Neglect of common ELEMENTS

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DECLARATION OF TRADITIONS OF AMERICA AT SEWICKLEY RIDGE

Article 3.3 Maintenance Responsibilities.

(a) ….the Association shall be responsible for Maintenance of the Common Elements and the costs of such Maintenance shall be borne by all Unit Owners. 

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"Clean-up" from mowing and trimming

"Curbs, sidewalks, patios, entryways and driveways will be blown clear of grass clippings after every cutting and trimming." --2019 Landscaping Contract

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Mowing and Cutting including "Clean Up" costs us $83,991.79

Total Contract:  $205,980.03

We've already paid $22,947.35 for April, 2019.


(Resident-submitted photographs.  1-2 days after mowing.)

Question and comment from a resident sent to the management company and the Board:

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5/25/2019  "Is this your idea of a good landscaping contract?   This is a holiday weekend and some of us do have people over. This isn’t what the contract says will be done."

Resident, Independence Way

2018: $151,012.26/yr for landscaping; $16,779.14/month

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Why are we paying so much for months of poor service and performance?

Source:  Board Briefs, October 16, 2018

"The condition of the turf/grass throughout the community remains a concern.  We had planned to aerate the turf areas this fall.  However, we now understand that aerating without simultaneous over seeding would not accomplish the results we wanted.  The costs of over seeding – significant amounts of quality seed and the required labor – were beyond the funding available in the current budget."


Source:  Grounds & Safety Committee, September 7, 2018 Meeting Minutes:

"Assessment of [landscaping company]:   The committee members expressed concerns about performance of [landscaping company] – quality and effectiveness of weed and crabgrass control was poor, grass cutting taking place while yards very wet.  This results in creation of ruts and damage to the turf.  Mowing crew drives too fast when cutting. Trimming around trees seems to be better."


Source:  Property Reports

Street numbers have been removed (---).


OCTOBER 2018

--- Patriot - reported landscapers are trimming too closely to the ground around trees. -  compliant (sic) forwarded to MMC.

--- Freedom - reported large brown areas in lawn and bushes require trimming. 

--- Independence - inquired about replacement landscaping


AUGUST 2018

Common Areas-Identified areas of concern and addressed with contractor: mowing techniques, abundance of weeds and crabgrass, speed of mowing, creation of ruts, damage to siding.

---Independence -  remove the weeds around pine trees.

---Presidents -  landscaping concerns (no detail in Property Report)  

---Freedom – landscaping concerns (no detail in Property Report)

---American – landscape concerns (no detail in Property Report)

---Freedom – landscape concerns (no detail in Property Report)

---Freedom – landscape concerns  (no detail in Property Report)

---American - landscape issue (no detail in Property Report)

---Victory - landscape issue (no detail in Property Report) 

 

JULY 2018

Advised MMC the bushes behind the grill area are coming through the fence...

--- Freedom - messaged MMC regarding the damaged Dogwood tree.   

--- Presidents reported damaged siding. Reported to MMC. 

--- Presidents reported weeds in front yard, contacted MMC.

--- Presidents requested the overspray of chemical be removed from his siding.  --- Freedom reported stained siding.

--- Liberty - Jim and I spoke with owner regarding dirty siding. 

--- American Way reported the arborvitae was dead. 

--- Old Glory reported dirty siding. 

--- Independence mulch is washing down off the slope, sent pictures to Jim at MMC. 

--- Independence emailed regarding the grading, grass is not growing and two dead bushes. 

--- Freedom requested their Dogwood Tree be trimmed. 

--- American requested their Dogwood Tree be trimmed.


JUNE 2018 

...worker disposed of weeds over a hillside. MMC was directed that there be no disposal of weeds on the property. 

 ... a list of identified and reported areas due to stains from the mulch which will require cleaning. 

--- Liberty stained concrete and patio,

--- Freedom siding stained

--- Freedom mulching the island in the rear of the property behind Freedom.
--- Independence reported the landscapers missed mowing the unit’s grass as well as up to the second entrance for the second time. 

--- Freedom spoke with MMC regarding issues with grass on the siding.
--- Liberty reported mulch on fence.
--- Freedom  Additional issue of weeds in mulch bed.

 --- Old Glory phoned regarding the weeds and mulching.

--- Liberty complaint of dead grass, took pics of ---, --- and --- as all had dead grasses in the utility beds and none were on the TOA log to be replaced.
--- Independence complaint of high grasses on hillside
--- Freedom patio stained from mulch
--- Liberty siding dirty from mulch

--- Liberty complained about the mulch stains; informed MMC.
--- Old Glory MMC missed mulching a small portion of the unit and will need to return and complete the project.
--- American complaint about lawn issues
--- Presidents reported weeds in front yard 

--- Presidents -  landscaping concerns 

--- Freedom – landscaping concerns

Identified areas of concern and addressed with contractor – mowing techniques, abundance of weeds and crabgrass, speed of mowing, creation of ruts, damage to siding

Reminder: The Board signed a two-year contract (2018-2019) with this landscaping company.

  • This is the HOA's largest Services contract. [2018 Budget]
  • It is also the contract the Board Treasurer acknowledged he did not read thoroughly before signing. [Source:  Candidate Presentations, March 17, 2018]
  • Nine (9) months of service, April through December. 
  • HOA has committed to paying $295,242.00 for the 2-year contract.  That's another year (2019) with this type of "service."

Landscaping: More Excuses and Poor Planning

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ARE YOUR MONTHLY ASSESSMENT DOLLARS BEING SPENT WISELY? Are we getting the services we pay for?

Click here for Landscaping Information

2 years with no proper aeration of lawns; yet we paid $151,012.26 for nine months of landscaping.

Plus an additional $10,000 in the budget for "Landscape-Other."


As of September 2018,  $6,623.05 has been expensed for "Landscape-Other."


But we can't afford to aerate?

Landscaping and Lawn Care Contract: Fewer Services

2017 - No aeration performed in the Fall

  • Lawn Care Program portion of landscaping contract:  Aerate turf service included in 2017 contract.
  • Service never provided. 
  • Latest excuse from the board:  They did not thoroughly read the contract. Their exact words: "It is correct that the verbiage including these items was included in the formal contract and that it was overlooked by both parties when it was signed."

2018 & 2019 Services removed yet no reduction in pricing.

Lawn Care Program portion of contract for 2018 & 2019
Same cost to us as 2017 yet two services are eliminated:

  1. Aerate turf areas in Fall 
  2. One lime application will be applied in Fall

Landscaping contract renewed for two years.

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At the "Special Board Meeting" board members never indicated that there would be a reduction in landscaping services nor did they inform homeowners about the elimination of services.

The board members voted to renew the contract for two years.

("Brush Hog Hillsides" was mentioned pertaining to a few select areas in the community.  These are in the 2018-2019 contract as "Additional Services" with an additional Per Service charge.)

The importance of aeration in lawncare

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Aerating your lawn is important, especially in Pittsburgh, where much of the soil is clay. Your soil may also be packed down because people walk on it, or vehicles drive over it.(This is particularly an issue with new construction homes.) Dense soil leaves very little room for water, air, or nutrients to get to the roots of your grass. When your grass is deprived of these basic, important elements, you’ll end up with a lawn that loses its green colors, doesn’t grow evenly, and is more susceptible to disease and the elements.


Aeration helps creates more “breathing room” for your lawn. The soil then becomes looser, allowing water, nutrients, food, and air into the ground. It also reduces the layer of thatch (dead grass) that sits on your lawn throughout the summer.

Importance of Lime Application

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Lime applications in the fall are used to balance out your soil’s pH, which is the acid and alkaline that’s in the ground. Most of the soil in southwest Pennsylvania is too acidic for proper grass growing conditions, so an application once a year can help your grass grow, stay healthy, and better receive fertilizer.


A lawn lime treatment can be applied at any time of the year, but spring and fall are probably the best times to apply it. The main reason to do so is that is when the most rain fall occurs. An added benefit for a fall application, is the normal freeze and thaw cycles help break down the lime and allow it to work faster.

To view the landscaping contracts:

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The Board has removed electronic access (via the Message Board) to the contracts.


*You can access hard copies of the contracts at the Clubhouse desk.  (Hopefully the Board hasn't removed them also.)

Landscaping 2019: THE HOA BOARD IS BETTING YOUR MONEY ON IT.

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Lack of Action

 In the past 2 years (2017 & 2018) we spent over $300,000 for consistently poor landscaping services and took no action.   We are now paying to repair and remediate the damage  and neglect by the previous landscaping company which should have been addressed much sooner by the Board.

[Source(s):  2017 HOA Budget and 2018 HOA Budget]

Poor Business Judgement

Despite the disappointing service, in February 2018, the Board decided to “extend” the inadequate landscaping company’s contract for two more years.

[Source:  Special Meeting of the Board of Directors, February 10, 2018]

Too Little, Too Late

After two springs and two summers of lousy service and complaints from homeowners, the Board decided to finally address the costly and unsatisfactory landscaping service.  Because of the Board's lack of action, we continue to have poor lawn and soil conditions and the need  for expensive turf restoration. 

[Source(s):  Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, September 20, 2018; Board Briefs, October 16, 2018; 2019 HOA Budget]

Homeowners Paying the Price $$$

So now, we are paying a “new” landscaping company over $208,000 to address the last 2 years of bad service and neglect.  Homeowners face higher landscaping costs which include attempts to remediate poor conditions due to the lack of performance  and neglect of the 2017 & 2018 landscaping company.  

[Source:  2019 Budget;  Landscaping Company Service Agreement/Contract  January 12, 2019]

"Deja Vu All Over Again".....

The “new” company is actually the same company we were using in 2016. But wait...when three of our current board members were elected in 2017 they decided to not use this company. They were not happy with the company's performance. Now, we have rehired that company.

[Source(s):  Board of DIrectors Meeting Minutes  2/7/2017; 3/8/2017; 4/10/2017  

Special Meeting of the Board of Directors January 12, 2019;

Landscaping Company Service Agreement/Contract  January 12, 2019]

Summary: $208,000; Increase of $65,000 for 2019; $22,886,67/month

So, we paid over $300,000 to an inadequate landscaping company for 2 years only to fire them and “rehire” a company the Board did not want in 2017. We are paying that company  at least $208,000 per year; a $65,000 increase for landscaping in 2019.  We can hope this "new" landscaping company will perform better.  THE HOA BOARD IS BETTING YOUR MONEY ON IT.

[Source(s):  See Above]

homeowner questions & comments: neglect of limited & common elements

Resident comment and submitted photos - June 4, 2019:

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"Is this the level of lawn care that we can expect this season? The grass was not cut last week. The grass behind my home grows quickly making it impossible to clean up after my pet. Today, the grass is 7-8 inches tall!

The grass from the last cutting was never collected. See pictures of the grass left on the lawn and a large weed in the flowerbed!" 

Neglected landscaping throughout Spring and early Summer 2019. (Resident-submitted photo)

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Not included in the recent Board Briefs document: a sense of responsibility and fiduciary duty to homeowners. 

No landscaping service and lack of maintenance.. (Resident-submitted photo)

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It is not only unsightly but residents need to be concerned about the well-being of their pets, particularly with flea and tick season upon us.  So it is not only an aesthetic issue it is also one of health and safety.  It is also costing all of us money. 

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"I thought living in this community I would have the garden work taken care of but with overgrown shrubs it makes our home look like it is uncared for. We had no cutting in the fall and now it’s June and no work is done."

(Resident-submitted photo)

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"Why doesn’t our board work on hiring before the growing season starts?"

(Resident-submitted photo)

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"After steady rains we are allowing heavy riding mowers to cut grass on soaked lawns where drains need to be installed. Are there going to be repairs? Should our HOA inform the service of this problem? It happens every time they cut after a rain."

(Resident-submitted photo)

Finally, a report Dated May 2019 is shared in July 2019

6/19/2016 Board Meeting, the Board President promised a report "within the week."

May 3, 2019 Grounds & Safety Committee Minutes:

"The assessments of the lawns within the community were completed ....The lawns were rated on a scale of 1 through 4 depending on the amount of work and attention the lawn requires.  Some homes will be prioritized for specialized treatments this Spring, including new topsoil." 


--Some will receive special treatments and new topsoil, others will not. 


--Due to Board-imposed restrictions on the "community" Message Board, we were denied the opportunity to post a message to residents (see above).  


6/8/2019:  We contacted the Chairman of the Grounds & Safety Committee and he referred us to the Board.  The Board did not respond to our request.


Learn More

The ranking determines the service your lawn will receive.  Some lawns will receive special treatments and new topsoil; others will not.


It is important for you, the homeowner, to know about the "turf assessment", how your lawn was ranked, what service you can expect, and how it will affect the appearance and health of your unit's lawn and surrounding area.  

Questions or Comments? click here

Landscaping 2019: HOA BOARD IS BETTING YOUR MONEY ON IT. and more excuses...

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*UPDATE* JULY 2019: WE ARE NOW PAYING THREE (3) LANDSCAPING COMPANIES.

JUNE 2019:  ANOTHER SUMMER SEASON BEGINS WITH BAD LANDSCAPING.


NO DUE DILIGENCE PERFORMED BY THE BOARD.  ONCE AGAIN, THE BOARD TOOK NO ACTION TO FOLLOW-UP ON A HOMEOWNER'S QUESTION AND CONFIRM THAT THE LANDSCAPING COMPANY ACQUIRED ENOUGH H-2B WORKERS TO FULFILL THE COMPANY'S 2019 CONTRACT COMMITMENTS TO SEWICKLEY RIDGE.


MAY 10, 2019 UPDATE:  MORE EXPENSE ($205,000+) AND LESS SERVICE FOR HOMEOWNERS.

(Message from the Board noreply@sewickleyridgehoa.com May 10, 2019)

"Many of you have joined with the Board and the Grounds and Safety Committee in expressing your dissatisfaction and frustration with ---, our contracted landscaper. "....  "[The landscaping company] has offered as an explanation that they are experiencing labor problems due to their inability to obtain a sufficient number of H-2B visas to bring back trained and experienced workers from Mexico..." 


SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD, JANUARY 12, 2019:  A homeowner asked the Board president if [the landscaping company] had obtained the H-2B visas needed to ensure enough workers.  The Board president replied "the[landscaping company] informed the Board that they [the landscaping company] have plenty of staff and all workers would be certified to work in the U.S.."


The homeowner alerted the Board that many landscaping companies were going to have problems acquiring H-2B workers in 2019.


In other words, the homeowner gave the Board a "heads-up" in JANUARY 2019 to be attentive to the H-2B workers issue.  The homeowner was ignored.


How much HOA money has to be wasted on POOR CONTRACT NEGOTIATION and LACK OF FOLLOW-UP before the Board gets its act together?  The HOA's LARGEST SERVICE CONTRACT warrants good business judgment, follow-up, and timely monitoring.

what do you think? click to comment

Poor Business Judgment

In the past 2 years (2017 & 2018) we spent over $300,000 for consistently poor landscaping services and took no action.  We are now paying to repair and remediate the damage and neglect by the previous landscaping company which should have been addressed much sooner by the Board.

[Source(s):  2017 HOA Budget and 2018 HOA Budget]


Despite the disappointing service, in February 2018, the Board decided to “extend” the inadequate landscaping company’s contract for two more years.

[Source:  Special Meeting of the Board of Directors, February 10, 2018]

Too Little, Too Late

After two springs and two summers of lousy service and complaints from homeowners, the Board decided to finally address the costly and unsatisfactory landscaping service.  Because of the Board's lack of action, we continue to have poor lawn and soil conditions and the need  for expensive turf restoration. 

[Source(s):  Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, September 20, 2018; Board Briefs, October 16, 2018; 2019 HOA Budget]

Guide to Lawn Care in Pittsburgh

Homeowners Paying the Price $$$

So now, we are paying a “new” landscaping company over $205,000 to address the last 2 years of bad service and neglect.  Homeowners face higher landscaping costs which include attempts to remediate poor conditions due to the lack of performance and neglect of the 2017 & 2018 landscaping company.  

[Source:  2019 Budget;  Landscaping Company Service Agreement/Contract  January 12, 2019]

"Deja Vu All Over Again".....

The “new” company is actually the same company we were using in 2016. But wait...when three of our current board members were elected in 2017 they decided to not use this company. They were not happy with the company's performance. Now, we have rehired that company.

[Source(s):  Board of Directors Meeting Minutes  2/7/2017; 3/8/2017; 4/10/2017 

Special Meeting of the Board of Directors January 12, 2019;

Landscaping Company Service Agreement/Contract  January 12, 2019]

Summary: $205,980.03; Increase of $64,000 for 2019; $22,886.67/month

So, we paid over $300,000 to an inadequate landscaping company for 2 years only to fire them and “rehire” a company the Board did not want in 2017. We are paying that company at least $205,000 per year; a $64,000 increase for landscaping in 2019.  We can hope this "new" landscaping company will perform better.  THE HOA BOARD IS BETTING YOUR MONEY ON IT.

[Source(s):  See Above]