Newsletter March 5, 2008

Merifield Acres Newsletter
Vol. XIV, No. 1
March 5, 2008

 

Every Merifield Acres property owner, accompanied by children or not, is cordially invited to the annual Easter Egg Hunt, picnic and party games, Sunday, March 16, in Oak Park at 1:00 p.m.–“the more the merrier”. Hot dogs and beverage provided. Kindly RSVP Jill Allen (374-0399) or Nancy Dahl (374-2161) immediately, indicating the number attending and the side dish or dessert sharing. Volunteers are needed, and very much appreciated, for stuffing plastic eggs, setting up, placing eggs, helping with games, and cleaning up—please contact either Jill or Nancy. Rain date is the following Saturday; a sign would be posted on the Oak Park gate.

The MALA Board of Directors has revisited its April 1, 1992, policy regarding signs. At its February 12, 2008, meeting, the Board approved a revised Realtors’ Sign Policy. However, MALA will consider any relevant comments or documents submitted to the Board by April 1, 2008, that may be critical to the effectiveness of the revised policy. Please contact President Ben Jackson (374-5085; bjackson39@netscape.com) or Vice President Jerry Billingsley (374-5590; jbilling@kerrlake.com), who headed up the ad hoc committee. The previous policy with rationales for the amendments and the new policy are reproduced on the last two and facing pages of this Newsletter.

At the April 8, 2008, Board meeting, John Feild, past Resource Manager for John Kerr Reservoir and current board member of the Roanoke River Basin Association, will speak on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ new flood plan and proposed withdrawals from Buggs Island Lake. Merifield Acres property owners are most welcome to attend. Board meetings are held at the Clarksville Public Library in a room accessed from the rear of the building and begin at 7:00 p.m. John Feild will be first on the agenda.

No Open Burning, states the sign on the right after entering Merifield Acres. Burning should be done in a closed incinerator only. Homebuilders are advised to instruct contractors and subcontractors not to leave smoldering fires unattended. Provided all fire laws are observed and other vegetation is not damaged, holders of an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dock/Buoy/Vegetation Modification permit may burn brush below the 300 ft. M.S.L.–restricted by the VDOF from February 15 to April 30 to between 4:00 p.m. and midnight. Before burning, check with VDOF (www.dof.virginia.gov or (434) 738-6727) for current County restrictions. According to the February 20, 2008, The Mecklenburg Sun, “Burning Law Now in Effect,“ “In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire, as well as any damage caused to property” (p. A2). While burning, exercise extreme caution.

Merifield Acres property owners are reminded that the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act requires that a person selling a property shall disclose in the contract that the property is located within a common interest community subject to the VPOAA that requires the seller to obtain an association disclosure packet and provide it to the purchaser. The disclosure/information packet is requested from the MALA Treasurer.

In order to preserve the natural landscaping of Merifield Acres, owners and/or builders are to schedule a site inspection with a member of the Architectural Committee before removing trees and proceeding with construction.

With spring just around the corner, Appearance and Beautification encourages residents on each Merifield Acres road to tend the plantings around their street sign and is most appreciative of this help.

The Aviation chair has submitted a photograph of the Merifield Acres airstrip to the popular AirNav Website that lists airport data.

Teams of residents, Common Areas and Facilities reports, completed the removal of the Merifield Acres entrance brick columns, installed two break-away lights, and reinstalled the Stop Sign; cleaned up the community dock shoreline and burned the old toilets; and removed two pine trees near the entrance killed by pine bark beetles. The easements at the entrance and the airstrip are still under discussion with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps’ Dock/Buoy/Vegetation Modification permit, expired December 31, 2007, has been renewed. The major Committee work yet to be accomplished is replacing the dock billets. Property owners are encouraged to use the tennis court and at Oak Park the stable and picnic tables, playground equipment, and community dock. One key for both the tennis court and Oak Park (refundable $2.00) can be obtained from Maintenance Manager Ralph Moore (374-2945).

Approximately 130 people attended the Fall Picnic and Hayride coordinated by Community Events and welcome volunteers. Following the picnic and games, two tractor-drawn hay wagons piled high with hay bales and beaming adults and joyous young people made trick-or-treat stops at ten community homes.

Deer Control reports that as of February 12 fifteen deer were harvested–one antlered buck, two button head bucks, and twelve does.

On the Governance Committee’s current agenda are five issues: MALA voting procedures, the buyer’s obtaining the Association Disclosure/Information Packet, the working relationship between the MALA Board of Directors and the Architectural Committee, MALA’s Policies and the Architectural Committee’s Policies with respect to the various Merifield Acres covenants, and gathering and safeguarding MALA’s documents and records in one secure location. Should a Merifield Acres resident have an interest in any of these issues, please contact neighbors Mike Cottrell, Walt Cummings, Martha Day, or Judy Williams. Or attend the next Board meeting and make yourself heard during the Open Forum scheduled near the beginning of each meeting.

First under discussion at the January 29, 2008, Governance Committee meeting was the issue raised at the Annual Meeting of some property owners’ not receiving the August notification of the September 23, 2007, Annual Meeting that they believed themselves entitled to. The October 12, 2007, Merifield Acres Newsletter that is mailed to all property owners whether in good standing or not invited these persons to request of Martha Day, Governance Committee, a copy of the notification. Not a single property owner has since requested a copy of the 2007 Annual Meeting mailing. It has also been verified with the Database Assistant Treasurer that the pre-printed mailing labels were indeed generated according to the Association Bylaws in effect prior to September 23. On September 23, the Association membership ratified the Board-approved revised Bylaws by a wide margin. In years past, the notification of the Association Annual Meeting has been mailed to all property owners whether or not in good standing–ballot included. At the February 12, 2008, Board meeting, the Governance Committee moved that going forward

  1. the August notification of the September Annual Meeting be edited in two versions, one version as stipulated in Bylaws I: 3 for the “membership” and with ballot and the second for property owners not yet members and without ballot but encouraging Association membership and “full rights” (I: 2),
  2. a copy of the pre-printed mailing labels for the notification with ballot be retained,
  3. the Association Treasurer provide the Association Secretary with a checklist of those property owners in good standing and eligible to vote, and
  4. each year’s Annual Meeting ballots be properly secured.

A motion to approve was made, seconded, and after brief discussion, adopted without dissent.

Political and Environmental reports that the Corps of Engineers is developing an Interim Operational Deviation Plan to be employed during periods of extreme flooding to reduce the number of days that lakes, the river, and the swamp remain under water, an objective with which the Roanoke River Basin Association agrees. Being prepared is an environmental assessment to determine benefits and impacts to bottom land forests, shoreline erosion, farm land, recreation, hydro power, and spring fish spawning. In response to the Committee report, the Board requested that John Feild, past Resource Manager at John Kerr Reservoir and current board member of the RRBA, be invited to attend the April 8 Board meeting and speak on this matter.

Roads and Maintenance has replaced stolen Stop Signs at the entrance, readied Oak Park for rental, cleared fallen trees, cleaned out drainage culverts, and removed leaves. After a marking wagon has been secured, some road centerlines will be sprayed with white paint. Maintenance Manager Ralph Moore and Roads and Maintenance appreciate residents’ picking up litter along the roads. The Committee reminds that dead trees threatening to fall upon Merifield Acres’ roads are the property owner’s responsibility to remove in advance.

Since the October Newsletter, Security has reported vandalism to one Merifield Acres sign at the entrance, two stolen Stop Signs, and one dog complaint on Darcy Drive. The covenants of Merifield Acres, Inc., declare that “pets shall be restricted to the Lots, and will not be allowed to run at large” (4).
The Welcoming Committee continues to greet new residents with homegrown houseplants or perennials, the Merifield Acres Directory and Merifield Acres Newsletters, to answer questions, and to secure correct contact information. Should you have surplus plant pots (and saucers), please leave them at Martha Day’s garage door. As you become aware of a new resident, kindly let her know, telephone number, too, if possible.

The 2008 Merifield Acres Directory was mailed to all Merifield Acres homeowners during December of 2007. Should there be a correction she is not already aware of, please inform Editor Martha Day. (The Directory was prepared with the most welcome and professional assistance of another resident who prefers to remain anonymous.) To add, change, or correct your email in the Merifield Acres email address book, email the correct email address to mala@kerrlake.com. The Merifield Acres email address book is used for Merifield Acres property owners to communicate with the Board and its Officers and committee chairs, for MALA to announce community events, and for communication within the community generally. The Merifield Acres Newsletter is no longer issued by email but mailed to all property owners. (Neighbors help with the five annual mailings.) Should any Merifield Acres property owner wish information of urgency or interest to the general Merifield community considered for inclusion in the October Newsletter, kindly communicate the item to Editor Martha Day by mid-September. If you have access to the internet, explore the MALA Website http://www.kerrlake.com/mala), where you will find posted the updated history of Merifield Acres, the Merifield Inc. covenants and MALA Bylaws, contact information and Annual and Board meeting minutes, and a new page Open Forum that invites property owners to provide the MALA Board with input to an issue under discussion.

A “big thank you” to those property owners who make voluntary contributions and contributions over and above their annual assessment limit to a budget that may not exceed income. All suggestions returned with assessments and contributions will be presented to the Board and assigned for action and or response. Do please follow up on inclinations to contact a standing committee chair and lend a most welcome hand. Should you be willing to serve a three-year turn on the Architectural Committee or on the Board of Directors, please do let a member of the Board, who might well be your neighbor, know of this sense of responsibility.

The next bi-monthly meeting of the MALA Board of Directors will be held Tuesday evening, April 8, 2008, in the room to the rear of the Clarksville Public Library at 7:00. (Should there be a last-minute change, contact President Ben Jackson for verification of place and time.) Scheduled early on the agenda is an Open Forum during which time your Board-member neighbors hope to hear in what ways property owners and residents in Merifield Acres would wish our common interest community improved.

Revised MALA Realtors’ Sign Policy

In the recent past, realtor signs in Merifield Acres have departed from the specifications and terms of MALA policy with respect to realtors’ signs by the addition of attention-getting but unacceptable flagging tape, plastic flowers, balloons, and add-on agent name signs. On the one hand, covenants for the majority of the lots in Merifield Acres prohibit signs. On the other hand, Merifield Acres property owners require the services of realtors to sell their Merifield Acres property. Exercising its enforcement discretion and balancing the appearance of Merifield Acres with property owners’ serious interests in realizing enhanced property value, the MALA Board has listened to property owners, consulted with local realtor representatives, and approved a revised MALA Realtors’ Sign Policy at its Board meeting, February 12, 2008, effective of the same date. However, MALA will consider any relevant comments or documents submitted to the Board by April 1, 2008, that may be critical to the effectiveness of the revised policy. Please contact President Ben Jackson (374-5085; bjackson39@netscape.com) or Vice President Jerry Billingsley (374-5590; jbilling@kerrlake.com), who headed up the ad hoc committee.

Below find, first, the MALA “FOR SALE” signs policy of March 8, 1992, then the revised MALA Realtors’ Sign policy of February 12, 2008. Builder/contractor signs, the responsibility of the MALA Architectural Committee, are addressed in the Architectural Committee Policies. “For Sale” by owner signs are currently under discussion by the MALA Board of Directors. The thinking behind deletions and additions is in italics.

To: Lot Owners, Realtors, and Builders/Contractors

On March 8, 1992, the MALA Board of Directors approved the use of “FOR SALE“ signs within Merifield Acres.

These signs will be allowed under the following specifications and conditions:

  1. The sign shall be 18 inches high by 24 inches wide.
  2. Color: the body of the sign shall be Glidden Pinon Green with “FOR SALE”, name, phone number in white. Lettering must be either routed or professionally painted.
  3. The sign will be positioned in the center of the front lot line, parallel to the roadway with the top of the sign 30 inches from the ground.
    “Center of the front lot line” has been deleted to accommodate corner lots.
  4. Signs should be self-supporting and will not be allowed on trees.
    “Self-supporting” implies “not . . . allowed on trees”.
  5. Only one sign of any type per lot.
  6. A limit of ten signs per realtor will be imposed.

    Deleted, as the Board could not find a reason to support this limitation.

  7. Signs installed will be checked for compliance and will be removed if they do not comply.
    Removing signs has been deleted, as the only enforcement mechanism available to MALA is the enforcement approach provided in the covenants of notice and civil court.
  8. Builder/Contractor signs used in the past may still be used so long as they are in good condition. They must be positioned on the lot the same as real estate signs.

    8. and 9 both MALA Architectural Committee

  9. The Builder’s/Contractor’s sign shall be removed when work on the house has stopped, construction has been completed, or one year from the date of approval for construction by the Architectural Committee.
  10. Owners or realtors are responsible for construction and placement of signs.
  11. Effective date of this policy is April 1, 1992.

At the Board meeting, February 12, 2008, the MALA Board approved a revision of MALA policy regarding realtor “For Sale” signs:

Realtor “For Sale” signs will be permitted under the following conditions:

  1. The sign shall be 18 inches high and 24 inches wide.
  2. The body of the sign shall be a green consistent with the road signs within Merifield Acres. The lettering shall be white and of professional quality.

    The sign color is now tied to the color used by MALA for its street signs and not a brand-name paint and color not available to sign manufacturers.

  3. The sign shall be positioned on the lot that is for sale and not on the common area property. Signs without information panels may be parallel or perpendicular to the roadway. Signs with information panels shall be perpendicular to the roadway with the information panel attached to the back edge of sign (facing towards the subject property).

    Information panels are appended to the “For Sale” sign at the request of the property owner in the listing agreement.

  4. Information panels shall be clear with black or green trim.
  5. The sign shall be self supporting, with the top edge no higher than 30 inches from the ground.
  6. Only one realtor sign allowed per lot.
  7. The realtor sign shall be removed after the property is sold or the listing has expired.

    The existing policy did not establish the term of the sign on the lot.