December 15, 2010

Please Don't Call the Cops on the Snow Blower Guy

Today I spoke with one of the men who have been working hard to clear snow within our neighborhood.  I noticed him working outside this afternoon while I was home. As he climbed out of his bobcat preparing to hand-dig around a fire hydrant, I spoke with him for a few minutes. I thanked him for his work on behalf of all us.  He appreciated the feedback, and said that he and his co-workers had been working very hard over the last few days.

He said that they've been trying to keep up with the recent storm's snowfall, drifting, and setbacks caused by the City of Hugo plows.  Then he mentioned something that really surprised me.  He was concerned that residents would call the police if he worked too late into the night.  He continued and told me a story that last winter, while working to clear snow from our neighborhood sometime after 8:00pm, the Washington County Sheriff pulled-up to his machine and asked him to stop working.  Apparently, the Sheriff's Department had received multiple phone calls complaining about the noise his snow blower was making.

I fully understand that we live in a neighborhood where people call all hours of the day or night "bedtime". What I don't understand is how someone would reach the annoyance breaking point so fast and decide calling the Sheriff on the snow blower guy was the best option available.

The City of Hugo's plows work through at all hours of the day and night.  They go where and when they're needed.  It's a safety issue.  If ambulances or fire trucks get stuck, as happened as recently as last Sunday in Minneapolis, consequences can be severe. If fire hydrants aren't cleared, as was the case in a St. Paul fire last night, response time is delayed and firefighting is more difficult.

Our neighborhood's snow removal contractors should be afforded the same understanding that the City of Hugo's plow crews are given. We count on them all. If our contractors believe that working past 8:00pm (or 3:00am for that matter) allows them necessary time to clear streets, alleyways, fire hydrants, or sidewalks then I'm OK with that.

Workers are still trying hard to catch up with last week's record storm.  It’s clear that there’s still more to be done, and it looks like they'll have new inches of snow to clear over the next few days. I hope that instead of calling the cops, our neighbors can show a little patience and understanding- especially for the people who make living here a little easier and safer.

- Mark

Newly-eligible property owners must file homestead applications by today.

According to the Washington County Website:
Property owners in Washington County whose property is newly-eligible for homestead classification because of a change should contact a county assessor to file a homestead application on or before Dec. 15.
Homestead classification will affect the amount of property tax paid in 2011, and it may affect eligibility for a property tax refund.
Contact the county assessor to file a homestead application on or before Dec. 15 if one of the following applies:
• you purchased a property in the past year and you, or a qualifying relative, occupy the property for homestead purposes on Dec. 1, 2010; or
• you, or a qualifying relative occupy a property for homestead purposes on Dec. 1, 2010, and the property was previously classified as non-homestead.
A qualifying relative for homestead purposes depends on the type of property. For residential property, a qualifying relative can be a parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the owner. This relationship may be by blood or marriage. For agricultural property, a qualifying relative can be a child, grandchild, sibling, or parent of the owner or a child or grandchild, or sibling of the spouse of the owner.
Once property owners have been granted the homestead classification, no further applications are necessary unless they are specifically requested by the county assessor.
Property owners must also contact the assessor by Dec. 15, 2010, if they are the property owner, or a qualifying relative of the property owner, and the use of the property has changed during the past year.
If property owners should sell, move, or for any reason no longer qualify for the homestead classification, they are required to notify the county assessor within 30 days of the change in homestead status. Failure to notify the county assessor within this 30-day period is punishable by recalculation of tax as non-homestead, in addition to a penalty equal to 100 percent of the homestead benefits.
For additional information or questions, call the Washington County Assessment Division at 651-430-6110.

December 14, 2010

Snow Removal Update

Victor Gardens Master Association's Community Manager, Kari Miller, has been in close contact with Goetz Landscape regarding snow removal in Victor Gardens.  Goetz employees have been working long hours trying to keep up with the record snowfall and drifting we had last weekend.

There are a few things residents should be aware of:
  1. Vital areas are cleared first.
    1. Master Association streets & alleyways.
    2. Fire hydrants
    3. Postal stations
    4. Sidewalks
    5. Neighborhood Activity Center parking lot
    6. Other areas
  2. The Master Association does not remove snow on:
    1. Individual driveways and driveway aprons
    2. Homeowners’ steps
    3. Sidewalks from front door to public sidewalk.
  3. Some condo/townhome sub-associations may have additionally contracted others to clear steps and other secondary areas.  (Check with your sub-association’s board for more details).
  4. The City's plow trucks undid a lot of the work that Goetz had previously completed. After Goetz had cleared sidewalks, the City's plow pushed back snow "birms" further from the street and into cleared sidewalk areas.  Goetz is currently working again to clear those sidewalks.
  5. Residents calling the Sheriff with complaints about snow blower/plow noise delay the work being completed.

December 13, 2010

Cracking Down on Delinquent Owners

At it's last meeting, Master Board members discussed with each other a common goal of clearing up delinquent dues accounts within their sub-associations.  At least a few of the sub-associations have expressed interest in revoking the pool and activity center privileges of delinquent homeowners.  The Master Board will take this up again in the future.

Master Board/ARC Working to Clarify ARC Authority

On behalf of the Master Board and Master Architectural Review Committee, Community Development Inc. is asking the Master Assn's attorney for clarification on ARC authority issues.  The question arises due to confusion between Master and sub-association ARC authority.  The question specifically arose from Master ARC discussion of unauthorized Condo sub-association satellite TV dish installations.

Victor Gardens Single Family Village Homeowners Association is believed to be the only Victor Gardens sub-association that the Master Association specifically turned limited ARC control over to. (link here). The SFV has the authority to govern existing architecture and landscapes, but does not have control over new home building within the SFV.

Monument Signage Discussed at Master Board Meeting

The Master Board recently tabled substantial discussion of monument sign proposals. After brief discussion of reserve account funding, the budget, and the desire to not increase dues,  the Board decided a wait to discuss signs.  This topic will likely be included in future budget talks.

Master Board to Consider Budget & Reserve Fund

During last week's Master Board meeting, Ed Markfort, a representative from Building Reserves, Inc. reported to the Board our current reserve fund status.  Mr. Markfort recommends a greater amount of money to be set aside in our Master Association's reserve account.  Reserve accounts are used to pay for long-term repairs and replacement of common elements including irrigation systems, the pool, activity center, and other amenities. 
The Board will consider Mr. Markfort's recommendations along with the rest of the Master Association's budget in the coming months.  

Lifetime Fitness Membership Effort in the Works For VG Residents

Nick May from White Bear Township's Lifetime Fitness discussed a new membership effort, including a number of options, during last week's Master Board Meeting.  He is expected to follow up with Victor Gardens residents in the near future to propose more details.  When that info is available, I'll post it on the website too.