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The State of Our Community

Fellow Henson Ridge Residents,

I’m writing this letter directly to you. I left my house last Sunday morning with the intention to take a jog and get some fresh air. It quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t be getting much exercise because the state of our community quickly caught my attention. As I entered Phase I of our neighborhood I noted man hole coverts that were open and filled with trash, exposed drainage pipes on the playground that were broken and battered, trash cans that were uncovered and leaning to reveal their contents, mailboxes that are rusted and eyesores of the community, and unkept lawns and side yards overrun with what my mother called “crab grass.”

The sight was actually quite shocking because I just recently had what I’ll describe as a minor kerfuffle with the rental office about the state of my HOA dues. In my interaction with the office, they noted how the rental office can’t keep up with the lawn care and grounds maintenance if community members don’t pay their HOA dues. Additionally, in a conversation I had with the developer over a year ago, she expressed to me a similar concern in that homeowners (at that time) weren’t paying their dues, and therefore the rental subsidies provided by the District for the rental units were covering the cost of general grounds and community maintenance.

It is with these conversations, and observations in mind that I write this letter to you, my neighbors and fellow residents of Henson Ridge. Is the rental office finally saying, in a covert way, you homeowners that aren’t paying your dues – here – live with unkept lawns, un painted mailboxes and un repaired community amenities.  Has the subsidy that the developer alluded to last year run its course and is the rental office sticking to the letter of the law by way of he who pays, receives? Or is the state of our community a result of general neglect and laziness?

I encourage you, my fellow neighbors and readers of this post, to add comments that outline your thoughts, and concerns if you have them, about the state of our community. I don’t’ know what exactly the motivation is, or how widespread the issue of non-payment of dues is, but I would deffinately like  to know who I take this up with. How do we ensure that our community is kept in the best possible manner? Is the current state of our community a result of a majority of homeowners NOT paying their dues and the coffers have no money in them? Or is the current state of our community a result of sub standard management and follow through on the part of the rental office? I’m interested in your thoughts on the source of the issue….and how to resolve it.

The photos below are of what I saw on my Sunday morning stroll.

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Community Caroling today 4:00pm!

Come out and bring the family! at 4:oopm today, Sunday December 4, 2011, meet at IHOP on Alabama Ave. and come with warm vocal chords. Caroling will take place up Alabama Ave. to the Henson Ridge playground on Tobias & Fredrick Douglas Pl. Hot drinks and cookies will be served.

Come and participate in the holiday spirit!

Caroling

#HensonRidge Community Meeting De-breief

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A huge thank you to those who came out to voice your opinions at the Henson Ridge community meeting with Council Member Barry on Monday night at the Parklands Turner Library. An equal sized thank you to Reggie McComb for requesting the meeting from the council members office and seeing it through. There was a healthy dialogue about the concerns and issues residents (homeowners and renters alike) are facing. We left with a measurable action item list to hold the council member, and ourselves, accountable to.

Resident action items include:

  1. Developing committees for the following:
  • Communication – focused on doing more to keep residents informed.
  • Property Management – to interact with the current property manager and attempt to become more of an influencer in property management decisions.
  • Crime – to address issues we all share related to security of our neighborhood.
  • External community issues – to address things that affect the larger community but are not directly related to Henson Ridge.
  • Planning and logistics – to more effectively plan and implement community conversations and events.

The Council Members action items include:

  1. Follow up with the builder and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to find out if there are grounds for repercussions due to sub-standard construction. During the meeting Council Member Barry said that DCRA was outsourcing inspections to third party contractors and if we (Henson Ridge residents) have similar issues with our homes, there may be some form of government assistance we can get due to items not being identified in inspections that otherwise would have been discovered. In the interim, the residents will do a survey and collect a list of the property problems we’re aware of.
  2. Get to the bottom of where we are in terms of percentage sold. This is important because once we reach a certain threshold, the home owners association must be turned over to the community and cease to be run by the developer. I dusted off my bylaws after the meeting and a few things related to this action item stood out to me:
  • Every owner of a lot is a member of the association (pg. 15). Meaning the developer will still have a vote on the board of directors because they own the elderly public housing, family public housing and family rental units.
  • The “Development Period” is defined on page 8 and is described as “the period commencing as of the date of this Declaration [October 24, 2002] and ending on the latter of: (i) substantial completion of the Development; or (ii) the earlier of (a) December 31, 2007, or (b) the date on which eighty-five percent (85%) of the Homeownership Townhouses are owned by Homeowners.” In the meeting the information we were given was: There are 600 total units built, 285 units sold, 280 rented units, with 35 units left to sell. By my calculation that would make us 89% sold.
  • The composition of the board is defined on page 17 and after the development period the board shall consist of 11 directors. Three (3) directors to represent the home owners, five (5) directors to represent the Rental I Declarant and the Rental II Declarant combined, one (1) director for Phase I renters, one (1) director for Phase II renters and one (1) director appointed by the Authority (meaning the DC Housing Authority). Each director shall serve a period of one year with unlimited right to be re-elected (pg. 18).

Residents also raised concerns related to the lack of communication coming from the property management office and the fact that there are no bike racks in the Giant shopping center. As I was live tweeting from the meeting, I connected with several Ward 7 residents that have successfully had bike racks installed (win for social media). More to follow on this but I believe we will be able to get bike racks installed in the near future. This one you can add to my accountability list.

Councilman Barry to address Henson Ridge residents – Mon. 11/21 @6:30pm

Councilman Marion Barry will be holding a Henson Ridge Community meeting at Parklands Turner Library at 1548 Alabama Ave. SE at 6:30pm Monday, November 21, 2011.

He’s seeking a dialogue on community concerns and other issues related to Henson Ridge. If you are a resident of Henson Ridge, please plan to come to the meeting and express your concerns, or give positive feedback to the councilman directly. If you are a community member that signed the petition to have zone signs installed in the 1500 block of Tubman, please be sure to join and express your desires in person. The original denial letter and subsequent denials from Mr. Damon Harvey and Mr. James Cheeks are available for background in advance of the meeting (click the links to read the correspondence.) The signed petition is here for review as well.

See you there!

Henson Ridge Board of Directors Nominations Due 10.11.11

As you are aware, the DC law says that once a condominium or town home project is 75% sold, the condominium/HOA management is turned over to the owners. We must have reached that mark with sales at Henson Ridge because the developers are seeking nominations for the board of directors.

Henson Ridge Townhomes has released the eligibility criteria for the board of directors election.  Nomination details are as follows:

  • Nominations will be received at 1804 Alabama Ave. SE.
  • Deadline for nominations is close of business Tuesday, October 11, 2011
  • Write in nominees will be accepted until Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The election is Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 6:30pm at the Douglass Community Center

To vote you must:

  1. Be a documented homeowner in good standing (leaseholders can not vote)
  2. Bring a picture ID to the election site.

Full election details are in the  HensonRidge_BOD_Instructions. Please nominate yourself and your neighbors. It’s about time this community is run by the people in the community. For additional information or questions, please reach out directly to Richard Horchner, Community Manager at (202) 889-2800.