Old Milk Barn - Cherri Drive - Pimmit Hills

Old Milk Barn - Cherri Drive - Pimmit Hills
Old Milk Barn - Cherri Drive - Pimmit Hills

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

PHCA Board Cancels Vote Rather Than Proceed According to By-Laws

Attempt to 'Gerrymander' Who-Can-Vote Fails
Informed Source: Supervisor Foust Intentionally Waited Until After Re-election to Let Pimmit Hills Residents in on County's Plans for Barn

by The Frace-Heller Family
Published: March 7, 2012


Pimmit Hills, Falls Church, VA -- Confronted with a legal opinion stating that the Pimmit Hills Citizens' Association board of directors would be in violation of the association's Bylaws were the board to conduct a vote that did not give all members in good standing a vote at Tuesday night's Town Meeting on a controversial County proposal, the PHCA board instead opted at the meeting to cancel the vote entirely and blame others for the board's actions, specifically those who sought legal advice that put the board on notice in the first place.

The PHCA board on Friday
just days before Tuesday's long-scheduled Town Meeting on a controversial proposal by Fairfax County officials to place a group-home in Pimmit Hills, notified its membership via notice posted to the association's web site that for Tuesday's vote, only one vote per household would be allowed. Historically, PHCA had, as stipulated in the association's Bylaws, always allowed all members to vote on issues before the membership, and families with two adults in the house counted as two members as long as annual dues were paid up.

The political maneuver to disenfranchise, known in election circles as 'gerrymandering', is the practice or process by which changes in voting rules or geography of a district are used to achieve a desired electoral result
to help or hinder a particular demographic, political purpose, or outcome -- in this case to get PHCA member approval for the group-home proposal backed by the County.

In the instant matter,
PHCA's Friday maneuver would have taken away votes from as many as 38% of PHCA's membership -- specifically spouses and domestic partners -- the very people who likely were also parents and who likely would also be counted on to vote against the County's proposal. The proposed group-home facility would be for persons the County was unable to place into private facilities because private operators do not want the liability attached to providing residence for persons with severe substance abuse problems, severe mental disorders, prior criminal histories, episodes of psychotic behavior, violence, etc.. PHCA's board posted notice of the change in voting rules on the association's Web site -- PimmitHills.org -- on Friday, four days before the scheduled Tuesday vote.

Shown below is a copy of the letter sent by Virginia Attorney Kellie M. L. Budd to PHCA board members. Ms. Budd represents The Frace-Heller Family of Pimmit Hills. Budd's letter, prompted by the PHCA board's sudden move Friday to curtail member voting rights was e-mailed Monday afternoon with more than twenty-four hours to go before the start of Tuesday's Town Meeting.

Despite Budd's clear invitation to board members to discuss the matter, n
o one from PHCA's board contacted attorney Budd prior to Tuesday's meeting.

In order to have the scheduled vote, all that PHCA's board would have had to do was to follow the association's Bylaws, post notice on PHCA's Web site that all PHCA members at Tuesday's Town Meeting would indeed be allowed to vote in accordance with those Bylaws, and then proceed with Tuesday night's vote as scheduled without fear that the voting process was in violation of association rules.

Instead, PHCA's board continued to maintain as it does to this day the message posted to its Web site, that says voting is limited to "only one vote per house".

According to Attorney Budd's letter,
".... the board cannot restrict the right of any member in good standing to vote ......"

Nonetheless, the PHCA board yesterday during its three-hour Town Meeting repeatedly offered rationalizations and excuses for not holding the vote, blaming fear of lawsuits, which statements appeared all the more self-serving and disingenuous in light of the Board's failure to contact attorney Budd in the twenty-four hours prior to the meeting as well as Budd's presence in the hall fielding periodic questions from the assembled membership.

CSB's Controversial Plans for Barn Site Kept Under Wraps Til After Foust's 2011 Re-election
In a related development, an informed source requesting anonymity claims that Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust has known for at least 18 months and perhaps as long as two years of the Fairfax County Park Authority's desire to sell or rid itself of its Cherri Drive parcel.

Dranesville District Supervisor John W. Foust>

Further, according to the source, Mr. Foust has been working closely for almost that same length of time with Fairfax-Falls Church Community Service Board ('CSB') officials to place a county-run group-home on the parcel, where a barn, alleged to be
the only barn left in existence inside the Washington Beltway, has stood since at least the 1940's before Pimmit Hills became a subdivision in the 1950's.

1st Hearing Held Outside Pimmit Hills Nearly 2 Miles From Proposed CSB Facility
The source further stated that Mr. Foust intentionally withheld from the Pimmit Hills community, CSB's plans for the barn parcel pending his re-election last fall due to the controversy the project was likely to create within the Pimmit Hills community, and that only relatively recently have CSB's plans been made known to the local community when Mr. Foust's office posted notice of its first informational meeting on the proposed CSB project, a meeting held this past January 11th at Lemon Road Elementary School, a school outside Pimmit Hills on the most southerly edge of Mr. Foust's Dranesville District, by car almost two miles from the proposed Cherri Drive CSB facility. <<<<<

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Attached below is Virginia Attorney Kellie M. L. Budd's letter (with cover-letter) sent Monday, 5:33 p.m via e-mail, via first-class USPS mail, and also via hand-delivery to PHCA's board members.
(These letters have been edited for clarification purposes and to remove personal information but no substantive changes have been made.
)

From: Kellie Budd [mailto:XXXXXX@XXXXXXXX.XXX]
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2012 5:33 PM
To: sarah rock; mark kinnane; animesh gupta; matthew martz
Subject: Pimmit Hills Citizens' Association Inc.

Dear Board of Directors,

My office has been retained by The Frace-Heller Family with respect to Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association. Please find attached correspondence objecting to the Board’s purported change in the voting policy. As you will see in the attached letter, we maintain the Board does not have the authority to restrict a member’s right to vote by limiting the vote to one per household without an amendment of the governing documents.

Please review the attached correspondence and contact me to discuss.


Best Regards,

Kellie Budd

Kellie M. L. Budd, Esq.
Doumar Martin PLLC
2000 N. 14th Street, Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22201
Tel: (703) 243-3737
Fax: (703) 524-7610
E-mail: xxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
www.doumarmartin.com

This message may contain confidential attorney-client communication and is intended for the named recipient(s) only. Please notify us by return e-mail and delete this message if you have received it in error. Thank you.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
DOUMAR MARTIN PLLC
LAW OFFICES
1629 K Street, N.W.
Telephone 202-349-1674
Facsimile 202-331-3759

2000 N. 14th Street, Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22201
Telephone 703-243-3737
Facsimile: 703-524-7610
Email: XXXXXXXX@XXXXX.XXX
www.doumarmartin.com

March 5, 2012

VIA HAND DELIVERY
AND ELECTRONIC MAIL

Board of Directors, Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc.
Attn: Elizabeth Hall, Corporate Secretary
XXXXXXX@XXXXXXX.XXX
Falls Church, VA 22043

VIA REGULAR MAIL
AND ELECTRONIC MAIL
Board of Directors, Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc.
Attn: Matthew Martz, President
XXXX XXXXXXXXXX
Falls Church, VA 22043

Re: Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc.

Dear Board of Directors:

Our firm represents The Frace-Heller Family. The Frace-Heller Family has asked that we contact you regarding the purported change to the Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc. voting procedures.

It is our understanding that the Board recently notified the membership that voting is now restricted to one vote per household. However, the Association’s governing documents are very clear on member voting rights. Specifically, Article III of the Articles of Incorporation states as follows:

There shall be one class of members open to all residents, eighteen or more years of age and non-resident property owners, of Pimmit Hills subdivision and immediately adjacent subdivisions. Members in good standing, as defined in the Bylaws, shall have the right to elect the directors and officers of the corporation and to vote on all other matters presented to the members by the officers and directors.”

Further, Article I, Section 3 of the Bylaws states that voting shall be limited to all members. If the Board seeks to amend the Bylaws to restrict voting to just one member per household, in lieu of all members as dictated by the Bylaws, the Board must follow the amendment procedures outlined in the Bylaws.

Pursuant to Article XI of the Bylaws, a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting at any meeting is needed to amend the Bylaws. Further, the proposed amendment must be submitted in writing, proposed and seconded at a previous regular meeting of the membership and a copy of the proposed amendment must be delivered or published not less than ten and no more than 50 days prior to the date of the meeting.

To our knowledge, the Board has not complied with the requirement to amend the Bylaws or attempted to amend the Articles of Incorporation. Accordingly, the Board cannot restrict the right of any Member in good standing to vote at the March 6, 2012 scheduled meeting.

Moreover, The Frace-Heller Family notes that it appears their access to the Member only website has been suspended improperly and without due notice. The Frace-Heller Family are paid members in good standing and are entitled to enjoy all of the privileges of Membership, including Member only website access. Please contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX to confirm that The Frace-Heller Family membership privileges are fully restored prior to the meeting scheduled for March 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

I will be in attendance at tomorrow’s meeting on behalf of The Frace-Heller Family and am happy to discuss these matters with the Board prior to the meeting.
However, if the Board continues their attempt to wrongfully limit the right of members in good standing to vote, contrary to the Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, The Frace-Heller Family may file a lawsuit in Fairfax County Circuit Court to enforce the provisions of the governing documents.

If you have any questions please contact me.


Sincerely,
Doumar Martin, PLLC

________________________
Kellie M. L. Budd

Cc: Sarah Rock
Mark Kinnane
Animesh Gupta
(via electronic mail only)

1 comment:

  1. Rational NeighborMarch 8, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    This website and your ridiculous lawsuit are doing more to hurt than help the Pimmit Hills community. You have not attended either information session meeting and even though your wife and attorney attended the meeting on Tuesday you still don't have your facts straight. Because of your actions we don't have the option of voting on this project anymore, so why continue to harp on this issue? Furthermore, Mr. Foust and CSB are not required to come to us for our input, they did so because they assumed we would be rational about the pros and cons of the project. Posts like this will only reduce the likelihood that our inputs will be sought out in the future. Who cares when the Park Authority decided to get rid of the barn? The fact is they don’t want it anymore and we are left we two general solutions: allow the county and CSB take it over for an aging in place group home for intellectually disabled (NOT drug dealers or gang bangers), or allow a developer to buy it and do whatever they want with the land. As someone who lives closer to the barn than you do, I would much rather have the county take the land over a build the group home, since the county has been more than willing to work with us and plans to continue to work with us (if the project goes through) to ensure the home is well-kept and built with the aesthetics of the neighborhood in mind. What could a developer do? Here are just a few examples: 1) build a group home , 2) Dig a big hole and then run out of money, 3) build half a house and run out of money, 4) build a very large house that he can’t sell and sits empty and unkempt, or 5) build a very large house that he can’t sell and then has to rent out to many people. All of these things already happen in Pimmit and we have no control over it. Furthermore, any prospective home buyer that googles Pimmit Hills is going to see this blog and run – is that what you are trying to accomplish? Please take your time and money and waste it somewhere else.

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