Keep Prince William County, VA Property Taxes Low Through Recycling

Keep Prince William County, VA Property Taxes Low Through Recycling

If you live in Prince William County, Virginia then you probably already know that we have our own landfill right off of Dumfries Road in Manassas.  Because we don’t have to pay to ship off our solid waste, our property taxes are not as high as they could be.

In a recent publication distributed to each and every household in Prince William County, VA it was hypothesized that at our current rate of use, that landfill will be out of commission in the next forty years.  Of course, residents of Prince William County may not realize it, but the answer to prolonging the useful life of our own landfill is within each of our grasp.  The answer is to step up your recycling efforts.

If your household isn’t recycling–START! 

If your household is recycling, then recycle everything you possibly can.  In my house, for instance, those leftover paper towel and toilet paper tubes are put in with cardboard recycling.  Shredded paper is recycled.  Every soda can, every piece of plastic, every piece of recyclable ANYTHING is put into our recycle bin. 

Recycle to your fullest potential and you can keep our Prince William County property taxes low for decades to come.  And if you live in a community that doesn’t offer recycling by curbside pickup, you can learn more about how you can partake in recycling by clicking this link to the County’s website.

Braemar: Meet Representative Gerry Connolly January 27, 2010

Braemar residents have the unique opportunity to meet their Federal Representative Gerry Connolly this Thursday, January 27th at 7pm.  Representative Connolly and Prince William County Supervisor Wally Covington will be in attendance for the Braemar Board Meeting.

Normally, Braemar Board Meetings are held in Braemar’s Iona Sound clubhouse.  Because of the anticipated turnout, this meeting will be held at Marstellar Middle School.  Again, the meeting starts at 7pm, so put it on your calendar and be prepared to voice your concerns to our local and federal elected representatives.

See you Thursday!

Braemar Residents: Be Careful Which RCN Bill You Pay

Braemar residents off of Sudley Manor Drive, and the entire community of Dunbarton, have been undergoing a change of the guard in their cable and internet provider.  RCN has taken over Gatehouse Networks community contract and has been getting home owners on board since mid-July. 

Because the transition was some groups of home owners at a time, RCN took over billing for Gatehouse.  And as one of the home owners who has had RCN as a provider since mid-July, I will tell you, I’m now receiving two cable bills.  Both are from RCN, but one is black and white, one is in color.

The black and white bill is the bill you would normally receive from Gatehouse.  If you are up and running with RCN, do not pay the black and white bill anymore.  If you do, the money goes to Gatehouse and RCN has no record of the payment.

Likewise, if you have online bill payment, like me, make sure to update the new billing address for RCN shown on the color bill.  Again, if you don’t, the money is going to Gatehouse and your next color RCN bill will show a missed payment. 

RCN personnel have been very cooperative during this serivce and billing transition.  If you have any questions, or unresolved billing issues, make sure to call RCN.  The number on either the black and white, or color bill will connect you to them.

Curb Appeal: It Starts with Cutting Back Overgrowth

Last summer, I sold a really great single family home in Gainesville’s community of Virginia Oaks to some first time buyers.  It was a colonial with a great floor plan and a fantastic back yard.  Even had an inground pool.  Problem was, the beauty of this home was not readily apparent.  There were mature trees and shrubs covering the home from view as we approached. 

 

Driving by this Virginia Oaks home one year later you can actually SEE the house.  To begin, the shrubs on either side of the garage were taken out entirely.  Second, the lower limbs on the large tree on the right were removed.  Some smaller flowers were planted to accent the right side of the garage.  And I personally think having the American Flag hanging on the side of the garage gives just enough splash of color. 

 

If you want the most money for your Gainesville, VA home, give it a great face. Start getting your curb appeal in order by cutting the overgrowth that keeps buyers from SEEING your home.

Braemar’s Pool Vandalized

On the morning of August 17, 2010, community management personnel arrived at Braemar’s Iona Sound Clubhouse to find that everything within reach of the pool had been thrown IN the pool.  This included lawn chairs, trash cans (full at the time), umbrella stands and filter covers that created trip hazards around the pool.

Profane messages and drawings were scribbled in chalk around the deck of the pool.  One a death threat.  All messages were anger directed at the HOA.

I don’t know about you, but this seems the exact wrong tact to take if you are an angry home owner in Braemar.  It’s clean ups from vandalism events like this that will raise your HOA dues.  And if you had a legitimate beef, your credibility about the issue is gone once you break-in to the pool and throw everything you can get your hands on in the pool. 

This incident was reported to the Prince William County Police.  And since it is the second incident of vandalism occuring at the Iona Sound Clubhouse, I am for one am hoping that the Braemar Board will institute paid security patrols or security cameras.  At least it didn’t mean no pool to the residents.  With Braemar having two community pools, and the other being untouched, little changed for anyone wanting to use the pool.

This may be related to the suspected random grafitti happening throughout the neighborhood.  Braemar has replaced many street and traffic signs as a result of the spray painted graffiti.   Braemar’s Board of Directors have taken that repeated vandalism issue seriously enough to offer a $500 reward for information leading to the person or people responsible for defacing our community signs.  Hopefully they will do something similar for this larger incident of pool vandalism.

You can contact the on-site Community Manager, Kerry Farmer, at 703-361-8785 if you have information about the pool vandalism or spray painted graffiti.  And if you want to get involved in the Braemar Neighborhood Watch, attend the meeting at the Iona Sound Clubhouse, Thursday, August 19th at 7pm.

Who Are You Hiring to List Your Home?

This picture is not a joke.  It is picture of a local Bristow home, listed with a well known Real Estate Brokerage.  Sadly, it is also a vacant property that this particular brokerage holds as property managers.

Aren’t Property Managers supposed to maintain your property when it’s vacant?  Doesn’t that include mowing the lawn?  This yard and curb look like a chia pet.

When you are looking for a Real Estate Firm to represent you in the sale  of your Bristow-Gainesville-Haymarket home, drive through neighborhoods and pay close attention to how the properties, and real estate signs are maintained.  Are there brochures if there is a brochure box?  Is the lawn mowed?  All of this means even more if you are out of state, or out of the country. 

Know who you are hiring and why.  If you aren’t there to care for your property, and the Brokerage you’ve hired isn’t, it ultimately hurts you.

Dominion Valley Residents: Mark Your Calendar for Family Fun Night

Residents of Haymarket’s community of Dominion Valley have the opportunity to partake in Family Fun Night, Saturday, August 7th.  Movies will be shown, beginning at dusk, on the driving range.  And there is absolutely no cost.  It’s a free event.

Of course, if you or someone you know has been considering a move to Dominion Valley, give me a call.  I’ve got a great Carriage Home listing in the area that I would love to show them.

It’s Saturday. That Means It’s Moving Day.

Up and down the Linton Hall Corridor, every Saturday since Summer began, you see moving trucks and rental trucks in neighborhoods like Braemar, Kingsbrooke, Morris Farm and Victory Lakes…just to name a few.

Be the kind of neighbor you are hoping to get. Introduce yourself to your new neighbor. Maybe buy them a case of soda or water. What a great impression that would make.  At the very least, make sure you have each other’s contact information in the even that you need it one day.

If you want you want good neighbors, you have to start by being one. So if you see a movng truck on your street today, or any other Saturday, take a step in the neighborly direction and at least introduce yourself.

HOA’s Are Not Just About Covenants Applications and Appearances

Most communities in the Bristow-Gainesville-Haymarket area have HOAs (Home Owners Associations.)  When  you hear the initials HOA, your mind immediately travels to things covered by covenants.  How tall can my grass get before I have to mow?  What color can I paint my front door?  What kind of deck or fence can I build on my property?  Yes, the HOA does have a say in these things.  It is important to note, however, that HOAs are about more than just covenants applications and appearances.

I live in the community of Braemar in Bristow, VA.  I also have the pleasure of serving on the HOA Board of a Braemar Sub-Association:  Tartan Hills Village.  As a Board Member, I can tell you that safety issues are raised much more frequently that those of appearance or covenants.

In 2007, our Tartan Hills Village HOA, in conjunction with Steve Steven, Transportation Safety Director for Prince William County, remedied a signage deficiency in our community that prevented parking in cul-de-sacs.   Prince William County design guidelines stated that absolutely no parking could occur in cul-de-sacs with islands for reasons of fire safety.  The fire hydrant was at the end of each cul-de-sac and if a cul-de-sac had cars parked around it, a hook & ladder fire truck could not make it to a home.  So in 2007, after two years of County and State review, the signage restricting parking was made more clear.  More clear for those who may not speak English, and more clear for police officers who were the enforcement of unlawful parking.  Braemar, the Master Association of our Sub Association and many others, corrected their signage deficiency for the same reason.  Residents and their guest didn’t understand they were not permitted to park in the cul-de-sacs.  Now, the problem is solved, but the residents are furious.  They feel completely inconvenienced by having to walk ten or twenty yards to a street parking space.  Did I mentions they all have driveways and two car garages?  Yet, when blasting Steve Stevens and the HOA, some of these residents negated their own garages as they were used for storage.  Not the HOA’s or the County’s problem.  If you don’t have enough parking between your two car garage, your two car driveway and the street parking a short distance from your home isn’t cutting it, maybe you live in too small a house, have too much stuff, or live in the wrong neighborhood. 

The complaints were also about how ugly the signs were.  Seriously?  This is your house being saved in a fire we’re talking about here?  And you think the signs are ugly?  You want the HOA to remove them?  Is a stop sign pretty?  Is a traffic light nice to look at?  NO.  They are there for your safety and asking the HOA or the County to remove the signs to suit you is a safety concern.

After Braemar got past the sign issue for the evening, a gentleman was protesting a violation notice he had for improper placement of a basketball hoop.  He said he was submitting an application, as he saw this as his primary sin.  He informed the Board that after he submitted the application, he would be putting the basketball hoop back in its orginal place.  When asked where that was, the gentleman replied, “At the end of our street.”  One brave Braemar Board Member stated quickly why the application would be denied.  “Sir, you do realize that the Board will say no because saying yes is condoning children playing in the street.”  This home owner didn’t get it.  He argued that his street was not busy.  It was a cul-de-sac.  (Oh, here we go again with the cul-de-sacs.)  The Braemar Board Member said it best, “It’s a public street nonetheless and we can’t approve that application.”  The home owner huffed out of the meeting. 

The sense of entitlement of residents in an HOA can run deep.  They seriously believe that HOAs exist solely to enforce beauty or to rule on the side of convenience or need of a resident.  That’s not how it works.  Adhering to safety guidelines is a huge concern to HOAs.  If you don’t like it, and can’t see things from a broader, community perspective, perhaps you need to live on five acres, outside of HOA rule.

Crazy from the Heat in Braemar

Maybe it’s because it’s been bumping up to triple digits this week in Braemar.  The heat is enough to make anyone crazy.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like the blame the recent fire set by wandering juveniles on a case of heat-induced wackiness.

Whatever the reason, there my husband and I were driving down Tartan Hills Parkway from Native Rocks, heading to Sudley Manor Drive, when we saw smoke billowing up from the grassy, wooded area to the right of the walking path.   Because there is quite a ditch there, and other cars stopped, we pulled over to see if there had been an accident.  Nope.  There was a fire in the large storm sewer that went between two wooded areas and under Tartan Hills Parkway.  The car that had stopped saw some teenage boys leaving the scene.

Obviously, these kids were up to no good, but seemed to not have the sense the good Lord gave them.  Setting up a campfire on a 90+ degree day in an enclosed area?  No wonder they set it and took off.  They couldn’t breathe and it was hot as hell.

The Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene and made short work of dousing the fire.  My husband, James and another passerby had done their best to stomp out what they could before the fire truck arrived.  James said that sticks and branches were gathered and placed in an area in the middle of the storm sewer.  The “campfire” was about six feet by six feet.  No small job. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize how bad this could have turned out if even one ember had blown into the wooded area that runs up next to homes.  Northern Virginia is experiencing a severe drought.  Normally light green grass for this time of year looks scorched and dead as you drive by any landscaping that is not consistently watered.  Trees are having browning and dead leaves.  Property could have been put at risk by this prank.  And the wildlife that lives in the woods and ocassionally travel through the storm sewer could have been injured as well.  (Yes, the images of the forest fire in Bambi will never leave my mind.)

Just another reminder to do two things:  Keep an eye on your kids and teach them the dangers of playing with fire.  This was a minor inconvenience to residents kind enough to stop, and the Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department certainly had better things to do with their time than put an end to a group of juvenilles ill-conceived plan. 

Crazy from the heat indeed.  Got me to thinking back to the days of MTV and missing this character.