Monday, June 22, 2020


Reston developed Vantage Hill Cluster condominiums in 1967 to provide non-subsidized affordable workforce housing options.  About eight years ago, the Vantage Hill Condominium Unit Owners Association abandoned its dedicated swimming pool common area due to extensive overall deferred maintenance, insufficient reserves funding, high operating costs, and a gradual transition from owner-occupied to rental units.  Vantage Hill currently contains about 35% rental units within 152 units total, while HCA currently has about 12% rentals within 90 total.  VHCUOA 2019 fees ranged from $35-57 monthly, or $420-680 annually, based on shared condo buildings, infrastructure, and common area.  HCA 2019 fees ranged from about $160-240 monthly, or $1920-2880 annually, based on individual townhome units and 2000-24 Block 3 garage project loan $0-80 monthly payments.  VH 2019 condo sales prices ranged from $140,000-250,000 while HC 2019 townhome sales prices ranged from $399,900-$510,000.  An April 2019 Reston Now article provided an early project report.

To build reserves and fund overdue deferred maintenance and improvement projects, a majority of Vantage Hill homeowners recently agreed to sell their unused 2.12 acre swimming pool common area to a local residential developer Craftmark Homes, who proposes to build up to 31 townhomes, and shift 50 parking spaces to other parts of the property, for which the condo association is projected to receive net proceeds of almost $3,500,000.  Vantage Hill and Craftmark will provide an informational presentation to the Full DRB at its 7:00 p.m. monthly virtual meeting tomorrow, and affected parties may voice their concerns, for which RA made the meeting packet publicly available this morning.   Craftmark mailed required meeting notification letters dated June 2 to 21 HCA and other affected parties directly adjoining Vantage Hill.  In response, neighbors submitted to RA at least 17 individual affected party statements of concerns about building-out dedicated cluster common area to generate revenue, increased building density, reduced open space, street setbacks, traffic, noise, safety, tree removal, storm drainage, animal impacts, and more.

For more June 23 Vantage Hill project application package information, see the following links:
  Developer DRB Application, Attachments
  Vantage Hill Condo Assn. Letter to Owners
  Developer Letter to Affected Parties, Map, List
  Affected Parties Statements of Concern
  Developer Site Plans Proposed
  Developer + Vantage Hill Slide Presentation

To attend the June 23 FDRB virtual Zoom meeting, see the Affected Parties Letter link above and/or the following online access summary:
  Meeting Agenda
  Meeting ID:  956 8866 0759
  Password:  934817


To help preserve remaining Hickory Cluster architectural integrity, and to help maintain and increase popular Mid-Century Modern resale property values, HCA requires RA DRB applications and approvals for replacing solid entry doors, solid balcony doors, sliding glass doors, fixed or operable glass windows, concrete block or wood rear patio fences and gates, and other original Goodman House as-built design elements and colors as documented in respective HCA governing documents and RA DRB Design Guidelines, even for some compliant proposed replacements.  The application preparation and submission process also follows a number of important steps.  To help HCA Members understand and successfully complete those steps during and after the 2018 RA Cluster Inspections, HCA developed the application process guide posted above.  Note that the guide describes a best case scenario for a complete application, fully compliant project, and normal RA process times.  In addition, RA recently updated their corresponding application form required for all DRB submissions by all RA homeowners.  For more information, see the HCA website Governing Documents webpage for cluster-specific HCA General Resolution architectural standards that take precedence over RA guidelines, the more general RA DRB Cluster Housing Design Guidelines webpage, and the RA DRB application webpage.

Sunday, June 14, 2020


The HCA Board of Directors advised that they will hold a monthly Regular Meeting on June 17, 2020 as a public GoToMeeting due to continuing coronavirus pandemic emergency concerns.  Virginia law requires homeowners' associations to hold physical public meetings and Director votes, but April 22, 2020 emergency legislation temporarily allows association meetings via electronic means without the requirement of at least two directors meeting in person.  HCA Members can attend the meeting online at using the GoToMeeting webpage or app.  Or attendees can dial into the meeting via telephone at (312) 757-3119 or toll free at (866) 899-4679.  Participation requires a 9-digit security Access Code available to HCA Members via email request prior to the meeting from HCA Secretary Tom Drake at  HCA Regular Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.  For more information contact HCA Secretary Drake.


Meal kits have become increasingly popular nationwide, including with HCA Members, as a way to reduce grocery shopping and coronavirus infection risk.  Every week delivery vans bring cardboard boxes full of pre-measured ready-to-cook ingredients cooled by gel ice packs to keep perishable meats, sauces, and vegetables fresh and unspoiled. 

The gel is mostly a substance called sodium polyacrylate, a powder that can absorb 300 times its weight in water, something very effective in diapers.  However, the meal kit providers give conflicting recycling guidance.  Blue Apron says "Defrost pack completely, cut corner and drain contents in sink, recycle empty plastic pack."  Hello Fresh says "Cut a corner, empty non-toxic contents into trash, recycle plastic pack."  Freshly also says to dump the gel in your trash.  But from industry leader Blue Apron you might get the impression that pouring this gel into your sink and down your drain with lots of water and garbage disposal action in general is okay.  Especially if you tend to recycle as much as possible.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  What the meal kit ice packs should say is:  "DO NOT EVER POUR THIS STUFF DOWN YOUR DRAIN".  If you do and it clogs, it may take three or more tries with a 60 ft. rotating mechanical snake to somehow move it out of the way.  Roto-Rooter charged an HCA Member a flat $655 fee for this, and it did not work the first two times.  If the snake fails, your plumber may have to try a water jet system, typically used to remove restaurant drain grease.  That will cost about $2,000.  Bottom line:  Just throw the entire meal kit ice pack ... water and gel and plastic bag ... into your trash.  Or send them back to Blue Apron as described in a June 4, 2017 Mother Jones article.  Anywhere but NOT your drain.  UPDATE ... Large meal pack gel packs create another problem if left to thaw in a stainless steel kitchen sink during humid weather.  The packs chill the stainless steel, the humid air condenses on the underside steel surface inside the sink storage cabinet, and the condensation then drips down onto the cabinet bottom.  If not somehow contained, this dripping condensation will ruin unprotected cabinet wood. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020


The HCA Board of Directors advised yesterday that they will hold a monthly Regular Meeting on May 20, 2020 as a public GoToMeeting due to continuing coronavirus pandemic emergency orders.  Virginia law requires homeowners' associations to hold physical public meetings and Director votes, but April 22, 2020 emergency legislation temporarily allows association meetings via electronic means without the requirement of at least two directors meeting in person.  However, Code of Virginia Chapter 18 Section 55.1-1815, Paragraph G still requires associations to provide members with at least 14 days annual or regular meeting advance notice.  HCA Members can attend the meeting from a computer, tablet, or smartphone via after downloading, installing, and running the GoToMeeting application.  Or attendees can dial into the meeting via telephone at (312) 757-3119 or toll free at (866) 899-4679.  Participation requires a 9-digit meeting security Access Code available to HCA Members via email request prior to the meeting from HCA Secretary Tom Drake at  HCA Regular Meetings normally begin at 7:30 p.m.  For more information contact HCA Secretary Drake.

UPDATE ... May 20:  TWC provided additional information posted at right via snailmail notice postmarked Monday, May 18 and received today, Wednesday, May 20.  Try printing the page if the screen image lacks readable resolution.  However, HCA Secretary Tom Drake confirmed this evening via email that the information he provided on May 16 for the website posting above, not the snailmail notice at right, is correct for the meeting tonight.  As before, email Tom for the secure access code.

Monday, May 11, 2020


As announced via the recent snailmail notice at right, and continuing an annual service since 2012:
BLOCK 1 Wednesday, May 13 
BLOCK 2 Wednesday-Thursday, May 13-14
BLOCK 3 Friday, May 15 and Monday, May 18
This schedule is subject to change depending on weather and other factors.  HCA residents should remove all personal property stored on hardscape Common Areas, including planting pots and furniture, to allow contractor access and cleaning of all areas.  Residents should also relocate their vehicles parked near sidewalks if concerned about possible damage.  This work will include Block 3 front main entry door Common Area elevated landings and carriage house driveway aprons from building edge private property lines.


Since October 2019, Fairfax County has asked residents to discontinue placing used glass in curbside recycling collections, and instead either place glass in their trash, or take glass to a county purple bin location.  In March 2020, the county temporarily suspended purple bin collections due to coronavirus pandemic concerns.  However, as of Monday, May 11, the County resumed purple bin collection at the Reston Parkway Park and Ride lot, the Great Falls Library parking lot, and in Herndon, Vienna, McLean and elsewhere throughout Fairfax County.  For more information, see related HCA website posts and Fairfax County website posts.


From RELAC President Mark Waddell on May 6:  " ... Our team at RELAC is ready to begin the 2020 A/C season. Looks like the weather for early May will be cooler than it has been for the last few years.  As a reminder the official startup date is May 22 or the second consecutive 80 degree day in May.  In the last few years this has happened in the first week of May.  The forecast has the temperatures well below 70 for the next 9 days.  We will continue to monitor the weather and update you on the RELAC startup date. ... "

May 13:  "The forecast is for 80 degree temperatures this Friday and Saturday (May 15-16).  RELAC will start up this Friday by noon for at least two days.  Then the forecast is for 4 cooler days.  If this forecast holds RELAC may not be operating till the temperatures gets to 70 again Thursday May 21. ... "

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


A Hickory Cluster resident found this fluffy, sandy-colored, blue-eyed, and ever-so-affectionate Ragdoll breed female on the footpath behind 11553-57 Maple Ridge Rd. in Block 2 yesterday evening at about dusk, uninjured but disoriented and distressed.  She had not been seen there before and had no ID tag.  To keep her safe from local foxes and other predators, freezing weather, and mowing crews, she is temporarily staying in a nearby cat-loving home with fresh food, water, and litterbox, and lots of attention.  To return this sweetheart to her real home, call or text 703 405 9946 and describe her collar.  UPDATE ... April 24:  A happy ending.  Her name is Luna, her relieved Coleson Cluster owner called and stopped by yesterday, and Luna is now back home with her family, hopefully never to be lost again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


From RELAC LLC President Mark Waddell to customers via email this morning:  "I hope everyone is staying safe.  With the current stay at home directive it is very important to make sure our system is operational so our customers are able to use their A/C effectively.  RELAC began the seasonal startup process on April 1.  This year we are only using our regular staff for startup and not hiring any temporary workers.  We made this decision to limit contact between our staff and outside help in order to keep our staff as safe as possible.  Therefore the startup will take longer than usual.  We will do our best to get everything up and running by the second 80 Degree day in May.  If the RELAC team needs to do some work within your homes they will first ask if you are comfortable with them entering.  They will wear gloves and masks to keep everyone as safe as possible.  Our mask supply is getting low and we are finding it hard to find good replacements.  If anyone has any information where to find masks to help us out,  we be most appreciative."