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Newsletter – Q1 2020

Playground Renovation Project and Delinquent Dues 

As many of you know, one of our goals is to update the playground equipment at the community park. One way of ensuring that we can do that is collecting on past due accounts, which are upwards of $35,000

Several delinquent accounts have been sent to the Law Offices of Richard M. McGill for collection. Once accounts have been transferred to the law firm, the HOA can no longer accept payments toward delinquent dues. 

The yearly dues for 2020 are now $56.81. Keeping your dues current is extremely important. If you are unsure of your payment status, please submit this form or contact dues@clha.org as soon as possible to avoid further action on your account.

Gun Laws and Hunting Regulations

There has been lots of chatter in our social media community about firearms in our community.  We did some research for you and have found the following information for your reference. More regulations and safety tips can be found at the Maryland DNR website (dnr.maryland.gov)  and the Municode Library website (library.municode.com). 

Maryland DNR: “It is illegal to hunt, shoot or trap wildlife within 150 yards of any building or camp occupied by human beings without permission of the owner or occupant. For archery hunters this distance is 50 yards in St. Mary’s county.”

Municode Library: “In St. Mary’s County a person may not engage in target practice with or discharge a gun or weapon on certain lands without first obtaining written permission of specific individuals; provided that violation of said Act is a misdemeanor; and provided certain penalties on conviction of a violation of said Act.”

If you have concerns regarding events taking place on or near your property and you believe them to be in violation of local laws, please contact the local Sheriff’s department.

Who Owns and Maintains Our Community Roads?

We get this question in our voice mail, e-mail, at meetings, and on community facebook groups. Often enough to make it a frequently asked question here on our website. The answer reads “The roads belong to the County thus St. Mary’s County is responsible for the upkeep of the roads.” We wanted to expand on that answer to provide more clarification.

Who Owns the Roads? The County, as agreed on June 2, 1976 between the developers and Board of County Commissioners of St. Mary’s County. When it comes to maintenance, the main agency involved from the County is the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Following is a list of certain scenarios that may have us questioning what to do. We hope to provide you reasonable answers and advice. Here goes:

Who Maintains the Roads When It Comes To…

…Vandalism? Rare, but not unheard of, spray painting on the roads should be reported to DPW and optionally the Sheriff’s office.

…Potholes? Never nice to drive around, let alone through, and often easily patched: DPW.

…Cracks? Often filled in with tar (making unfortunately unsightly ‘tar snakes’), rather than a full width coat, DPW.

…Sinkholes? As has happened on Asher Rd and Cox Dr where sections of the road collapsed – creating not only a hazard but a closing off of some of the only 3 official access roads to this and neighboring developments – DPW.

…Snow on the roads/shoulders? DPW. However, you will often see residents with snowplows going through the roads as well, rather than wait for DPW, and also offer to clear your driveways (for a fee or for free).

…Snow around fire hydrants? Residents. While not officially required, the County will not clear the area around fire hydrants preemptively. Snow build-up around hydrants can delay fire crews’ work significantly. If a hydrant is on your property, consider clearing it up to 3 feet around, and a path out to the street. The MVFD will be very grateful!

…Driveway aprons? DPW. While many may consider the end of the driveway that flares out into the roads to be part of their property, work on the apron and any underlying culvert pipes is the responsibility of DPW. Performing unauthorized work yourself can even lead to fines and the work being undone, and re-done to DPW’s specifications.

…Lighting?

Through County official installation, often as part of a special taxing district after a decision by the Board of County Commissioners, DPW.

Through the HOA, via rental from SMECO. The HOA currently rents a single light and pole at the intersection of Asher Rd and Mechanicsville Rd for visibility and safety purposes

Through individual residents, via rental from SMECO. Before considering renting a street light, consider the cost as well as the impact on surrounding properties; not everyone may appreciate a street light near their property.

2020 Dues Notice

Our yearly dues are now $56.81. You can expect to receive dues statements for 2020 around June. Please check here or contact dues@clha.org if you have any questions about your status.

Coyote Concerns

According to the Maryland DNR, Coyotes now inhabit all counties in Maryland. Here are some common sense steps to reduce the possibility for conflict. Read the full article here.
— Remember coyotes are wild animals—respect them and give them plenty of space.
— Don’t try to approach or feed them.
— Don’t leave food out where they can access it, as this only increases the chance they lose their natural fear of people.
— Feed pets or livestock inside homes or barns. If you must feed them outside, give only enough food for one meal at a time so there are no leftovers to attract unwanted guests.
Find more resources at the Maryland DNR website.

Pets: Lost and Found

We often hear of pets escaping their yards/homes. Please be mindful of this when walking/driving through the neighborhood. Special thanks for all our neighbors for helping to locate, capture, and temporarily foster missing pets until their owners can be found. Facebook is a great place to communicate when your pet is lost or found. Word travels fast!

Holiday Decorating Contest Winners

In case you missed it, our winners for the 2019 Holiday Decorating Contest are listed here. Each of our winners received free dues for the year.

26869 Kelli Ct

26372 Tin Top School

26744 Tin Top School

Please remember that winners must have their dues paid in full at the time of the contest. We had a few contenders this year that could not win because of delinquent dues. Contact us to check on your dues status.

Happy New Year! See you at the next HOA Meeting and other events throughout the year!
View all 2020 events

Join our HOA Meetings

We meet on the second Tuesday each Month… Bring your concerns, ideas (and maybe some cookies) to Christ Church Parish Hall on Zach Fowler Rd in Chaptico in cold weather months and to the park pavilion during warm weather months! We always welcome new faces and would love to hear from you.

View all events

Holiday Decorating Contest

Holiday Decorating Contest Winners:
26869 Kelli Ct
26372 Tin Top School
26744 Tin Top School
Our winners receive free 2020 dues! We hope you participate next year. Your current dues must be up to date in order to win!

Newsletter – October 2019

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Upcoming Events (see event calendar for details)

Trunk or Treat – Oct 26, 2019
HOA Meeting – Nov 12, 2019
Santa Visits the Park – Dec 8, 2019
Meet and Greet & Board Elections – Dec 15, 2019
Holiday Decorating Contest – Dec 15, 2019

1st Annual Craft and Vendor Fair a Success!

Country Lakes HOA would like to thank all the residents, vendors and general public who joined us on September 14th for our First Annual Vendor & Craft Fair Fundraiser. The event was held at the community park and was a great success.

A number of local vendors came out to showcase their unique products. We had vendors selling their own business products such as skincare, pressed flower art, tobacco stick crafts, jewelry, scrapbook supplies, and cakes/cake pops (she sold out of every dessert). Others sold some of the brands we all know and love such as Tupperware, Scentsy, Pure Romance, doTERRA Essential Oils, Origami Owl and more. Many of our vendors and local businesses donated raffle prize items that were raffled off. Many of our residents were winners of these prizes. Congrats!

While vendors were able to keep any profits from their own sales, funds raised from the vendor space rentals and raffle ticket sales went towards the fund for upgrades and maintenance to our community park and playground. The event generated $1015.27 for our community park playground!

Feedback from our vendors and patrons alike was very positive and many are already planning to join us next year. Mark your calendars because we are already making plans for the Second Annual Vendor & Craft Fair Fundraiser. The tentative date of September 12, 2020 is penciled on the calendar. The HOA is working on including food truck vendors to add to the event. If you or someone you know would like to participate as a vendor in next year’s event, please stay tuned. We plan to begin seeking vendors the beginning of 2020. Thanks again to all who made our first event a great success and we look forward to seeing everyone next year!

Fire Prevention this Fall

BURNING LEAVES THIS FALL? Until recently, we’ve had a very dry summer/fall, so please take precaution to keep yourself and your neighbors safe.  Don’t burn near any buildings; don’t use an accelerant; don’t burn when it is windy outside;  please call the Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department at (301) 884-4709 to let them know when you plan on burning.  You can also visit their website for more helpful fire prevention tips.

Join the Adopt a Road Clean-up Crew

We organize two of these clean up events each year where neighbors and community service members join together to clean our streets.  It’s a chance to volunteer your time to a good cause we can all appreciate. We post the dates in our events calendar and on Facebook, so please reach out if interested. Sign up here.

Park Use

The park is a great place to walk and play with your pets.  Please remember to clean up after your pets. Neighborhood children also play at the park and should not have to worry about stepping in your pet’s mess. 

Become a Board Member or Volunteer

Call 301-884-7297 or complete this form. When calling our voice mail, your phone number must accept blocked numbers to receive a call back and please allow a week for us to respond.

Join our Facebook Community

We currently have 827 followers on our online community. That is 153 NEW friends since 4Q 2018! Join your neighbors today and stay up to date on happenings around your community.

Spring Yard Sale – May 4

Set up in your yard or at the parking lot at the park on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will place ads on SOMD.com, here on our website, and on Facebook. You are welcome to place signs around the community, but please remember to remove them once the event is over!

2019 Board of Directors

Our meet and greet and board elections were held back in Dec 2018. There are a few changes to our board. While we welcome a new President, we would like to thank our former President, Elaine Green, for her many years of dedication to the CLHA!

Our 2019 CLHA Board of directors are as follows:
President – Will Gillingwater
Secretary – Richard Annema
Treasurer – Jim Loveless

Board members:
Elaine Green, Mark Pullium , Bud Tarbox (Event Coordinator)

Contact our board anytime via the relevant emails (eg. president@clha.org, secretary@clha.org, etc.) or by filling out the forms on our website.

Choose a Holiday Decorating Contest WINNER!!

Our HOLIDAY DECORATING CONTEST is this Sunday, Dec 16, and we want YOU to help us select a WINNER!!

Here are the details:
1. Drive around the neighborhood from 6-8pm on Sunday, Dec 16 and select your favorite house! 
2. We will make a post on our FACEBOOK page that evening telling you that voting is open.
3. Comment on that post with the address of your favorite house!

THE ADDRESS WITH THE MOST VOTES WILL BECOME ONE OF OUR 3 WINNERS FOR 2018! THE HOA BOARD WILL SELECT THE OTHER TWO WINNERS.

Disclaimer: To win, the house must be part of the Country Lakes HOA (NOT INCLUDING Lacy’s Run, Beverly Estates, Meadowwood, and some others) and must be current on yearly dues. Our property manager will check the winning address for eligibility.

THANKS FOR PLAYING ALONG AND JOINING IN OUR CHRISTMAS CHEER! 🙂