Monday, October 28, 2019

Draft Minutes: 2019 Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting 10/28/19

The 2019 Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting and Elections were held on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 7 PM in the Emerson Clubhouse. Fred Leong took the minutes as he did for 2018 as well.

·        Attendance:
o   Present (4): (9811) Dharmesh, (9832) Allie, (9854) Fred; (9836) Tammy
o   Proxies (13): 9807; 9810; 9812; 9814; 9830; 9837; 9840; 9844; 9846; 9847; 9848; 9853; 9858
o   Management: April Day, CAS Inc.
·        Agenda
o   Quorum Established (17 accounted for, 12 needed)
o   Call to Order and Introductions
o   Adopt 2018 Minutes
o   Financial Review
§  2020 Budget
o   Presidents Report
§  Yearly Overview
§  Community Gatherings/Events
§  Landscape Beautification
§  Snow Removal
§  Misc
o   Proposals
o   Elections (2 open positions)
o   Residents Forum

1.     Board proposes Picnic for Sunday, May 17
a.     Pizza party with drinks, rest is potluck
b.     Will check that location is available, and that residents can attend
2.     Landscaping
a.     Please remember to keep your yards accessible for the landscaping contract, and avoid having anything breakable in your yards
b.     Will remove dead bushes on traffic islands (both large and small), just replace with mulch
c.     Board will add removing weeds in sidewalk cracks to Landscaping contract; will get a price on full weeding
d.     Authorized up to $5000 for an improvement project (does not have to be in those locations), resident proposals requested
e.     Board votes to ask if the sub-HOAs will jointly formally request that Emerson cover tree trimming and snow removal on major roads throughout Emerson
                                               i.     Affects appearance of entire community and budget has cashflow
3.     Emerson Election
a.     Need 169 houses to reach quorum, will have proxy forms at Halloween Block Party
4.     Home Maintenance: Emerson Violations
a.     Many houses received violations for fences, but confusion as to which fences belong to which house, especially when there are two dividers – is it the property line, or the side facing your house that matters?
                                               i.     Who cleans, paints, replaces fence?
                                             ii.     Will get clarification from Emerson
b.     Board will need to inspect Autumn Walk in late May
                                               i.     Yards should replace landscaping with something if everything has been removed
                                             ii.     Also some yards typically need cleanup, usually weeding
5.     2020 Budget adopted
a.     One-time deficit for landscaping improvement project
b.     Want to avoid raising fees as long as possible
6.     Elections
a.     Dharmesh Patel, Fred Leong reappointed to 2-year terms (no other applications received)


Saturday, October 26, 2019

2019 Halloween Block Party, Pumpkin Carving, and Chili Cook-Off

Be sure to stop by Allie's house (9832 Garden Ranges) on Halloween (Thursday, October 31st) for the annual Autumn Walk Halloween Block Party!

Please let Allie know at if you want to enter the Chili Cook-Off. She has three meat entries and two vegetarian at the moment.

The schedule of events:

  • Sunday, October 26 at 2:30 PM: Pumpkin carving in Allie's garage (9832 Garden Ranges)
  • Thursday, October 31 (6 PM - 8 PM)
    • Chili Cook-Off (please bring your entries between 5 PM and 6 PM)
    • Halloween Block Party

2019 Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting and Elections

The 2019 Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting and Elections will be held on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 7 PM in the Emerson Clubhouse.

Expected Topics:

  • Elections for 2 Board Positions (2-year terms for Dharmesh Patel and Fred Leong expire this year)
  • 2020 Budget
  • Landscaping initiatives
    • Removal of dead bushes
    • Improvements
  • Setting a Spring/Summer date for the 2020 Picnic
  • Adopt the Draft Minutes from the 2018 Annual Meeting
In particular, the Board will consider whether to combine unspent funds from 2019 with 2020's budget, and potentially solicit proposals from residents for landscaping improvement projects for around $5,000.

We have enough proxies for quorum (12 houses) but we welcome your participation and ideas!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fall Mulching in Autumn Walk

This year we switched landscaping contractors to Johnson Landscaping, which has kept the street in good shape all year.

Because the new contract was cheaper, we added a Fall mulching that started today and will run through Friday.

This isn’t a major cleanup and trimming like we get in Spring, just more of a refresh to replace the mulch that washed away during the year. But right now the entire neighborhood looks clean and tidy!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Howard County Charter Review Commission

Although the Howard County Charter seems like a dry topic, there are a number of important items being considered for possible inclusion on the ballot in 2020, including:

  • Changing the number of Howard County Council Districts (for example, from 5 to 7)
  • Giving the Council the ability to delete, or increase or decrease, line items in the Executive's budget
  • Requiring that the County either limit future proposed projects to the funding projects for future years (such as schools and swimming pools), or at least state what the expected revenue will be in those years

Input can be provided directly to the Charter Review Commission at any time via email:
The meetings are also open to the public and there may be an additional 4th Public Hearing later this year.

Just a sampling of the topics that have been considered this year are listed below:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Water Meter Replacement Program

Howard County is expecting to replace 45,000 meters located inside homes to upgrade them to a new technology over the next 3 years.
  • Howard County has contracted with Keystone Utility Systems which will mail residents and businesses to schedule an appointment to access the meters.
  • Keystone's meter replacement personnel will have uniforms and Howard County-issued photo IDs.

When you receive your notice:
  • Call 1-877-587-2279 to schedule an appointment.
    • Appointments are available Monday - Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.
    • Saturday appointments are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Ensure that the meter is accessible by clearing obstructions around the water meter area.
  • Have someone 18 years old or older present to admit the water meter installer.
For more information, visit the Bureau of Utilities' water meter replacement page:

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Stop Sign Repair: Tell HoCo

Howard County has a service called Tell HoCo that lets residents track and report issues that require the County's attention.

You can quickly report an item needing repair or some other County action, without needing to know the specific department or office to route the request to.

A dispatcher will log in the request and assign it to the appropriate group, and you can then track the issue on the web site (as well as see what other items have been submitted in your area).

When someone hit a stop sign on our street in the middle of the night this summer, it was propped back up but not replaced.

We finally submitted a Tell HoCo ticket over 2 months later - and it was replaced within 3 days.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Special Emerson Town Hall with HoCo Executive 9/24/19

Emerson held a Special Town Hall with Howard County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball in the Emerson Clubhouse on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 from 7 PM to 9 PM.

Dr. Ball also brought many of his senior leadership team and Department Heads with him to answer a wide-ranging set of questions (posted below for easy reference).

The video feed was also broadcast live to the external Emerson Facebook Page and to the Emerson Forum:

Some highlights:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Emerson Special Meeting (Mon. 9/30/19)

Emerson's Board of Directors has scheduled a Special Meeting for Monday, September 30, 2019 at 7 PM for the membership (Emerson Owners in good standing) to vote on the question of whether the Board will be expanded from 5 members to 7 members in this year's November Emerson elections.

If the proposal passes, there will be three positions open rather than just one.

Because a very high quorum of 1/6th of the membership (168 residential units) is needed for the results to be valid, we need for you to return your proxy forms to the Clubhouse by Monday's meeting, or via email to

You can also provide the form to someone who will be attending the meeting. (Fred Leong in 9854 is collecting them if you want him to take yours over on Monday.)

The meeting announcement and proxy forms were mailed to each household in Emerson last week and are also available from the Emerson web site:

2019 Halloween Block Party on Garden Ranges!

The Autumn Walk Halloween Block Party and Chili Cook-Off will be on Halloween (Thursday, October 31) this year!

  • Allie Stegner will be the host in 9832 again so please let her know if you are interested in entering a chili (meat or vegetarian) and whether you would be interested in a pumpkin carving contest.
  • Email her at or tell her when you see her.

Is anyone interested in taking over the decoration of the small island or other common areas from Fred Leong?
  • We can provide the existing decorations and maybe even provide a small budget.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting 10/28/19

*** Correction: The date of the Annual Meeting is Monday, 10/28/19 as stated in the mailing, and not the following day as previously posted here. ***

The 2019 Annual Meeting for Autumn Walk HOA will be on Monday, October 28th at 7 PM in the Emerson Clubhouse.

Quorum of 12 houses is needed for the results to be valid, so please attend in person or send in your proxies.

  • Adopt 2018 Annual Meeting Minutes
  • FY20 Budget (effective January 1, 2020)
  • Election
    • Two Board positions up for election (currently held by Dharmesh Patel and Fred Leong)

This is also your opportunity to bring up ideas or concerns directly with the Board and management team.

Allie Stegner (in 9832) also expects to host the Halloween Block Party in this period. Let her know if you are interested in doing the Chili Cook-Off again this year.

We expect to send out mailings with the notice of the meeting, a call for candidates, the FY20 Budget, and proxy forms.

Friday, May 10, 2019

New Landscaper in Autumn Walk

You may have noticed that since the beginning of the year, we have had a new landscaping company in Autumn Walk, Johnson Lawn & Landscapes.

This was not a small decision as the landscaping contract is over half of our operational budget, and perhaps the most significant benefit for keeping our community in top shape, especially since it covers much of the private yard maintenance as well.

  • (We are all still responsible for weeding and repairs.)

The Autumn Walk HOA Board decided to competitively bid out the landscaping contract last year, and with the assistance of our Community Manager April Day obtained multiple proposals.

After reviewing the proposals and checking their prior work in other communities, the Board decided to switch to Johnson Lawn & Landscapes effective January 1, 2019.

  • Because the price was competitive, we also decided to add a light, second Fall mulching to replace the mulch washed away after the major Spring Clean-Up.
  • They will also cover contingent (i.e., if needed) snow removal in the common areas during the winter season.

We are monitoring the contract closely, but so far we feel Autumn Walk has received excellent service this year.

We have gotten feedback from some residents that the Spring Clean-Up was done very well and that overall their houses (and our neighborhood as a whole) have never looked better!

Emerson Community Facebook Forum

Did you know that Emerson has a Facebook Forum, a closed group open only to residents and owners, that has become the place to go to get recommendations, find out what's going on in the community, and do a little buying and selling?

Join in the fun! You'll be asked to provide an Emerson address.

Emerson Mailbox Painting

Emerson's newest Board member, Richard Flinn, has created a huge number of initiatives, ranging from revitalizing Emerson's committees with a new Community Affairs Committee, to systematically trying to improve the state of the common area property throughout Emerson.

As part of the latter, we got a very visible sign of progress on our street when our mailboxes were painted on Thursday (along with mailboxes throughout Emerson). The painting is part of a campaign to ensure that everything within Emerson will look spruce and in good repair, to show off our community to the world.

On our street, the slight difference in the colors of our mailboxes created an interesting, and perhaps even fashionable, two-tone effect.

A list of various Emerson initiatives this year:

1. Emerson Clubhouse Renovation (Chair: Fred Leong) - first meeting is 5/16/19

2. Community Affairs Committee Open House - Open House 5/23/19

3. Emerson Food Truck Fridays - Organized by Emerson resident Khaleda Hasan - EVERY FRIDAY through August

New Monument Sign Lighting

The Emerson Master HOA gave us a landscaping light for our monument sign as a test, with the objective of determining whether the lights would work well enough in Autumn Walk and Skylark Ridge to roll them out across the community.

Old and New Lights Together

However, we felt the light had several issues, including a harsh white color temperature, limited placement options for the (single) light, and limited ability to place the solar panel to collect sunlight and avoid getting turned off by headlights at night (with the light shutting off as cars turned onto our street).

Old Light (in the center)

So after some research we found lights, the Solar Light Mart SLM81250, that we felt would deliver a much better result, and purchased them at a very reasonable cost of $39.99. [The manufacturer now has a third generation light that is brighter and still is rated to run from 7-12 hours, though the price of all the lights has gone up slightly.]

New Lights (one on each side)

The caveat, however, is that installation is significantly more complex (a few hours during both daylight and at night versus 10 minutes, to include waterproofing the connectors and burying the cables), which we could afford since we did it ourselves at no cost.

But hopefully you'll agree with us that the result was worth it! Go out after dark and check them out for yourselves!


Let Them Bee

You may have noticed hundreds of tiny dirt nests in our community, mostly behind the north rows but a few in the front yards as well.

Our Community Manager April told us these are ground-nesting bees:

However, they are not aggressive at all unless handled (this was true even though they had been disturbed by our mowers, who are trained to recognize dangerous insects).

So after researching them, we decided not to spray them or try to force them out with water, because Cornell says they are benign pollinators and recommends allowing them to stay. And many bees populations are already under stress.

Hopefully they will move on after the Spring nesting season but we wanted to let you know what they are, and why we chose to "let them be."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019