Friday, October 20, 2023

HCA REMEMBERS BELOVED HICKORY CLUSTER CHAMPION RALPH PARK YOUNGREN, ARCHITECT, FAIA

Ralph passed away peacefully in his Block 3 home with his family beside him on October 17, 2023 at the very accomplished age of 98 years.

In the photo at left, Hickory Cluster Association former Director/President Michael L. Poss presents Ralph with a special plaque at the Hickory Cluster Stream Reach Restoration and Youngren Bridge March 11, 2017 dedication event with the HCA Board of Directors, HCA residents, RA representatives, and the Wetland Studies management, design, and construction team.

Ralph's family joined many of his friends and neighbors near the HCA Pond and Youngren Bridge at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 19, 2023, to celebrate Ralph's life and many contributions to national, Reston, and Hickory Cluster Mid-Century Modern Architecture, followed by a gathering with refreshments at Lake Anne Village Center Cafe' Montmartre, as announced by his wife Ann and sons Malcolm and Todd.  

During the Cafe' Montmartre celebration, Ralph's family and friends shared remembrances, including the following:

  Courtesy of Malcolm P. and Todd P. Youngren, All Rights Reserved

  By Michael L. Poss, M.Arch., Former HCA Director and President
    Common Area Stair Railings



Ralph, thanks for enriching our lives with yours.  We miss you dearly.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

HCA INFORMAL FALL 2023 CLEAN-UP ... TREE DEBRIS

Original rendered visions, actual construction drawings, and as-built photographs show designed, managed, park-like modern landscape that extends modern Hickory Cluster building architecture.  However, long-time residents indicate that, due to budget limitations, HCA abandoned efforts in the mid-1970s to maintain cluster Common Areas according to the original modern landscape visions of Simon, Goodman and others.  For a more detailed discussion, see the Goodman Site Landscape page on this website.

As a result of this 1970s abandonment, and until about 2013 when a new HCA Board of Directors addressed it, lots of HCA Common Area trees and bushes dropped lots of HCA dead branches every year within our 18 acres due to storms, winds, drought, insects, or just old age.  And this debris was allowed to accumulate year after year, turning HCA into an unsightly and overloaded dead wood graveyard, and mega-food source for HCA Common Area-based termites that then also attack and feed on Hickory Cluster home wood components, costing HCA Members thousands of dollars in otherwise unnecessary pest control treatment expense.

HCA is responsible for maintaining HCA Common Area, including HCA trees and bushes, and fallen and trimmed HCA Common Area tree and bush branches, including the time and expense of packaging and removing resulting debris.  It is not HCA Member homeowner responsibility to either trim HCA Common Area trees or bushes, or to package and remove fallen or trimmed HCA Common Area tree and bush debris.

However, when HCA formally neglects to do so, HCA Member homeowners may sometimes informally trim HCA Common Area adjacent trees or bushes when they grow too big and impact their homes or other HCA Common Area infrastructure.  Even then, it is not HCA Member homeowner responsibility to use their own time or money to package and remove fallen or trimmed HCA Common Area tree and bush debris.

Since about 2013, and during formal or informal semi-annual Spring and/or Fall clean-ups, HCA Members collected fallen and trimmed tree debris at certain points within the cluster, locations easily accessible for removal to respective streets by grounds crew trucks, that then HCA removed following the clean-ups, sometimes as part of annual Fall leaf removal, and typically before the first snow and/or the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  

Most tree and bush debris collection occurs after Summer when daytime temperatures drop into the 50-60F range, when it is cool enough to wear and work in protective long pants and long sleeve shirts, and when seasonal ground cover and mosquitos have receded.   

A recent example of a homeowner having to step in is the overgrown HCA Common Area Block 2 bush between 11557-61 Maple Ridge Rd.  It grows like a weed and onto the adjacent concrete stairs railing, creating possible accessibility and hazard issues on its West side, and home invasion ant paths on its East side.  After hearing that some neighbors still preferred to use the tree-impacted railing, rather than the completely clear railing on the other side of the stairs, an adjacent Member homeowner again trimmed the offending branches away from the impacted railing as he has done so in years past.

The following are several, but not all, typical HCA Common Area tree and bush debris collection site examples:

BLOCK 1 ... On the woods side of the footpath parallel and adjacent to the Maple Ridge Rd. guest parking between Blocks 1-2.



BLOCK 2 ... On the woods side of the footpath immediately behind 11557 Maple Ridge Rd. between Blocks 2-3.



BLOCK 3 ... On the woods side of the footpath and fire hydrant behind 11534 Hickory Cluster between Blocks 2-3.  



Have fun, and get some fresh air and good exercise!

Sunday, August 20, 2023

HCA GOOD DOGS, NOT-SO-GOOD DOG WALKERS

$10 REWARD ... FOR NAMES OF INCONSIDERATE DOG WALKERS        PICTURED IN THE HALL OF SHAME

Doggies are fun, friendly, loyal, and lovable.  And they trust their owners and walkers.  So in many if not most cases, good doggies doing bad things are not the dogs' fault.  Their inconsiderate walkers specifically ALLOW good dogs to do bad things.  

As a result, Hickory Cluster has become a defacto dog park and/or dog relief station where dozens of resident and non-resident dog owners and others walk their dogs, and ... inevitably ... pee and poop night and day on rear patio walls expensive and time-consuming to repaint, light pole bases expensive to replace, grassy areas that take lots of time to regrow, or otherwise immediately around HCA Member homes and cars.

If the dog walkers just allowed THEIR dogs to do THEIR business right around THEIR own homes or cars, so only THEY would be impacted, it would be a non-issue.  

But no, the dog walkers insist on spreading the joy everywhere else so their neighbors can also share pee-bleached now-dead greenery, or even worse, walk through the never-100%-complete picked-up dog poop on the way into or out of their front doors, rear patio gates, or cars.

And HCA Member dog walkers insist on doing this DESPITE at least one long-standing HCA rule against it.  More specifically, HCA Governing Documents General Resolution 2:  Code of Conduct Rules and Regulations, page 2, paragraph 10 states:  "Please walk dogs in the wooded areas, not in planters or on common grassy areas, nor on traffic islands or where children play."  It's a shame that we even have such rules, but unfortunately we do because some people are so inherently thoughtless.

One example ... and what inspired this post:  This morning at about 9:00 a.m., an HCA Block 2 Member homeowner observed another Block 2 homeowner walking her big loveable dog along an HCA footpath behind a neighboring home.  After several minutes of stopping and intensely watching her dog find the right time and place, she then clearly allowed the dog to squat directly near the neighbor's rear patio wall, and within the clearly expected walking path from the rear patio gates to the rear footpath of TWO Goodman Houses.  So now every time her two neighbors come out of their gates they can unknowingly enjoy her dog poop remnants, possibly infectious e.coli. bacteria, and distinctive stink on their shoes, then possibly track it all into their own kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, or wherever.

Another example:  Yesterday morning an HCA Block 2 Member homeowner observed a non-resident and his cute medium-size dog walk right up to the front entry door planter of another Member's Goodman House.  He specifically stopped there and clearly watched his dog pee on obviously otherwise well-maintained Liriope plants only a foot away from the door.  When asked about 30 seconds later why he did that, the dog walker blatantly lied:  "Oh, sorry, I didn't notice."  

Really?

Is this your idea of "community?"

YOU cannot control YOUR dog?  And if it's not a problem, then why don't YOU do it around YOUR own house?

Do YOU want to step into what's left of YOUR big dog's massive pile of poop right outside YOUR home or rear patio?  

Do YOU want to smell dog pee right outside YOUR home as more dogs sniff and repeat in the same place?

Do YOU want to always see previous greenery, now dead and pee-bleached yellow, outside of YOUR home?

Please do your part to address this inconsiderate dog walker behavior.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

HCA TREES WRECK ROOFS, RELAC, AND MORE ...

We love our Hickory Cluster trees.  All 18 acres of them.  They are big.  And beautiful. 

BUT ... a big tree growing bigger too near a Goodman House, or growing in a critical unintended location, is a maintenance nightmare.  And a VERY expensive nightmare at that.

BLOCK 1

Recently, roots of a noxious overgrown HCA Block 1 Common Area Sweetgum tree seriously damaged a carriage house RELAC chilled water service pipe.  Extensive RELAC efforts to isolate and repair the leak resulted in a temporary and unavoidable loss of air-conditioning water to other Block 1 homes.  And now the individual homeowner is unfairly faced with paying more than $5,000 in RELAC repairs caused by this overgrown Common Area tree that HCA should never have allowed to grow so big and so close to any house.  

To repeat, and contrary to misinformation from other sources:  the recent Block 1 RELAC shutdown problem was caused by an HCA tree, NOT by any failure of the RELAC system.

In addition, four inch diameter roots are running under the house possibly impacting its foundation and other infrastructure.  

The same overgrown Sweetgum tree is also lifting a carport apron slab and creating a serious trip hazard to an immediately adjacent carriage house.

Up through about 2010, at least one HCA Board President considered Common Area tree damage to be unavoidable "acts of God."  However, a September 2007 Virginia Supreme Court case decision made noxious nuisance tree OWNERS directly responsible for material damages caused by THEIR trees, and for knowing about and preventing such damage.  Ironically, a Sweetgum tree with typical highly-invasive roots was also the subject of the court case.

As in the 2007 court case, HCA should be fully responsible for payment of damages to the property caused by this and other too-close and too-big HCA Common Area trees.  Especially since HCA pays professional arborists to advise it of similar potential tree damage and liability.

During a 2017 rain storm, another overgrown HCA Block 1 Common Area Sweetgum tree dropped sharp jagged branches that pierced the waterproof roof membrane of the Goodman House over which it had grown.  

The Block 1 homeowner suffered extensive exterior roof and interior ceiling water damage, and former HCA Board President Michael Poss worked closely with the homeowner, other Directors, and RA to immediately remove the tree and avoid additional damage.  

Yet another overgrown HCA Block 1 Common Area Sweetgum tree continues to tower over a nearby Goodman House, threatening similar roof-piercing dropped branches and possible foundation and infrastructure damage, despite homeowner pleas to remove it. It is also causing adjacent Common Area retaining walls to bulge outward.  This tree should be removed immediately at HCA expense, not homeowner expense, BEFORE it causes predictable homeowner damages.

BLOCK 2

Over a period of years, HCA Common Area large water-seeking tree roots cracked the non-sanitary drain pipe behind a 3-story Goodman House causing blocked interior sink drains and $200 or more in 60+ feet of motorized drain snake repairs every year or two.  This problem was completely unknown to the current homeowner decades ago when they purchased their Goodman House and has continued without critical HCA Common Area maintenance.  

Other HCA Common Area problems also caused deterioration of and almost $10,000 in repairs to the rear patio wall of the same home several years ago.  HCA refused to pay for the damage.

BLOCK 3

Early published photos clearly show a paved HCA Common Area storm water feeder trench system constructed at the rear of all Block 3 carriage and same-side Goodman Houses.  

Sadly, HCA has never properly managed the now-large volunteer trees when they were smaller, easier, and cheaper to remove.  And HCA continues to allow homeowners to store and plant on what was the critical runoff trench, creating more diversion.  Now, the trees have completely blocked the original trenches and destroyed their ability to direct storm water to fully available and functional Fairfax County storm drains.  Instead, the runoff floods into other HCA Block 3 Common Areas and Goodman House rear patios, often increasing deterioration of rear patio concrete block walls.  

The situation was made worse by misguided efforts of at least one Block 3 homeowner to remove legacy HCA Common Area English Ivy, although invasive, resulting in increased soil erosion and uncontrolled runoff.  Adding to the problem, the homeowner did not replant any groundcover to replace what they removed without HCA permission.

On the positive side, former HCA Board President Michael Poss started the Block 3 storm water system study and repair process by collaborating with Fairfax County as they inspected and maintained their storm drains, and by coordinating a related remediation proposal from environmental engineering and stream restoration experts Wetland Studies.  However, subsequent HCA Boards failed to act further, and the problems persist.

BOTTOM LINE

HCA must focus on funding and maintaining original design-intent cluster elements we already have, not installing new elements that require even more maintenance.  And HCA should definitely not continue paying for expensive attorneys trying to remake Hickory Cluster governing documents into those of other less historic and less significant communities.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

HCA REVISED GOV DOCS APPROVAL FAILS ... AGAIN

With absentee ballots due to TWC by a 12:00 noon deadline, and in-person voting available at an RCC Lake Anne June 21, 2023 Special Meeting from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., a growing number of voting HCA Members again declined to approve drastically revised HCA Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, this time v4.  The final numbers:

All v4 votes counted:            47 or 52.22% of 90 possible, vs. 32 for v3

Absentee v4 votes:               41 or 87.23% of all votes

In-person v4 votes:                 6 or 12.77% of all votes

Votes FOR v4 approval:         19 or 40.43% of all votes, vs. 21 for v3

Votes AGAINST v4 approval:   28 or 59.57% of all votes, vs. 12 for v3

The HCA official website incorrectly reports only 20 v4 Against votes.  However, HCA Counsel who managed the vote count at the meeting reported 28 total Against votes.  In-person Against votes were definitely known to be at least two.  Emailed or USPS-mailed Against votes were definitely known to be at least 24, and apparently totaled 26 based on actual results.

One absentee ballot was submitted with a box-marking defect that was not cured and therefore not counted before voting closed at 7:30 p.m.  In addition, two Members, ostensibly one voting For and one voting Against the v4 documents, arrived after the 7:30 p.m. Special Meeting end voting deadline and were unable to cast their ballots.  The additional but late Against vote would have totaled only two votes short of a completely insurmountable 31/90 = 34.44% disapproval vote.

As expected, the number of v4 Against votes increased from the v3 Against votes because the Board continued to insist on approval of major changes increasing Board power and convenience to which many Members do NOT agree, including non-homeowner Director eligibility, unilateral rule change power that circumvents the long-standing Member-inclusive Special Resolution 2 process still in effect, and more.  

What next?  HCA Counsel says the HCA Board tells them what they WANT counsel to do.  The HCA Board says Counsel tells them what the Board SHOULD do.  After all the finger-pointing is done, to increase support the Board must remove persisting offending major changes rather than criticize opposing Members, acknowledge valid Member efforts to preserve viable and long-standing Hickory Cluster governing documents, and act on valid Member concerns about persisting issues.  Former HCA President Michael Poss and concerned Block 1 Member Carol Laird will again, as they have in previous months, provide related feedback to the Board as requested in another attempt to move forward with remaining unresolved issues.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

HCA REVISED GOV DOCS v4 ... DANGEROUS = AGAIN: NO

On one hand, the Board heard, again, and finally and commendably incorporated several suggestions from Members at the May 2023 Annual Meeting to be voted upon by HCA Members on or before a scheduled June 21 Special Meeting.

On the other hand, the Board apparently is using incomplete information to justify unlimited new powers to more easily make significant decisions that could dangerously impact Member rights and property.  And they continue to pursue an all-or-nothing approach rather than voting on individual issues.

Here are links to the current v4 documents with yellow-highlighted areas denoting, but not limited to, the following remaining unresolved issues:

PROPOSED REVISED ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION v4

1.  Unlimited fines for rules violations, page 5, Article III 3. c. ... VERY DANGEROUS:  "The Board of Directors may ... impose monetary charges when there exists a violation of any of the provisions of the Governing Documents or the Rules and Regulations." This could be financially devastating to retired homeowners on limited incomes.

2.  Unlimited power to establish charges for Common Area use, page 5, Article III 3. d. ... Members could be charged for parking and other uses.

3.  Unlimited "preferential" allocation by Board of Common Area use, page 5, Article III 3. d. ... What is the real intent of the new weasel word "preferential" vs. the previous weasel word "unequal"  And "preferential" implies that some Members may be more equal than others.

4.   Unlimited rules changes by Board, page 5, Article III 3. d. ... VERY DANGEROUS:  "Rules and Regulations may be amended or repealed by the Board of Directors at any time."  This new text gives the Board overwhelming and possibly abusive authority to change any rule at any time, with no notice or Member feedback.  Currently, General Resolutions rules and regulations changes can only be made after sufficient notice to and feedback from Members within a clearly defined process, including an announced public Member hearing, described in HCA Special Resolution 2:  Creation, Modification, and Deletion of Rules.

5.  Six-month time limit for catastrophic damage repair, page 6, Article IV 4. ... DANGEROUS:  This is an impossible deadline, considering major externally-controlled legal, administrative, contractor, and supply issues impacting catastrophe recovery.  A recent lengthy Block 2 rowhouse recovery project is but one example.  This limit also makes quickness a higher priority than quality work, full scope, or prohibitive expense.

6.  Non-owner household members can be HCA Directors, page 6, Article VI ... VERY DANGEROUS:  "The Board of Directors shall be composed of seven (7) persons, all of whom shall be Members of the Association or members of the Member's household ... ."  ONLY vested homeowners-of-record should govern OTHER homeowners of record.  NON-homeowner adult children, spouses, or tenants should NOT have that power.  The Board attorney's larger-candidate-pool-is-better argument is a deceptive half-truth.  HCA has virtually ALWAYS had seven Directors in place as outcomes of annual meetings.  And actual HCA practice is that of surprise "ambush" nominations and other pre-planned and pre-supported actions AT, not before, annual meetings themselves, to strategically limit competition or opposition.  Rarely do candidates announce their intentions BEFORE the meetings, and if they do they risk petty opposition.  Example:  At the 2023 annual meeting, an end-term Director publicly withheld their real intention to seek re-election until AT the annual meeting itself, not before, effectively thwarting other candidates.  So in reality, there were FIVE candidates for THREE vacancies, not just ONE candidate as the Board cover letter FAQs and document footnotes deceivingly stated.

PROPOSED REVISED BYLAWS v4

1.  Unlimited power to establish charges for Common Area use, page 2, Article I 2. l. ... See Articles same issue above

2.  Unlimited "preferential" allocation by Board of Common Area use, page 2, Article I 2. l. ... See Articles same issue above

3.  Unlimited rules changes by Board, page 2, Article I 2. l. ... VERY DANGEROUS:  See Articles same issue above

4.  Unlimited proxy form manipulation by Board, page 5, Article III 7. (b) ...  DANGEROUS:  The current Board has manipulated the last few elections one way or another, as outlined in earlier posts on this website.  This gives the Board additional options for manipulating proxy forms to eliminate non-Director proxies and other devices to promote a Board-preferred slate of candidates. One example:  requiring all candidates to nominate BEFORE the annual meeting, and then extending the nomination period to other preferred candidates AFTER they know who pre-nominated.  It will most likely be anti-competitive and unfair to candidates who do not agree with the status quo.

5.  Unlimited Common Area modification by Board, page 6, Article IV 2. (b) ... VERY DANGEROUS:  Current Bylaws require a 2/3 affected neighbor approval of Common Area changes, except for emergency or preventive repairs.  But even that has not stopped recent past Boards from planting big trees that will grow into homes or block their windows.  Removing the current restriction will make the situation even worse because there will be NO restrictions on what the Board can do immediately adjacent to your Goodman House without your knowledge or input.

6.  Non-owner household members can be HCA Directors, page 6, Article IV 3. (a) ... VERY DANGEROUS:  See Articles same issue above

7.  Unlimited Director candidate manipulation by Board, page 6, Article IV 3. (a) ...  DANGEROUS:  The current Board has manipulated the last few elections one way or another, as outlined in earlier posts on this website.  This gives the Board additional options for now-officially recruiting and promoting their own Board-preferred slate of candidates.  It will most likely be anti-competitive and unfair to candidates who do not agree with the status quo.

8.  Unlimited amount of Lot repair charges to Members by Board, page 11, Article VIII 1. (a) ... VERY DANGEROUS:  "Charges incurred by the Association in performing exterior maintenance on the Lot as permitted by the Reston Deed will be considered an assessment and collectible as such."  This is new to the HCA Bylaws and could possibly be financially devastating to retired homeowners on limited incomes, even if actually allowed by the Reston Deed.

RECOMMENDATION:  Until these proposed dangerous revisions are resolved, continue to vote AGAINST the proposed revised documents.

Monday, May 8, 2023

HCA REVISED GOV DOCS ... SECOND "FINAL" VOTE?

UPDATED MAY 13, 2023
                                                                                                                  After the HCA Board of Directors failed to get approval from 2/3 of March 8, 2023 voting Members, they plan to hold yet another "final" vote on the very same defective revised Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, initially at the 2023 HCA Annual Meeting on May 20, 2023.  

However, a TWC letter dated May 9, 2023, mailed May 11, and received May 13, stated that" ... The agenda listed the by-law amendment voting but we are doing that at a separate meeting. ... Notice will be provided to the community prior to holding the vote again."

This new vote, whenever it is held, appears to be an attempt to disregard and negate the March 8 vote because, as one Director is reported to have commented, Members did not really read the revised documents.  

On the contrary, knowledgeable Members DID read the revisions.  And as a result, those Members voted AGAINST the revisions.

So if Members again defeat the defective revised documents, will HCA hold a Final Final Final vote?  

Or if they are approved, will opponents also get a do-over as did the Board?

As before, Members who have fully studied them urge a vote AGAINST the defective revised governing documents.

For previous related posts, and details on the many issues with the proposed governing documents revisions, visit the following webpage and others published below.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

HCA REVISED GOV DOCS v3 APPROVAL FAILS

As announced in a letter notice dated February 3, 2023, HCA held a Special Meeting for the purpose of voting on the "Amended and Restated Bylaws and Articles of Amendment and Restatement" ... AKA:  revised governing documents ... on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the RCC Lake Anne Rose Gallery.  This was planned to be for voting only, and not as another town hall or discussion.

And as stated in the Special Meeting Absentee Ballot Instructions, "Ballots submitted before the special meeting are to be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 7, 2023 ... " to TWC via email, mail, or hand delivery, even though TWC main entry doors remained locked throughout the day requiring extraordinary Member efforts to get TWC staff to take their hand delivered absentee ballots.

After considerable debate during the March 8 meeting, HCA and attendees agreed that only Absentee Ballots submitted before that date and time deadline would be counted.  In addition, only non-absentee attendee Member ballots submitted during the 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. March 8 live meeting period would be counted.

HCA criteria for revised governing document approval was more than a 2/3 "For" vote from all votes cast, NOT on 2/3 of all 90 Goodman House votes, as ostensibly allowed by the Virginia Property Owners Association Act (POAA).  Therefore, with a 1/5 x 90 = 18 Member minimum absentee plus meeting quorum, the revised governing documents affecting all 90 Goodman House Members could unfortunately be approved by only 1/5 x 90 = 18 quorum x 2/3 = 12 + 1 = 13 Member votes out of 18 minimum total votes.

After it appeared that all in-person votes had been submitted, HCA interest in staying until 9:00 p.m. for late voters faded.  So HCA asked, and Members approved by a clear majority vote, adjournment to a Thursday, March 9 Zoom virtual meeting to be held solely for the purpose of announcing absentee and live meeting vote results.  HCA left blank ballots at the RCC front desk with written instructions to drop off or email any additional votes before the announced 9:00 p.m. meeting end deadline.

Just before adjournment, current HCA legal counsel counted 21 "For" votes, and 11 "Against" votes, for a total of 32 votes and 65.63% approval value, just short of the >66.67% required.  And according to one HCA Member, a 12th "Against" vote was recorded before the 9:00 p.m. deadline.

Stuff happens.  The Zoom meeting did not happen, for technical reasons beyond immediate Board control.  However, the Board did adjourn the continuation Zoom meeting and post the results on the official HCA website.  

FINAL RESULTS:  As posted on the HCA website, 21 "For" votes, 12 "Against" votes, resulting in a 64.71% approval value, still short of the required >66.67% required.  Therefore, the existing 1964 Articles of Incorporation, and the1993 Revised Bylaws, remain in force.

POSSIBLE PATH FORWARD:  As Henry Ford said, " ... begin again, this time more intelligently."  One collaborative path would be to make ONLY required legal and document de-conflictions updates.  Leave the remaining long-standing HCA text alone.  Gain opposing Members' support as a result.  Then vote again.  If not, both increased support AND increased opposition may cause a similar outcome.

For previous related posts, and details on the many issues with the proposed governing documents revisions, visit the following webpage and others published below.

Monday, March 6, 2023

HCA REVISED GOV DOCS v3 STILL FAULTY ... AGAIN: NO

VOTE AGAINST the proposed revised HCA Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws at the March 8, 2023 Special Meeting or by Absentee Ballot. 

Here's why, the short version:

The proposed revisions are NOT just minor legal "updates" to "modernize" "outdated" versions and de-conflict multiple governing documents.

The "multiple footnotes" do not identify or explain all deletions and additions.

The revisions include major deletions and additions that broadly INCREASE Board unilateral authority and control, and that broadly DECREASE Member collaborative involvement, rights, and protections.

Here's why, the longer version:

"Sir, hell is paved with good intentions."                                                       - Samuel Johnson, 1775

The HCA Board of Directors may have good intentions, but unfortunately it appears that those intentions have been misguided in an effort to "modernize" HCA governing documents.  This post provides an alternative perspective based on more than 15 years of HCA Member, HCA Director, and HCA Corporate Officer experience using, authoring, and managing HCA governing documents.  

HCA governing documents are more than just legal documents.  They embody historic and time-tested Reston and HCA homeowner visions and traditions.  Those historic visions and traditions are worth preserving even if minor legal or multiple document de-confliction updates are required.

Sadly, HCA visions and traditions were NOT the focus of the 2022-23 HCA Board of Directors.  Instead of forming Member-Director working groups to collaboratively develop community-focused revisions as was done during the last major Bylaws revision effort in the early 1990s, the Board mostly outsourced the task to a newly-retained law firm, and then asked for Member feedback AFTER the fact.

Here are comments from several Members who attended the October 2022 Town Hall Meeting discussion of proposed revisions v2:

"It was a town hall stone wall."

"That lawyer was very unwilling to compromise on anything.  She was not even willing to agree that a board director has to be over (age) 18!  I guess we'll see what they decide to put out there. ... "

"In spite of obviously many hours working these issues ... I did not hear the lawyer one time endorse any suggestion ... .  Many times she cited an extreme example to support her position.  It was always "cited" or taken under advisement.  There is enough bureaucratic wordsmithing here to choke a horse.  She seemed reluctant to even include a few words about the source of material.  We seem to have several documents such as a deed, POAA, etc, etc, which supersede each other.  It is confusing to me precisely what we are trying to update and why actually.  Did the existing documents not work well?  As ... said, just have one page that says let the Board do what they want.  It looks like an effort to simplify/"modernize" which seems to me would make the Board's job harder due to a lack of specific language.  As ... said, language that has served us well for sixty years could/should be left in.  Taking things out like having an annual meeting in May for example make no practical sense.  To me an update should be more specific based on experience on what has worked instead of deleting language to simplify. ... Some additions about bids, who can become a director, use of common area simply defy common sense. ... When ... posed several questions to the Board they just blew them off and seemed very defensive.  Even if TWC is charged with getting all bids, if true, they should have to follow our guidelines seems to me.  They do work for us I think!  She is obviously a talented lawyer and is determined to have this her way.  I am not convinced she really has the interests of the cluster at heart.  She seems determined to fashion an update to reflect her views. ... "

In addition, many HCA Members are new to the cluster and/or have little interest in HCA governing documents let alone working knowledge or experience governing with them as a Director, or being governed by them as a Member.  And they are unaware of the very serious impacts of major changes to the governing documents to which they agreed when they bought their Goodman House.  

More specifically:

v1 proposed revision review comments were reported in a May 2022 post on this website.

v2 proposed revision review comments were reported an October 2022 post on this website. 

v3 March 2023 proposed revisions appear to be the same as the v2 October 2022 proposed revisions, indicating that the author(s) continued to exclude many Member concerns voiced at both the May 2022 and October 2022 town hall meetings.  For reference, here are the v3 documents and corresponding v2/v3 review comments:

PROPOSED NEW ARTICLES v3 FINAL ... complete document                      Revision Comments in Detail ... compared with existing documents            Revisions Summary:

  1.  Removes violation due process hearing details

  2.  Adds Common Area unequal and non-uniform use

  3.  Adds automatic catastrophe repair deadline of six months

  4.  Allows NON-ADULT and NON-HOMEOWNER household members to be Directors and make all Board decisions impacting adult Member homeowners

PROPOSED NEW BYLAWS v3 FINAL ... complete document                              Revision Comments in Detail ... compared  with existing documents            Revisions Summary: 

  1.  Ignores all 18 Special and General Resolutions, including parking regulations, architectural standards, and other key cluster rules that the Board FAILED to formally re-adopt on/before April 2020

  2.  Removes Good Standing and violations due process details, leaving Members more vulnerable to Board decisions

  3.  Allows Common Area unequal and non-uniform use, potentially abusive and inequitable

  4.  Allows unlimited Board use of virtual online meetings, limiting Member interaction when Member microphones can be cut off

  5.  Allows annual meetings any month the Board wants, despite the May tradition since founding

  6.  Allows unlimited Director election proxy vote manipulation, as has occurred when the HCA Secretary or other Director voted numerous unassigned proxy votes with NO transparency as to who they voted for, thus manipulating who is elected Director

  7.  Removes Common Area modification approval by 2/3 affected Members, allowing unwanted large trees to be planted too near homes or other work directly impacting Member homes and property values WITHOUT Member notice let alone agreement

  8.  Allows Director removal by as few as 10 votes (50% + 1 vote of 18 Member minimum quorum), creating significant potential abuse from petty personal vendettas

  9.  Continues Director appointment without giving all Members equal opportunity, encouraging non-transparent sweetheart appointments

  10.  Continues unlimited Director nomination and election process misinformation and manipulation, as has occurred in recent Director elections

  11.  Continues lack of restatement in HCA documents of Executive Session legal requirements that inform both Directors and Members, ensure compliance, and prevent abuse

  12.  Continues lack of annual financial audit report availability to Members as has occurred since 2016

  13.  Allows amateur business judgment instead of a minimum number of bids, increasing the potential for underperformance and overpayment by Directors who are not business professionals, or by overextended managing agents

  14.  Allows Special Assessments of ANY amount with NO Member approval, without identifying possible Member options or recourse, and with past HCA Special Assessments of up to $10,000 or more 

  15.  Allows the Board to repair Member private property, and then bill the Members for the repairs, without adequate due process

  16.  Removes existing detailed and traditional annual dues policy, including possible collection on an other than traditional monthly basis

Again:  HCA needs ONLY required legal updates and document de-confliction, not wholesale revision of traditional HCA governing documents to conform to what the author(s) "regularly see" elsewhere.

Until then:  VOTE AGAINST the proposed Articles and Bylaws revisions.

If you have already voted FOR by Absentee Ballot and now want to change your vote, complete a NEW Absentee Ballot with an AGAINST vote, and with a written date AFTER your original version, to supersede the original.

Monday, October 24, 2022

HCA REVISED GOV DOCS v2 ISSUES + VOTE ... AGAIN: NO

At the September 21, 2022 Regular Meeting, HCA Directors asked attending Members how much time they wanted to review revised Articles/Bylaws v2.  The apparently acceptable response:  30 days minimum.  And they promised redlined change-tracking versions to more clearly identify what text was removed, kept, or added.

The good news:  v2 redlines helped.  As did some requested changes.  Thank you.  

The bad news:  The proposed v2 Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws with a cover letter dated September 22, and postmarked September 27, were received by Members no earlier than September 28.  HCA then announced in a letter dated October 4, postmarked October 4, and received no earlier than October 5, a corresponding October 24 Town Hall meeting.  That gave Members only 19 days from the October 5 earliest actual meeting notice receipt to review and understand massive changes to key, yet typically unfamiliar, governing documents on October 24.  

More bad news: "... amending some of the bylaws of the community. ... "  or even " ... updating the Bylaws ... " to current law, or adding consistency, are not what is really happening here.  HCA removed major governing document sections, added completely new sections, and kept little from known and trusted documents and processes dating back to as early as 1960s HCA creation.  

The following links are to scanned copies of the proposed Articles/Bylaws v2 governing documents, and correspondingly section-keyed review comments added by a long-time resident with years of HCA governing issues and documents working knowledge and experience:

PROPOSED NEW ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION v2                                   (1)  As Proposed by HCA                                                                             (2)  Review Comments

PROPOSED NEW BYLAWS v2                                                                   (1)  As Proposed by HCA                                                                             (2)  Review Comments

You can find the referenced 1964 Articles of Incorporation, 1993 Bylaws, and Special and General Resolutions on the Governing Documents page of this website.

Sadly, many proposed revisions increase Board ability to make major impact cluster decisions without transparent Member notice or approval, ostensibly because most if not all Directors don't have enough time to do all the many things they should be doing to run the cluster.  On the other hand, if you don't have enough time to be a Director, then perhaps you can always step aside and let someone else who has the time, knowledge, and experience be a Director instead.

Examples of serious issues with the new Articles v2 proposed revisions include: removal of violation due process hearing details, adding Common Area unequal and non-uniform use, adding catastrophe repair deadline of six months, allowing non-adult and non-owner household members to be Directors.

And the new Bylaws v2 proposed revisions unfortunately include:  ignoring all 18 Special and General Resolutions, no Good Standing and violations due process details, adding Common Area unequal and non-uniform use, unlimited use of interaction-restricting virtual video meetings, annual meetings any month the Board wants, unlimited proxy vote manipulation, removal of Common Area modification approval by affected Members, allowing Director removal by as few as 10 votes, continued Director appointment without Member opportunity announcement, unlimited Director nomination and election manipulation, lack of Executive Session requirements, continued recent lack of annual financial audit report Member public availability, substituting non-professional business judgment for bid minimums, allowing Special Assessments of any amount with no Member approval, billing Members for Board repairs to their private property, and lack of existing detailed annual dues policy, including possible collection on an other than monthly basis.

That is WAY too much problematic and unresolved stuff.

So because HCA appears to be proposing a quick all-or-nothing vote, and until ALL open issues are resolved, VOTE NO on v2.

Friday, May 27, 2022

HCA DIRECTOR ELECTION MANIPULATED ... AGAIN

Updated May 28, 2022

You would think that after a national spotlight on government election integrity during the past few years even the Hickory Cluster Board of Directors would try hard to avoid real or perceived election irregularities.  And to provide a consistent and fair, if not legal, Director election process as an example of capable cluster management.

Sadly, that did not happen in 2021, and it is about to not happen again in 2022.  Instead, it appears the Board is continuing to manipulate the annual meeting candidate nomination and election process, and is trying to enshrine more of the same manipulation in proposed new versions of HCA bylaws, to ensure election of those candidates the Board likes vs. those it does not. 

Last year was a preview of this year's plan.  You may not have noticed the details then or now, but here's apparently how the 2022 Hickory Cluster Annual Meeting election manipulation works:

1.  SUPPORT NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING
On a private social media group co-administered by a Director, who also sought re-election after the 2022 initial nomination period closed, support another candidate by allowing them ... someone who has commonly-understood histories of undermining the HCA Board and causing the Cluster added expense during the Block 3 parking garage crisis by triggering its condemnation earlier than the Board planned, and of filing Fairfax County zoning and building code complaints against neighbors ... to publish negative and derogatory half-truths about a third candidate specifically to undermine them, even though that social media private group's "rules" say such posts are not allowed.

2.  ANNOUNCE A PHONY NOMINATION DEADLINE
In a first mailing postmarked April 29, announce a pre-meeting nomination form submission hard deadline of 3:00 p.m. May 12 with no other options for nomination later.  And "forget" to include the nomination form in the mailing, but post the nomination form on the official HCA website with no other direct notice that it is there.  That gives the Board advance knowledge of candidates, only two of which applied on time in compliance with clearly stated May 12 deadline, and an ostensible reason to change the deadline mid-stream.

3.  ANNOUNCE THE SAME PHONY DEADLINE ... AGAIN
In a second mailing postmarked May 9, send out the "missing" nomination form with the original 3:00 p.m. May 12 nomination submission hard deadline stated again, and again with no other options for nomination later.  

4.  RECRUIT MORE CANDIDATES
Review the candidates that complied by the twice-stated May 12 deadline.  If you like the candidates, accept them and send out the meeting packets with only those candidates listed.  If you don't like them, set a new nomination deadline to recruit and allow additional candidates.

5.  ALLOW OTHER CANDIDATES TO NOMINATE LATE
Notify other possible candidates, including Directors who originally decided not to run, or others who publicly stated they missed the original deadline, that they are special and do not have to comply with the original clearly-stated nomination May 12 deadline.

6.  ANNOUNCE A NEW NOMINATION DEADLINE OBSCURELY
On the obscure official HCA website, announce there, but not directly via written notice or in any other way to all Members, that the original nomination hard deadline has been magically changed to May 16.

7.  ALLOW EVEN MORE LATE NOMINATIONS AT THE ANNUAL MEETING ITSELF
In a third mailing meeting packet postmarked May 19, now announce that additional nominations during the Annual Meeting itself ... that were NOT allowed according to the first and second mailing announcements ... can be made.

8.  RESTRICT PROXY VOTING ONLY BY THE HCA SECRETARY
In the same third mailing meeting packet, manipulate the proxy form so that proxies can now be assigned ONLY to the HCA Secretary and NOT to other Members as has been the case in HCA for decades.  Assignment to other Members is NOT restricted by the current HCA Bylaws.  And then continue to allow the HCA Secretary to vote uninstructed proxies ... those without designated candidate voting preferences ... without transparency for the candidates of their choice.

9.  ANNOUNCE TWO PROXY SUBMISSION DEADLINE TIMES
The third mailing meeting packet cover letter clearly states a 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 27 proxy submittal deadline to TWC.  BUT ... the proxy form itself amazingly states a 12:00 noon deadline the same day.  This is nuts.  And could result in disqualified proxies.

10.  REMOVE A CANDIDATE'S STATEMENT SECOND PAGE
The May 9 mailing and official website-posted nomination form clearly stated that candidates " ... may submit your statement on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to this form (up to 2 pages).  The Cluster will distribute your statement to the membership with the official Notice of Annual Meeting. ... ."  And April 29 and May 9 mailing cover letters stated " ... Your Statement of Interest provided will be presented to the members exactly as it is provided to us. ... "  One candidate submitted a TWO page statement as allowed.  But the Board failed to include the second page ... a reference copy of the 2019 HCA proxy form that shows serious discrepancies among the 2019, 2021, and 2022 proxy forms ... to Members in the May 19 third mailing meeting packet as promised.

11.  HOLD THE ELECTION ON A MAJOR HOLIDAY WEEKEND
Many Members and their families will probably be out of town for the typically long Memorial Day weekend, Friday-Monday, May 27-30.  They understandably have better things to do than attend a homeowners meeting.  So that means more votes will be by proxy rather than in person, and therefore controlled by the Board to again potentially determine the election winners.  Previous Boards have specifically NOT held the Annual Meeting and election on a holiday weekend to maximize Member attendance and in-person voting.  Yes, Zoom may increase attendance, but it is just not the same.  Really ... who wants to do that on a holiday at the beach or wherever?

12.  ALLOW CANDIDATES TO BE ABSENT FROM THE ELECTION MEETING
Legal counsel advice to previous Boards maintained that Director candidates MUST be physically present at annual meeting elections to effectively and transparently understand and accept election results.  However, for the first time in more than a decade, at least one candidate was on vacation during the time of the Annual Meeting.  And at least one candidate's statement of interest appears to have been written by someone other than the candidate themselves.

13.  ALLOW ABSENT MEMBER VOTES VIA UNKNOWN ONLINE POLLING TOOL
This adds increased complexity to, and questions about, the election process and results audit trail.  What tool is being used?  Who is managing it?  Are all attendees validated as real Members in general, and in good standing specifically?  Does the system produce complete paper records of attendees and their votes for official records and possible review by all Members?  Are the system and results subject to manipulation during or after use?  And a 2013 legal opinion to HCA stated that email voting, a similar electronic process, was not permitted.

NOTE:  More, including respective reference documents, will be posted soon.  Please check back again.

This is not just a simple mistake or two.   It is more than that.  The Board is apparently trying hard to get the Director election results it wants.  Or it just doesn't know what it is doing.  Either way, it is unfair to everyone involved, if not possibly illegal, and indicates either more bad faith or less competency than is reasonable.  

So the question is:  Are enough HCA Members willing to let this happen now and in the future?  

Next time YOU could be the person NOT preferred by the Board.   

Regardless, those two candidates who filed May 12 on time according to the Boards twice-stated deadline requirements should be directly elected to two open positions because they would not have been subject to a clusterwide vote for them.  The other three candidates who filed late May 15-16 should compete only for the one remaining open position.  

And ... Board manipulation of HCA Director elections, for whatever reason, must stop now.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

HCA REVISED BYLAWS + ARTICLES NEED MORE WORK

Updated May 22, 2022

When it became apparent that the Board had changed the meeting purpose from a discussion-and-vote session to a question-and-answer session, a Block 3 HCA Director stated that the Board did not see the meeting announcement letter before TWC sent it out to Members, and that they posted the change on the official HCA website, which of course no one saw.  An irritated Block 3 Member commented, and other attendees agreed, that the Board should have notified Members directly about the change.  Attendees included six Directors and about six other Members.

A common response to Member questions about document text changes, whether partially-documented new version additions or typically undocumented old version deletions, was that the Board wanted "flexibility," ostensibly to unilaterally do anything, anytime, anywhere, and for any reason.  More soon about the rest of the meeting ...

Updated May 18, 2022

The HCA Board of Directors and their new attorney have been working on governing documents revisions for a year or more with no HCA Member public collaboration as part of that process.  Then Members received a Town Hall discussion and voting meeting announcement and proposed document copies on about May 4, postmarked May 2, and dated April 29.

In response, the Board expects at least 60 Members to discuss and approve a package of significant changes in two major governing documents within only two hours on May 18, 2022 ... after only 14 days of review and consideration ... that would then be used to govern at the 2022 HCA Annual Meeting of Members and beyond.

The initial purpose for these new versions was ostensibly to reconcile and align existing governing documents, including Deed, Articles of Incorporation, and Bylaws, with each other and with current relevant Virginia law.  However, the revised Bylaws contain numerous OTHER changes, many of which were NOT called out with the 2022 text, let alone with the 1993 text, several key 1993 sections were eliminated outright, and some changes have no previous HCA document or practice precedent.

Here are the linked source documents with specific sections of note yellow-highlighted, and related review comments summarized on additional pages:

HCA ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION WITH REVIEW COMMENTS                            1964 Version currently in effect                                                                1993 Proposed Amendments to 1964 Articles ... apprvl undocumented        2022 Version proposed by HCA Board

HCA CORPORATE BYLAWS WITH REVIEW COMMENTS                                        1993 Version currently in effect                                                                2022 Version proposed by HCA Board

Current bottom line:  Because of the large number of problematic sections in the 2022 Proposed Bylaws, and because of key 1993 sections eliminated in the 2022 version, this reviewer recommends a NO vote, or NOT voting at all, UNTIL each problematic item is thoroughly discussed, revised if necessary, and reviewed again for final approval, however long it takes for enduring quality rather than convenient speed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

RELAC A/C 2022 SVC STARTUP @ FRI MAY 13

Updated May 11, 2022

Due to cooler than expected weather, RELAC moved their operations start date to Friday, May 13 from Wednesday, May 11, and has begun initially circulating unchilled water to remove entrapped air bubbles from the general service lines.  Individual homeowners must also circulate the water through their home systems to remove the air.

According to RELAC President Mark Waddell today, and assuming no two consecutive 80F+ days in the next week, RELAC will be ready to start the 2022 cooling season on Wednesday, May 11 rather than the May 22 Virginia State Corporation Commission tariff minimum requirement date.  Unmetered flat rate customers will not be charged for the extra days of service, and metered customers will pay for the actual number of gallons measured and used.

The 2022 start date is almost two weeks ahead of the tariff date, but not as early as the April 29, 2018 start date.  Regardless, RELAC management and staff have been hard at work inspecting and adjusting their equipment within Hickory Cluster and elsewhere during the past few weeks.  The RELAC cooling season will end on or about the October 9, 2022 tariff date, but the team has extended it in the recent past for unusually warm Fall weather.  For more information, visit the RELAC page on this website.

Monday, February 28, 2022

RA COVENANTS ADVISOR TO HCA DEPARTS @ FRI MAR 4

Updated May 16, 2022

RA and HCA will lose the substantial knowledge and experience of RA Covenants Advisor Vern James when he leaves to take on new and greater responsibilities nearer his home as the Ashburn Village Community Association, Inc. Resident Services Manager, effective Friday, March 4.  Unknown to most of us during his RA tenure, Vern was also an accomplished writer with nine novels and more than 50 short stories published over a period of 26 years.  

RA is currently in the process of seeking a replacement.  Until that person is on board and trained, the temporary Covenants Advisor for Hickory Cluster is Catherine Castrence, nicknamed "Cat", ccastrence@reston.org.

Vern joined RA in September 2013 and simultaneously supported up to 30 Reston clusters, including Hickory Cluster, for almost nine years.  He became an expert in RA Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions, RA Maintenance & Use Standards, RA DRB Design Guidelines, and HCA Cluster Standards.  He tirelessly helped HCA Members maintain and improve their Goodman Houses, the majority of whom value compliance with protective rules that enhance daily quality of life, Goodman architectural integrity, and resulting property value growth.  And he did this in a friendly manner, even in the face of a heavy workload and unfortunate opposition from a small number of residents who believe RA protective rules, to which they agreed when they purchased their Reston homes, do not apply to them.  Vern was an effective professional, a friend of Hickory Cluster, and a valuable Reston asset.  He will be missed.

Friday, February 4, 2022

HCA GOODMAN HOUSE $745.2K RESALE RECORD @ FEB 3

Updated February 25, 2022

The Payton Residence, an almost fully renovated Hickory Cluster Block 2 Model A2B Goodman House with a near-perfect rear southern exposure to central HCA Common Area, sold for a record $745,200 price yesterday following the July 2021 departure of a beloved long-time medical professional homeowner and her late husband, a highly-regarded journalist, bureau chief, and executive editor.  They met as college students, married, and lived together in Belgium, Israel, Italy, France, and most recently Reston.  Both were serious modern architecture, rock music, foreign film, and Porsche 911 fans.  

A realtor who rarely resells Hickory Cluster Goodman Houses initially sold the home as an off-MLS private sale to an investor buyer in September 2021 for $480,000.  After homeowner out-of-state relatives managing her affairs decided the home was a deferred maintenance "money pit," and to cash out the estate asset as quickly as possible, the realtor they chose did so by representing BOTH the homeowner seller AND investor buyer as what is termed a "dual agent." But as a prominent Hickory Cluster realtor expert diplomatically understated, the dual agent realtor did the homeowner seller a "disservice" by not allowing typical full and open price competition.  Even the realtor's own brockerage company advises that, according to a recent MLS study validated by two Ph.D. economists, "The median sales price for homes sold on-MLS was 16.98% higher than homes sold off-MLS."  In other words, the homeowner seller and her estate lost an estimated $81,504 through an off-MLS sale with no competition among an otherwise huge market of highly-motivated buyers who also could have renovated the home and lived in it.  

But wait, there's more:  As part of the initial deal, the very same realtor arranged to represent the investor as seller during the on-MLS, three-day, six-offer, $745,200 second transaction in February 2022.  She ostensibly earned both a 6% September 2021 commission (homeowner seller 3.5% + investor buyer 2.5%), but also the 3.5% February 2022 investor seller commission.  So who benefited most from this apparent conflict of interest?  With full on-MLS price competition for their follow-on resale, the realtor and investor got the real deals.  The homeowner, with no MLS price competition for the initial resale, did not.

Increased resale prices also mean increased annual assessed property values and property taxes for everyone else.  For one nearby Block 2 Model A2B Goodman House, the 2022 Notice of Real Estate Assessment Change dated February 22, 2022 reports an increase of 15.11% from 2021, no doubt in part due to this February 3 resale.  Corresponding property tax amounts tentatively increased $878.88 from $5,815.44 to $6,694.32, subject to final county tax rate decisions and possible homeowner appeal.  See the real estate sales page of this website for comprehensive Hickory Cluster resale data covering all 2013-22 resales.  

The house was the subject of almost continuous work from September 2021 through January 2022, and the all-too-frequent blocking of a fire hydrant and resident cars by contractor trucks for hours at a time despite clearly marked fire lanes and a clearly visible fire hydrant.  Hickory Cluster fire lane signs do not say "except for contractors."

The investor team repaired substantial drywall water damage and other deferred maintenance, and remodeled bathrooms and kitchen with trendy, contemporary flat-pack DIY cabinets, fixtures, and hardware, all sadly not Mid-Century Modern in design or color.  The ground floor kitchen was reconfigured to be a more open and space-efficient with a useful pantry barn door, but in a simplistic, boring, white-on-white color scheme contrasted by stainless steel appliances and black fixtures and hardware.  Lack of a breakfast bar as part of the new kitchen cabinet divider waterfall counter top was a missed, but still possible, opportunity.  In the process, priceless original 1960s Fresnel lens ceiling and other light fixtures, original butterfly bathroom fixtures, and original kitchen appliance and cabinet components were lost forever rather than offered for reuse to other homeowners. 

Contractors refinished and repaired original Hope steel-frame awning and casement windows and original aluminum frame sliding glass doors, but they also absurdly painted the originally removable awning window screen units to the fixed window frames.  Both types of operable windows and the sliding glass doors will require eventual replacement with more modern alternatives to prevent typical excessive air infiltration and heat loss.  The contractors also added a trendy rear patio high-smoke fire ring sure to be popular with nearby neighbors.  New mixed warm white and cold blue ceiling lights will need overall color consistency, typically on the warm side.  Replacement of the old front main entry door house number plaque with a new and original-design-consistent plaque was a good thing, however, painting the replacement front entry white-anodized window aluminum door and window frames foolishly made previously paint-free elements now regular maintenance items requiring paint to match.

Hardwood floors throughout were significantly repaired and refinished, as was the rear patio brick surface.  The investor removed and replaced original ground floor wood parquet tiles attached by black mastic asbestos adhesive with dark tiles that can provide passive solar heating, but laid diagonally rather than orthogonally as did International Style Goodman.  This was a huge mistake.  Goodman used wood for at least one good reason:  concrete slab floors are and feel VERY cold during Winter months, and wood provided much less heat loss than denser vinyl or tile.  So now to compensate, the new homeowner must buy large and expensive rugs, which of course defeat passive solar heating by shielding the tiles from direct sunlight.  Or, as other homeowners did before not after floor material replacement, the investor could have installed a radiant floor heating system between the slab and new tile.  Or, he could have simply refinished the wood tiles as have many other Goodman House homeowners.  And then there's the issue of possible asbestos fiber contamination if not properly managed during tile removal.

Also sadly, it appears the RA resale inspection and disclosure document team neglected to fully follow its own Design Guidelines, Maintenance & Use Standards, and HCA Cluster Standards during both 2021 and 2022 resales of this home.  Such negligence results in unfair treatment of other HCA homeowners who were previously cited for and invested in repairing the very same non-compliant conditions elsewhere, including:  rear mid-level non-original as-built design gutter and downspout addition, upper roof deck non-original as-built design replacement light fixture, and rear top concrete beam black mildew caused by a seriously overgrown tree next door.  In addition, rear patio staggered board fences are non-compliant designs according to current HCA General Resolution 6 Fence Standards, an RA Cluster Standard, which allows four specific options, and the standard does not allow exposed hinge hardware.  According to previous HCA legal counsel guidance, such violations persist whether cited or not, and new homeowners inherit related remediation liability.  RA and HCA standards inspection and disclosure negligence also contributes to a growing accumulation of non-compliant elements, and a death spiral in individual and community Goodman House architectural integrity.

Regardless, Hickory Cluster continues to benefit from a strong real estate seller market with low supply, high demand, and historically low mortgage rates.  Goodman Houses sell quickly, with large cash down payments, almost sight unseen, and without buyer contingencies.  The overall financial success of this project for the realtor and investor is a reflection of those current conditions.  However, further continuation of this success for all stakeholders will still depend on diligent support of unique original as-built Goodman House architectural integrity by both RA and HCA, and the resulting market appeal and value to enlightened and motivated homebuyers who will pay premium prices to own an original Reston, Mid-Century Modern, Hickory Cluster Goodman House.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

COUNTY RESALE BUYER ISSUES OF NOTE

Every housing market has unique issues of note or concern to home buyers.  On the West Coast, it's earthquakes, landslides, and wildfires.  In the Midwest and South, it's tornados, hurricanes, and floods.  And some general issues cut across geographic boundaries, like construction materials, workmanship, and building permits.  Here are some buyer issues of note for remodeled or renovated Fairfax County homes, including Hickory Cluster Goodman Houses:

RADON GAS ... Radon, an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas has been identified as a major nationwide cause of lung cancer by the Federal Government.  It has also been identified as a probable risk in Fairfax County homes, including Hickory Cluster Goodman Houses, that may require pump remediation systems to reduce indoor radon infiltration and risk.  See the corresponding Fairfax County Radon webpage for maps and other information, and consult respective professionals for possible radon review, testing, analysis, and remediation.

ASBESTOS ADHESIVE ... 1960s Mid-Century Modern homes nationwide were originally built using some materials now considered to be environmentally harmful.  Lead paint, not banned until 1978, is one example.  Another is wood parquet floors typically installed with black mastic adhesive that contains asbestos fibers.  All Hickory Cluster Goodman Houses had ground floor wood parquet tiles installed during original construction.  If asbestos fibers in the mastic adhesive holding the wood tiles to the concrete slab are sufficiently disturbed and become airborne, an HVAC system, home, and indoor air could be contaminated.  Therefore, if your Goodman House ground floor wood parquet floors have been replaced with any other material, consult respective professionals for possible asbestos review, testing, analysis, and remediation.

BUILDING PERMITS ... Local jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, require building permits to ensure that home renovations are completed according to state building safety codes.  And buyers may inherit responsibility for obtaining permits or final approvals if the process is not completed by sellers before purchase transaction settlement.  Visit the Fairfax Inspections Database Online (FIDO) to identify county building permit and approval status by street address, and ensure before settlement that home renovation work was properly permitted, approved, and completed according to code.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

GOOGLE DRIVE DOC LINKS REPAIRED

As previously posted, Google made security changes that impacted hundreds of files stored in our 1gb Google Drive document database and linked to almost every page and post.  This made previously public and directly accessible documents inaccessible unless (1) users entered a password, or (2) the webmaster modified the new security update for each document.  As of today, the webmaster has modified all new security updates, and all linked documents should now be directly accessible to users without passwords.  Please email the webmaster at hickoryclusterassociation@gmail.com if you experience any lingering problems, and ignore the email auto-response.  Thanks for your patience.