Dear Windermere Families:
Please allow me introduce myself to you. My name is Jeff Tabor. I have lived in Windermere proper for twelve (12) years with my wife, Karen, and our two (2) boys, Luke and Sam. We have truly enjoyed our home and neighborhood. We were first attracted to the Windermere area when we first drove through the neighborhood. We immediately noticed how well the neighborhood was maintained and the loved the wooded lots and tree lined streets/ uniformity of the area. I am still pleased with our decision to live in such a wonderful community. Like each of you, when we purchased our home in Windermere, we were fully aware there were annual dues payable to Windermere HOA to assist with the costs of upkeep for the common areas. Additionally, like each of you, when we closed on our home, we were given a complete copy of the Windermere Declaration of Covenants. For those of you who do not know exactly what or why neighborhoods have covenants, please know that Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions, commonly called CC&R’s, refer to a written recorded declarations which set forth certain covenants, conditions, restrictions, rules or regulations established by a Homeowner’s Association to create uniformity of buildings and use within tracts of land or groups of lots.
Four (4) years ago, I was approached by several neighbors who ‘recruited’ me to become a member of the Windermere Homeowners Association Board. After careful consideration, I agreed to fill a Board vacancy and was thereafter appointed to the Board. Since that time, I have continued to serve on the Board, this most recent year serving as your Board president. I believe it is important to remind everyone the Windermere Board consists of five (5) unpaid/uncompensated volunteers who also have ‘day jobs’ and family responsibilities. These Board members are also your neighbors and residents of Windermere proper, who devote many hours of service to our community—all in an effort to keep Windermere a wonderful place to live. The Board members meet monthly, often times for two (2) or more hours with Hank Thompson, our CASI property management company, to discuss issues and concerns of our residents and neighborhood. All matters presented to the Board are taken seriously and discussed openly and candidly in an effort to serve our residents, determine what is in the best interest of our community as a whole, and what can be done consistent with the Windermere Declaration of Covenants each of us agreed to live and abide by when we purchased our homes. We are all a part of the Homeowner’s Association (HOA). A ‘HOA’ is, by definition, homeowners with similar goals for maintenance of commonly areas, and similar goals with respect to improvements and enforcement of regulations (i.e. Covenants). Our HOA, though your elected Board, is responsible for managing community finances and enforcing the guidelines in our covenants. Collecting unpaid assessments, enforcing the association’s governing documents, handling disputes and dealing with contractors are just a few of the issues both CASI and the Board does for you. Enforcement of Covenants is not always popular with residents, but it is one of the duties and responsibilities of the Board. It is not the Board’s fault if you never received a copy of the Covenants from your realtor when you closed in your home, nor is it a viable reason for failing to abide by the Covenants. The covenants are readily available to all residents, and can be downloaded free at www.windermerewindow.com.
RESIDENT PARTICIPATION AND ATTENDANCE AT THE MONTHLY BOARD MEETINGS
Monthly Board meetings are open to residents who want to be heard. At the last two (2) Board meetings (July and August), several residents have appeared personally before the Board voicing their respective concerns and issues. Going forward, the Board would respectfully request any Windermere resident who would like to attend a Board meeting please make arrangements with Hank Thompson and/or a CASI representative beforehand. The Board is asking this courtesy for two (2) reasons. First, some of the issues residents have can be handled without the necessity of attending a meeting. Secondly, if a resident wants to be heard, making an appointment and/or advising the Board of your attendance and the issue to be addressed beforehand allows to Board to be more prepared to discuss the issue(s) and also allows the Board to arrange and manage its agenda for each meeting. Your cooperation in this regard is greatly appreciated.
RECURRENT ISSUES AND CONCERNS
The Board continues to address new and recurrent issues and concerns of our residents. Additionally, the Board has been informed by the town of Fishers of some recent changes regarding their recommendations for street/parkway trees. I would like to clarify the Boards position on these recurrent issues and also update you on the recent changes/recommendations the town of Fishers’ has adopted:
#1. TREES IN GENERAL:
We all know many of the mature and beautiful trees in Windermere proper have fallen prey to the Emerald Ash borer. The Board was aware this was going to occur several years ago. As such, the Board began addressing this concern with our landscaping company two (2) years ago. Prior Boards have also openly discussed this with Windermere residents at the last few Annual Homeowners Association meetings, advising residents to start taking the proper precautions for both your lot trees and street/parkway trees. Because this disease has now (and continues to) infect many of our ash trees—both common area trees and street/parkway trees—the Board, along with the Town of Fishers, are monitoring the situation very carefully.
#2. COMMON AREA TREES IN WINDERMERE:
The Board, with great assistance from Hank Thompson/CASI, is making every effort possible to take down and replace every dead or dying ash tree in the common areas. The Board is aware of the current unsightliness of the dead and dying common area trees. However, removing and replacing the volumes of common area trees within Windermere proper takes time and money. Please be aware all of the common area trees which are dead or dying are going to be removed and replaced by your HOA. Timing the planting of these replacement trees is critical for their future health and survivability. The Board’s goal is to have most—if not all—of the currently identified dead or dying common area trees removed and replaced by the end of fall. There will be more ash trees that will not survive. The Board will continue to monitor the situation on an annual basis, and continue to attempt budget accordingly so we can attempt to restore the trees within Windermere proper.
#3. STREET/PARKWAY TREES IN WINDERMERE:
The Board is aware dead and dying street/parkway trees is a big issue within Windermere proper and its residents. Many residents have received letters from CASI about dead or dying street/parkway trees. These letter(s) are not intended to be threatening or harassing. Rather, they are being sent to individual homeowners consistent with the Covenants (addressed above and noted below). Several residents who have received these letters have already removed and replaced their street/parkway trees, or, contacted Hank Thompson and/or CASI and advised they plan on removing and/or replacing their street/parkway trees this fall. For those of you who have made the effort to follow the covenants and/or update us on your future plans, we thank you. For those who have failed to respond, you will continue to receive letters and perhaps legal action will be taken against you in an effort to enforce the Covenants.
Unfortunately, a small number of residents have contacted Hank Thompson/CASI advising they do not want or intend to replace their respective dead or dying street/parkway tree. This is of great concern to the Board and the residents who have already spent the time and money to remove and replace their street/parkway trees in accordance with the Windermere covenants. Obviously, the residents who have abided by the Covenants by removing and replacing their street/parkway trees want the Board to continue to enforce the Covenants requiring resident removal and replacement of dead/dying street/parkway trees. The residents who do not want to remove and/or replace the dead/dying street/parkway trees want to ignore or amended the existing covenants on this issue. For those residents who would like to amend the current Covenants, please refer to the Covenants, Section 15.3 AMENDMENT, which requires 2/3’s of the 1083 homes in Windermere to amend the Declarations/Covenants. The Board will not participate, as a group, in amending the Covenants. The Board will continue to enforce the Covenants as originally adopted which clearly state:
SECTION 13.3. PARKWAY TREES: All lots along designated streets shall require the installation and maintenance of Parkway Trees in accordance with rules and regulations hereafter set by the Declarant or the Association. Such rules shall specify the number of trees required based upon the size of the Lot, the species of the trees and the size of the required trees. It shall be the obligation of the Owner of each Lot to not only install and maintain such Parkway Trees but to replace the Parkway Trees if necessary. In the event an Owner fails to maintain or replace a Parkway Tree as required herein, the Association shall have the right to maintain and replace said tree and charge the cost of such to the Owner.
Also, when you are replacing dead/dying street/parkway trees, please be aware Exhibit C of the Architectural Standards, specifically paragraph 17 (established in 1993 and amended in 2000), which state:
“…Parkway/Street trees are required. Maintenance and replacement is the responsibility of the homeowner. A 2 inch caliper is required of the same species when replaced”.
If you have received a letter wherein you are alleged to be in violation of Section 13.3, the Board implores you to take immediate action and abide by the Covenants by removing your street/parkway tree and replacing it with a two (2) inch caliper (2 inches in trunk diameter) tree —just as many of your fellow neighbors have already done—in order to keep uniformity within our neighborhood (which is what covenants are designed to do).
#4. NEW INFORMATION FROM THE TOWN OF FISHERS ABOUT STREET/PARKWAY TREES
A representative from the Town of Fishers was invited to the monthly August Board meeting to discuss and inform the Board about the multiple and ever evolving issues surrounding street/parkway trees. At that meeting, the Board was made aware of recent amendments the Town of Fishers is implementing for the street/parkway trees. The Board has subsequently held a Special Board meeting to discuss these new changes and want to make each homeowner aware of the changes.
The first small change: While Red, Sugar, and Black maples are still listed as recommended replacement trees for street/parkway by the town of Fishers, the Town is also trying to discourage Fisher’s residents from planting maples in general because there are so many of them in the area and they have recently determined they have the potential for a new disease. If you have already replaced your street/parkway tree with a red or sugar maple, don’t be alarmed. You will not be asked by the town or the Board to replace it as long as it meets the both the requirements of the Town of Fishers and the Windermere Covenants. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact Danesa, at (317) 595-3458. She is with the Town of Fishers and very helpful on all tree issues and concerns.
The second thing: Unbeknownst to your Board, the Town of Fishers requires each homeowner to obtain a permit (free of charge) before they remove and replace a street/parkway tree! Again, if you have already removed and/or replaced a street/parkway tree without first obtaining a permit, don’t be alarmed. Per Danesa (contact number above) the Town of Fishers has not historically done a very good job in advising Fishers residents of the permit requirement. However, you should call Danesa and simply explain the situation. As long as you have planted an approved Fisher’s street/parkway tree, your tree will be ‘grandfathered’ in without the need for a ‘back permit’. For those of you who are planting street/parkways trees this fall, the Board urges you to contact Danesa and obtain a permit (free of charge) before replacing your street/parkway tree.
The third issue: The town of Fishers requirement for size of a replacement of street/parkways tree is one and a half caliper (1.5 inches in trunk diameter). As referenced above, our covenants require a two inch caliper (2.0 inches in trunk diameter). Per the Town of Fishers Officials, we are well within our right to exceed the one and a half caliper Town requirement per Covenant.
Many residents have contacted the Board—in person or in writing—with complaints about the sidewalks within Windermere proper. For those of you who do not know, there is a Town of Fishers Ordnance which addresses sidewalks, their maintenance and repair. Fishers Ordinance 94.26, states:
§ 94.26 MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR.
The maintenance and routine repair of sidewalks located within the rights-of-way of the town shall be that of the adjacent property owners. For purposes of this section, maintenance and repair shall include but not be limited to snow and ice removal and repair of cracks and/or holes or any other condition which would constitute a safety hazard to pedestrian traffic. Ord. 101895, passed 12-6-95)
As your Board representative, I have addressed the issues of sidewalk repair with Town officials on numerous occasions. While I have received varied responses, the most common response is that repairs to sidewalks are the primary responsibility of the adjacent homeowner (as the ordinance above suggests). However, I am also aware several of my neighbor’s sidewalks that were uneven or constituted a tripping hazard were repaired by the town at the town of Fishers’ expense. When I discussed this with the Town officials, I was informed there are certain ‘priority sidewalk issues’ which can lead to more prompt repair by (and at the cost of) the Town of Fishers, depending on the remaining budget for the town of Fishers. Any homeowner can submit an on-line a request for sidewalk repair by visiting the town of Fishers website. If your sidewalk is uneven or constitutes a tripping hazard, it is your responsibility to contact the town of Fishers or have it repaired at your expense. If you fail to act accordingly, and someone is injured, you—not the Board or the HOA—may be held legally responsible for the injured individual’s harms and losses, including, but not limited to, their medical expenses and income loss.
NEW WINDERMERE WEB SITE
The Board is pleased to announce it is working with a fellow Windermere resident to create a new and user friendly web page for Windermere HOA. This new site (unlike the Windermere Facebook Page) will be officially sanctioned by the Board of Directors, and a direct avenue for the Board to ‘push’ information to all residents of Windermere. We are hoping to launch this new/updated site by the holidays. The Board will make every effort to keep all residents updates and will announce its launch date when it is completed.
On behalf of your Board of Directors, I hope each of you find this correspondence to helpful and a useful resource now and in the future. Please know your Board of Directors is striving to keep our neighborhood a wonderful place to live. We are also striving for better communications with the residents of Windermere.
Jeff Tabor, WHOA, Inc. Board President