Overview of Fence Committee Meeting 10/25/17
The purpose of this informational meeting was to apprise our neighbors of the progress that has been made exploring solutions for common area fences. The meeting was very well attended. Roughly 60 residents attended, both residents with common-area fences and those without. The meeting began with an introduction of Committee members. Those in attendance included Butch Thomas (SCOCIA Secretary), Laura Junek (SCOCIA Treasurer), Mike Treece & Phil Segura (SCOCIA Legal Counsel), and the committee members, Sam Gipson (SCOCIA Deed Restriction Chairman), Frank Vross, Linda Connell, Jake Johnston and Corey Bailey. Committee members Davis Rumsey and Kurt Wellborn were not able to attend.
Butch Thomas led the discussion:
History of Fencing Situation:
Board meeting records dating back to the early 2000’s document concerns relating to continued deterioration of common-area fences. The challenge has always been, unlike neighboring communities, that SCOCIA does not own common-area fences thus the maintenance and upkeep is the responsibility of the home owner. Home owners who have taken upon a noble responsibility to replace the deteriorated fences have replaced them with different variations of color, height, and materials. As a result, the community suffers with the variation and deteriorated appearance of worn, rotted, and in some cases broken fence boards. Unfortunately, the situation has been unmanaged, and it has been difficult to enforce
requirement to upkeep fences due to weak and vague language in the Deed Restrictions. The deterioration of common-area fences impacts a home buyer’s perception reducing the desire and perception of home value.
Communities, such as Gleannloch, maintain common-area fencing and include specific language in their Deed restrictions to ensure that any fencing owned by home owners within common view are replaced with consistent color, height, and materials. In the past few years, Gleannloch replaced a majority of wooden fences with stone as an investment to keep the appearance of the neighborhood well maintained for years to come.
In 2016, SCOCIA took up the subject of overall neighborhood maintenance and appearance, making significant investments in parks and other areas. The board wants members of the community to enjoy the neighborhood and maintain a community that attracts home buyers whom value a nice area to live. Once again, the topic of fencing is up for discussion and home owners, including a resident formed committee, support the idea of SCOCIA taking responsibility to maintain the common-area fences.
Meeting with Attorney– To explore all options, SCOCIA met with our attorney to get his professional input and discuss options and legal implications. There are 3 options:
- (Option #1) Homeowners turn responsibility of the fences, in the form of a deed, to SCOCIA. SCOCIA would then be responsible for the of construction and maintenance of the common-area fences. He mentioned that, in his experience, this was the best method to ensure that common area fencing be properly maintained.
- (Option #2) Amend the Deed Restrictions and strengthen the fencing requirements. He did not recommend this approach as any changes to the Deed Restrictions requires 2/3 vote of the neighborhood, which is arduous, oftentimes not successful and can be very costly.
- (Option #3) Do nothing. SCOCIA would notify home owners that a decision has been made to not pursue maintaining or replacing common-area fences. This is important, as some owners have held off on replacing common-area fences pursuant to the outcome of this decision.
Formation of Committee
SCOCIA formed a committee of resident volunteers to explore options.
- Survey: The committee submitted a 5-question survey to discuss with residents whom have common-area fences along TC Jester and Fellowship Lane (the first two common areas to be addressed). The committee was able to contact most of these residents and with a high majority of residents willing to deed the fences over to SCOCIA. In addition, some residents expressed their willingness to participate in a one-time assessment, which is a cost above normal maintenance fees, with this approach.
- Meeting with Consultant: The committee consulted with KG Deforest (KGD) at no cost, the landscape architecture firm that spearheaded the fencing project at Gleannloch Farms. KGD provided perspective on pros and cons of different types of fencing, landscaping options, soft costs, etc., and provided the committee with a bid estimate to replace the fencing in both wood and brick.
- Request for Pricing: The committee met with four independent contractors to provide estimates for a variety of options. A summary of estimates is provided later in this document.
Jake Johnston followed up with his professional view, as an area realtor, with effects on
The purpose of improving the current condition of the fences is to positively impact home values, that’s the purpose behind an improvement, to add value. By creating a consistent, well maintained look along our main neighborhood thoroughfare it can ultimately create a higher level of desire in the mind of a home buyer. A home buyer can contribute this look of consistency to a sense of pride of ownership among the neighborhood in addition to our beautiful common area facilities which are easily visible along TC Jester. In general, a buyer will pay a higher premium for a higher perceived level of value.
There was a comment made during the meeting that there was no evidence that the new fences would benefit all of the homes in the neighborhood and that the new fencing would only add value to those homes directly benefiting from the new fencing along TC Jester.
Jake’s response to the comment was contrary to the belief. If we are able to increase value to those properties along TC Jester and a home buyer pays a higher premium for one of those properties as a result of the new fencing, then that home has established a new level of value for other comparable homes in the neighborhood. An appraiser would most certainly take this new, higher value and can apply it in comparison to any other home in the neighborhood of similar age, size, etc. By virtue of comparable sales, every home in the neighborhood benefits from higher sales prices.
In addition, when you compare our neighborhood to others around our area such as Wind Rose or Gleannloch in terms of property values, these neighborhoods carry a higher value. (Gleannloch avg. is $113/sq.ft and Windrose avg. is $105/sq.ft.) Of course, this is not solely based off consistent and well maintained fencing, however it certainly does help to add value. Also, if you take a look around at all of the new construction neighborhoods in our area such as Vistas at Klein Lake, Laurel Glen, Inverness Estates you’ll also notice the common theme is consistent fencing on the perimeter of the neighborhood. It is becoming an expected standard to see these consistent and well maintained fences for neighborhoods these days. And buyers are willing to pay for it.
Q: Which fences are being considered?
A: All fences that line the common thoroughfares (roughly 7000 linear feet) in the neighborhood (primarily TC Jester and short set-backs, Spring Creek Oaks Dr, Fellowship Lane and Winding Ridge). The committee is exploring the option of installing a taller fence along TC Jester, in light of the increase in traffic due to TC Jester becoming a thoroughfare.
Q: What kind of fences are being considered?
A: Wood with brick columns (similar to existing), thin wall brick and precast
Q: What is anticipated cost of a replacement fence?
A: Prices range from $30-$130, depending on height and type of material. Brick column repair and/or replacement range from $2000-$2700 per column.
Q: Will my annual Association Fee increase because of these fences?
A: The fence committee is currently working within the confines of our existing SCOCIA budget. At the October HOA meeting, Laura Junek (Treasurer), did not recommend an increase in the HOA fees for this year, as operating expenses were forecasted to be under budget. However, she anticipates that operating expenses will continue to rise next year and recommends this be revisited and consider an increase next year. This is a separate issue from capital expenditures.
Q: What is the committee’s next step?
A: The committee is still exploring other options and obtaining competitive pricing from vendors and gathering all of their information together to present their recommendation to the board.
Q: If I am a resident with a common-area fence, should I wait or repair?
A: Please do not wait. Dilapidated fences (in all areas) remain a violation of the Deed Restrictions and should be resolved quickly.
Open forum/Q&A session.
One resident asked about landscaping and/or ivy, as opposed to fence replacement. KGD advised against landscaping, as there is little room (on TC Jester) between the sidewalk and fence to promote plant growth. Ivy tends to work its way across wood and between the boards and into cracks, causing damage to the structure. Additionally, ivy’s thick nature tends to harbor mold, causing rot. This is true with several varieties of vines. Since the meeting, the committee obtained another a second opinion from another landscaping company and they agreed with KGD’s opinion.
Another resident inquired about cost of placing liens on those resident’s homes that are not in compliance. The difficulty with this approach, though not impossible, is that HOA funds spent placing liens on homes may not be collected until a home is sold and the fence would most likely stay in its current condition. Homes with liens become less marketable, thus a poor reflection on neighborhood values.
One resident asked about liability/cost of insurance for the HOA to assume ownership of the fencing. Laura Junek spoke with our insurance representative and the cost varies, again, depending on price, material, etc. Prices range from $1200-$3600/year for replacement. SCO has full liability coverage under our umbrella policy, due to our pools.
Another resident stated that she supports the purpose and need for common-area fence replacement. She also asked about the reserve fund and if community majority vote for improvement projects is needed that come out of this fund. The short answer to her question is no, majority vote is not needed when decisions are made regarding capital improvement expenditures. Board members are elected to make these decisions for the community.
Another resident disagreed with Mr. Johnston’s professional opinion regarding fencing effects on home values. He stated that without any before or after value appraisals it would be hard to evaluate or substantiate the comment that upgrading fencing along TC Jester would increase the value of homes even along rear sections such as along Willow Pine Drive which abuts Spring Creek Forest or along Crampton Lane, most distant street in Section 1.
The fence committee is still in the process of reviewing all options. All options they are considering will require a multi-year plan, which is not unusual with a project of this scope. Once the committee forms a consensus, they will present their recommendation to the board. The board will consider all options. No decision has been made.
As home owners, community members and volunteers to the SCOCIA board, our aim is to invest in the upkeep of the community so that all community members can enjoy Spring Creek Oaks for years to come. We would like to thank the Fence Committee for taking the time to assess, evaluate, and deliberate on this problem that has gone on for over a decade. Your dedication and time is greatly appreciated by the Board and members of this community.