Mill Creek Homeowners Association

Board Begins Enforcement Actions

Signs in yards, failure to mow grass, unauthorized paint colors, fences beyond house fronts, potholes, roofing materials, commercial vehicles on lawns, unauthorized live tree removals, big sheds and bad mailboxes. These are just some of the complaints your Mill Creek HOA is currently addressing. Most of them relate directly to the bylaws and covenants which provide for governance in our neighborhood.

There is only one take home point to this article: it is NOT better to beg forgiveness than ask permission when it comes to projects on any property, lot or common area of Mill Creek. Communication with your HOA is easy, so it is better not to guess about whether your plans require approval. Simply contact an Architectural Committee member, or anyone on the Board via email or regular mail. Boards have answered many email questions in hours or even minutes in some cases. But if your plan requires formal approval, you will be asked to complete the request form, submit it and await approval or disapproval.

The Board must act on formal requests within thirty days, as described in the covenants. In Planned Urban Developments like Mill Creek, HOAs have full legal authority to enforce the covenants and address violations. In the case of unapproved additions or alterations, such as fences, sheds, paint colors, etc., failure to get HOA approval could be very expensive and stressful, but can easily be avoided.

Recently, the Mill Creek HOA directed its legal firm to enforce specific provisions within the association's bylaws. This was not done hastily, imprudently, or without adequate warning, but it did cause additional financial burden and discontent for the homeowners involved. These are our neighbors and this was unpleasant, so why would the Board do this? The answer is simple. Allowing a small number of our neighbors to disregard our few agreed upon rules is unfair to the great majority of homeowners who abide by them willingly.

Historically, the HOA approves most requests. But to our detriment, a small number of homeowners, anticipating disapproval, simply go ahead with their projects and are rewarded with silence or conciliation. Although each case is individual, when unapproved projects diminish our shared quality of life or reduce property values, we all feel the effects.

 

We're having trouble with the comments function - if yours doesn't go thru, email the author linked at the top of the article. Thanks for reading!

4 comments

  • Bruce Wagner

    Nice to know that the first public communication I get from the board is that you are going to enforce superficial aspects of the community. Not very diplomatic.
    By the way, how would I know that you did not get this comment? Wait 3 or 4 weeks and suddenly remember that I did not hear back. Even though I was expecting a response?

  • Brian Lewis

    Bruce - Thanks for beginning the conversation. But first, welcome to the neighborhood! I believe your wife and I exchanged emails before you moved in. As a retired service member who moved a lot, I can relate to being new in a neighborhood. Hope you are loving Mill Creek and Charlottesville overall.
    The nature of HOAs is to attend to the “superficial” issues that are codified in restrictive covenants and bylaws. It isn’t popular. We’re not rock stars and people don’t want to be us. In Mill Creek, HOA directors and officers are all volunteers with diverse backgrounds. If the tone of the article was too strident, the fault is mine alone.
    In Virginia, as elsewhere, HOAs have a legal obligation to enforce their CC&Rs; and perform a variety of functions as required by law. Failure to do so is borne by the entire community in a broad fiscal sense. Mill Creek residents were rocked by an embezzlement seven years ago and have been sensitive to the professional behaviors of the HOA Board ever since. As the first legally elected HOA Board in recent history (~20+ yrs) we are committed to maintaining the neighborhood vibe which has made Mill Creek such a desirable location.
    Let me put this another way. The Mill Creek HOA Board is not interested in hassling our neighbors. Nor do we have the time. But homeowner complaints must be addressed and we’re the body that does that. The intent of the article is simply to prevent the preventable.

    The issue with comments is technical and failures are also my responsibility (I’m the webmaster). If a comment doesn’t appear here, I didn’t get it.

    Thanks again for reaching out.

  • Bruce

    My apologies for being rash. I sincerely wish the newly empowered board success! It seemed after the association’s titanic struggles over the winter just to exist and cover routine expenses (let alone eventual and unavoidable big ticket items) that we would hear more about financial direction. I do not mind reminding home owners that they may have strayed from long standing bylaws. We enjoy living in Mill Creek and expect to stay here many years.

  • Brian Lewis

    Many of your neighbors share your interest in our financial direction. Although we are currently in very good shape fiscally, a lot has happened in the last six months and we’re looking at the best means to promulgate our financial statements to provide the level of transparency required by law. Currently, we only share financial data at monthly HOA Board meetings, which are open to homeowners.
    We’re also looking for someone to replace our treasurer, Sharon Herbert, who has resigned effective 30 July. She did an amazing job with our budget and financial statements in a very short time and we hope to find another treasurer with her skills. She also aligned us with Wills & Associates - the accounting firm that now handles the bulk of our financial workload. Unlike Foxcroft or Reynovia, Mill Creek doesn’t have pools or clubhouses or sizable maintenance concerns outside of the common grounds. So our financial direction has historically been to keep HOA dues as low as possible. There hasn’t been an increase in dues for over five years and 2015 looks to be no different.
    If you know anyone with bookkeeping or accounting skills, the Treasurer is an officer position which does not require making monthly Board meetings. It’s a dream job grin
    Have a great Mill Creek summer!

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