 31, 2014 LOG newsletter. Enjoy!

 

FY14 Annual Report

Our fiscal year ended April 30, 2014. During that year, our village’s Representative to the Columbia Board of Directors was Gregg Schwind. The members of our Village Board of Directors were:

  • Miles Coffman, Chair
  • Tom Louden, Vice-Chair
  • Jerry Lioi
  • Linda Hitzelberger
  • Michelle Wood

 

 

Village Board Projects

The Village Board worked on the following issues this past fiscal year:

  • Hickory Ridge Village Center Park development plan
  • Redesign of the Sixpence/Buglenote Tot Lot
  • Inner Arbor Plan for Symphony Woods
  • Negotiation of CA Management Contract
  • Funding for a new Wilde Lake Middle School
  • Ash tree removal by Howard County
  • Hawthorn Park usage by soccer clubs
  • Street parking on Sunny Spring
  • Monument Sign(s) at the Hickory Ridge Village Center
  • Street parking around Atholton High School
  • External Financial Audit of the Association
  • Columbia Retail Market Study
  • Route 32/Cedar Lane Intersection improvements
  • Various building projects in and around Hickory Ridge
  • Joint meeting of Hickory Ridge’s smaller homeowners’ associations

 

Covenant Work

This year the Resident Architectural Committee reviewed 215 Exterior Alteration Applications, approving 188 through the regular process, and 27 with Fast Track. The RAC denied 6 applications. Serving on the RAC this past fiscal year were:

  • Dianne Earley, Chair
  • Linda Loesch, Vice-Chair
  • Debbie Cline
  • Barbara Condron
  • Kathy Mardaga
  • Skye Anderson

Appeals are heard by the Architectural Committee, composed of three Village Board members and two RAC members. One appeal was heard in FY2014. This past year Tom Louden chaired the AC, joined by Michelle Wood, Miles Coffman, Dianne Earley and Linda Loesch.

During this period, the covenant advisor handled 160 new covenant violation cases and issued 126 Letters of Compliance. A total of 180 covenant cases were resolved in FY2014, 6 cases were sent to Columbia Association for legal action, and 15 cases carried over into FY2015.

 

Special Events

Our Special Events Coordinator, Joan Lancos, planned the following events this past year:

  • 4 Family Bingo Nights
  • Family Pool Party
  • Village Yard Sales
  • Wine Tasting
  • Landscaping Programs
  • Volunteer Party
  • Family Holiday Event
  • Holiday Craft Show
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Searching for Spring
  • 3 Shredding & E-cycle Events
  • Village Election
  • Ladies Night Out
  • Columbia Home Tour
  • School’s Out Lunches (2)
  • Duct Tape Purse Class
  • Cardmaking Event
  • Open Space Crew Lunch
  • 50+ Lunches (2)

 

Services Offered at the Village Office

  • Free Notary Public
  • Postage stamps
  • Free classified ads
  • Block Party Grants
  • Faxing, photocopying
  • Mowers list
  • Maps & schedules
  • Cul-de-sac Grants
  • Snow Shovelers List
  • Laminating

 

FY14 Budget

The village association brought in $359,688 income. Expenses were $352,331. The village reserve account (savings) totals $45,283. $248,898 of our income is our share of the CA special assessment that all Columbia residents pay yearly. Here is a breakdown of the budget:

 

Income

CA Assessment Share          $248,898
Rentals                                       $  98,807
Interest                                      $       123
Special Events                         $    3,851
Fees                                             $       921
Miscellaneous                         $    7,088

 

Total                                         $359,688

 

 

Expenses:

Staff Salaries & Benefits        $203,876
Payroll Taxes                           $  13,947
Contract Labor                        $           0
Janitorial Expenses               $  25,717
Fees                                              $  13,607
Operating Expenses               $  13,001
Taxes/Insurance                    $    5,866
Advertising                               $    1,949
Newsletter                                 $  31,992
Contributions                           $       502
Special Events                          $  10,469
Utilities                                       $  14,764
Maintenance                             $    4,810
Furniture & Fixtures             $    4,141
Depreciation                             $    4,362

 

Total                                          $352,331

 

If you’re still awake after reading all this, please feel free to call the village office with any questions you may have.

Better Late then Never – Our Letter to the CA Board of Directors

At their June 16 meeting, the Hickory Ridge Village Board decided to send a letter to the Columbia Association (CA) Board of Directors regarding the CA Board meeting held on June 12, 2014. Below is the text of the letter:

Dear President Matthews and Members of the Columbia Association Board of Directors:

The Hickory Ridge Village Board was recently made aware of the events that took place at the Columbia Association Board of Directors meeting on June 12, 2014. It is our understanding that a new item was added to the meeting agenda by a 5-4 vote at the beginning of this meeting, without any advance public notice. Later, a vote was taken on this item without any public notice that a motion would be on the table.We believe that this action clearly violates the Columbia Association Board of Directors’ Special Rules of Order. With regard to Agendas, this document states (emphasis is ours),

3.1 Preparation of Agenda: The Board Operations Committee shall be responsible for preparing the Board agenda with background materials for each regular meeting. This agenda shall be submitted to all members of the Board, the Village Boards and the press seven (7) days in advance of any regular meeting, unless circumstances shall prevent such distribution. Generally, items will not be placed on the Board agenda until they have first been reviewed by a Board committee and then referred with a recommendation to the Board Operations Committee for placement on the Board agenda.

3.2 Agenda Items within 7 days of a meeting: If any matter arises within seven (7) days immediately prior to a regular meeting which, in the opinion of the Chairperson or President, requires action by the Board before the next scheduled regular meeting, that item shall be included on an Agenda Additions Sheet and distributed at the beginning of the meeting. Such addenda shall be announced at the beginning of the meeting.

3.3 Emergency Items: An emergency item may be added to the agenda during a regular meeting or executive session only if it has the two-thirds approval of all the members of the Board present at such meeting.

The actions taken by the CA Board of Directors on June 12 did not follow these Rules. This was not an “emergency item,” and a two-thirds approval vote was not achieved. In fact, these actions could also be considered violations of the CA Code of Ethics. And while the actions taken on June 12 are not a direct violation of the Maryland HOA Act, they certainly do not follow the spirit of the law.

We believe that the actions taken at the June 12 meeting reflect poorly on the CA Board for several reasons. First, the members of the CA Board who took these actions were not acting in the spirit of transparency that CA strives to achieve. Because this particular agenda item is so important to Columbia’s lienpayers, the actions make it appear as though the CA Board was attempting to make a major change without gathering public input.  Finally, the CA Board is setting a bad example for all the condominium and homeowners association boards in Columbia by either not being aware of its own meeting rules or intentionally disregarding them when it found it convenient to do so. We ask that Columbia Association take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this does not happen again.”

A PDF version of the letter is viewable here: Letter to CA Board June 2014

Because this issue is so important to the Board, we are sharing this letter with the public so that all our residents are aware of what the newly-seated CA Board of Directors is operating. We urge you to stay informed on the CA Board’s activities — this elected body oversees how your assessment dollars are spent. Attend a CA Board meeting if you can. Speak up if you have something to say!

Find out when the CA Board meets and what’s on the agenda here: http://www.columbiaassociation.com/board/meetings

Get involved and make a difference!

Covenant Cat Answers Your Questions – RIGHT MEOW!

Covenant Cat

Covenant Cat does some yoga stretches before tackling tough covenant questions.

Last month, we launched a new advice column that will occasionally appear in The Log newsletter. No, it’s not relationship or parenting advice — it’s something far more exciting! We will be answering all your burning questions about village covenants! Let’s face it — the covenants are complicated. Thankfully, we know a local feline who is surprisingly well-versed in covenant issues. This cat may or may not be an overweight orange tabby named Boo Boo that lives with the Village Manager. Here are the latest columns for your reading pleasure.

June 12, 2014 

Dear Covenant Cat:

What can I do about my neighbor’s overgrown tree? It’s growing over the fence into my yard, and my neighbor won’t trim the branches.

-Frustrated on Frostwork

Dear Frustrated:

I hear about issues like these regularly. Luckily, there is an easy solution to this problem! If your neighbor is unwilling to trim the tree branches that hang over your yard, it is purrfectly acceptable for you to do it yourself. Maryland follows the “Massachusetts Self-Help Rule,” which is based on the outcome of a Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts case [Michalson v. Nutting, 275 Mass. 232, 175 N.E. 490 (1931)]. This court ruling states that a property owner can cut off branches which are intruding over his property as long as he doesn’t kill the tree. You do not need to apply to the Resident Architectural Committee before you trim trees, so you can get to work right meow! Good luck!

May 29, 2014

Dear Covenant Cat:

What is a 15-day letter? I frequently see this on Village Board meeting agendas.                                   

-Confused in Clemens

Dear Confused:

A 15-day letter is the final stage of the village’s covenant enforcement process before a case is forwarded to the Columbia Association (CA) for legal action. Once the Covenant Advisor has sent 3 letters to a homeowner and the covenant violation remains, she then brings the case to the Village Board for their review. The Board then decides whether or not to send the case to the CA  Architectural Resource Committee (ARC), which is made up of Covenant Advisors from all Columbia villages and several CA staff members, including CA’s General Counsel. If the ARC accepts the case, CA can then take legal action against the property owner. This may include placing a flag on the owner’s assessment file (which means the violation must be resolved before the property can be sold), taking the owner to court, or entering onto the property to perform maintenance. Once CA has accepted a covenant case, they can also deny the owner access to CA facilities and programs, and the village can prevent the owner from voting in a village election. Still confused? Call the village office and they can help. And please remind the Village Manager to bring home some catnip, ok? xoxo— Covenant Cat   Do you have a question for Covenant Cat? Please submit your request below and he will be happy to answer you — after his nap.