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RCHCA NEWS UPDATE

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Dear neighbors,

I hope to see you at the RCHCA meeting next Monday, March 6th at 7:30 PM at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue.

You should have received in the mail a copy of the RCHCA newsletter, which can also be found online at: <http://rchca.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/RCHCASpring14NewsFINAL.pdf>

Please note, here are three updates since the newsletter went out:

1. ROCK CREEK BEAVERS
   It is still Winter, but Spring is in the air, and beavers are in the creek.
   Photos at <https://goo.gl/photos/BYGaedg6Enz4GntQA>

2. SILVER CREEK CLEANUP
   There will be a cleanup of Silver Creek on Earth Day.
   April 22nd, 9 AM to Noon (check-in starts at 8:30 AM).
   This will be discussed at the meeting.
   See flyer at <https://goo.gl/jvx3jK>

3. COVENANTS: POSSIBLE DISCUSSION OF FRONT-YARD FENCE
   The neighbors who built a fence, including a (partial) front-yard fence, in violation of the covenants on their lot, have asked to address a meeting of the Association.
   By way of background, you may recall that these homeowners submitted, after the fact, an application to construct the fence that they had already built (notwithstanding the fact that, prior to making other renovations to their home, they had sought approval from the Association). In response to this after-the-fact application, the Board, keeping in mind that the language of the covenants is clear; that the absence of front-yard fences is a positive aesthetic characteristic of the neighborhood; that the restriction against front-yard fences has been enforced consistently for decades; and that neighbors have expressed alarm over this fence, declined to approve the fence, and requested, on three separate ocaisions, that the homeowners reconfigure it. The homeowners, however, have not indicated an intention to comply with this repeated request.
   We have now warmly accommodated their request to appear before the Association because we are a friendly community, and because we hope that, by so doing, they might be enlightened as the history of the covenants, the Association’s consistent success litigating to secure compliance with them, and the unequivocal position that the unauthorized fence must be removed.
   To be clear, consistent with the vote of the RCHCA membership at the October 17th meeting, your Board is preparing to take legal action to have the fence removed. This accommodation in no way impedes that effort, nor is it intended to be a debate on the covenants, or a vote on the infringing fence, as neither can be addressed in this manner. Rather, it is an expression of neighborliness and an effort by the Association to enhance understanding so that the parties may avoid wasting time on an enforcement action, the outcome of which is quite clear.

I hope to see you at Monday’s meeting!

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association

2016 Spring Newsletter & Notice of April 12 Meeting

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Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association – Annual Meeting – April 12, 201

The next meeting of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association will be held on Tuesday, April 12, at 7:30 PM, at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue. The agenda will include:

• School construction update
• Pedestrian safety now & following opening of the new school in August 2017
• Street congestion & streetscape concerns following opening of the new school
• Aesthetic mitigation of impacts associated with the new school
• Update on boundary study (to determine which elementary schools feed into the new middle school)
• Update on WSSC work
• Update on gas line work
• Update on condo development at Kensington Parkway at the Beltway
• Proposed “salt barn” at Beltway
• Update on neighborhood signage
• Update on covenants
• Update on Villages of Kensington
• RCHCA party at Kensington Cabin Park in May!
• RCHCA budget update
• Election of officers
• Other business

President’s Message

The magnolias and camellias are in fragrant bloom, and innumerable robins are bouncing along, so it feels like Winter is over. However, this Spring does feature heavy construction on the former site of Rock Creek Hills Park. (Construction started October 13, 2015 on the new middle school that is scheduled to open in August of 2017.) Members of your RCHCA board, joined by Rock Creek Hills resident Rick Bond, A.I.A, an architect with expertise in large facilities construction, have been meeting onsite monthly with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and their contractor, Dustin Construction, to provide a means to share and address concerns. The plans for the building have changed since earlier plans were submitted for “mandatory referral” review. On March 18, 2016, MCPS posted a “flyover” animation of the current plans on their webpage for this project at <http://goo.gl/4aQ7ip>.

As I wrote last Autumn: “Although our efforts – to direct the new school to a more suitable site, to enforce a proper land use review, to defend the park, and, most recently, to minimize traffic impacts and environmental damage – did not succeed, they should be a source of pride. I am proud of our community’s sustained engagement on behalf of these goals, and the measured tone with which they were pursued. At this point, we need to focus on the changes the new school will bring, and on working together to seek best outcomes. I have always respected the range of opinion among neighbors, and I appreciate your support regardless of where you stood on the specific issues involved.”

Officers

The current officers have all agreed to serve for another year to provide continuity as construction progresses and to complete the updating of a number of administrative issues. The current officers & board members are: Jim Pekar, president; Hill Carter, vice-president; Maria Marzullo, treasurer; Jill Gallagher, secretary; John Robinson, past-president.

Covenants

Because of turnover, we are again mentioning covenants. In the last year we have, as far as we know, no material issues of compliance. And, we are pleased to note an uptick in inquiries from real estate brokers. Please, if you sell you house, make sure the listing agent is aware of the covenants and the restrictions they impose.

Directory

The 2015 Rock Creek Hills directory was distributed to all households last year. To access the online directory go to: https://www.atozdirectories.com/home/login.php. You will need a username and password to login. If you do not have a login, you may email Sam Hoxie (hoxiesam@gmail.com), include your name and address and she will email you your username. If you do not have computer access, please mail to 9711 E. Bexhill or call Sam 301-942-0743 with any new information. More information and links to access the real time, updated online directory may be found on our website, rchca.org.

Email

The Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association e-mail network, rchcanet, is for families of Rock Creek Hills. We urge everyone with email access to sign up for this, as it will allow information about the neighborhood, planned events, etc., to be easily disseminated to everyone in a timely manner. This communication forum is not intended to replace any existing communications. The instructions on how to join are posted on the RCHCA website, rchca.org, under the communications tab at the top of the website.

Party

Planning is underway for a party to take place on a Sunday afternoon in late May in Kensington Cabin Park. To volunteer to help out, please contact Ms. Erica Weiss at ericahertzweiss@gmail.com

Treasurer’s Report & Dues for this Calendar Year

As of publication the RCHCA checking account has a balance of $1,103 and the RCHCA savings account a balance of $7,089. Thus funds for operations are $8,192. Dues for the year 2016 are $40 and should be sent to Maria Marzullo at 9801 E. Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895.

RCHCA Online News – October 2015

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Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association Newsletter – Fall Meeting – October 2015

The Fall Meeting of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association will be held on Monday, October 26, at 7:30 PM, at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue. The agenda will include the minutes of the last meeting, the treasurer’s report, discussion of the construction of the new middle school now underway on the Rock Creek Hills Park site (including stormwater management “staging”), the possible incorporation of Rock Creek Hills as a Class III entity, and an update on plans underway for an inter-generational Village program.

President’s Message
Construction started October 13 on the new middle school on the Rock Creek Hills Park site, after issuance of stormwater and erosion permits by the Maryland Department of the Environment. The new school is scheduled to open in August of 2017. Until then there will likely be issues of construction noise, environmental impacts, traffic, and parking. As a community we will closely monitor these with the aim of providing constructive comments to the school system, and if necessary, asking appropriate agencies to intervene on our behalf on specific issues that arise.

Although our efforts – to direct the new school to a more suitable site, to enforce a proper land use review, to defend the park, and, most recently, to minimize traffic impacts and environmental damage – did not succeed, they should be a source of pride. I am proud of our community’s sustained engagement on behalf of these goals, and the measured tone with which they were pursued. At this point, we need to focus on the changes the new school will bring, and on working together to seek best outcomes. I have always respected the range of opinion among neighbors, and I appreciate your support regardless of where you stood on the specific issues involved.

Next Year’s Officers
The current officers have all agreed to serve for another year to provide continuity as groundbreaking commences and to complete the updating of a number of administrative issues. The current officers & board members are: Jim Pekar, president; Hill Carter, vice-president; Maria Marzullo, treasurer; Jill Gallagher, secretary; John Robinson, past-president.

The Rock Creek Hills Directory
The new Rock Creek Hills directory has been distributed. To access the online directory go to <https://www.atozdirectories.com/home/login.php>. You will need a username and password to login. If you do not have one, you may email Sam Hoxie (hoxiesam@gmail.com), include your name and address and she will email you your username. If you do not have computer access, please mail to 9711 E. Bexhill or call Sam 301-942-0743 with any new information. More information and links to access the real time, updated online directory may be found on our website, rchca.org.

Treasurer’s Report and Dues for this Calendar Year
As of publication the RCHCA checking account has a balance of $1,188.22, the savings account a balance of $5,530.95, and the litigation account a balance of $2,555.95. Thus total funds are $9,275.10. All invoices are paid, and due to further contributions, all legal expenses were paid without using the general operating funds available this year. Dues for the year 2015 are $40 and can be sent to Maria Marzullo at 9801 E. Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895; or paid online via the online directory, mentioned above; or bring your check to the October meeting.

Reminder to join the RCHCA email network
The Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association e-mail network, rchcanet, is for families of Rock Creek Hills. We urge everyone with email access to sign up for this, as it will allow information about the neighborhood, planned events, etc. to be easily disseminated to everyone in a timely manner. This communication forum is not intended to replace any existing communications. The instructions on how to join are posted on the RCHCA website, rchca.org, under the communications tab at the top of the website.

Halloween Parade and Party
The Halloween Parade and Party will be on Saturday, October 31. The costume parade begins at the corner of Little Dale Road and Haverhill Drive at 3:30 PM. The party is 4 PM to 6 PM at 3500 Saul Road, thanks to Sam Statland’s generosity. Requested dishes are as follows: A-I, appetizers; J-R, salads & sides; S-Z, desserts. See you there!

In Memory
We note the passing of Ann Elizabeth Statland, beloved mother and grandmother and wife of Sam Statland, well known for her grace and warm hospitality. Also, at our last meeting, we authorized the purchase and installation of an ornamental rock to be placed in the triangle at Old Spring Road and Elrod Roads, which, as noted in our February 2015 newsletter, had long been maintained by Fifi and Will Chase at their personal expense. The rock is installed, and is in remembrance of Will Chase, who passed in September, and of Fifi’s long residence in the community.

Other Items
There will be further discussion of the Village concept, the initial discussion of the possible incorporation of Rock Creek Hills as a Class III entity, and possible aesthetic improvements to the community, including signs and tree planting and preservation. Other suggestions are welcome.

###

RCHCA Winter Newsletter February 2015

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This newsletter has been mailed to all households.   Click here for a printable pdf version.

Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association Newsletter – Annual Meeting – March 2015

The winter annual meeting of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association will be held on Tuesday, March 3, at 7:30 PM, at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue. The agenda will include the minutes of the last meeting, an update on the status of the pending conversion of Rock Creek Hills Park, a discussion about the wind-down of the related litigation, election of officers, the treasurer’s report, a short presentation on developing land use, transportation, and parking issues, a proposal for an ornamental rock, and more on the proposed inter-generational Village program for our community.

Election of Officers

The current officers have all agreed to serve for another year to provide continuity during the anticipated construction of Rock Creek Hills Park and to complete the updating of a number of administrative issues, such as the community directory. The current officers and board members are: Jim Pekar, president; Hill Carter, vice-president; Maria Marzullo, treasurer; Jill Gallagher, secretary; John Robinson, past-president, and Vince DeCain, covenants officer. Additional nominations are welcomed from the floor.

New Rock Creek Hills Directory

We are currently preparing a printed directory for all RCHCA residents. The online directory can be used to look up neighbor’s contact information, post vendor referrals, and also to let neighbors know what services you have to offer. There is a phone app that provides on the go directory information. We are working on a dues paying option on the online directory software and will tell you when (or if) it becomes available! To access the online directory go to: https://www.atozdirectories.com/home/login.php. You will need a username and password to login. If you do not have one, you may email Sam Hoxie (hoxiesam@gmail.com), include your name and address and she will email you your username. If you do not have computer access, please mail to 9711 E. Bexhill Drive or call Sam 301-942-0743 with any new information so that we can keep our resident database up to date. More information and links to the online directory access may be found on our website, rchca.org. Also, we are looking for volunteers to help with hand distribution to save the mailing fee. To help, contact Sam Hoxie at the email in the text.

Join the RCHCA email network

The Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association e-mail network, rchcanet, is for families of Rock Creek Hills. We urge everyone with email access to sign up for this, as it will allow information about the neighborhood, planned events, etc. to be easily disseminated to everyone in a timely manner. This communication forum is not intended to replace any existing communications. The instructions on how to join are posted on the RCHCA website, rchca.org, under the communications tab at the top of the website.

Treasurer’s Report and Dues for this Calendar Year

As of publication the RCHCA checking account had a balance of $5,899 and the RCHCA savings account a balance of $8,526. Thus funds for operations are $14,425. There are no normal operating invoices outstanding at this time. The separate account established to support the Rock Creek Hills Park litigation is being liquidated as funds are collected to complete payment for that litigation. The outstanding obligation for that litigation was settled at $10,000, one half of the final invoice we received. As of now, $3400 is required to complete the payment with $5500 received or pledged from residents since January 1. If any further funds needed by March 3, this will be discussed at that meeting. Dues for the year are $40 and should be sent to Maria Marzullo at 9801 E. Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895.

Status of the Rock Creek Hills Local Park Construction

The Board of Education submitted its revised plans for the proposed new middle school to the Planning Board for mandatory review. Several residents met with Amy Lindsey of the Planning Board staff on February 10 to review the plans and provide our initial comments and concerns. The Planning Board hearing is on March 19 and RCHCA will be submitting its comments well in advance. There will be a presentation and discussion of the main issues, such as massing, tree buffering, and parking at the March 3 meeting.

Other items to be discussed

Fifi and Will Chase have been maintaining the triangle at Old Spring Road and Elrod for the last two years at their own expense, thus saving RCHCA at least $500 over that time. They have asked if RCHCA would purchase an ornamental rock for that sum and place it in the triangle. There will be an update on efforts to establish an inter-generational Village organization in Rock Creek Hills. There is increasing concern about excess parking on Littledale Road and Haverhill Drive. This topic may become increasing important as work on the new school site progresses. The date and location of the annual Mothers’ Day Picnic will announced via the RCHCA email net and posted on the RCHCA website at rchca.org.

RCHCA February 2014 Electronic Newsletter

By | From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings, Newsletters, RCHCA Biz | No Comments

Dear Members,

The RCHCA annual meeting will be held on February 27, 2014 at 7:30 at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue in the Multi-Purpose Room. The agenda includes two voting items: (1) the election of officers, and (2) policy issues related to the covenants. There will also be the treasurer’s report, a discussion of Association activities and programs (including the need for volunteers), a report on the status of the proposed middle school to be built at Rock Creek Hills Local Park and the related litigation, and a limited discussion of traffic issues related to the Rock Creek Hills Local Park site if time permits.

Election of Officers

Your Board has prepared a slate of officers for the February meeting including Jim Pekar for president, Maria Marzullo for Treasurer, and Jill Gallagher for Secretary. Sam Statland is stepping down as vice-president and at this point there is no replacement. Joe Rosenberg will being going off the board after many years of service and John Robinson will become an ex-officio officer as the ex-president. John Robinson will continue to work with the board on legal and government issues. The board welcomes additional nominations and hopes that there will be a volunteer for vice-president.

Treasurer’s Report

Cash in hand for the general operations on January 31 was $6,307 in checking and $11,250 in savings, including the receipt of $1,320 in 2014 dues to date. Cash and savings in hand for the litigation fund on January 31 was $2,830. A brief update will be provided at the meeting. The 2014 dues for operating purposes only are $40 and will be used to finance the Association’s community activities, its administrative functions, and any legal or governmental matters that are not related to the proposed conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park to a new middle school. As discussed below, matters related to the proposed middle school are separately funded and have been for the last two calendar years.

Community Activities

The Association supports a range of activities that go beyond matters that may be of immediate concern such as covenant or land use and transportation issues. These include the maintenance of three planted intersections, the signs for the entrance to our community, and at time tree planting and other open space maintenance. The Association also has activities to keep its members informed such as three regularly scheduled meetings, meeting notices, the newsletter (some of which must continue to be in hard copy), the directory, the website, and material provided by our welcoming Committee. There are at least two major community wide events – the Mother’s Day Picnic and the Halloween Parade and Party. Funds are required to support these activities, and in 2014 we will have the additional expense of a new community directory. We have an immediate need for someone to manage the two parties and relieve Marilyn Emery of that responsibility, which she has graciously performed for many years. Marilyn is quite willing to provide any volunteers with pointers on how to organize both functions, but there is no firm commitment for a replacement yet. The directory is normally done by a committee and the board will ask for a committee chair and volunteers at the meeting. Mike Baker and John Robinson will help update the mailing list and explain how to check current ownership names against the County’s public tax records. Home owners are of course free to opt out of the directory or to decline their telephone numbers or email addresses. In addition, the Village program that supports community wellbeing, particularly the elderly residents, is looking for volunteers. Please contact John Robinson if you are willing to undertake this program.

Covenants

The RCHCA covenants are essential to maintaining the appearance and quality of our community and apply to almost all lots located west of Stoneybrook Drive and the Mormon Temple. While the language varies slightly, all of the covenants address four essential points: fences, the prohibition of business activities, the subdivision of lots, and proposed construction of structures or external improvements to existing structures. The first three of these are reasonably easy to enforce for several reasons.

Fences are a critical issue because of their visual impact on the community. For this reason fences are prohibited from being further forward than the front line of the house, materials are reviewed by the board, and landscaping to soften or conceal the fence may be required. In the case of fences, the requirement to obtain approval is well established, and if a fence is constructed in violation of Association policies regarding such construction, it is possible to require the removal or modification of the fence without undue financial burden to the lot owner.

Businesses can be enjoined if detected and the Association in the past has allowed a reasonable period of time for the business to relocate. Recognizing that many people work out of their homes electronically or by mail and telephone, the Association’s board has adopted the “no impact” standard contained in the County zoning code. The revised code prohibits employees at the residence and limits all visits, including deliveries, to five per week. This permits a reasonable amount of professional consultation and FedEx type deliveries without imposing traffic or a commercial environment on the community. The County Council draft makes clear that the storage or loading of commercial landscaping equipment in an R-90 residential zone such as ours is prohibited. RCHCA will post the text of the new zoning code on home occupations on the RCHCA website when it is available.

The board believes that pressures for subdivision are likely to increase as land values escalate due to the locational advantages of our community. All subdivisions must be approved by the RCHCA board and by the Park and Planning Commission. Since public notice is required, this should be easy to monitor but the large lot size is an important RCHCA quality.

The most difficult covenants issue is the requirement to have all improvements or structural modifications excepting landscaping approved by the Rock Creek Hills Covenants committee. This requirement is absolute and has important implications for the owner because failure to comply is a breach of a condition attached to the owner’s deed and may affect the quality of the owner’s title. Moreover, failure to comply raises the possibility of hard feelings among neighbors and aesthetic impacts on the community. The board emphasizes that it does not want to engage in intrusive review of the details of proposed construction and improvements as some communities with obligatory home owner associations are known to do. But recently the board had two situations where the failure to obtain approval could have caused conflict with neighbors or had significant visual impact on the community. Both were resolved through accommodations or design review, but the issues would have been avoided if the approval process had been followed. Most importantly, if construction is begun before approval is obtained, the owner will have already spent substantial sums on permits and the work to date and may be firmly committed to a contract with strict time frames and other potentially costly provisions.

Finally, we should discuss the definition of landscaping. As houses get larger, the terrain in Rock Creek Hills means that retaining walls, large stair cases, and similar improvements have become more pronounced. Unlike vegetation, such permanent structures cannot be readily removed and could be considered to be an extension of the house. As such, I believe that they should be subject to review to ensure that there are not undue impacts on the neighboring houses, and most importantly, that those owners are able to comment.

Status Report on Rock Creek Hills Local Park and related litigation

The Montgomery County Board of Education completed its initial public design review of the middle school it intends to build on Rock Creek Hills Local Park in early November 2013 and has posted the relevant materials on the construction portion of its website at http://montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/construction/projects/bms2.shtm. The County Board will begin detailed design work this summer, construction is scheduled to begin in August 2015, and to be completed in time for the August 2017 school year. The litigation over the pending conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park to a new middle school has entered its appellate phase. The RCHCA initial brief was filed on December 4, 2013 and we received the government parties’ answering brief on January 24, 2014. The RCHCA reply brief is due February 19 and oral argument is scheduled for March 5, 2014. After reading all the appellate materials and the supporting record, Bil Chen, our counsel, and those Rock Creek Hill citizens working on the appeal, continue to believe that the appeal has a great deal of merit. In addition, all the legal bills and costs incurred prior to the drafting and filing of the December 4 brief have been paid and the only costs outstanding are for the appellate phase of the litigation. However, the costs of the last three months are considerable and an additional contribution would be helpful. In the past RCHCA has requested a special payment of $250 to support this litigation and many have provided this or more. Any amount would be welcome and we would hope that you can repeat your past contribution if possible. The contributions can be sent to our Treasurer Maria Marzullo at 9801 East Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895 or to the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association PayPal account at http://tinyurl.com/ca9kp5m. These funds will be placed in a separate account and expenses for this litigation are not paid from the RCHCA general operating accounts.

In closing, I would like to thank the RCHCA board and our members for the generous support they have provided over the last three years. These have not been easy and I could not have fulfilled my responsibilities without that support. At this point in time I look to move on toward other things. For example, I serve on the board of the Montgomery Parks Foundation and am looking forward to helping its fundraising efforts for the expansion of the Josiah Henson Park historical site on Old Georgetown Road. I would encourage that anyone interested in helping with this significant matter of African-American and local history to contact me at 240-997-4447.

Hope to see you at the meeting,

John M. Robinson

President

RCHCA October 2013 Electronic Newsletter

By | From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings, Newsletters, RCHCA Biz, Social Events | No Comments

Dear Members,

This is the electronic newsletter for the fall meeting and the third quarter of 2013. The principal items are an update on covenant matters, the status of matters related to Rock Creek Hills Local Park and its immediate future, our financial situation, and a number of neighborhood activities, including a presentation by the Village. The RCHCA fall meeting will be held Thursday, October 10, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue, in the multi-purpose room.

We will update the directory next year and if you are a new resident please provide your name, address, and telephone number (optional) to Landis Fisher at fisherlandis@gmail.com. Contact John Robinson at jmarkrobinson@verizon.net if you would like to help.

2013 Halloween Parade and Picnic

The 2013 Halloween Parade and Picnic will be held on Sunday, October 27, between 12 noon and 3. We will assemble in the parking lot of Rock Creek Hills Local Park and parade to the Statlands’ house at 3500 Saul Road. Our thanks to Marilyn Emery for arranging this annual event and to Sam and Ann Statland for making their lot available.

Covenants

The RCHCA Executive Committee has made significant progress on covenants matters. With three small historical exceptions, all fence and accessory structure issues previously called to its attention have been resolved. At this point there are no home based businesses that the Committee is aware of that have employees or have customers or clients regularly coming to a Rock Creek Hills residence. Residences are reminded that only single family houses are permitted in Rock Creek Hills and that all fences and exterior improvements to a house or ancillary structures require the Board’s approval.

The Executive Committee will continue to monitor the proposals now before the County Council that would modify the County zoning code in several regards. In addition to the accessory apartment issue, these include home based professional services and the keeping of animals other than the more conventional pets such as cats and dogs.

The Executive Committee has received several anonymous calls or complaints regarding possible violations of the Rock Creek Hills covenants. The Committee will not act on such calls. First, we believe that homeowners are entitled to know the source of any dissatisfaction if it becomes necessary to begin an enforcement action. Second, such an action is possible only if there is supporting testimony by the immediately adjoining and opposing neighbors. We will keep the source of any concerns confidential during an initial investigation to minimize conflict and to facilitate informal resolutions. If there is merit to the concern and it is resolved informally, all information will remain confidential.

Vince DeCain remains our lead covenant officer for approval of plans that are subject to the covenants and contact point for concerns. His email address is Decainvf@aol.com.

Rock Creek Hills Local Park Update

The Board of Education has begun its preliminary design review for the proposed middle school to be constructed on Rock Creek Hills Local Park. The meeting schedule and locations were previously circulated on RCHCAnet and will be posted on the website. The next meeting is September 25 at 7:00 at North Chevy Chase Elementary School on Jones Bridge Road. The appellate litigation is in its preliminary phases, having been timely filed with the Court of Special Appeals, the first tier appellate court. We have prepared a digest of the record and reached agreement among the parties on the exhibits to be used during briefing. The Court of Special Appeals has not provided a briefing schedule. That Court normally takes one and a half to two years to act after the trial court issues its final decision, which was on May 8, 2013.

Financial Information

The general operating fund has been separately maintained as a reserve for such matters as the maintenance of the RCHCA covenants, meetings, minor regulatory and tax expenses, and community activities. As of September 17, 2013 our general checking and savings totaled $19,736. Ordinary operating expenses for 2013 so far have been $3,392 against ordinary income of $8,250. The Rock Creek Hills Local Park litigation fund has a balance as of September 15 of $1300 and payment due counsel of $2550. An updated report will be provided by Maria Marzullo, our new treasurer, at the meeting. The Board requests that you renew, or join, our membership. The annual dues of $40 per household will be used only for the general community activities mentioned above. Please mail your dues to Maria Marzullo, 9801 East Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895.

Finally, please give some thought to a new RCHCA president in 2014. I have served for three years and some new blood should take over. I hope you will attend the meeting.

John M. Robinson
President, RCHCA

Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association February 2013 Electronic Newsletter

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, Meetings, Newsletters, RCHCA Biz | No Comments

Click here for pdf version of the February 2013 Newsletter

Dear Members,

This is the electronic newsletter for the annual meeting and for the first quarter of 2013. The principal issues are scheduling the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association (RCHCA)annual meeting (Thursday, April 4, 2013), the status of litigation related to Rock Creek Hills Local Park and its immediate future, our general financial situation (including dues), and the election of officers.

Annual Meeting

The RCHCA annual meeting will be held Thursday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue, in the multi-purpose room. The meeting has been delayed to coincide with the anticipated date of a court ruling on the merits of RCHCA’s suit to prevent the conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park to non-park use, in this case a proposed middle school. The agenda items include the status of that litigation, RCHCA’s overall financial situation, and the election of officers.

Rock Creek Hills Local Park Litigation

The RCHCA complaint was filed on August 16, 2103, in Circuit Court against the Montgomery County Board of Education, the County Executive in his official capacity, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (the Planning Board), three state agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Montgomery County Council. The action against the Council was later dismissed without prejudice by stipulation. The legal issues are such that it was necessary to sue all of these agencies. The number of parties involved increased the amount of filings well above what is normally involved with a significant increase in cost.

Although there are a number of issues related to standing, timing, and the
like, there are two principal substantive issues. Somewhat more than 20
years ago RCH Local Park was developed with Public Open Space (POS) funds.
Given the use of these funds, the most important issue is whether RCH Local
Park may be converted to non-park use without full DNR review of the
conversion, and if conversion occurs, whether the converting agency must
replace the current park with the same amount of new parkland providing
replacement recreation facilities of the same recreation value as those now
located in RCH Local Park. DNR is arguing that because the improvements
arising from this development of our park are more than 20 years old no DNR
review of the facilities is necessary nor is their replacement by the
converting agency required. We believe there is no statutory or other legal
basis for this position. In addition, we are arguing that the law bars the
Planning Board from transferring the RCH Local Park for non-park use unless
it finds that RCH Park is not needed for park purposes, which speaks for
itself.

Since the filing of the complaint, the parties have completed most factual
and document discovery, and each side has prepared motions for summary
judgment based on the record to date. In our case, that effort has meant
preparing such a motion containing multiple counts against each of the
defendant parties, as well responding to each of the defendant’s arguments
about why our actions should be dismissed. The defendants have filed their
answers to our motions to dismiss, to which we will now reply. At that
point the record should be complete and we anticipate that the case will be
decided without requiring a factual hearing.

The hearing on the pleadings is scheduled for March 14, 2013. RCHCA
continues to believe in it and the individual plaintiffs will prevail, and
therefore the defendant parties will be enjoined from converting RCH Local
Park to non-park use without complying with the required statutory
provisions. Such compliance would be extremely expensive as it would
require the purchase of new land, and thus would likely require any new
school to be located elsewhere. Depending on the court’s ruling and the
actions of the defending parties, we will discuss at the April 4 what
actions the Association should take.

For the reasons I have discussed, this lawsuit has been quite costly. By
December 31, we had spent somewhat in excess of $50,000 and have raised just
enough funds to cover our costs through that date. You will recall that
RCHCA determined that this litigation would be funded as a separate
association activity, and that funding would be solicited as needed to
moderate the impact of that funding. To this end, RCHCA established a
litigation account to be kept strictly separate from our general operating
funds.

We have done so and it is our intention to continue to fund this litigation
from a separate account. Another round of funding is being requested at
this time. Specifically, an additional $20,000 is needed to sustain the
litigation through the end of March (after the hearing on the pleadings).
As before, in addition to maintaining separation of litigation funds from
other association funds, if there is a surplus in the funds raised since
December 31, they will be refunded pro rata based on the contributions since
that date. Please make any checks to the Rock Creek Hills Citizens
Association, noted to the Litigation fund, and mail them to John M. Robinson
at 9616 Old Spring Road, Kensington, MD, 20895. The funds should be
received no later than March 1, 2013.

General Financial Information

This is the report for the general operating fund which has been separately
maintained as a reserve for other important matters such as the enforcement
of the RCHCA covenants (particularly related to ongoing fence and
construction issues), meeting and minor regulatory and tax expenses, and our
community activities. As of December 18, 2012, our checking and savings
account totaled $14,089. This is not as much money as it seems when
ordinary operating expenses for 2012 were $8033.47 against ordinary income
of $8107. 47. A final report will be provided by our treasurer at the
meeting, along with a request that you renew, or join, our membership. An
envelope requesting the payment of the $40 per household will be coming your
way. Please contribute.

Election of Officers

We will be electing RCHCA officers for period through January 2014. The
following have agreed to serve another term: President, John M. Robinson;
Vice-President, Samuel Statland; Secretary, Kenneth Sanford. David Hall is
stepping down as Treasurer after excellent service in computerizing our
books and straightening our past records. He will provide Quicken training
for his successor, who we badly need. Please step up and volunteer for this
important, but modest, time commitment.

Fall 2012 Newsletter

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The RCHCA Fall meeting is Thursday, October 11, at 7:30 in the in the all-purpose room of Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue

Dear Members,

Things seem to be quieting down after a year and a half of intense activity
by many of our RCHCA members and its board of directors. The Fall
meeting will be short and consist mostly of an information session. Thus
this newsletter leads off with . . . .

The Halloween Parade and Picnic, an important annual event for our
community, will be held on SUNDAY, October 28, beginning at 12:00 in Rock
Creek Hills Local Park. The parade will terminate at Ann and Sam Statland’s
at 3500 Saul Road. We look forward to seeing you there. Many thanks to
Marilyn Emery for her efforts in arranging this event and Sam Statland for
representing the RCHCA Board and the generous use of his lawn.

Litigation Update

RCHCA continues to pursue two challenges the Montgomery County Board of
Education’s selection of Rock Creek Hills Local Park as the proposed site
for the second BCC Cluster middle school.

The first is the administrative appeal to the State Board of Education. The
last pleadings were filed in July by RCHCA, the individual neighborhood
appellants and the County Education Board. The central issues before the
State Board is whether County Board adequately reviewed the two alternatives
developed during the Site Selection Advisory Committee in March 2012. There
is unlikely to be a formal hearing in this proceeding and the State Board
has no required time frame for issuing a decision. At this point the
administrative appeal to the State Board has cost less than $100 and we
anticipate minimal further expenses at this time.

The second challenge is an action filed in the Montgomery County Circuit
Court on August 16, 2012. RCHCA and the individual complainants assert
that the various local and state agencies did not comply with federal and
state statutes governing the proposed conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local
Park to a middle school site. The action is technically complex, but
asserts that under Federal and State open space law our local park may not
be converted before alternative local park facilities of the same size and
utility are provided by the appropriate Montgomery County governing body.
The action also asserts that the State Department of Natural Resources
failed its statutory obligations by requiring that the alternative
facilities be provided prior to any conversion. Finally, we are asserting
that Rock Creek Hills Local Park may not be transferred until the Maryland
National Capital Park and Planning Commission determines that is not needed
for park purposes. The various defendants were served on September 28 and
the first hearing is scheduled for November 16, 2012. We believe this
action will be determined on the pleadings since almost all issues are legal
ones.

The Montgomery County action has required about one third of the dedicated
funds raised to date and as mid-September we have $29,313.72 remaining.
While this is a good balance, additional contributions are most welcome.

Covenants Issue

The RCHCA Board has been informed that a lawn service and landscaping
business appears to be operating out of a house on East Bexhill Street.
This appears to be in violation of both County zoning regulations and of the
covenants precluded the operation of this type of business in our community.
The Board is investigating and hopes to resolve any violations of the County
zoning regulations and the land use covenants without litigation. An update
will be provided at our annual meeting in January or February.

Nomination of Officers

The terms of the current RCHCA officers will expire at our annual meeting.
John Robinson is willing to serve another term as president, as will Sam
Statland as Vice-President and Ken Sanford as Secretary. David Hall will
have provided yeoman service as Treasurer for over three years and is
stepping down. A nominating committee should be selected to develop a
full slate of officers.

Treasurer’s Report

This Treasurer’s report is divided into two sections to break out the
difference between the ordinary operations and the funds and expenses
related to the Montgomery Circuit Court action regarding the proposed
conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park to a middle school. Turning first
to the litigation fund, as stated the current balance in the dedicated
litigation fund is $29,313.72 and we have spent a total of $13,772.59 to
date or 32 percent of the funds raised so far.

Ordinary Income – Ordinary income for the period January 1 to September 6,
2012 was $7,857.47 consisting of 2013 dues of $35.00; $400 in donations;
2012 dues of $7420; and interest of $2.47.

Expenses – Totaled $8737.68 as follows:

  • Communications, $3288.52, consisting of newsletters, $2,204.90, website maintenance, $119.76, and $963.86 for a one-time non-recurring flyer related to the Rock Creek Hills Local Park issues.
  • Meetings Expenses of $455.99, of which $35 was non-recurring.
  • Social Events of $417.93.
  • Triangle Maintenance of $786.03.
  • Miscellaneous Expense of $3789.24 – Of this miscellaneous expense, $2898 was a non-recurring payment for an engineering review of the County SchoolBoard’s estimated construction cost of the proposed middle school on the Rock Creek Hills Local Park site.
  • Mutt-Mitts – $891.24 for mutt-mitts to help dog owners clear up after walks in Rock Creek Hills Local Park, which is in excess of 10 percent of our revenue. Your Board has concluded that this obligation should be borne the dog owners, not the community as a whole. The matter is open for further discussion at the October 11 meeting.

The Board notes that of total operating expenses of $7,857.47 this year,
$3,986.86 were related to the difficult situation involving Rock Creek Hills
Local Park.

The RCHCA balance sheet exclusive of the litigation accounts is: Checking
account, $4517.86; Money market fund, $11,514.99; Total ordinary assets,
$16,086.85.

The RCHCA dues remain $35 for 2012 but will rise to $40 in 2013. As is
suggested in the discussion of covenants here, we need to maintain a healthy
balance if we are to protect the integrity of our community.

Respectfully submitted with my best wishes,

John M. Robinson