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March 2005 Newsletter

Summary of Members' Meeting
The CWCA meeting on Mar 14 was attended by about 80 members, including eight recently-arrived residents who were all introduced. Following is a summary of matters discussed and voted on.

Guest speaker: Joan DuBois, Dranesville District Supervisor, discussed the County budget for the coming year and explained the challenges confronting the Board of Supervisors in meeting the requirements of must-do programs over which the Board has no control, such as state and federal mandates, or limited control, such as the school budget. She recognized the hardships for many citizens caused by continuing significant increases in residential property assessments and associated property taxes. She indicated that a reduction of the property tax rate from 1.13% to 1.03% is under consideration.

In the ensuing discussion several members expressed their objections to the large increases in assessed values of homes. Ms. DuBois suggested that residents objecting to the increases in assessments or taxes should write letters to the County Board and/or ask to be heard at the Board's public hearing on the tax rate scheduled for April 4 at 3:30 PM. She noted that very few citizens have taken advantage of these hearings to express their views in the past, in spite of the fact that the hearings provide direct access to the Board before final decisions are made. As an alternative, citizens may also provide written testimony for the hearing. (To learn more or to request in advance the opportunity to speak, call the Clerk of the Board at 324-3151, or e-mail the clerk at clerktothebos@fairfaxcounty.gov . For more info go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov on the internet and click on "Today's schedule" then on "Budget Calendar").

Verizon speaker: Douglas Brammer of Verizon appeared at our invitation to describe the fiber optic internet service, FiOS, now being offered to many homes in our community by Verizon, with speeds of up to 15 mbps downstream and 2 mbps upstream for residential service. In the near future every home will be able to get the service. Jim Talens, the only subscriber at the meeting, reported a vast improvement over his 28.8 kbps service. He said the service is great, the installers run the cables in your house, provide a router and help you set it up. Call Verizon at 888-GET-FIOS to inquire further, or go to www.verizonfios.com or www.verizon.net/fios . Jim commented that if you want to move your telephone service to the fiber optic system, it appears that Verizon will not do so if you have ever left Verizon for another provider, unless you accept a new phone number. He thinks this is contrary to FCC policy and has filed a complaint with the FCC. This issue is also being investigated by Verizon.

Neighborhood security: Tim Daley, CWCA Security Coordinator, related a number of incidents of vandalism and thefts of the past few months and reminded members to report incidents to the police promptly and then to him. He suggested that residents probably should not attempt to personally confront someone engaged in an act of theft but call the police on 911.

Also mentioned was the fact that some residents continue to drive too fast on our streets and fail to heed stop signs. President Arnold Braswell suggested that residents who observe another resident speeding should not be reluctant to speak to that person about it and encourage him or her to slow down. Also, if residents observe a vehicle speeding or ignoring a stop sign and can get the license number they may report it to the police and ask that the driver be cautioned. Additional advice: When walking on our streets always walk on the left side, facing oncoming traffic, rather than on the right.

We continue to need volunteers to serve as drivers, schedulers and supervisors for the neighborhood patrol. Members were encouraged to volunteer.

Snow removal: Roger Nucho, Chairman of the Snow Removal Committee, described the actions taken to improve snow removal and sanding operations by our contractor.

Other traffic issues: The President reported that Tom Van Wazer, who could not attend the meeting, is investigating the possible installation of a mirror at the Woodley Road/Forest Lane intersection to help detect vehicles approaching from around the curve on Forest Lane. He has witnessed numerous near misses there and with a teen-ager about to start driving believes that a mirror will enhance everyone's safety. VDOT does not install such mirrors but must approve them. Anyone interested in this project is encouraged to call Tom or e-mail him at tvanwazer@sidley.com. Also, members were informed that at CWCA request a traffic study on Chesterbrook Road will be conducted by VDOT in the next few weeks to determine if the road qualifies for signs announcing $200 fines for speeding.

Budget and dues: Treasurer Charles Hoyt reported on expenses for the past year, during which we spent about $1,000 less than the $7,875 budgeted because of the moderate amount of snow this winter. He then presented a proposed budget projecting expenses of $8,725 for the coming year and income of $6,325 from dues at $15 per household. An ample reserve would be available for abnormal snow removal costs or for projects that the membership might wish to support. Members present voted unanimously to approve the budget and the annual dues of $15 per household. A letter to all residents accompanying this newsletter asks for dues to be paid now and provides a form for this purpose. We hope that all will respond promptly. [Note: Form is pdf document. You may fill out the form online, print it, and mail it to Charles Hoyt.]

Election of officers: Roger Nucho, Chairman of the Nominating Committee, presented the Committee's nominees for 2005 officer positions as follows: President: Arnold Braswell, Vice-president: Kevin Connolly, Secretary: Alice Chambers, Treasurer: Charles Hoyt. All of these are the incumbent officers who agreed to serve another year. By unanimous vote all nominees were elected.

Other business: Jim Talens noted that a number of big trees have fallen or been taken down in our neighborhood and expressed his hope that residents would plant new trees to keep our neighborhood the attractive, tree-shaded community it has always been. He invited interested residents to join him in a coordinating committee which could encourage tree planting and seek to get a quantity discount from a local firm for planting trees if a sufficient number of residents apply. Anyone interested in helping the committee with this project is encouraged to call Jim or e-mail him at jtalens@verizon.net. Also, anyone interested in having one or more trees planted at a discount is invited to contact him.

Some residents have asked when VDOT will sweep our streets to remove the dirt and debris along the curbs. We are told now by VDOT that sweeping will begin soon on main roads and then later on the streets in the various subdivisions. That probably means late April or sometime in May for our streets.

Members were reminded of our web site, maintained by Ellie LeBaron in Mauritania, and asked to submit updated information on teens available for jobs and on contractors who have done good work for them. Members were also reminded - again - not to use the "reply" button if responding to CWCA e-mail notices but to send their messages direct to the officer who sent the notice.

Dan Sperling expressed his concerns that there are potential health risks to students from mobile phone antennas (base stations) located adjacent to McLean High School. He encouraged members to inform themselves about this matter and consider expressing any concerns they may have to the School Board, which accepted the location of the base stations. Dan acknowledged that there are differing views on the possible health effects of these stations. (For information on this subject go to Google and enter "mobile phone base stations and human health" in the search box.)

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