Category Archives: Wade’s Two Cents

This category is designated for editorials from the HOA Secretary. These posts are not official board communications and are designed to improve communications within the Community and provide general observations from Wade.

PRETTIEST YARDS

As many of you know, I walk just about everyday. It’s been great for my health and energy level, and I get the extra bonus of meeting my neighbors and talking to them regularly.

I’ve noticed a number of really nice yards in my walks, and I’ve been meaning to share a view or 2 of what I think are great yards for a while. Before I post anything here or online, I want to make sure the resident is ok with that, so while I have every intent of sharing, I tend to forget that intent about 5 minutes further into my walk.  Sorry.

HOWEVER, today I was walking, and I noticed a yard once again that has consistently been to me the epitome of the perfectly kept yard – and I finally thought to get permission from the resident this time to post a picture of their yard, and here it is…

Not too long ago I posted another blog here talking about lawn maintenance in general. In that post, one of the things I talked about doing was calling out the best yards periodically.  We haven’t officially started that, so this is just a Wade’s 2 cents comment – I always notice how nice this yard looks.  There are several yards that are way above average in our neighborhood – and I’ll call them out soon too.  But this one always catches my eye.

On the news & notices side, we have a 4 member Grounds Committee currently, and we’re starting to put together some ideas on general maintenance expectations. One of the things that the Board is responsible for is making sure that the neighborhood complies with the Declarations.  The Board relies on the Grounds committee to work with contractors and neighbors to make sure that the common areas as well as other visible areas of the neighborhood are all maintained to a reasonably attractive standard. When you have a chance, take a look at my previous post on Lawn Care.

As we get closer to the fall, I’ll be sharing more information on things we’re planning to do to help with problem yards. One of the easiest things to do, regardless of the content of your lawn, is to keep it mowed weekly.  No matter how many weeds or how little grass there is, if it’s short, it’s not all that bad.

Keep waving!

Wade

TRAIL WARNINGS

I’ve been meaning to post something ever since we cleaned up the trail a few weeks back regarding the vegetation you will find. For many of us, this is stuff we grew up hearing and in many cases experiencing the hard way, so there will be those of you who recognize this information and recall times in your past when those lessons left their marks.
But for those of you less familiar with the joys of the outdoors, or who have not encountered the less friendly flora of the Virginia landscape, I offer the following.

A while back I posted some information about the toxic weeds that you can find in our neighborhood – Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac. (http://cedargrovehoa.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=221&action=edit)
I want everyone to be very aware of these plants when walking the trail.  Poison Ivy has 3 smooth leaves, and can be a wide range of colors.  The first picture below is of a very mature plant, and looks hardier than the darker green leaves on the vine below it. But they are both Poison Ivy, and they will both make you itch like crazy.

While the five leaved Virginia Creeper plant that resembles poison ivy is not toxic, it often grows side by side with both Poison Ivy AND Poison Sumac, so it’s usually best to steer clear of that as well.

Another thing to be VERY aware of is that the oil from the Poison Ivy can get on your shoes and clothing, and your pet’s fur, and while you may not have any problems immediately, you could inadvertently track that into your home later, and eventually come in contact with it and experience a surprise rash. So watch where you are walking – and look for the familiar “leaves of three,” and “leave them be” – stay clear of them.

But it’s equally as important to watch for Sumac along the trail – it is the perfect area for it, and there are some sizable Sumac bushes that you REALLY don’t want brushing your face. I had that happen as a kid and ended up with a rash in my eyes that I had to put a salve in every day for a week to help me recover – it was awful. So look out for this bush and leaf structure –

One of my FAVORITE types of cobbler is Blackberry. (if you don’t know what that is, it’s a big square dish with flour, sugar and berries baked into a pie-like pastry – they’re DELICIOUS.) And we have tons of Blackberry bushes in the neighborhood. But be careful and pay attention to where you are picking later this year – Blackberry leaves resemble poison ivy, and often grow alongside it. There are noticeable differences though – the leaves have a slightly different look, and Blackberries have briers, while Poison Ivy does not.

This is a Blackberry bush growing in the middle of a bunch of Poison Ivy…

 

 

Look for the briers, and note the slight differences in the leaves…

 

 

 

These are both Blackberry bushes…

One final warning I’ll leave you with is to avoid Pokeweed. There are tons of them around the neighborhood, and unless you grew up in the backwoods somewhere around people that really know what to do what to do with that stuff, it is deadly poison. Seriously – Pokeweed can cause nausea, vomiting, cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, low blood pressure, difficulty controlling urination (incontinence), thirst, and other serious side effects. No matter what you read on the internet, don’t mess with it. There are lots of sites out there that say they will show you how to prepare it and they claim that it’s ok to eat if you cook it right and all that – but it’s crap. Don’t mess with it, and make sure your kids know that the berries are toxic – just a few of them if ingested can be fatal.

With all that said, don’t avoid the trail – enjoy it! Just know what to avoid while walking the trail.

More information on Poison Ivy and similar plants – http://www.poison-ivy.org/poison-ivy-quiz

I GOTTA SAY …

The neighborhood watch captains have been provided with door hangers for every house in the neighborhood advertising the upcoming community events – if you live on one of the roads that I was responsible for you received yours today. (You may also have received them already if you live on other streets – I haven’t communicated with them yet.)

I have to say, I really love this neighborhood! I had a great time today talking with those of you who were at home and able to come to the door when I rang the bell. And thanks by the way for answering – you never know what to expect when you answer the door, and I’m not the most polished looking guy with my dirty Pierces Barbecue hat and my flannel shirt and sweat jacket. (At least I didn’t wear my crazy guy sunglasses – maybe that’s part of the reason so many people went ahead and took a chance and opened the door…)

Anyway, I’m always energized after talking to my neighbors. In a world where texting, social media – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Blogs, teleconferences, blah blah blah – seem to be taking control of every spare minute of everyone’s time, the good ole’ fashioned pastime of talking seems to be on the wane. I delivered about 50 door hangers, and I had the pleasure of talking to at least half of the residents I delivered to. I met a bunch of new people, saw some beautiful yards, listened to a few concerns, got some great feedback, found a volunteer for the social committee (WOO HOO!) and met a few of the people that read my blog. (That’s always fun!)

In my experience, when neighbors know each others names, and talk with one another, the neighborhood is a much warmer, happier place. And I personally think that’s what being at home is all about – warmth and happiness. You can laugh if you want, but I still watch the old Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies shows – the ones they show on MeTV – the shows I grew up watching. And the lessons I learned were that you don’t have to do the same things, or like the same things, or be in everyone’s business to have a good neighborhood – you have to feel comfortable and safe. I hope that’s how everyone feels here – I know I do.

So I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing everyone around the neighborhood! We have the planned events coming up – if you have time to participate, I’m sure it will be fun. If nothing else, come out and talk to the neighbors on those days! Walk the trail with us on the 25th – it’s a great hike! Let’s get all the pink lemonade vodka bottles out of the bushes along the main road – and the construction trash out of the bushes in the Hennington streets … let’s plant a few early flowers at the entrance … let’s plan the best sites for new picnic tables and flower beds along the trail. Plan on coming to the picnic in April – it should be awesome weather this time – we’ve planned it far enough in advance so that it won’t be in the middle of the summer this time. And there are more ideas that we have for neighborhood fun all to make this the best, warmest, friendliest, safest neighborhood that it can be.

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

I’ll start this post with a statement:

Everything that I write in these posts is my opinion. That’s the reason for the “2 cents” at the top of the page. This post is not a Board sanctioned or sponsored commentary. I am currently a member of the Cedar Grove HOA Board of Directors. If I post information to this site that is related to issues that are within the scope of Board activities, then the purpose of that information is to provide the community with my opinion on an issue that may or may not at some point impact someone. My posts do not necessarily represent the opinion of any other Board member.

The homeowners association is the cornerstone of a planned residential community. It brings continuity and order to the community, it preserves the architectural integrity and it maintains the common elements. Properly run, the association promotes the concept of “community” and protects the neighborhood’s property values. In many cases, it collectively makes available recreational and other facilities that might not otherwise be affordable or available to homeowners and residents on an individual basis.

The HOA Board of Directors is responsible for the administration of the affairs of the Association. That entails quite a few things, but in essence, the Board is tasked with making sure the neighborhood remains healthy – maintaining the common areas, making sure there are sufficient funds to keep the common areas in good condition, making sure that all required paperwork is filed and available, ensuring that no individual property spoils the overall look of the neighborhood – things like that. (Article III of the Association By-laws outlines the responsibilities of the Board of Directors. (Cedar Grove HOA By-laws) )

Disagreements among Board members are not uncommon. When a group of people get together with different ideas of how things should be done, there will normally be a certain amount of debate, which can and should be a very good thing. Debate, discussion, review, disagreement – all these things make for a more rounded decision.

While disagreement can be a good thing, it can very easily escalate into a very bad thing. The thing with disagreements is that they must be subject to a mutually agreed upon mediation method. The Cedar Grove Association documents require that meetings be conducted in accordance with the most current version of “Robert’s Rules of Order,” which is the common reference for any organizational meeting. Unfortunately, if any members of the Board refuse to, or for whatever reason are unable to follow those rules, and fail to maintain a level of decorum, the Business of the Association may not be able to be conducted.

And that last statement is the reason for this commentary. As some of you know, for the last few meetings of the Board of Directors, there has been a disturbing trend of open hostility between various Board members. This hostility is most often the result of disagreements regarding minor issues that are of no consequence to the conduct of Community Business, and often appear to be related to matters of personal preference.

After reading the above comments you may think the next request  sounds crazy, but I’m asking that as many people as possible attend the next meeting of the Board. It’s scheduled for March 8th at the North Park Library in the large conference room at 6:00 pm. Thus far, the maximum attendance at a Board meeting has been less than 5 residents. The thing is, the Board should be acting on the behalf of the community. Period. So the more community members are present at the meeting, the better the chance of limiting any arguments that are of no concern to the community. But more importantly, a strong community participation will also help set the stage for future Board meetings where there may be less attendance.

One more thing. There are currently 4 Board members. That means that any vote can and often is split, thus preventing any action by the Board. At the first Board meeting of the year, it took nearly 2 hours for the Board to agree on a managing agent. So, please be thinking about whether you would like to participate in making decisions as a Board member. That is currently a very hot issue for this Board, and one that still hasn’t been agreed to. But perhaps if you are able to attend the meeting in March, and you see the need, you may be the perfect addition to a currently very divided Board.

I’d like to know what you think – please provide your feedback in the comments section below, or email me at wade@cedargrovehoa.com.

CGHOA – AESTHETICS PART IV

2cFor the next few Aesthetics posts, I’m going to talk about some things that are a little more than just a matter of taste. They can actually impact the value of not only your home, but potentially even those around you.

First, lets talk about Porch railings and pickets.

rails1When the houses in our neighborhood were first going in, the railings for the front porches were in most cases a cheap, thin grade of wood. Mine started rotting out after about 8 or 10 years, and I started repairing the pickets as they literally fell out of the railings.

picketrotThat was fun for a while – I got to get a nice new piece of 1×2, cut it to size, prime it and paint it, then stick it into the rails and feel really good about the great job I’d done as a do it yourself homeowner.

Then, somehow after this happened over and over again, it lost its glamor – I really didn’t care about how nice it looked and how it was cool to do it myself… enough was enough. I was sick of the effort. Then I saw one of my neighbors replacing his railings with vinyl – and voila! That was the answer! So I measured my porch, took a trip to my trusty Lowes up the road, dropped about $300.00 or so and installed my new porch railing. (OK, so I went back a couple of times because I didn’t get all the right pieces. A couple of times.)

rails$126.00 at Lowes

Unfortunately, I’m not alone in my experience with rotted porch railings and pickets. While my house was one of the first in the neighborhood, most of the houses in Cedar Grove are now at least 10 years old, and many are experiencing the inevitable rot that happens with that cheap material our builders seem to have loved so much. So if this is happening to your house, you’re not alone.

It is important however, that once you realize that the railing and pickets on your porch have succumbed to the ravages of mother nature, you put together a plan of how to address it and then act on it. Some people have repaired pickets like I did – that’s great. Others have either replaced or paid someone to replace the railing and pickets with all new wood – I’ve seen a couple of those and they look fantastic!

But there are a bunch that really look bad. And that’s the kind of thing that the Association has to take a look at and call to people’s attention.

police1No, the HOA is not trying to be mean, or put an undue burden on anyone, but the fact is, rotten anything on the front of a house can impact property values, and none of us want that. So please take a look at your porch railing, and if you know it’s under-par, submit an AMR and get it fixed.

Incidentally, if you do get a notice at some point that there’s a problem with your porch railing – or anything else for that matter – please reply to the notice right away and let the Board know what’s going on. If there’s a reason you can’t get to it right away, that’s fine, just let us know when you can, or if you can, and we’ll be happy to work with you. Remember – the goal is to keep the property values up for everyone in the neighborhood!

If you have any comments or questions about this post, I’d love to hear from you – send me an email to wade@cedargrovehoa.com.

 

PET PEEVES

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Our diversity is one of the things that makes our Country such a great place. We come from many different backgrounds, whether we were born and raised in this Country or in another. Our experiences, our ideas, our skills and everything that makes us who we are adds a tremendous depth and breadth to who we are as a people.

This is NOT a political post. (Yep, I could see that look of “oh lord, where the heck is he going with this. ) No, right now I’m thinking about how all that coolness just stated also comes with a little teeny, weeny, itsy, bitsy glitch.

peeves

peeve6
noun, informal
plural noun: pet peeves
  1. something that a particular person finds especially annoying.
    “one of my biggest pet peeves is poor customer service”

To each of us, our particular pet peeve makes perfect peeve1sense.  Most of the time, pet peeves are just little things that annoy us. It could be anything – someone walks by and doesn’t acknowledge our exceedingly cute dog, or maybe someone spits in the road, or someone doesn’t pick up after their pet, or they sneeze into their hand, not their elbow, or they come in  to work when they are obviously sick, or they wait too long at the drive through after they get their order, or they order too much stuff in the drive through, or they have too much stuff in the 10 items or less lane … or a bazillion other simple, stupid little things that are annoying if it’s someone else doing it. I’ve started to really get annoyed by those stupid automated “customer service” recordings you get when you dial in for just about anything these days – OH I HATE waiting to talk to a person and a stupid recording asking me a million STUPID questions that they never get into the record so I have to answer them all over again when a human picks up the phone. ARGH!!!

peeve5

I’m also kind of nuts about the incessant texting ever since the text message got its start in the early ’90s. It seempeeve4s like the ability to speak, or worse, to write whole thoughts out is becoming more and more difficult for people. For years we’ve all heard about how silly it is for 2 people to be texting each other or other people during a meal at a Restaurant, but by golly, everyone still does it!

Another thing that tends to drive me nuts is when my wife or kids talk “baby talk” or whatever it is to the stupid cats in the house. OR call themselves it’s mommy, or me it’s daddy… I’M NOT THE STUPID CAT’S DADDY!

peeve2

Regardless of what our specific Pet Peeves are, they can actually be the little bits of sand in the works that will cause just enough friction to slow things down. They usually aren’t enough to bring things to a grinding halt, but if left unchecked, they can eventually cause problems.  And at some point, we may find that it’s shocking to us that anyone wouldn’t see exactly the same thing that we dpeevehouseo – whatever it is, and our thoughts drift to the idea that whatever is annoying us is just plain messed up, and whoever does it shouldn’t do it, and if they are doing it, they’re just plain inconsiderate.

Which may or may not be the case. In some cases, someone really is doing something that’s just messed up. Coming in to the office sick IS inconsiderate. Pouring chemicals down a storm sewer IS illegal and morally wrong – it damages the environment. My brother used to laugh at me because I got mad when I saw trash on the side of the road, because his logic was, “in a few months that will most likely disintegrate. If you take it to the dump in a plastic bag it’ll be around for centuries.” I almost smacked him. litterbug

MOST people agree that throwing trash out the window DOES detract from the visual appeal, so while it may be a pet peeve, it’s a common one. There are many things that the community in general considers annoying, or wrong, and that’s the key.  If it’s something that 1 or 2 people find annoying, it’s a pet peeve. If the community finds it annoying, it may really be a problem.

tightropeAnd there’s the tight-rope for the Board – figuring out which pet peeve is a community concern, and which one is a natural,  individual, egocentricity.  That’s why we really do want the community to be involved – remember that whatever happens, SOMEBODY is upset with the Board. But we try to make sure that the needs and the issues of the Community are being addressed, while still hearing and taking into account the voices and concerns of individuals.

In my experience, it’s most often best to approach things from a moderate perspective – what’s really important… what adds real value, what improves relationships, what builds the fiber of the community, what makes everyone feel better about themselves and their neighbors… those are things to focus on.

chill_dude

If you have any comments regarding this or any of my posts, I’d love to hear from you – send me a note at wade@cedargrovehoa.com

 

CGHOA – AESTHETICS PART III

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In the last 2 Aesthetics posts, I’ve talked about a couple of items that stand out – Mailboxes and the Lawn.  Those are 2 things that in my opinion make up the bulk of the issues that can draw negative attention to any property if not kept in a neat, standard order.

In this post we’ll review a topic that is usually a little less obvious –

Shutters and Doors

I was here when the neighborhood was brand-new – back in 1999, so I can say with authority and first-hand knowledge that the neighborhood is now well established. Many of the houses are now at a stage where they will be requiring some good ‘ole TLC – a little paint, a new picket or two on the front porch, a new mailbox, a deck upgrade, and some even need a new roof. (Like mine.) So as we move forward together to address these common needs, lets consider a few things that will help to enhance the experience for everyone.

Before we get started, all changes to the outside of the house require an Architectural Modification Request form. When the Architectural Change Committee (ACC) reviews that, They’ll be comparing your request against the Cedar Grove HOA Design Guidelines.

door_n_shutter

Direct sunlight fades colors. That’s just the way it is. So part of maintaining a home is repainting faded shutters and doors. Especially on the South facing sides of the homes, the shutters are now really starting to fade, especially where the tree(s) in the yard have been damaged by the storms. While it’s important for everyone to maintain their own individuality and align their choice of colors for the repairs with their own tastes and preferences, we are still in a community with a fairly conservative overall look and feel. So when considering your options, please use this as a reference for color ranges:

TimelessColors

This is the Timeless Colors selection from Sherwin Williams.  We are not in any way requiring a specific brand of paint, nor endorsing anything here. This is just a reference – this is the range of colors that are most acceptable within the neighborhood, and chances are if one of these or one like these is submitted in an AMR it will probably be approved. On the other hand, please avoid bright, fluorescent colors, pinks, oranges, etc. – they just don’t align with the look & feel of the neighborhood.

If you want to use a color that isn’t part of this palette, then just make sure you submit the palette identification so the ACC can look it up and see if it aligns. If you find a color that isn’t on this pallet, it would be great if you could just provide the collection and color number so the ACC can just look it up. Or submit a color chip in your email.  For example, one way to submit an AMR would be to state the following:

I want to paint my shutters since they are faded. My color choice for the shutters and doors is from Sherwin Williams Historic Collection. It is SW2801 and is Rockwood Dark Red.  Here is a link for reference http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW2801-rookwood-dark-red/#/2801/?s=coordinatingColors&p=PS0

When selecting colors for shutters and doors it’s important to consider the fact that we are all living in a community – a planned urban development to be specific.  The colors selected by the original developer were selected for their ability to stand the test of time, and retain a common look and feel. The Board is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining an overall aesthetic to the neighborhood, and in line with that it is necessary to consider the bigger picture when it comes to individual tastes and preferences. So while one person may think that it’s time to move forward with a newer look and feel, it’s not fair to the community to take that as the new accepted standard. This is the reason that it’s so important for the community to participate in the annual meeting, and to take note of any upcoming agenda items for quarterly board meetings.

housecolorsThere are certainly many neighborhoods that incorporate a wide range of colors in their homes, and it looks great. And we’re not saying that any specific color is good or bad. But what we ARE saying is that it’s important to consider how any individual color preference may add or detract from the overall look of a community.  If all the houses have brightly colored shutters, then a single divergence from a color scheme adds to the diversity. If, however, all the houses have more warm, traditional colors, a single fluorescent color then stands out and detracts from the overall aesthetic.

There is no single expert that decides right or wrong in these cases. The ACC is made up of at least 3 individuals, from the community, and the goal is to keep the standards high.  Communicate with the Board – let them know what you want to do, and then work with them. There is no desire to inhibit personal choice – the desire is to ensure that the personal choice doesn’t impact the rest of the neighborhood.

Talk to you next time…

CGHOA – AESTHETICS PART II

2c

In my last post I talked about mailboxes – how they can either fade into the background, or jump out and make you notice them.  This week I’m going to spend a few minutes re-visiting a topic I’ve brought up before –

The Lawn

The thing is, a pretty lawn can divert attention from a whole lot of things that may otherwise detract from the aesthetics of a house. If the grass is thick, and dark green, and weed-free, it draws the attention like a magnet.  You walk by and your last thought is usually “wow, that is some pretty grass.”

grass1grass2

On the other hand, if the lawn is NOT that pretty, eye-catching well-manicured green that seems to erase the ugly –

Well, the overall effect can be a little bit worse than the sum of the parts…

rundown

Ok, so maybe not THAT bad, but you get the idea – Pretty Lawn usually = pretty house, ugly lawn = not so much. So pay  attention to your grass – it’s like your house’s necktie.

If your lawn is full of weeds, keep it cut short – green is green and as long as the weeds are short they aren’t that noticeable.  And don’t forget to weed-eat the curb – grass growing over the side of the curb looks bad even if your lawn is perfectly manicured.

This is the time of year to do something about your lawn.  September and October are the months to get your lawn aerated and seeded, and you can put down a winter fertilizer in December that will get your lawn ready for the spring.  The lawn mowing season is winding down – but not the lawn attention season.

In case you missed it – here’s the first ramble I posted on Lawn Care

See you next time …