Monday, August 13, 2012

Autumn Walk FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Last updated 03/11/2013
  1. Trash and Recycling
    1. What days are trash and recycling collected?
      1. Trash is collected on Tuesdays. Recycling is on Fridays.
      2. During Holiday weeks Howard County uses a slide schedule.
    2. How do I get a recycling bin?
      1. Call Howard County at 410-313-6444. New homes are entitled to a 65/35/18 gallon bin which must stay with your home when you move. It usually takes about a week for bins to be delivered.
      2. You may wish to mark your bin since you will be charged for a replacement.
      3. Large 65 gallon recycling bins cost $45 each. However, if your bin is too small, the County will trade for a larger size bin if you call 410-313-6444.
    3. How do I get rid of brush, leaves, and clippings?
      1. Howard County presently recommends you use recyclable paper bags for setting out yard waste for recycling.
      2. You can also take yard waste (and other recyclables and trash) to the Alpha Ridge Landfill.
    4. What do I do with used cooking oil?
      1. You can take used cooking oil to the Alpha Ridge Landfill. Howard County recommends doing this to avoid plumbing problems and repairs.
  2. Landscaping & Maintenance
    1. What will the HOA maintain? What is my responsibility?
      1. For CY2012, the HOA chose to provide full-service mowing, edging, leaf removal, and overseeding/fertilization at no additional cost. Since the community wishes to continue this service in 2013, fees will rise $15/month to balance the budget. See this post for the full range of services in 2013:
        1. 2013 Autumn Walk Landscaping Contract
      2. You are responsible for maintaining your flower beds and shrubs, to include mulching, weeding, and pruning, plus watering.
      3. The public trees may be the responsibility of the HOA. We will update this item when this issue is resolved.
      4. The HOA will maintain all common areas, including the grass, trees, shrubs, retaining walls, and storm drains.
    2. What about snow removal?
      1. You must remove snow and ice from your driveway and sidewalks within 48 hours.
        1. Please remember not to block the street gutters with the snow shoveled from your driveways and sidewalks, as this prevents the melt-off from reaching the storm drains during heavy snows.
      2. When the streets were turned over to Howard County (which occurred in mid 2013) the County became responsible for plowing the streets, but not the parking spaces.
      3. The HOA will need to award a contract for shoveling the sidewalks next to the parking spaces. Due to budget constraints we will not be able to afford plowing the parking spaces themselves.
    3. When will the streets be paved?
      1. M&S is expecting to pave the streets in the September timeframe. [Actually occurred on 10/8/12.]
      2. Broken curbs and other issues will be identified by M&S and marked with an "X." If the work will affect resident access to driveways, the resident will be notified prior to the start. 
      3. Howard County will also review the conditions of the street and mark additional items to be fixed by M&S. Once all items have been repaired, the County will assume maintenance responsibility including resurfacing and snow removal.
      4. Major landscaping issues (dead trees and shrubs, and major areas of dead grass) will also be addressed at this time. Note that we may be responsible for watering these new plants.
  3. HOA Assessments
    1. How much are my HOA fees?
      1. Autumn Walk HOA fees for CY2012 are $60/month.
      2. Emerson Master HOA fees for FY2012-13 are $0.28 per $100 of assessed value.
    2. How do I pay the fees? Is there an auto-debit option? Can I select the day of the month when payments are withdrawn?

      1. For Autumn Walk HOA, you pay though Community Association Services (CAS)Auto-debit forms are available. Go to the "HOA Fees" post for specific payment information.
      2. For Emerson HOA, you pay through Community Management Corporation (CMC). Auto-debit forms are available. Go to the "HOA Fees" post for specific payment information.

    3. How can I get an accounting of how the HOA is spending its funds?
      1. HOA financial records are a matter of public records for homeowners in Autumn Walk. Printed copies will be provided at least twice a year (at the Annual/Elections Meeting in the Spring, and the Budget Meeting in the Fall).
      2. Electronic copies are also available on a monthly basis upon request. To obtain a copy, please contact April Day, our community manager.

  4. Parking
    1. Is there a parking policy?
      1. We have received inquiries about a parking policy governing guest parking. At this time we are asking residents to voluntarily reserve the guest parking spaces for visitors when possible, as the number of spaces is limited.
      2. Residents should use their garages and driveways as their primary parking spots.
    2. Where is parking prohibited?
      1. A "No Parking" sign will be installed later this year by M&S in the street accessway between lots 10 and 11 (near the small roundabout). This part of the street is a firelane.
  5. Pets
    1. Are there any restrictions on pets?
      1. The HOA defers to Howard County and the State of Maryland on acceptable pets.
      2. In general, Maryland does not restrict dog breeds, but some jurisdictions either ban pit bulls or impose liability for them (defining them as inherently dangerous).
    2. What is the policy on pet waste?
      1. Both Howard County Regulations and Autumn Walk's HOA covenants require that pet owners clean up solid waste left by their pets, on or off their property, or face civil penalties.
      2. As a service, Emerson supplies pet waste stations at various points in the community with plastic bag dispensers for picking up pet waste.
  6. Architectural Review
    1. If I want to add or modify something to the exterior of my home, what is the approval process?
      1. According to the covenants, you should submit an Architectural Review application to Autumn Walk HOA, and then Emerson HOA. 
      2. Emerson HOA will timestamp your application and they have 30 days to respond with approval or disapproval per the Emerson Bylaws (Section 7.9).
      3. However, because Emerson has fairly strict policies and Autumn Walk can only be more restrictive (not less), at this time we have decided to allow you to simply send applications directly to Emerson. We will review their decisions periodically to determine whether this policy should change.
    2. Why can't I build a bigger deck?
      1. The present policy of the Master Emerson HOA is to require that all decks in Autumn Walk conform exactly to the cluster standard (though they seem to be allowing changes not visible from the street, such as alternate decking materials). Variations are at the discretion of the Master HOA, and we unfortunately have no influence on this matter at this time.
      2. Your particular lot may also be subject to easements and other restrictions. You should contact Howard County's Department of Planning and Zoning for the County's restrictions, and reference the HOA covenants for their requirements.
    3. Who enforces covenants?
      1. Emerson HOA is the primary enforcement for architectural covenants, and conducts a periodic comprehensive review of the entire community on what appears to be an annual basis.
      2. Some covenants may fall under Autumn Walk, but this matter is still TBD.
  7. Community Events
    1. What social activities is the HOA planning?
      1. We have chartered a Picnic Committee to organize a Meet-and-Greet Picnic the weekend of September 8 or 9 (dependent on the weather). Jenny, Adrienne, Sam, Daphna, Carlo, and Bindu have been hard at work, so please RSVP to your invitation.
        1. The Picnic has become an annual affair with volunteers doing the planning, shopping, cooking, and entertainment in 2012-2014! Your participation is actively welcomed!
      2. The HOA set a very small budget of $150 to cover hamburgers and hot dogs, and CAS has also provided a welcome gift.
    2. Are there any informal activities?
      1. We've heard some great ideas. Sam and Daphna started Flamingo Fridays and other residents have hosted ice cream socials and other events open to everyone.
      2. In 2013, an informal Halloween Block Party was held at Maria and Hung's house, and in 2014 Allie and Daphna hosted it at their houses and added a Chili Cook-Off!
      3. Other ideas are welcome, and if you want us to help publicize your event, drop us a line at autumnwalkhoa(at)!
    3. How can we share information with other residents?
      1. You can send information to us if you want it posted to this web site (or, in elect cases via the resident email list). 
      2. Several people suggested an on-line forum for the exchange of information among Autumn Walk residents so an unofficial residents-only Facebook page moderated by volunteers was established. There is also an affiliated Warranties & Repairs group where residents help each other with home repairs and other issues.
        1. Rules for participation on the Facebook page are that all posts must be suitable for a family-friendly forum. 
        2. Posts should be positive, free of inappropriate language, and should not include negative comments about any other resident.
        3. Violations of these policies will generate a warning and repeat violations will result in loss of posting privileges.
    4. Can I use the Clubhouse? Is there a gym?
      1. Unfortunately, there is no gym in the Clubhouse, which is maintained by the Master Emerson HOA. It has the changing room for the pool as well as tennis courts.
      2. The Clubhouse has the offices for the Emerson Community Manager (presently CMC, who staffs it during business hours on weekdays). There is a small meeting space which can be reserved by the Emerson HOA or sub-associations like ours.
      3. The Clubhouse space can be rented with the approval of the Emerson HOA.
    5. Can I use the pool?
      1. The pool is maintained by Emerson HOA and requires a separate pool membership.
        1. The 2012 season was May 12-13, May 19-20, and May 26 through September 2, Sept. 8-9, and Sept. 15-16, from 10 am - 8 pm.
        2. Costs (check payable to Emerson Community Association or money order only):
          1. Pool Membership with one complimentary guest pass: $150/family, $75/individual
          2. Additional Guest Passes (available during business hours in Clubhouse): $20 (10 visits per card); guests must be accompanied by a member [Note that Emerson plans to start imposing greater limitations on guest passes effective with the 2013 season]
          3. Replacement ID Access Cards: $25/card
      2. The Master HOA holds an annual pool party in the early June timeframe which is open to all residents even without a pool pass. A second "Adult Swim Hawaiian Pool Party" is scheduled for Friday 9/14/12 from 7-9 pm.
      3. Children under 13 must be accompanied by a parent or approved supervisor 14 years of age or older.
    6. Are there tot lots or playgrounds in Emerson?
      1. There are three parks owned and maintained by Emerson HOA. At least one has a playground. Emerson also maintains a system of walking paths that runt through the community.
      2. Howard County's North Laurel Community Center is also within easy driving distance.
  8. Board Activities
    1. When is the next Autumn Walk HOA Meeting?
      1. The last HOA meeting was held as scheduled on November 17, 2014 @ 7 pm in the Emerson Clubhouse.
        1. The next meeting will be the Annual Meeting and Elections in May or June 2015.
      2. During this meeting the CY2015 budget was adopted, with the assessment fees remaining at $75/month. Formal notices were mailed and 30 days provided for public review of the proposed budget prior to adoption.
    2. When are the next Autumn Walk HOA elections?
      1. The next elections are presently scheduled for June 2015. Again, formal notices will be mailed to the community.
      2. At least one position will be open. If there is sufficient interest in expanding the Board from 3 to 5 members, this requires a vote of the community.
    3. What are the current HOA fees?
      1. In 2013 (effective with the January assessment) fees were raised from $60 to $75 to cover the cost of full mowing for the community. The increase was also needed to fully fund the Reserve Account, pay for a professional reserve study, and ensure that we have sufficient funds to cover the cost of snow removal (which is difficult to estimate).
        1. By signing a three-year contract, the Board was able to get a discount on the cost of the contract while maintaining stability in the pricing as well. At this time there are no immediate plans to raise the HOA assessment again.
      2. As noted, Autumn Walk's assessment fees for 2012 were $60/month per household. Most of the budget (c. 50%) goes toward the Maintenance Contract. We also need to establish a Reserve to cover long-term expenses and repairs.
      3. The Master Emerson HOA has a fee that is based on the assessment of your home, as recorded by the County, presently $0.28 per $100 of assessed value.
  9. Home Repairs & Renovation
    1. What materials and paints did M&S use in my home?
      1. A reference post documenting this information and other items used by the Builder has been created, to make it easier to match these materials or perform renovations. If anyone has additional information, please contact us as this is a work in progress!
        1. Builder Materials
    2. Will the HOA fix roofs, since these are shared?
      1. We believe that roofs are the responsibilities of the homeowners. Shared roofs will require cooperation between the various homeowners.
    3. Who is responsible for sidewalk repairs?
      1. Sidewalks and driveways in front of your property are the homeowners' responsibility. The HOA is responsible for repairs to sidewalks fronting the common areas.
      2. This also applies to snow removal during the winter. (See Landscaping & Maintenance, Section 2 above.)

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