Happy Spring! We’d like to take a moment to update folks on the neighborhood’s HOA activities and answer some common questions we’ve received. We are posting this message both here on the neighborhood Facebook Group (unaffiliated with the HOA) and on our website: Fenwickwoods.org. We’ll also continue to update everyone mostly through these online options. We’ll only mail letters for more formal purposes, because mailing is both more costly and labor intensive.
Community Projects & Landscaping:
First, thank you for completing our recent community survey! The results showed that paving the mail kiosk area had the most interest and we are moving forward with that project, with one mitigating factor. The great oak in that area may have roots that could be damaged if concrete infringes on its drip line and the Charleston governing body may limit how much we can pave at that location. So we are continuing to research the project, working with companies to determine the maximum area we may cover with concrete, and getting their proposed bids for the cost of the work.
Second, the survey results revealed that installing fountains in ponds was also a popular, but divided issue. For instance, some homeowners noted they did not live beside a pond and were not primarily concerned with improving the area. We would like to clarify that we have to take action to "comply with governmental regulatory water quality standards" in the ponds and have already been told that the ponds are in "poor condition with infestations of filamentous algae, slender spikerush, and alligator weed". A combination of aerators and fountains would provide more control over mosquito populations, help control algae, increase circulation and oxygenation of thermal-stratified water, prevent fish kills and control long term pond odor. All of those things help maintain property values for everyone.
The Board approved actions to begin addressing the issues with the ponds by installing the electrical wiring and meters needed for future pond improvement and that work should begin shortly. We already have two bids for a variety of methods including fountains, above and below surface aerators, and/or a combination thereof for all the ponds. We will get at least one more bid. Improving the pond water quality will likely be a multi-year project depending on final estimated costs. We plan to further evaluate all recommendations to decide on what equipment may be best suited to our needs and budget.
In the meantime, we will need to maintain the current water management system, including methods to decrease erosion, mitigate vegetation decay, and increase pondlife. One way you can help is by not removing the fish from the ponds. The Triploid Grass Carp, a weed eating fish, cost about $11 each and we're currently low on stock. Also, it has been reported that some individuals have been seen dumping their yard waste in the ponds. Please stop this behavior immediately, as this action is very detrimental to pond life and water quality.
Third, we have reviewed the landscaping contract previously created by Mungo, and we revised the requested scope of work. By working with our management company MJS, we have sought new landscaping bids. We hope to receive at least 3 bids soon. Then, we will evaluate each bid, and we may begin a new landscaping contract.
Fourth, we greatly appreciate a homeowner’s assistance with submitting a request for information from the city about Mungo's responsibility for finishing the installation of trees between the sidewalk and curb in Phase 3. We will update you when we have learned more about this situation.
During our inquiries we are sorry to report that we learned Mungo only "planned" walking paths and those "plans" were not required contractually to be completed. We plan to look at the requests for walking paths again in the future.
Answers to Common Questions:
We’d also like to take a moment to address a few common questions we’ve received. We've received lots of casual questions about improvements such as painting doors, planting trees/shrubs, and other architectural issues. Homeowners should submit an Architectural Review Application for such improvements, which can be found on the Fenwickwoods.org website. This application is required for any improvements a homeowner would like to make, and can also be submitted retroactively for improvements already completed. Overall, we have found that we are more open and flexible to improvements than Mungo previously allowed, while still maintaining community standards. It is important to note that If a homeowner does not get their improvements approved, the change may later result in a violation.
Lastly, regarding violations, we’d like to briefly explain the current violations process. We are a self-governing neighborhood. This means that a homeowner who suspects that another homeowner is in violation must first complete and file a violation report through our management company MJS. MJS ensures the homeowner filing the report remains anonymous, even to the HOA Board. MJS provides the Board an anonymous report of the violation, which we then review and discuss. If there is majority consensus of a violation, then the Board takes action to enforce the violation. For an initial violation, only a warning letter is sent to the homeowner, and no fines are issued. MJS remains in contact with the homeowner who reported the initial violation, who confirms if the violation has been corrected. If not, the board is notified of the ongoing violation, and again the Board reviews the anonymous report, decides if compliance has not been met, and determine the next step. At this point, a fine system begins, which typically double with each additional notice issued for the violation. As a result, non-compliance with a violation can result in hefty fines.
Homeowners who receive a violation are encouraged to comply by the date set on the initial violation letter to avoid fines. In addition, homeowners who suspect a violation should also not assume it has been already been reported. For example, if a homeowner receives a violation and corrects it, but then a new report is submitted for the same violation again within one year, then this report is not considered a new violation, but instead a continuation of the last violation. Pending Board approval, the homewowner who previously received a warning, would now be considered to have a second notice for the violation, so a fine would occur. If a homeowner goes 1 year without that particular violation then the "clock resets" and the violation would again begin with a warning, unless the board decided otherwise.
Violations are not intended to be hardships, but they are enforced to maintain community standards and maintain a pleasant community for all to enjoy. Please make it easier on everyone and respect our community; take steps to comply with the standards and resolve your violation.
We have a lovely neighborhood full of great people and we look forward to continue working with our wonderful community. Thank you all.
Fenwick Woods HOA Board