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.

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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.

Braemar’s Adult Swim for the 2010 Season Starts June 23rd

Braemar’s Adult Swim for the 2010 Season Starts June 23rd

If you live in Bristow, VA’s  community of Braemar and love to swim in the pool without having to dodge games of Marco-Polo and otherwise rambunctious, splish-splashy kids. you are in luck.  Braemar’s adult swim begins tonight, June 23rd. 

Braemar’s Adult Swim is every Wednesday from 8p-10pm only at the Iona Sound pool.   There is no Adult Swim at the Rob Roy pool.

Adult Swim in Braemar is one of my favorite summertime features of the community.  The pool gets warmed by the sun all day and is rather comfortable when you arrive at 8pm.  You get to swim during dusk and sunset until the lights in the pool are all that is left to illuminate the dark.  It’s a totally different and calm environment, compared to the daytime mayhem, when you enjoy Braemar’s Adult Swim.

Even if you don’t want to swim, but just partake in a Braemar poolside Domino’s Pizza special at one of the umbrella covered tables, come enjoy the serenity of the Braemar poolside during Adult Swim.  It’s a great mid-week treat of relaxtion.

Braemar Residents: Get Ready for the Switch from Gatehouse Networks to RCN

If you are a resident of Braemar that receives basic cable and internet as part of your HOA dues, then you’ve probably received a letter from RCN telling you to order your new equipment.  Here are some points of clarification on what you need to know.

1.  Your HOA dues will not change as a result of this change from Gatehouse Networks to RCN.

2.  If you are currently accessing Gatehouse Networks cable TV directly by simply hooking up coaxial cable from your TV directly into the wall, you will no longer be able to do that.  All signals will need to go through a digital converter box.

3.  Each Braemar household will receive up to four standard digital converter boxes free.  If you would like an upgraded converter box, like the new TiVo Premiere, you will be charged for that box.

4.  Basic cable and internet will remain free of charge with the use of the four free standard converter boxes.  However, if you want additional channel line-ups, movie channels, etc, you will pay a premium by way of a separate monthly bill.

5.  This conversion to RCN is taking place on July 14th and converter boxes will be available at Marstellar Middle Schoold on July 12th to pick up IF you have called your order for converter boxes in ahead of time. 

Call RCN at 1-866-255-8181 to place your order for standard, or upgraded converter boxes as soon as possible to ensure you are ready for the switch to RCN.

Prince William County, VA Back to School Supply Drive

Prince William County, VA Back to School Supply Drive

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s June 21, 2010.  Prince William County Public Schools just let out last Friday, June 18th.  Why in the world is Chris Ann talking about a Back-to-School Supply Drive?

I promise you, it’s not because I have been sniffing glue, or inhaling deeply from the Sharpie markers that I like to use to write on my Short Sale Listing folders.  And I’m not trying to be a summer buzzkill.

Corey Stewart, Chairmen of the Board of County Supervisors, sent out a notification today about summer school supply drives in which his office is participating.  One is the Regional Chamber’s Tools for School and the other is SERVE’s Ready to Learn.  The supplies donated to these programs will go to underprivileged students in Prince William County schools from Kindergarten to 12th Grade.

Deadline to donate is Friday, August 6th.    Drop off the items to Corey Stewart’s office at 1 County Complex Drive, Prince William, VA 22192.

Here’s the list of items that Corey Stewart’s office is collecting.   Please help out if you can.

Backpacks

3-Ring Binders

Tabbed Dividers

Folders with Pockets

Spiral Notebooks

Loose Leaf Notebook Paper

Colored Pencils

Pencil Boxes/Bags

Kleenex

Hand Sanitizer

Marble Composition Books

Blue or Black Pens

No. 2 Pencils

Washable Markers

Crayons

Highlighters

Glue/Glue Sticks

Rounded Scissors

Index Cards

Graph Paper

If you live in the Gainesville, Bristow or Haymarket area and would like a more central drop off point, feel free to drop off your items to my office:  Long & Foster, 7526 Limestone Drive, Gainesville, VA 20155.   Please have items to that location by July 31st.

Summer Fun in Prince William County, VA: Lake Ridge Marina

Looking for something fun to do in Prince William County, VA this summer?  Why not start with Lake Ridge Marina in Woodbridge, VA.

My husband and I enjoyed a sunny afternoon on the water in a pedal boat at Lake Ridge Marina this past weekend.  For the charge of less than $9/hour, we were able to rent our pedal boat and cruise under our own power.  And in high eighty degree temperatures, with humidity on the high side, an hour was plenty of time to take in the sights.   Row boats, canoes and light weight motors to attach to the row boats, are also available for rent.

One of the sights we pursued from one side of the inlet to the other was a lovely Blue Heron.   Wanted a better in flight shot, but despite the many opportunities, this was the best of the bunch.

If you would like an escort during your Lake Ridge boating trip, take some bread crumbs for the numerous geese.  We had the pleasure of being accompanied by only one goose during our outing.

As part of the larger park, there is also a nine hole golf course and picnic facilities before you reach the marina.

The Lake Ridge Marina in Woodbridge is easily accessed by taking the Prince William County Parkway to Old Bridge Road.  Take a left on Smoketown Road and a left on Griffith Avenue (which will becomeCotton Mill Road.) Follow it to the end of the road and you’ll be in the parking lot for the marina.  

Remember to pack your sunscreen and perhaps a water bottle.  It is very sunny and warm when you are sitting on the water.