Archives for April 2014


Highlights of April 21, 2014 Annual Meeting

Posted April 26, 2014 at 9:17 AM
President O’Hanley called the meeting to order. The Treasurer, Community Manager and President all delivered brief reports. Those reports recapped the current status of the budget, the community pools and the progress achieved over the previous year towards improving and maintaining property values.

Board of Directors - Election Results

There were a total of 919 ballots received. A total of 4,461 votes were cast, ensuring that quorum was reached at 27.6% of the total possible votes.
  • The referendum on the annual taxes was approved by a vote of 97.5%
  • Greg Pearson received 37.27% of the votes and was elected to the Board of Directors.
  • Frances Hillman received 35.7% of the votes and was re-elected to the Board of Directors for her third term.
  • Graham Henderson received 25.6% of the votes.
Please congratulate our new directors, and thank all of the candidates for their willingness to serve Brandermill in this important leadership role!


40th Brandermill Annual Meeting and Election of BCA Directors

Posted April 18, 2014 at 1:28 PM
Monday, April 21, 2014
7:00 p.m.
Fellowship Hall, The Brandermill Church

The information packet for the 40th Brandermill Annual Meeting and election of of BCA Directors is now available for downloading.

If you haven't already voted, you may bring your proxy/ballot sealed in the yellow envelope to the Annual Meeting at 7:00 p.m. The polls will be closed during the Annual Meeting, and no proxy/ballots will be accepted after that time.

We encourage residents to attend all BCA Board meetings but especially Annual Meetings. Election results will be announced at the meeting.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The meeting place for this meeting is the Fellowship Hall of The Brandermill Church, 4500 Millridge Parkway, Midlothian, VA 23112.


Highlights of April 7, 2014 BCA Board Meeting

Posted April 11, 2014 at 7:51 PM
Important Note: The below highlights are reported based on unofficial notes taken by NRC representatives who attended the above BCA meeting. Although we believe the below reporting is reliable and strive for accuracy, we cannot assure 100% accuracy. It is recommended to all readers that they read the approved BCA Board Meeting minutes when published.

President's Report

President O'Hanley noted that this is her last regular Board meeting. She thanked the members for allowing her to serve on the Board, and she thanked her fellow board members for allowing her to serve as the President. She encouraged members to read her remarks in the April issue of The Village Mill for an update on the Board's accomplishments with regard to the 2013/2014 Strategic Plan goals.

President O'Hanley went on to remind the members that Brandermill needs volunteers for many of the upcoming community events such as the 4th of July Celebration, the Brandermill 40th Anniversary Celebration on July 5th as well as the Oktoberfest and Halloween Tots events. She also encouraged members, especially young members, to volunteer by running to serve on the BCA Board. She talked about her own volunteer service both in Africa and in Brandermill. She noted that she understands it is a big commitment to serve on the Board, but she noted that it is time which opens one's eyes.

President O'Hanley also reminded the Board that Brandermill had made an investment to redesign the community's website, and she encouraged the Board to take another look at increased marketing efforts. She noted that the landscaping in the community has been improved, and it's time to start selling Brandermill.

She closed by thanking the committees and the committee chairs for their service. She stated that it has been a pleasure to work with our great staff and thanked John Bailey for his help. Lastly, she noted that she will continue to serve on both the Activities and the History Project committees.

First Vice President's Report on Committee Appointment

First Vice President Charlie Davis moved that Robert L. Gregory be approved to serve on the Finance Committee. Gregory's resume (see page 6 of April 7, 2014 Board packet) was read for the members, and the motion was unanimously approved.

Treasurer's Report

Treasurer Hillman commented on the February 28, 2014 Budget Variances report (see pages 7-10 of April 7, 2014 Board packet), noting that much of the budget for Tree Management has already been spent and that the full budgeted amount would probably be spent by the end of May. She commented that we will probably not see much more work on Tree Management for the balance of the year.

Director Bettin asked about the revenue showing for Leaf Removal. Hillman responded that this represents the funds paid by residents for individual leaf removal under our new "fee for service" program. She commented that this is a “pass-through” program and that these funds would be paid to the service contractor. Director Bettin also asked about Advertising Sales for the Village Mill. Treasurer Hillman and Community Manager Bailey responded that the lower advertising sales revenue is almost offset by lower costs to print the paper. Manager Bailey commented that we are conservatively on target versus the budget. Directors O'Hanley and Malek both noted that April 2014 The Village Mill looked great, and it was full of good information. President O'Hanley thanked the staff for their work on The Village Mill.

Community Manager's Report

Manager John Bailey reported that there is a lot of work going on currently by Ruppert Landscaping, including weeding, work on the beds, shrubs, mulching and turf treatments. Ruppert Landscaping will begin mowing and finish mulching this week. Bailey reminded members that there are 105 locations in Brandermill to be mulched!

Manager Bailey advised members that mulching will also soon begin at the three pools, and Ruppert will also be installing colored annual flowers in May. He noted that he and the staff are receiving weekly property service reports from Ruppert to aid them in tracking Ruppert's progress according to their contract. President O'Hanley commented that she had noticed work on a rock wall at the entrance to one of the neighborhoods and noted that Ruppert was working even on the weekends. Director Leonard asked how many perennial plants would be installed. Manager Bailey responded that there will be 4,000 new plantings this spring.

Regarding property management (see pages 11-12, April 7, 2014 Board packet), Manager Bailey noted that the ARB had processed 33 applications in March versus 10 in February. He pointed out that 26 of these applications were approved as submitted and that only one had been denied.

Manager Bailey reported that 43 covenant violations were issued in March and that 72 violations had been resolved (see pages 11-12, April 7, 2014 Board packet). He talked specifically about the mailbox transition. He noted that there are now only 185 non-compliant mailboxes which is less than 5% of all residences. He commented that all of these non-compliant mailbox residences have been sent violation notices. Manager Bailey also talked about plans to ensure that all cluster mailboxes were installed and about payments from members who have not paid for their share of cluster mailbox installations.

Manager Bailey next updated the Directors regarding the progress on repairs and upgrades at the pools. At North Beach, installation of the new coping is 95% complete and tile work roughly 75% done. Work on the new plaster will begin after Easter. The maintenance staff has constructed new footbridges for both North Beach and St. Ledger's pools. Manager Bailey reported that the wall of the pump room at North Beach will be braced for the summer season and excavated for repairs in the fall. He also reported that the concrete support beam below the coping at the St. Ledger's pool had significant degradation. This required a change order adding $4,500 to the cost of repairs. The coping and tile preparation work at St. Ledger's should be completed this week. Lastly, Manager Bailey reported on the work to-date at the Harbour Pointe pool, which included the removal of the crepe myrtles inside the pool fence and installation of new lattice work on the newly painted pergola. All of the work so far at Harbour Pointe has been completed by the maintenance staff.

Manager Bailey reported that Brandermill has generated roughly $7,500 more in revenue from the sale of pool memberships this year versus the same time last year due to the lower fee structures.

He reported that Brandermill has developed a new parking pass which may be hung from the rear view mirror of a vehicle. These passes are done in Brandermill colors and are dated. Each resident will be receiving several of these parking passes which must be displayed in the windshield when vehicles are parked in community areas such as Sunday Park or The Landing. These passes will be mailed out in the near future.

Manager Bailey discussed new security measures that are being planned for the safety and protection of Brandermill residents during the upcoming 4th of July celebration. Brandermill representatives have met with members of the various Chesterfield County Emergency Service agencies, including the Police, Fire and Rescue Departments to plan security for this year's celebration. Beginning at roughly 5 p.m., security will set up two check points at the entrances to Millridge Parkway to control traffic along the parade route and to limit outside traffic to the area around Sunday Park. To gain access, residents and their guests will need to show either the new vehicle parking pass or personal identification showing their address, e.g., driver's license. Brandermill is seeking volunteers to augment the County security agencies, and the police are planning to provide more officers to staff security measures for this year's event.

Lastly, Manager Bailey reminded residents that the Board of Supervisors will meet on April 23 to consider applications for conditional use permits. Among these are the applications for Roberts' home daycare business and Brandermill Woods for the construction projects they are planning.

Member Voice

Joe Herbst (Harbourwood) spoke as an individual resident to the BCA Board concerning the proposed language change in the residential design standards relative to front yard vegetable gardens. He noted that the proposed language had not been published to the community and that the BCA Board has not received broad-based community input. He reminded the Directors that the issue of front yard gardens had been very controversial and that although the BCA Board was divided, the Architectural Review Board ("ARB") had been united in advising against any language allowing front yard vegetable gardens. He noted that, as Chair of the NRC, he has received questions relative to the NRC's position on this issue. He advised the BCA Board that the NRC has not taken a position. However, he cautioned that the NRC has not been in a position to fulfill its function of enhancing communication relative to this issue because the proposed language changes had not been published. He urged the BCA Board to delay a vote on the proposed language until the language is published to the members and broad-based community input on the issue is sought.

Joni Roberts (Planter's Wood) stated that an article written by Greg Pearson and published in the Chesterfield Monthly had stated that the Brandermill Board had assumed that her home daycare business had discontinued operations in 2003. She stated that she wanted to bring clarity to the truth of this situation. She claimed that the BCA Board never made a decision in 2003 to enforce the covenants regarding home-based businesses and that the BCA Board knew her business continued to operate. She emphasized that no decision was ever made by the BCA Board to enforce the covenant to close her business and stressed that the covenant has never been enforced. She noted that she had only been cited twice, both times in reference to her home daycare business. She went on to say that Pearson's article stated that the BCA Board might seek an injunction to close her business based upon the covenants, even if the County approves her application. She noted that Pearson is a candidate for the BCA Board but is not currently a member of the Board. She asked that the Directors, therefore, determine if they will, in fact, seek an injunction to close her business. She ended by saying that this issue has resulted in her feeling that the environment in Brandermill has become hostile and threatening towards her. She urged the BCA Board to act in such a way as to not make the issue of home-based businesses a personal issue.

Kara Ritter (Court Ridge) spoke to remind the BCA Board that many home-based businesses in Brandermill provide valuable services to its residents. She noted that her family has resided in Brandermill for 8½ years and that she is a client of the Roberts' home daycare business. She urged the BCA Board to look for ways to allow these valuable services to continue to be offered by home-based businesses going forward. She noted that possible existing businesses could be grandfathered and urged the BCA Board to seek compromises to allow home-based businesses to continue to operate under our current covenants.

Andy Wyman (Walnut Creek) spoke as Chair of the Architectural Review Board to address the ARB's position to the proposed (revised) language (see pages 20-23, April 7, 2014 Board packet) specific to front yard vegetable gardens.

That revised language will affect the Residential Design Standards for the following section: 9.7 Landscaping, 9.7.2 Minimum Landscape Specifications: G continued. It reads as follows:
Front yard gardens may be permitted when rear and side yard gardens are not possible and will be limited to 75 sq. feet or 10 feet on any given side.

After initial ARB meeting and review BCA staff will notify adjacent property owners (all those having a potential view of the front yard area where the garden is proposed to be planted) of the application for a front yard garden. Adjacent owners are advised that they may come to the BCA office to view the plans and comment in writing to the ARB.

At the second meeting, the ARB will act on the request. Comments received from residents will be considered by the ARB as they relate to the intent and goals of the design standards.
Chair Wyman asked the BCA Board to consider 12 questions before making their decision on the proposed language. He asked, "Is this what the community wants?" He noted that Herbst had spoken to this question and he asked again if the community had been involved to give feedback on the proposed language. He asked, "Will this maintain or increase property values? Do any other planned communities allow front yard gardens?" He noted that he did not personally know of any in the area that allowed them. He asked the BCA to consider if the association could react quickly to front yard garden maintenance issues to ensure that they are properly and promptly mulched, weeded and cleared.

Relative to approval by immediate neighbors, he asked if this might not result in differences between neighbors. He asked who are the "immediate" neighbors? He asked the BCA Board if this included a neighbor who drives by a front yard garden or the neighbor selling his home, who might believe that a front yard garden would limit the number of potential buyers? He asked, what happens if an immediate neighbor changes his mind after seeing the real garden as opposed to the plan? He asked what if an immediate neighbor sells and the new neighbor is opposed to the front yard garden? He closed by saying that no one had bought a home in Brandermill in order to have a “defined” front yard vegetable garden. He stressed that future buyers might stay away from Brandermill rather than deal with the possibility of seeing a vegetable garden in their neighbor's front yard.

Consideration of Revision to the Residential Design Standards Relative to Front Yard Gardens

Director Blom motioned that the BCA Board adopt the ARB's proposed language, which would prohibit defined front yard vegetable gardens, to be published for community input. This motion was seconded by Director Hillman.

Director Hillman agreed with the comments made by Herbst during member voice and said this issue needed to go to the community for input on the proposed language.

Director Malek made a substitute motion to adopt the proposed BCA Board language for changes to the residential standards regarding front yard gardens. This substitute motion was seconded by Davis. Procedurally the board then moved to discuss and vote upon the substitute motion first.

Director Leonard commented that he disagreed with the substitute motion for two reasons. First, he noted that the BCA Board would be making a decision on the proposed language without broad-based input from the community. Second, he stated that the proposed size of the allowable front yard garden is too large. He pointed out that the proposed language would allow a defined front yard garden to be 7.5 ft. x 10 ft. He noted that if a resident wanted to plant a garden this large they could get a plot at the community's Heritage Farms garden site. He went on to note that he has seen gardens that were only 3 ft. x 3 ft. which contained up to eight tomato plants. He stressed, however, that his main objection to the motion was that the BCA Board had never even considered going to the members for input. He proposed that both competing versions, one from the BCA Board and the other from the ARB, be published to the community for input before voting on changes.

Director Malek responded that he felt it was disingenuous to suggest that the BCA Board had not received community input on the issue because the Directors had been talking about the issue for months. He suggested, even though the BCA Board had not published its proposed language changes allowing front yard gardens, that the community had been given adequate time to comment.

President O'Hanley noted that she was concerned that the language had not been published prior to considering it for a vote. She gave the example of the mailbox issue and reminded the BCA Board that implementation had been held up for three years because the BCA Board had acted without first seeking community input. O'Hanley commented that she has always been a proponent of allowing residents to plant vegetables on their own private property in order to teach their children about where food comes from. She noted, however, that she would object if one of her neighbors planted rows of vegetables in their front yard.

Directror Blom responded that most residents can plant a few vegetables in their back or side yards.

Director Hillman noted that Director Malek had previously asked Director Blom to recuse himself from voting on this issue since his wife serves on the ARB. She suggested that Director Malek should consider recusing himself from the current vote since he grows tomato plants in his own yard and stands to benefit by its passage. Director Malek disagreed with this suggestion.

Director Bettin thanked the ARB for their time and service to the community. He noted, however, that he was disappointed that the ARB had voted to disallow front yard vegetable gardens rather than proposing compromise language. He stated that he felt the BCA Board had already decided in principle to allow front yard vegetable gardens and expressed his support for the current motion and his desire to move on to more important issues.

Director Davis agreed with Director Bettin's remarks. He said that he believes everyone is aware of the front yard garden issue because of the publicity it has received. Director Davis pointed out that under the proposed language, front yard garden applications would only be considered if there were no options for a back- or side yard garden. He suggested that if the Directors had not yet heard from residents on this issue they could assume that those residents didn't care because of the coverage the issue has received.

Director Leonard responded that he has heard from a lot of residents regarding this issue.

Manager Bailey proposed a compromise approach and asked the Directors if there was any willingness to publish the BCA Board's proposed language changes in the May issue of The Village Mill and then to be voted on the language at its June meeting.

Director Davis responded that the concept of allowing front yard gardens in limited circumstances had already been approved by the BCA Board.

Director Blom asserted that the concept had not been approved because the BCA Board had only previously considered language allowing a front yard garden for the Gilson property. He also objected to the fact that the Chair of the ARB had been invited to speak to the board and that he had then been limited to the 3-minute member voice guideline.

Director Davis asked that the motion be called. Several directors then asked that the motion be read for the members.

Manager Bailey then pointed out that the Directors had not addressed the amended language regarding notification to adjacent property owners. (This language is included above under Chair Wyman's member voice comments above.)

A motion was then made by Director Davis to amend the motion to include the amended language. This motion was seconded and passed by a vote of five (Directors Malek, Davis, Blom, O'Hanley and Bettin) to two (Directors Leonard and Hillman).

The substitute motion (to pass the language without publishing it to the community) for input was then called. In a split vote of four (Directors Davis, Malek, Bettin and O'Hanley) to three (Directors Leonard, Blom and Hillman), the language was adopted.

Consideration of Next Steps Regarding Home-Based Businesses

Director Davis moved to approve the "Home-Based Business Issue Action Plan" (see pages 24-25 of April 7, 2014 Board packet) and to seek a specific written legal opinion on whether or not the BCA Board can interpret Covenant 2a to be more liberal toward the operation of home-based businesses, or to advise if any changes to the covenant must be done by referendum. This motion was seconded by Director Malek. Director Davis stressed that the BCA Board doesn't know if it has the legal authority to interpret Covenant 2a more liberally to allow home-based businesses.

Director Leonard noted that an attorney had previously advised the BCA Board that the covenant can't be changed without a referendum.

Director Davis suggested that it should be simple to get this opinion to give the BCA Board a clear legal basis on which to decide next steps.

President O'Hanley noted that Otto Conrad, an attorney working with the board in 2003 had advised that the BCA Board to create a policy. She suggested that this attorney would not have advised such a course if the BCA Board does not have the authority to interpret this covenant.

Manager Bailey clarified that the BCA Board had not yet gotten a specific written legal opinion.

Director Hillman commented that Pia Trigiani, an attorney who advised the BCA Board recently, had not given a specific, written legal opinion.

Director Davis stated again that, absent a legal opinion, the BCA Board does not know if it has the authority to interpret the covenant.

Manager Bailey clarified the steps of the action plan under consideration. He noted that the steps for March and April are to review the list of home based businesses for accuracy and to obtain a specific legal opinion. He went on to say that in the May timeframe, the BCA Board would hold a community meeting and stated that the BCA Board should have a legal opinion before that community meeting.

Manager Bailey covered the options the community will need to consider, depending on the legal opinion. One option, depending upon the opinion, would be for the board to interpret the covenant liberally in order to allow home based businesses which generate traffic. Another option would be for the BCA to enforce the covenant as written. A third option would be to put the covenant out to the community in a referendum for a vote to change the wording.

Manager Bailey noted that this would all be part of the discussion at a May community meeting. He stressed that there are large obstacles to enforcing the covenant as it stands because it affects livelihoods and because each argument would need to be won in court. These obstacles, he noted, include manpower and both payroll and legal expenses to enforce. He also reminded the BCA Board that it would be a tall order to achieve 75% support on a referendum to change the covenants.

Director Davis noted that Brandermill appears to be unique in that he is not aware of any other HOA in the area that has, what appears to be, an absolute ban on client traffic.

Director Hillman offered that she had inquired Magnolia Green as to their policy. She advised that they allow home-based businesses if they do not generate additional foot or vehicular traffic. She noted that this appears to show that this newer planned community has adopted a covenant very similar to Brandermill's. She suggested that interpreting the covenant to allow home-based business traffic might, therefore, lower Brandermill's appeal for home buyers.

Director Leonard suggested contacting East/West Realty to understand why they had adopted this covenant.

The motion to adopt the action plan was passed by unanimous vote of the Directors.

Report on Pool Projects and Consideration of Funding Needs

Manager Bailey briefed the BCA Board on the various pool-related items and the estimated costs. He reminded the Directors that it had approved $278,000 for pool projects in January. All of these were related to the RFP contract awarded to Swim Metro and related to the work currently being completed on the interiors of the pools and includes the work on the new copings, plaster and tile at all three pools. He noted that this work already includes one change order for an additional $4,500 to repair the degraded concrete beam beneath the coping at the St. Ledger's pool.

Manager Bailey went on to say that we have looked a number of necessary pool projects. These include:
  • Major bathroom redesign at North Beach to include removal of the interior showers and installation of increased toilets and urinals. This would require design work plus concrete and plumbing and is estimated at $50,000. Manager Bailey does not suggest that we do this redesign work this year. Instead he recommended cosmetic work including new sinks, toilets, stalls and lighting to be done before Memorial Day this year. He estimated that all of this cosmetic work could be accomplished for roughly $10,000. This cosmetic work would include a “Deep clean” to the concrete to improve the appearance. The major redesign work he recommends would be delayed for the 2015 season.
  • Interior of all three bathroom is recommended for this year and is estimated at roughly $7,500.
  • Repaving of the North Beach parking lot is suggested this year to convert the paved area to gravel and re-gravel the upper gravel lots and entrance road is estimated at $24,000 and could be done this year.
  • Work on the parking lot at St. Ledger's to seal coat the paved area and re-gravel the other areas is estimated at $9,000.
  • Work on the parking lots at Harbour Pointe is estimated at a total of $40,000 to rebuild and recoat the existing asphalt areas and re-gravel the upper lots.
  • Work to reconstruct the entrance to St. Ledger's is estimated at $16,000.
  • Manager Bailey estimated roughly $35,000-$40,000 for new furniture at all three pools. He noted that the best prices he has found on chairs and tables are at retailers such a Lowe's and Garden Ridge. Director Hillman expressed concern about the quality of such furniture and suggested that we might not want to buy less expensive furniture that might not hold up when we are spending money to upgrade the appearance of the pools.
  • Manager Bailey estimated that the total additional pool projects not related to the current RFP will total approximately $105,000. He asked the Directors to approve $50,000 to fund pool projects now through the Board meeting in May.
Director Blom moved that the BCA Board approve $50,000 for spending on the pool projects to fund the improvements until the May board meeting. This motion was seconded by Bettin.

Director Leonard asked Manager Bailey how much the community had spent to purchase the pools. The response was roughly $600,000 including the pools, buildings and land. Leonard reminded the board that it had approved $278,000 for the pool work covered in the RFP with the understanding that money would be invested on one pool to see the community's response. He expressed concern that the board is now going “full bore” on spending to improve all three pools. He also noted that the walking paths are Brandermill's most important amenity and that nothing was being done to repair and maintain these paths.

Manager Bailey responded that the RFP funding approval was for necessary repairs at all three pools and was specifically for repairs to the pools themselves including things like coping, tiling and plaster repairs. He noted that the RFP approval did not address any of the funding needed to make necessary repairs and handle maintenance or improvements to the pool buildings or the properties including the roads and parking lots. Manager Bailey also responded that money was spent last year and that money would be spent again this year from the reserve fund to maintain the walking paths. Manager Bailey noted that the replacement capital reserve fund lists $44,000 to be spent this year on the repair and maintenance of the walking paths.

The motion to approve $50,000 in funding for pool related work was called and passed by a vote of 6:1 with Director Leonard opposing.


Don't Forget to VOTE!

Posted April 5, 2014 at 10:41 AM
You should have received your BCA ballot by now; but if not, contact the BCA office by calling 744-1035.

Or perhaps you've received your ballot but are not sure how to csst your vote. Visit the NRC web site at brandermillnrc.com/?id=7181 to hear how the candidates answered specific questions about covenant/standards enforcement, governance, budget, etc. For your convenience, the candidates' audio responses are presented such that you only need to listen to the answers of a particular question.

In order for your vote to count, please mark your ballots and return them by mail, or bring them to the BCA office by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 21. Voting results will be announced at the BCA Annual Board of Directors Meeting the evening of April 21 at 7 p.m. Be sure to mark your calendar and plan to attend this important meeting!

Information Packet for April 7, 2014 BCA Board Meeting

Posted April 5, 2014 at 10:41 AM
The information packet for the upcoming BCA Board meeting is now available for downloading. Agenda items of interest might be:
  • Consideration of Revision to the Residential Design Standards regarding Front Yard Gardens
  • Consideration of Next Steps regarding Home-Based Businesses
  • Report on Pool Projects and Consideration of Funding Needs
We encourage residents to attend BCA Board meetings to learn of Brandermill "happenings". For a quick snapshot of what the BCA Board will be discussing, please read the agenda located on the first page of the Board Packet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The meeting place for this BCA Board meeting is the Fellowship Hall of The Brandermill Church, 4500 Millridge Parkway, Midlothian, VA 23112.