Notes from the July 5, 2018 GHI Board Meeting

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Summary of Key Items Addressed at the GHI Board Meeting

  • Review of the GHI Yards Solutions for a 21st Century Garden City Task Force Final Report:
    • The GHI Yards Solutions for a 21st Century Garden City Task Force submitted their final report to the Board of Directors.
    • The report was accepted and will be referred to the Architecture and Review Committee (ARC). The ARC will forward their recommendations to the Board for any changes to be made to the Member Handbook.
      • The report included a summary of the member survey conducted by the Task Force that included both closed- and open-ended questions, conducted from January 17-April 7, 2017.
        • There were 175 responses (172 online and 3 on paper):
          • 72%  of members are not satisfied with drainage; they had many complaints
          • 145 members reported that they were bothered by trash and debris in yards; they felt that GHI enforcement was insufficient and inconsistent – items mentioned included junky-looking compost bins and many trashy, unkempt yards
          •  63 members were not happy with the privacy between their yard and their neighbors; 120 said that increasing privacy through plantings was important
          • 104 were bothered by poor hedge maintenance
          • 155 said that improving their garden was important, and 147 said reducing yard maintenance was important
          • Shade was an issue with members wanting help with shade alternatives; some complained of too many trees causing too much shade
          • 109 members complained about aggressive and noisy dogs, as well as free-roaming cats and dog and cat waste; members also want help preventing/controlling deer, mosquitoes, chiggers, and moles
          • Members want more flexibility for the placement of laundry lines
          • Some members wanted to turn Common Areas into Community Gardens or demonstration eco-gardens; more seats and benches were requested in Common Areas – one member offered to take over a common area they felt was poorly maintained
      • The Final Report is not yet available on the GHI website.  Members should read this report when it is available, as it includes  recommendations for types of fences, privacy screens,  lattice, and use of blinds.  It also addresses hedges. The report includes photos of the proposed styles as well.
      • The report also discussed how other Garden City communities have addressed the issues of privacy and the problems caused by hedges, etc.
      • The report’s recommendations will impact members if the ARC agrees  with the Task Force on certain or all of the recommendations. The recommendations the ARC supports will be forwarded to the GHI Board of Directors for their consideration and may result in changes to the Member Handbook.

  • Review of the 2018 First Quarter Financial Statements (March 2018):
    • The Director of Finance led the discussion concerning the first quarter financial statements. The focus of the discussion was the notes that were included with the report and the summary statements where the amount was blank or the variances provided for each item were large and negative or large and positive for the quarter.  One item on the Administration Summary was larger than a 100% for the quarter but still less than the budget for the year.
    • As the discussion began, the Board Treasurer interjected that he had reviewed the financial statements.
    • The Director of Finance began by stating that the Cooperative is in good financial shape.
    • When reviewing Replacement and Contingency Reserves (under member equity), the Board Treasurer requested that this category  include a note that breaks out the Replacement Reserve portion and the contingency reserves separately.
    • Under Expenses, the transfer to reserves item was blank. The Director of Finance stated that this item includes items allocated to the Replacement Reserves, such as operating interest and income. An adjustment will be made in the fourth quarter statement. He expects the total to be about a $160,000 with an average of $40,000 a quarter. He was also asked what the expected returns on the Cooperative’s investments would be, and he replied 2.7%.
    • Maintenance Operations were down 31.7%, but this was due to timing more than anything. Spending in this category will rise sharply very quickly. The category includes asbestos remediation, parking lot repairs, and swale/drainage maintenance.
    • The Administration Expenses Statement:
      • This statement indicated that legal expenses are still less than what was budgeted. The amount budgeted this year reflected the cost of legal assistance related to the zoning rewrite at the end of last year, so it is possible that GHI will end up spending less this year.
      • Labor is down because of personnel vacancies. GHI is currently trying to hire an executive assistant. It is also reflecting payroll timing differences.
      • Temporary and Professional Help is up more than a 100%  for the first quarter because of professional services related to the Replacement Reserves Analysis and the cost of temps to fill the executive assistant position.
      • The amount spent in the first quarter by the Board, the Audit Committee, and Committees is down due to timing differences in Board training and Committees being slow to spend their budgets.
      • Members’ Expenses  are lower as GHI was waiting for an invoice from Ink Print and Design for member voting cards and other annual meeting expenses.
    • The Maintenance Summary:
      • Labor expenditures are down for the first quarter as GHI is trying to fill an Assistant Project Manager position, Director of Technical Services position, and Journeyman Plumber position.
      • The Materials category is down as the result of a timing issue related to the use and purchase of materials.
      • The statement also shows contract work performed through March 2018 for a total of $67,827 out of an annual budget of $1,382,114. This category includes work such as bathtub reglazing, landscaping, swale/drainage, gutter cleaning, parking lot repair, pest control, renovation and repairs, tree trimming, and asbestos remediation.
  •  A member request to retain a fence in its current location when sold:
    • In 1993, the Board of Directors approved an exception for the member at 5N Laurel Hill to place a new fence beyond the yard line for that unit with the condition that the fence would revert back to the yard line when the unit was sold. According to the member’s daughter, the original request to move the fence was to address some flooding issues. Her mother has also created a beautiful garden in this area over the years since then.
    • The member is planning on selling her unit, but
      • The fence is in good shape.
      • The area adds beauty to the nearby corner as the member has added a lovely garden over the years.
      • No one in the area has ever made a negative comment about the location of the fence.
    • The Board discussed whether to allow the fence to stay where it is currently located, and whether, if they did this, they should require the buyer to come back to the Board when the unit is sold again. There was also discussion about what would happen when the fence needed to be replaced. Staff said at that point the new member could install back on the unit’s yard line or put in a request for an exception which would bring the issue back to the Board. If the member wanted to install a different style of fence, staff would refer the request to the ARC before it was brought to the Board for the Board’s consideration.  The Board voted to allow the fence to remain where it is when sold until the next sale.
  • Two member requests for exceptions:
    • The first request for an exception was a request by the member at 58F Crescent Road to install a service side fence.
      • A large portion of the existing fence was damaged by a tree falling. It was a chain link fence, and, as more than 25% of the fence was damaged, it was considered a replacement rather than a repair. As it was chain link and the member was proposing to use the existing metal posts but replace the chain link with wooden boards, it required an exception.
      • The ARC approved his proposal. After some discussion about the combination of wood and metal, the member provided a picture of a fence with metal railings that could be used instead of the wooden boards. The Board approved the exception.
      • The Board President said this could be a test case for this style of fence.
    • The second request for an exception was a request by the member at 32F Ridge Road to install some new windows. The request was to cut into the wall to add a second window to the upper level of the side of this end unit. The ARC recommended that if the window was added, a second window should be added to the lower level as well.
    • The request also included a request for a new window on the service side of the house. The Board did not like the proposed location.
    • The Board approved the second window on the second level and passed a motion that a window may be placed on the first floor below the window on the second level as recommended by the ARC.
  • Request to Woodlands Committee to recommend actions for the reforestation of a common area in compliance with the remediation plan for a former landfill site:
    •  The reforestation was a requirement in a 1991 agreement as part of the remediation plan for a landfill site, but it was never implemented.
    • The Board passed a motion to direct the Woodlands Committee to recommend what actions should be taken and the estimated cost for complying
      with the reforestation requirements of a remediation plan for the former
      landfill site in the area behind the boatyard.
  • Amendment to the Agenda to add item 6j and k to the agenda:
    • The Board approved this motion.
  • Creating the draft agenda for a Special Membership Meeting to amend the motion passed at the February 8, 2018 Special Membership Meeting:
    • A Special Membership Meeting is required to amend the motion concerning the removal of asbestos from the frame building crawlspaces which was passed at the February 8, 2018 meeting. The motion passed at that meeting directed staff  “… to remove all [emphasis added] asbestos materials from the crawlspaces of 185 frame buildings.” (For more detailed information, see our coverage of the June 21, 2018 GHI Board Meeting.)
    • After removing existing plastic barriers, the remnants of tar paper with non-friable asbestos and several pipes with friable asbestos were found on the floor of the  frame crawlspaces, the proposed solution is to install 12 mil plastic barriers to cover rather than remove these items.
    • The Board accepted the draft agenda, proposed by staff, for the special meeting to be held on August 6, 2018.
  • Selection of a Police Chief for the City of Greenbelt:
    • The Board President will be participating in the selection process for the next City of Greenbelt Police Chief. He asked Board members and staff for any questions they might like to ask the candidates.
    • Judith “J” Davis, Mayor Pro Tem was at the Board meeting and provided a summary:
      • More than 30 candidates have applied and were from all over the country.
      • The 30 have been narrowed down to six candidates that are all local (none are from Prince George’s County).
      • The remaining six are diverse, but there are no women.
      • Acting Police Chief Thomas Kemp is one of the six candidates.
      • The Mayor Pro Tem stated that she thought all of the six remaining candidates were very good.
    • The City Council, a panel of citizens, and a panel of police officers will make recommendations to the City Manager who, after considering all the input, will make the final selection.

Additional Items Addressed During the GHI Board Meeting 

  • Approval of the Agenda and Announcement of the Executive Session that was held on June 21, 2018.
  • Visitors and Members – No members or visitors spoke.
  • Approval of Membership Applications, including the draft Mutual
    Ownership Contract and the Special Needs Trust for a prospective
    member.
  • Committee and HIP Reports
    • The HIP report was given first:
      • Windows – 127 of 303 units have had their windows installed (42%)
      • Siding – 8 of 295 units have had their siding replaced
      • Doors – 80 of 303 units have had doors installed (26%)
      • Electric – 190 of 303 have had the baseboards installed (63%)
      • HVAC – 23 of 92 have had HVAC installed (25%)
      • Attics – 31 of 125 have been insulated (25%)
      • Masonry Crawlspaces – 47 of 48 (98%); the Assistant Manager was asked about the last crawlspace, and he replied that they are still trying to dry it out.
      • He also stated that the doors and siding are behind schedule because of problems with suppliers not fulfilling orders properly.
      • The second crew just started working last week. When he was asked why, he replied that they did not show up for work previously.
    • The Finance Committee mentioned the work session about the Replacement Reserve Analysis. The Board President thought it went well.
      • The Audit Committee asked when the breakdown of costs for the replacement of pipes would be available.  Mr. Greene of Design Management Associates is currently on vacation, so a final date has not been set yet.
    • The Building Committee has been working on Member Handbook changes involving additions and addition maintenance. There will be a number of revisions to the Handbook for the Board to consider. If any of these changes are accepted, there will be a 30 day comment period for members.
      • One of the Board members mentioned that there will be substantial changes in how the Cooperative functions which will be included in the discussion about these changes.
      • There also will be a new task force on pipes concerning whether to reline pipes rather then replacing them. Jim Cohen will lead the taskforce. These taskforce meetings will be open meetings.
  • A series of meeting minutes were approved.
  • Note: All the other items for discussion or approval were discussed in more detail at the beginning of  this post.
  • Items of Information:
    • Items of information included the Special Membership meeting which had been discussed earlier in the meeting.
    • There will be a New Member Social Event on August 9, 2018.
    • There will be a stakeholders meeting between GHI and the City of Greenbelt on July 16, 2018. It will be held at the City Council Chambers and will start at 8:00 PM.
    • Monthly GHI and City Calendars were provided to the Board Members.
    • President’s items – The Board President will be involved with the Co-op Alliance as they will have a visitor from Bermuda who is the Chief of Economic Development. He will be given a tour of GHI.
    • None of the Board Members had any items of information, except Stephen Holland and Bill Jones who will not be able to attend a Board training session.
    • The Audit Committee thanked Member Services for helping them obtain access to some documents they plan to review. They also stated that two GHI members who are engineers (one specializes in storm water management and the other is an environmental engineer) will walk the site of the former landfill area.  They have offered to make their thoughts and observations available to the Board.

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