Smyrna, Georgia

Community Update – March 2011

  • Phil Arnold and Natasha Hughes Appointed to HOA Board
  • Melanie Taylor Re-elected HOA President
  • Board Reviews HOA Finances, 2010 Projects during 2010 Annual Meeting
  • HOA’s Financial Position Remains Strong Despite Unplanned 2010 Expenses
  • Residents Warned that Parking Violators Are Subject to Immediate Tow
  • Free Pest Control Service Available Through Northwest Exterminating
  • Board Recommends Annual Inspections of Fire Suppression Systems
  • Residents Should Follow Rules in Use of Dumpster
  • Board Extends Vote on Change in How HOA Operates
  • Dog Owners Asked to Use Community-provided Facilities to Clean Up Waste
  • Exterior Property Changes May Require HOA Board Approval
  • Fountain Repair/Replacement on Hold Due to Possible Lake Study
  • Line Repairs Continue to Interrupt Community’s Water Service
  • Contact Property Manager to Join Email Distribution List


Dear Highlands View Homeowner:

Your board held its first meeting of the year on Thursday, January 20, 2011.  In accordance with association by-laws, it confirmed appointments to fill three board vacancies.  Due to the lack of a quorum at the association’s annual meeting on December 2, 2010, the association could not hold an election at that time.

Phil Arnold of Dunrobin Drive and Natasha Hughes of Macleans Cross Lane joined the board, succeeding Joe Kearney and Brian Hess, whose terms expired. Phil and Natasha will serve two years.  Melanie Taylor, board president for the past 2½ years, continues as a board member under appointment for two years.

Board officers for 2011 are as follows:

President:  Melanie Taylor
Vice President:  Joanne Chicco
Secretary: Natasha Hughes
Treasurer:  Jim Sykes
Architectural Control Committee Chair:  Open

Phil and Natasha are long-time residents of Highlands View.  Phil and his wife Susan purchased their home during the community’s first phase.  He previously served three years on the board and was responsible for negotiating the current pest control/termite contract.  Now retired from the insurance business, Phil works part-time as a golf course ranger.

Natasha purchased her home in 2004 during the community’s final construction phase.  An educator for 17 years, she is currently a teacher with Clayton County Schools.  She has participated in various community events in the past.

The board typically meets monthly.  Homeowners who wish to attend a meeting should contact Property Manager Robyn Hicks ( or send an email to the board at to verify the date for the next meeting.

The board thanks Brian and Joe for their service to the community.  Brian served as vice president for four years and oversaw a major redesign of the Highlands View website.  Joe initially joined the board through appointment three years ago and served as board secretary for the past two years.

Annual Meeting. Homeowners who attended the annual meeting heard a report on the community’s financial situation and various activities during 2010, including several water line repairs.  An attorney from Leuder, Larkin & Hunter, LLC, the association’s law firm, answered questions about a board proposal to submit Highlands View to the Georgia Property Owners’ Association Act (more later on that topic) and other pending legal matters, including a claim to recover water line repair costs from a Charter Cable contractor.  Board members also reviewed maintenance and landscaping projects completed during the year.

Finances. Despite the unplanned water line repairs and related expenses, Highlands View closed out 2010 in good financial position.  Although expenses for the year exceeded income by $50,267, total cash assets as of December 31, 2010 stood at $267,892.  Fees paid by homeowners totaled $357,290, which was down only $1,857 or about half of one percent from 2009.  While the community experienced several foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, delinquent payments did not increase significantly during 2010, and we successfully closed several outstanding collection matters.  Utility costs, particularly water and sewer, increased sharply due the water line problems, the restart of the irrigation system and rate increases.  Water rates increased again in January.  If this trend continues, the board may consider an adjustment in the monthly homeowner’s fee to accommodate a steady increase in operating expenses. The fee has not changed from $158 since Highlands View opened and remains among the lowest in comparable communities.

Street Parking. As we have explained previously, the community’s parking regulations and the spots designated for street parking resulted from lengthy negotiations with the Smyrna Fire Department two years ago.  The city allowed the Highlands View’s developer to construct streets that do not meet city width requirements that would permit street parking and allow access by emergency vehicles. If the board had not been able to negotiate an arrangement with the fire department, it would have been required to paint all curbs red and place no parking signs on every street throughout the community.

To enforce the parking regulations, the board retained an agency to enforce the parking rules.   The agency typically patrols once a day at random times – mostly in the evening and early morning hours.  If the agency representative encounters a vehicle or vehicles parked in violation of community rules (see the mail center bulletin board and the community website for details), he requests an immediate tow.  The vehicle owner is responsible for the cost of the tow as well as any storage costs.   Parking rules are effective 24/7, 365 days a year and a tow can be requested at any time.

Community Pest Control. Homeowners are reminded that Northwest Exterminating will provide pest control services at no charge, subject to certain conditions, if you schedule the service call on the first Thursday of the month.  For more information and to schedule an appointment, call Northwest at (770) 436-2020.

Fire Suppression (Sprinkler) Systems. Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their fire suppression systems, and the board recommends regular inspections. Leaks must be addressed immediately to avoid damage to your unit and to nearby units.   The system’s installer may have displayed a contact number near the pressure gauges in your unit’s lower level utility room.   Other companies who have serviced units in our community include Fire and Life America, (800) 637-5357 and Atlanta Sprinkler Inspection, (770) 867-5788.   However, homeowners may use any qualified service to perform repairs and inspections.

Dumpster Etiquette. The rules for use of the community dumpster are posted at the facility.  Do not leave furniture, grills, carpeting, beds (including rails), packing materials and other large items on the hopper apron or in the gate area.  (Large rolls of used carpet caused the recent dumpster blockage.)  Since the dumpster is one of the first things that visitors and prospective homebuyers see when they enter our community, it is important to keep this area neat and clean at all times.  Please clear the hopper each time you dispose of trash.   If you need help in disposing of large items, here are some options.   See or call (770) 318-2746.  Also call 1 (800) GOT JUNK.  Cobb County offers waste disposal services for a low fee.  See http://solidwaste.cobbcountyga. gov/wastedisposal.htm or call (770) 485-8940.

POA Vote. In May 2009, your board proposed that the community make a change in its governance by submitting the Highlands View Homeowners Association to the Georgia Property Owners’ Association Act (POA).  Adopted by the state legislature in 1994, the POA expands the powers of homeowners associations.  It provides for automatic statutory liens for unpaid assessments and dues (thereby reducing association legal expenses) and also, among other things, obliges tenants to comply with association regulations.  While most of the homeowners who have voted on this proposal approved the change, a large number has not voted.  (Approval requires 67 percent of all homeowners voting for the proposal.)  Consequently, the board will do a house-to-house canvas over the next two months to collect the remaining votes.  Watch your mailboxes for additional mailing describing the POA in more detail.

Dog Owner Etiquette. The association provides seven doggie stations to help dog owners clean up pet waste when they exercise their pets on community property.  It also retained at the expense of all homeowners a company to service these facilities.  The board, as well as Cobb County, can fine residents who repeatedly fail to clean up after animals.  Dog owners are reminded that the Cobb Country animal control ordinance requires that when off the premises of the owner a dog must be controlled by a chain or leash no longer than 6 feet. ( /ordinances)  It also is illegal to tie an animal on a deck or patio without supervision.  Report violators to Cobb County Animal Control, (770) 499-4136.

Exterior Structure Changes. Homeowners are reminded that changes to the exterior of a unit may require prior approval by the HOA board and/or the community architectural control committee.  Such changes include the replacement of decks, painting (use of colors other that those recommended by the ACC), installation of antennas, fences, etc.  Please contact Property Manager Robyn Hicks for information.

Fountain Update. One of the lake fountains has been out of service for the past couple months due to a combination of normal wear and tear and beavers chewing on power cables and anchor lines.  While the fountains are owned and operated by the Highlands View HOA, the Highlands Park Association – the master association for the Highlands Parkway community – owns the lake and is responsible for its maintenance.  The board has learned that association may soon commission an engineering study of the lake.  Since repairs to the dam, dredging and other maintenance could affect the operation of the fountains, the board has delayed action on repairing or replacing this fountain.

Water Service Interruptions. Recent water service interruptions are mostly the result of situations beyond the control of the board.  When possible, the board makes every effort to notify residents by email and signs posted at community entrances when water line repairs are planned.  A flooring contractor who shot a nail through a sprinkler line caused the Christmas Eve shutdown.  Another contractor installing cables caused the recent water line break on Highlands Parkway.  The community also has experienced several water line breaks on our property, due to contractor negligence (a Charter Cable installer recently agreed to pay the HOA about $16,000 for repairs completed in early 2010), shifting soil and other situations beyond our control.   We apologize for the inconvenience and are doing all that we can to minimize these service disruptions.

Email Distribution List. The board maintains a special email list to alert residents of community emergencies and other activities that can affect their use of community services and facilities.  Add your email address to this list by sending a message to

Absentee property owners are responsible for sharing the information in this letter with their tenants. If you would like to add a tenant’s name and or email address to the board’s mailing list, please contact Property Manager Robyn Hicks.



Melanie Taylor, President
Joanne Chicco, Vice President
Natasha Hughes, Secretary
Jim Sykes, Treasurer
Phil Arnold