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					                                The Highlander
                                Newsletter for the Highgrove Estates Homeowners Association

Winter 2008

IN THIS ISSUE:

   Board of Directors…………. ……………………………………………………………………...Page 1
   Letter from the Board of Directors ………..2007 Community Review…………………………. Page 1
   New Feature on Community Website……………………………...…………………………….... Page 2
   Checklist for Preparing for Winter……………………………………………….. .........................Page 2
   VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for Neighborhood Watch…………………………………………….. Page 3
   Got a Project on the Exterior of Your Home? Approval is Required……………………………...Page 4
   A Word for Pet Owners: Common Areas are not Public Pet Toilets!...............................................Page 4
   Don’t be a Trashy Neighbor!.............................................................................................................Page 4
   The Appearance of our Community DOES MEAN A LOT!..…………………………………..... Page 5
   Letter from the Editor……………………………………………………………………………... Page 5
   Final Notes………………………………………………………………………………………….Page 6
   Important Phone Numbers………………………………………………………………………….Page 6
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
         Mike O’Neill……………………………… President
         Terry Atkinson……………………………. Vice-President
         Jennifer Krisp……………………………... Secretary
         Murthy Bettadapur
         Keith Pohlmeier
LETTER FROM YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

2007 is finally history, and as Frank Sinatra so aptly put it “It Was a Very Good Year,” at least for the
Highgrove Homeowners Association. Here’s a list of some of the more important things we did on your behalf:

        Successfully transferred contractual responsibility for snow plowing from the HOA to the developer
         potentially saving the HOA thousands per year
        Implemented a neighborhood website providing instant access to founding documents, Covenants,
         Conditions and Restrictions, Architectural Review Guidelines, meeting notices, community news and
         contact information for the Board of Directors
        Established a Homeowners Association email system
        Implemented a monthly “Letter from the President” to keep homeowners informed and up to date
        Moved from a “limited services” to a “full services” management contract which includes a monthly
         inspection of the neighborhood to help quickly         Get Your Highgrove Estates Information On-line!
         identify and resolve violations of covenants
        Changed from quarterly to monthly Board of             Sign up for the Residents Email list and get your
         Directors meetings to allow real time review of        monthly President’s letters, newsletters and
         monthly budget activity and neighborhood               neighborhood information by email. Eventually, all
                                                                communications will be on-line, don’t miss out on
         inspection results                                     important information! Sign up at
        Joined the Community Associations Institute            www.highgroveestates.org. Click on the mail box.

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       Discontinued the long standing grounds maintenance contract in order to produce a new contract
        reflecting enhanced performance standards and changes that have occurred in the neighborhood
       Established a regular “survey of comparable neighborhoods” to inform homeowners of how Highgrove
        compares in terms of overall appearance, “curb appeal,” and other factors that may affect sales and
        property values
       Negotiated removal of the developer’s construction trailer and dumpsters from Highgrove property
       Acquired large property maps from the county mapping agency to help identify specific common area
        boundaries and elements
While we had some significant accomplishments, there were also some disappointments. Convincing less than
half of you to sign up for our new Association email was surely one of the biggest. Inefficient communication
makes it harder to survey you on how you want us to spend your money; harder to warn you when snow
plowing will occur so you can get your cars off the street; harder to remind you that your quarterly assessments
are due so you can avoid late fees. The list goes on. So please sign up right away. Simply go to our website at
www.highgroveestates.org and click on the mailbox.
There’s plenty more to do in 2008, and we’re already working on it. Best to you and yours in the new year!
(Mike O’Neill, President, Highgrove Estates Board of Directors)

INTRODUCING A NEW WEBSITE FEATURE!
We're introducing a new feature on the website -- a page for homeowner recommended home service
providers/contractors. If you've had some good work done on your home and/or yard and would like to
recommend the company/individual to other homeowners, please send me the information using the form on the
website. There's a link to this new page on our home page at www.highgroveestates.org. As always,
feedback on the website is most welcome. (Highgrove Estates Webmaster)
WINTER CHECKLIST

Winter is probably the last thing on your mind considering the Spring-like weather that we’ve been
experiencing lately. However; don’t forget that we have the rest of January and all of February to go through
yet and an early March surprise is always a possibility. Focusing on the Winter-weather that is certain to come,
here are a few questions to ask yourselves as you make your preparations:
Have you….
    1) Winterized your sprinkler system? If water freezes in the underground conduits, your system could be
       damaged. Call your sprinkler system service for winter service.
    2) Turned off the water to your outside faucets? You should have a valve inside your basement for each
       outdoor faucet. Turn off the water valve(s) and turn on the outdoor faucet to drain out any water.
    3) Winterized your lawn mower? You should run your lawn mower until the engine quits. If you haven’t
       changed the oil in a while, you should also drain the oil from the mower.
    4) Try to park your cars in the driveway to avoid damage should snow plowing be needed during the night
       or early morning. If you are on our email list you will notified to move your cars off the street in the
       event of bad weather. If you are not on the email list, please ensure your car is off the street if such
       weather is forecasted in our area ar at the first sign of sleet or snow.
    5) Got ice melt set aside for the driveway and sidewalks? The sidewalks in front of your home are your
       responsibility and no one wants to see anyone hurt by a nasty fall. The home care centers usually run
       out fast at the first sign of bad weather so avoid the rush and stock up with 2 bags or more now just in
       case.
.


                                                  Page 2 of 6
                                                         Neighborhood Watch Team

                                                         We are in the process of rebuilding our team.
                                                         New members are needed. It would be great to
                                                         have a Block Captain and an Alternate for every
                                                         block within the community. WE NEED YOU! If
                                                         interested please contact our coordinator Gene
                                                         Miller at Genemill@cox.net


LOOKING FOR NEW MEMBERS:
We are in the process of rebuilding our team. Thanks to those who have already responded. More Volunteers
are needed! Block Captains and Alternates will be identified for the following areas as volunteers respond for
those areas:
   Block #1: Willowfield Way from Highgrove Estates entrance at Franconia Rd to Intersection at Penny Ln
    (18 homes)
   Block #2: Willowfield Way from Penny Ln to Meriwether Ln (22 homes)
   Block #3: Willowfield Way from Meriwether Ln through cul-de-sac (16 homes)
   Block #4: Deer Ridge Trl from Penny Ln throughout the Townhouse Complex (15 homes)
   Block #5 Deer Ridge Trl from Penny Ln to Meriwether Ln (24 homes)
   Block #6: Deer Ridge Trl from Meriwether Ln halfway down the hill stopping at 6135 and 6136. (19
    homes)
   Block #7 Deer Ridge Trl from 6138 and 6138 to Highgrove Park Ct (20 homes)
   Block #8: Deer Ridge Trl from Highgrove Park Ct (including homes within the cul-de-sac) to the end at
    6064 and 6067 Deer Ridge Trl before turn to final cul-de-sac (24 homes)
   Block #9: Cul-de-sac at end of Deer Ridge Trl (7 homes)
The proposed Block organization may be adjusted as time goes on to ensure easier oversight by the Block
Captain and Alternate. Idea is to have volunteers who live within the block and who knows (or will get to
know) most of the neighbors in that area.
ALL of us as homeowners and residents of Highgrove Estates are in essence, Neighborhood Watch members.
We all should know each of our neighbors both left and right of us as well as across the street. We ALL should
be aware of what is normal and what may be out-of-place as neighbors and take appropriate action as necessary
(i.e. notifying our Block Captain or, in case of emergency, the appropriate local authorities such as police, fire,
medical first responders).
Being a Block Captain or Alternate is not time consuming. There has not been nor are there any plans to have
any type of patrols; the only exception being an active watch during the trick-or-treat event during Halloween.
Our job is to be available if advice is needed by our neighbors, to receive and pass on any reports of any events
or security problems/issues to the Board and to help get any information out as appropriate to our neighbors.
Neighborhood Watch training is scheduled for Tuesday, 5 February 2008 at the meeting room at the
Kingstowne Safeway at 7:00p.m. Please respond back and volunteer as soon as possible to ensure a seat is
reserved for your training.
To sign up as a volunteer you can email me genemill@cox.net or call me at 703-623-1718. Thanks in advance
for your support. (Gene Miller, Neighborhood Watch Coordinator)
_________________________________________________________________________________________
A Neighborhood data report is not available at this time. Once available, it will be posted on the website.

                                                    Page 3 of 6
BEFORE YOU BEGIN ANY HOME PROJECTS – APPROVAL MAY BE REQUIRED!
Springtime is approaching, and that means that all of the exterior home projects that you have waited to begin
since last season have come to the forefront. As you all know, any exterior modifications to your property
(including, but not limited to, significant landscaping, patio and deck construction, home additions, shed, fence,
and lighting changes) require the submittal of a complete application to the Architectural Committee. You must
receive the Architectural committee's approval PRIOR to the commencement of the project. Thus, as a
reminder to all, please submit your applications to our agent Jeffrey Charles and Associates as soon as possible.
If you have the ability to put the application if electronic format (email with PDF and/or digital pictures), this
would speed up the review process. (Owen Wilson, Chairman; Architectural Review Board)
PET OWNERS NEED TO BE MORE COGNIZANT OF PET RESPONSIBILITY!
I know that this may be a news alert for some but; the neighbors property AND the Common Areas are not
havens for your pet's waste. Of particular concern is the Common Areas. Those areas are used by your
neighbors for jogging, walking, bicycling and children sometime play there too There is nothing more
unsightly, foul or disgusting than to be stepping in pet waste because fellow neighbors are too lazy or
irresponsible in cleaning up after their pets.
Here’s another ignored fact that you may want to remember: It is against the law to allow animals to trespass
on, destroy or damage another person's property. Animals must not frequently and habitually make loud and
objectionable noises or be kept in such a manner as to cause unsanitary conditions.
Another fact is the Fairfax County Code concerning dog poop, pet waste: The owner or custodian of any dog
shall be responsible for the removal of excreta deposited by such dog on the property of another, including
public areas ("pooper scooper" regulation). Violators will be prosecuted [County Code Section 41-1-2, Section
108-5-2 and Section 41-2-6].
Bottom line: you as parents are responsible for the care and well being of your own children from birth and
through their growing up years. Your four-legged family members are your responsibility too. And, if you
allow other members in your family including your children to walk the dog; make sure they understand that
they need to clean up after their pet too. THAT INCLUDES THE COMMON AREAS.
ARE YOU A TRASHY NEIGHBOR?
Highgrove Estates, for those who haven’t noticed, is a community of luxury homes. Home values, for the most
part, have more than doubled since the beginning of the community in 1997. It would seem that folks moving
into the community and making this their home would take more pride and care of their homes and their
community. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Several of your neighbors have had to pick up trash daily that is thrown around the neighborhood (anything
from pizza boxes, fast food cups and lids, plastic bottles, cans etc). None of this stuff should be lying around
the neighborhood anyway! If you got any young or teenaged family members that are trashing the place it’s
time that you reeducate them on what to do with the cups, the pizza boxes, the candy wrappers when they’re no
longer needed. If we as adults are littering without thinking, perhaps we need to get a grip and set the good
example by putting trash where it belongs.
By the way; we, as homeowners are responsible for the care and cleanliness of our property including the
sidewalks and halfway out in the street in front of our homes. ALL trash within that area is our responsibility.
It makes no difference how it got there (wind, an unthinking passer-by or the trash pick-up crew who got a bit
sloppy with their job). We still need to keep the area clean.
Please educate all your family members and guests/visitors on discarding any trash. Let’s all do our part in
keeping our homes and community clean and beautiful. Don’t be a trashy neighbor.

                                                   Page 4 of 6
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF HOME AND COMMUNITY ARE NOW MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER!
I assume by now that you’ve noticed that the home sales market has changed drastically and not necessarily for
the good. Do you want to know how our own community is doing?:
   Over the last 180 days (6-months): 36 homes have been listed for sale within our community. Of those 8
    have expired; 23 have been withdrawn; and 5 still remain currently active listings. Those 5 listings have
    been on the market from a total of 214 days to 655 days; and range from being $41,000 above the Tax
    Assessment value to $109,000 below the Tax Assessment value; and all have dropped from the original List
    Price from as much as $40,000 to $210,000 in price.

   Our zip code of 22150 had 205 active listings during the month of December including 44 new additions;
    only 17 sold during the same period. This has been the trend for most of the past 12-months.

   Our bigger picture of Fairfax County had 6,915 active listings in December including 1,233 new additions;
    only 842 have sold during the same period.
In this time of a very challenging market, what can we do to give our home at least a competitive chance for
sale? There are 4 recommendations: (1) Price it competitively which may mean lower than your lowest
competition in the neighborhood and in most cases below tax assessment (this in itself will be a major
challenge for all of us). (2) Ensure the inside of the home looks like a model home. You’ve seen a model
home; it looks like it has not been lived in; your must look the same at all times. (3) Make sure the outside of
the home is just as immaculate, clean and trimmed with no flaws. (4) Be willing to negotiate to include Realtor
incentives, offering to pay closing costs even the first years HOA fee, and/or other creative ways of enticing the
buyer to choose your home. Perhaps another tidbit of advice: if you’re going to be in the area for another year
or two, have a decent loan with rates and payments you can deal with, and you don’t have to move; sit back,
relax and weather the storm. The current market is part of the home sales cycle and it will eventually turn and
property values will rise again.
If you absolutely, positively must sell your property, keep my four recommendations mentioned above in mind;
and above all choose your Realtor carefully who will “market” your home; not just plant a sign in your yard
and pray for a buyer. If you’ve had a positive experience with a certain Realtor, use their services again.
Otherwise take on the role of an employer and interview several Realtors before making your selection. This is
not a market for the faint hearted – choose wisely.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR, (GENE MILLER):
In closing I want to introduce you to perhaps one of the most important but little known and recognized
committees serving on your behalf, the Standards Committee. In fact, these folks are very instrumental in
helping you in point # (3) “property outside appearance” in my “First Impressions” segment above.
It’s our job as homeowners to keep our property and our community, maintained and looking as great as it can
which in turn keeps the value of our homes stable. It also helps in the show-ability and salability of our home
and our neighbors homes as well.
All of us have come here from somewhere else. All of us are used to different ways and means of making our
house look like a home and the maintaining thereof. All of us have different ideas and creativity on how we
want our front yard to look, what paint we want on our trim, number and type of plants and decorations we want
in our yard etc. Without a specific uniform set of standards, and with all of us as homeowners doing our own
thing; it remains to be seen what our neighborhood would look like and what value our homes would bring at
sale. (One can only imagine and some possibilities are not pretty). Like it or not, there has to be a set of
standards and guidelines for all of us to follow and our Highgrove Estates Association provides that thanks to
the work provided by the Standards Committee.
                                                  Page 5 of 6
Over many months the Standards Committee has researched, compiled and modified (when permissible) the
rules and polices within our homeowners association and Fairfax County policy and regulation. This effort has
resulted in a uniform set of standards we all should/must follow for the benefit of our own property values and
that of the community as a whole. Procedures have also been put into place to ensure in a fair but subjective
way that we all meet those standards. The committee even did our first full inspection back in the spring to
enlighten us on any shortcomings that we may have had with advice and a timetable to meet our obligations.
The committee has devoted countless hours in providing a great service for our community. They deserve our
appreciation for their service. The Standards Committee members are: Jenny Murphy (Coordinator), Sue
Berry, Murthy Bettadapur, Nancy Blethen, Henry Harvey, and Victor Chambers. Thanks folks for your service
to our community.
FINAL NOTES:
The “Spring” issue will be coming out first week of April. If you have a concern that needs to be addressed to
the community or an article of interest please get it to me not later than 22 March 2008 at Genemill@cox.net or
call me at 703-623-1718.
Some upcoming Board meetings at Edison High School starting promptly at 7:00p.m.include: 6 Feb 08 and 5
Mar 08.
Don’t forget the upcoming Neighborhood Watch training at the Kingstowne Safeway on 5 Feb 08 starting
promptly at 7:00p.m. Please email or call me to sign up as Neighborhood Watch volunteers. Become a Block
Captain or Alternate for your area. We need you.




       Important Telephone Numbers                            John Marshall Library………………………..703-971-0010
                                                              Dominion Power ………(to report that a street light/lamp is
                                                              out)………………………………………..1-888-667-3000
Police (Emergency)……………………………………..911                         Lee District Park……………………………...703-922-9840
         (Non-Emergency)…………………..703-691-2131                 Area I Office (FCPS)…………………………703-329-2500
Fire (Emergency)……………………………………….911                           School Bus Transportation…………………...703-329-3600
         (Non-Emergency)…………………...703-246-2126                Robert E. Lee High School………...………...703-924-8300
Poison Center…………………………………703-625-3333                        Frances Scott Key Middle School…………. ..703-313-3900
Electrical Emergency (lights out!)……………703-934-9660           Springfield Estates Elementary School………703-921-2300
Gas Emergency……………………………….703-750-1400                        Voting Information…………………………..703-222-0776
Telephone Repair……………………………..703-954-6611
Water Authority (Emergency)………………..703-698-5613               Fairfax Public Schools Website is: www.fcps.k12.va.us
Child Abuse…………………………………..703-324-7400                        Office of Jeffrey McKay, Fairfax County
                                                              Supervisor for Lee District…………………..703-971-6262




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