Summary of Key Issues Discussed During the June 21, 2018 GHI Board Meeting
Note: The following is a summary of key issues discussed at the June 21, 2018 GHI Board Meeting. A more detailed discussion of all the agenda items discussed during the meeting follows this summary.
Summary of Key Issues
Discovery of Additional Asbestos in Frame Homes – This discovery has resulted in two major issues. The first issue was how to remediate the additional asbestos that was found.
- Remnants of tar paper containing non-friable asbestos were discovered in the soil floor of the crawlspaces when plastic vapor barriers were removed.
- Buried pipes containing friable asbestos were found in two frame buildings buried several inches below the soil.
- The Industrial Hygienist working on the project stated that in both cases the asbestos could be properly and safely encapsulated by installing 12 mil plastic vapor barriers.
- These vapor barriers were going to be installed as part of the remediation of the crawlspaces; however, the company performing this task is not trained to work in an environment with asbestos. The training will cost GHI $14,000.
- Also as a result of this encapsulation, GHI must do the following:
- Conduct an annual visual inspection of all buildings
- All repairs must be made to ensure that the vapor barrier materials remain intact and air tight
- All buildings will require air sampling by an Industrial Hygienist every 3 years
- GHI must maintain records of the inspections and the results of the air samples
- A board member asked why the previous company hired to determine what needed to be done did not uncover this. He also asked if GHI should work with that company as the company did not provide the services for which they were paid.
The second issue concerned the motion passed by the GHI membership during the February 8, 2018 Special Meeting which authorized GHI to enter a contract to remove the asbestos. That motion included the phrase “to remove all asbestos materials from the crawlspaces.” With some of the asbestos being encapsulated, it is not all being removed.
- GHI consulted the parliamentarian about how to resolve this issue.
- Her response was that GHI should hold another Special Meeting to amend the original motion so the issue could be thoroughly discussed in a deliberative manner.
- The Board passed a motion to hold another Special Meeting to amend the previous motion passed by the membership.
Letter from Members and Audit Committee re: Former Landfill Site – These letters were about the area behind the Administration Building and the GHI boatyard. A site visit to this area occurred before the GHI Board Meeting. Board members, staff members, Audit Committee members, and several GHI members were in attendance.
- The Board President stated that the whole area needs attention.
- The cost of removing logs, wood chips, and other material stored in the area is not sustainable.
- The logs and other materials are now being placed in the GHI yard because the City will not let GHI dispose of these materials at Northway.
- This issue will be pursued with the City at the next City-GHI Stakeholder’s meeting on July 16, 2018.
- The area also contains a storm management system that was implemented in the 1990’s to remediate a landfill.
- Part of the remediation of the landfill included reforestation that was never done.
- The Board President suggested that a task force or temporary committee be assigned to look into these issues; perhaps it could be assigned to existing committees such as the Buildings and Woodland Committees.
- He also stated that the reforestation could be assigned to the Woodland Committee to follow up and make recommendations.
The discussion ended with the Board President stating that he, the Vice President, and the General Manager will draft a memo about how to proceed. They will work on a policy that disallows storage of specific hazardous materials, such as refrigerators with doors on them and air conditioners with freon, and direct staff on what can not be placed in that area.
Letter on Retaining the Residential Planned Community (RPC) Overlay as Legacy Zone – The lawyer working with GHI on zoning recommended that the Board and the City send a joint letter requesting the RPC Overlay be retained as a legacy zone in addition to requesting the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Zone. Todd Turner (our county council member) was favorably disposed to this.
- The motion for the Board to approve the letter passed.
- It will be forwarded to the City of Greenbelt for their approval.
Visitors and Members – Two GHI members addressed Board members during this part of the meeting. Both had been trying to resolve issues with GHI staff and decided to bring the issues to the attention of the Board.
- The first member tried three times to resolve a billing issue related to a garage rental. Mr. Perry assured the Board that he would make sure the issue was resolved.
- The second member was very upset because GHI mowed his lawn even though the height was not in violation of the rules. He also said that attempts by GHI to remediate flooding at his unit were not successful.
Items of Information – A Board member asked Mr. Sporney if there was a schedule for inspecting sump pumps. This question came up as a result of a discussion earlier in the meeting about GHI removing water from a flooded crawlspace. He said that they do have a list of the sump pumps that tend to have problems, so they check those. He did not know if they inspect all sump pumps annually. He was asked by the Board to find out if there was a schedule for inspecting all sump pumps. (Mr. Ralph was not at this Board meeting.)
The June 21, 2018 GHI Board Meeting started at 7:52 PM after a site visit to a parcel of land behind GHI’s Administration Building, a quick Annual Stockholders’ Meeting for the Greenbelt Development Corporation (GDC), and a regular session of the GDC to elect GDC Officers. GDC, a subsidiary corporation owned by GHI, is comprised of 60 apartments on Parkway Road and 52 garages. The GHI Board of Directors votes the stock of the subsidiary Corporation, and the GDC Board of Directors has the same Officers as the GHI Board of Directors. No renters were present for the GDC meetings.
Following the approval of the GHI’s Board’s Agenda and Announcements of Executive Session Meetings, President Steve Skolnik asked if anyone was present for Visitors and Members. Visitors and Members provides an opportunity for members to speak about topics that are not on the meeting agenda. Two members were present to speak.
The first member was being billed incorrectly for his garage. After several attempts to address the problem with the Finance Department staff, he decided to bring the issue to the GHI Board. Joe Perry, Director of Finance, was told the details and agreed to ensure that the issue is resolved.
The second member to address the Board had several issues to discuss:
- GHI had cut his grass and then charged him $75. He stated that the height of his grass was not in violation.
- When he went to address this issue, he didn’t receive the assistance he needed from staff, as required under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), to make a written complaint. He stated that he had a video of this interaction which was on social media.
- Staff made an appointment for him for the next day to help him submit his complaint in writing. He told the Board that he informed staff that he could not attend the meeting they wanted to schedule as he would be working that day.
- The member repeated that he had a disability and, under the American Disabilities Act, GHI should have accommodated him that same day.
- He also raised the issue of the flooding that he has experienced for some time at his unit. GHI did perform some work to resolve the situation, but it did not solve the issue.
Staff read a statement of their version of events about why the member’s lawn had been mowed and also informed the Board that the member did not act appropriately with staff while staff was attempting to assist the member.
The Board President asked several questions of the member and urged him to attend the meeting with staff or reschedule it for a time when the member could attend. After comments by the member about the flooding problem at his unit, the Board concluded this part of the meeting and moved on to the next agenda item.
Approval of Membership Applications
All the membership applications were approved.
Committee and Homes Improvements (HIP) Reports
The HIP Report
The HIP Report on this year’s cohort of buildings was presented first. Highlights of the report include:
- Windows – 99 units have new windows
- Siding – the first building in this year’s cohort has new siding
- Doors – 58 units have new doors
- Electric Baseboard heaters – 155 units have new baseboard heaters
In addition, one masonry crawlspace’s boiler room was flooded and staff removed the water.
- There is a Buildings Committee meeting next week.
- The Bicycle Task Force met and, based on survey results, decided to pick three sites for bike racks: between 14 and 15 Court Laurel Hill, the playground near the Greenbelt Museum, and the Administration Building.
- The next step is to look for options to purchase.
- One suggestion made by a Board member was to see if GHI members and staff could construct racks out of existing materials at GHI.
- The Finance Committee will be reviewing why, with some recently sold homes, the estimated taxes for new members were considerably off. The committee will try to determine if it is possible to remedy this issue.
- The Woodlands Committee is considering a recommendation to the Board for a caretaker program for GHI trails, similar to the Adopt-A-Highway program.
- The caretaker would remove debris and work on clearing out invasives on their assigned section of the trail.
- The committee will be bringing the specific proposal to the Board.
- The Companion Animal Committee is working on a Guide for GHI Members with Companion Animals.
Letters from Members and Audit Committee re: Former Landfill Site
These letters address conditions in the area behind the Administration Building and the Boatyard. Board members, Audit Committee members, several staff members, and several GHI members went on a site visit held prior to the GHI Board Meeting to look at this area. Part of the area is used as a place to store logs from tree-cutting, wood chips, leaves, and other materials and items that GHI needs to store until they can be hauled away. The area also contains a storm management system that was implemented in the 1990’s to remediate a landfill.
During the GHI Board Meeting’s Regular Session, Board President Steve Skolnik started the discussion about this parcel with some comments:
- The whole parcel behind the GHI Administration Building needs more attention.
- He thanked members for bringing forward to the Board and staff some issues related to this area.
- He stated that GHI staff does have a lot on its plate so this may be a long-term endeavor to take care of and improve the area.
- He suggested that perhaps it would be best to establish a task force or temporary committee to address this area, or perhaps assign it to existing committees such as the Woodlands and the Buildings Committee, as a joint committee effort.
- A reforestation effort was required as part of the landfill remediation project and was never implemented. The Board President suggested that perhaps this effort could be assigned to the Woodlands Committee to follow up and make recommendations to the Board.
The Board President did not believe that the issues raised by members’ and the Audit Committee’s letters constitute “a red hot emergency.”
The Board President then discussed the issue of the scrap wood from trees that have been removed, wood chips, and other materials that the City will not let GHI dispose of at Northway. Paying a lot of money to have these materials hauled away is not sustainable.
Board Secretary Ed James said that he thought it would require both medium and long range planning. It was his opinion that some steps should be taken sooner. The reforestation effort needs to be picked up sooner.
Board Treasurer Chuck Hess commented on the history between the City and GHI. The former landfill site was used by both the City and GHI. This is something that GHI might want to bring up with the City when the issue of logs and wood chips is discussed.
A question was asked if the area near the storm management system was being considered for the installation of a solar array. The Board President replied that between the time the first RFP was written for the solar project and now, GHI replaced the warehouse roof which means that it is possible to add solar panels to the roof and make the ground solar array smaller. The contractor suggested that the south area of the parcel would be a better location as there will be less shade. Therefore there is no longer an issue with the solar array being placed in the storm management area.
Speaking as a GHI member, Molly Lester said her concerns are that GHI has covenants with the county. She said that perhaps a county employee coming to inspect the solar array or something related to the zoning rewrite would see issues it could cite. If GHI were to be in violation, the county can place a lien on GHI’s property. We don’t know what the cost might be. We could end up with a lien on GHI’s property which may affect our ability to borrow when we might not have the money to pay for it.
The Board President said that he would get together with the General Manager and the Vice President to draft a memo about how to proceed for the next meeting, and to work on a policy that disallows storage of specific hazardous materials and directs staff on items that cannot be put in the area, such as refrigerators with doors still on them and air conditioners with freon.
There were some additional comments by Board members with some saying that the Board and staff should move on this sooner than later and make it part of the strategic plan so the items are not forgotten. Another Board member stated that GHI should find out what needs to be remediated in the parcel before using the land for anything.
Molly Lester suggested including the GHI’s two storm management systems in the replacement reserves. She wondered how long storm drains last.
The Audit Committee took the opportunity to thank staff for their help when the Audit Committee looked at the site, the Board for the site visit, and for their discussion about how to move forward with these issues.
Proposed Joint GHI-City of Greenbelt Letter to be Sent to P.G. County re: retaining the RPC Overlay as a Legacy Zone
The lawyer working with GHI on zoning suggested that GHI and the City ask the county to retain the Residential Planned Community (RPC) Overlay as a legacy zone in addition to requesting that a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay (NCO) be added to the Zoning Ordinance. City Council Member Todd Turner was favorably disposed to this. The letter was sent to Terri Hruby, the Director of the City of Greenbelt’s Department of Planning and Community Development. She had not responded before the Board meeting, but a meeting with her has been scheduled for next Tuesday. It will also be forwarded to the City Council and Mayor for approval.
The motion for the Board to approve the letter passed.
Remedial Actions re: Discovery of Additional Asbestos in Crawlspaces of the Frame Homes
At the February 8, 2018 special meeting, the GHI membership passed a motion “…to remove all asbestos from the crawlspaces of 185 frame buildings….” The use of the word all in this motion has become problematic. Since the meeting, work on asbestos removal began. However, once the plastic vapor materials were removed, it was discovered that small pieces of tar paper littered the crawlspaces. Tests revealed that the tar paper contains non-friable asbestos. GHI also found pipes with friable asbestos buried several inches below the soil in two of the 31 buildings. An estimate for removal of one of these pipes was $19,888.35 for one of the two buildings.
The issue of removal of the tar paper remnants is more problematic. A quote from ACM Services, the company that is removing the asbestos, was $15 – $20 million dollars. After receiving this quote, GHI staff started to research other alternatives. ARC Environmental, the industrial firm supervising the removal of the asbestos, advised staff that material on the ground or buried in the soil can be properly and safely encapsulated by installing 12 mil plastic vapor barrier materials over them.
The installation of the vapor barriers is to be done by Foam Insealators. Recently staff met with Foam Insealators and ARC Environmental to discuss what requirements Foam Insealators must fulfill.
- All workers must attend a 16 hour training class and pass an exam
- For a two-year project, the supervisor must re-certify by completing a 1-day training program
- The workers must re-certify by completing a four hour training program
GHI will pay $14,000 for this training.
GHI staff will be required to satisfy the following requirements if the asbestos is encapsulated:
- Staff must conduct an annual visual inspection of all buildings
- All repairs must be made to ensure that the vapor barrier materials remain intact and airtight
- All the buildings would require air sampling and a visual inspection by an industrial hygienist every three years
- GHI will be required to maintain records of the inspections and the results of the air samples
With the motion approved by the Special Meeting on February 8, 2018 calling for the removal of all asbestos, GHI’s parliamentarian, Ms. Sims, was consulted about how to proceed. Ms. Sims advised that the Board should hold a special meeting so the issue could be thoroughly discussed in a deliberative manner. During the meeting, the Board would seek approval to amend the previously adopted motion. The Board’s discussion centered on the best way to proceed.
Board Member Stephen Holland asked why the previous company hired to determine what should be removed did not uncover this situation. He also asked if GHI should be pursing this as the company did not provide the services for which they were paid. Several Board members thought this was a good question.
The Board approved the motion to hold a special meeting as soon as possible.
Direct the Woodlands Committee To Recommend Criteria Whereby Members May be Allowed to Establish Plantings in Common Areas
At this time, GHI does not have any rules that address whether members can place plantings and landscape items in common areas. In the past, some members have done this without Board approval.
The question before the Board was whether to direct the Woodlands Committee to recommend criteria for members to follow so they may be allowed to plant in the common areas.
The Board passed a motion to request that the Woodlands Committee develop this criteria by October 1, 2018.
Vote to Conduct an Executive Session Meeting
The Board voted to conduct an Executive Session Meeting to discuss the following items:
- Contract for Arboricultural Services – Second Reading
- Contract for Underground Utility Repairs and Drainage Improvements – Second Reading
- Proposed Solar PVES Contract for the Administration Building Complex -First Reading
Items of Information
As part of the Items of Interest, a Board member asked Tom Sporney if there was a schedule for inspecting sump pumps. Mr. Sporney replied that they have a list of sump pumps that have had problems, so they check those. He wasn’t sure if there was an annual inspection of all sump pumps. The Board directed him to find out.
Another Board Member thought that it was important for the Board to follow up on the issues raised by the member who stated that GHI mowed his grass even though it was not in violation and who raised questions about the flooding of his yard.
The GHI Board meeting was adjourned at 9:40 PM.
After a break, the Executive Session was scheduled to begin.