One Year In

I started this blog a year ago with the rather naïve idea that this could be a space for informal, public discussion of some of the issues facing the Hollin Hills community, a space that would supplement the formal work of the civic association bodies. My idea of “informal” public deliberation was informed by many years of research into nongovernmental public deliberation, the idea being that it is not just elected governmental bodies that decide “what should be” in a community but the citizenry itself in its ongoing mullings and deliberations over matters of common concern. I tried to find free software that would allow for multiple and manifold ownership of the website. But I didn’t find any. So I tried to set up the site as a site generically owned by the informal group calling itself the House in the Woods Club. But still, ultimately, only one person could “own” the blog, even though I wanted everyone interested to feel ownership in it. Hence, I listed the byline as Hollin Hills. Later, when it was clear that it was mostly me putting things up, even if authored by other people, I switched the tag line to my own name.

I didn’t intend this site to be an experiment. But it has been one, and not an altogether successful one. The main reason for this is that the issues discussed here — involving our homes, our community, our sense of what is beautiful — touch a lot of nerves. And it’s all too easy to blog or comment when unnerved. So things can be said too forcefully, or unthinkingly. I made some mistakes along these lines – though infinitely less than others have done in recent comments to the site. (I am thinking of Rick Ward’s and David Shultz’s recent, incredibly uncivil comments, which I decided not to delete simply because they stand in testimony of how not to behave in public.) It’s best to discuss difficult things in person, when we see the face of the person being questioned or interrogated. The face of the other person is a great sobering and civilizing factor. One-on-one communication is infinitely better than electronic communication. Civility reigns in person much more than online. Yet the benefit of online communication is that it allows for much wider communication; more of us can meet online than we can in person at specified times and places. To the extent that we can engage in discussing touchy issues in an unprickly way, online communication is a plus. But when it gets touchy and personal, it’s high time to step back. That’s what I’ve learned. Never blog when perturbed.

I’ve been checking in with people to see whether this site is worth continuing, including people who don’t share all my views on things. I am still unsure what is best. Many think it’s worthwhile to have a forum where different issues can be considered and points of view can be expressed. This is a nice counter to all the criticisms I’ve heard over the past year. The criticisms, which I think are all serious misunderstandings, are these: (1) that we are subverting the usual committees and structures of the community; (2) that we are die-hard preservationists who can’t tolerate design innovation; (3) that we value design over community and neighborliness; (4) that we are denigrating the good work of volunteers; and (5) that none of this is any of our business, things were wonderful before we showed up, and now we are tearing apart the community.

In the days ahead, I am going to address these misunderstandings one by one. So please check back in. In the meantime, I continue to welcome lively and vigorous debate on the issues. (And be sure to come to the civic association and SDRC meetings June 14.) I may (or may not) continue to accept uncivil posts to the website, which, again, testify to how not to behave. But please don’t be mean-spirited about my gardening or I don’t know what I’ll do. There’s only so much a gal can take.

your neighbor,
Noelle

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How Did We Get Here?

by Noëlle McAfee

My post of two days ago surfaced strong feelings. So let me back up to say how we got here and clarify the goals that some of us supposed-troublemakers are hoping for.

HISTORY

Late last spring, my husband and I invited some people we know in the neighborhood over to discuss general matters of preservation, architecture, and design in the neighborhood. Just before we met, the Hollin Hills Bulletin reported that a house on Drury Lane was applying for “near complete demolition of an existing structure” and that the Design Review Committee (DRC) thought that this demolition was “outside the scope of its review” but was trying to persuade the applicants to consider alternatives. At our meeting, we discussed the possibility that the teardown might result in the kind of controversial project that had prompted the civic association to appoint a Special Design Review Committee (SDRC) to review the DRC guidelines. Some of us at that gathering felt strongly that teardowns should be a last resort; others were more concerned with making sure the design review guidelines were followed closely so that whatever was built up was really in harmony and conformity, that site lines were preserved, et cetera. All of us in the room supported the SDRC process; one person there was on the committee. Others had served on the civic association’s board or the DRC in the past.

During that meeting, someone said he had just learned that the DRC had given approval for the homeowners on Drury Lane to tear down their house. That turned out to be incorrect. As we learned the next day, the DRC does not approve or disapprove teardowns. It only gives approval for new construction. In this case, it had still only given conceptual approval. Final approval could not come until actual construction plans were presented. The Special Design Review process had just gotten underway and it was still an open question as to whether the covenants allowed teardowns. It seemed as if two arms of the civic association might be working at cross purposes if the DRC was staying mum on teardowns—and hence letting them proceed—while the SDRC was still figuring out whether teardowns could be banned.

Because of our concern, we decided to initiate a petition to call a special meeting of the civic association. The by-laws read that we needed just 25 signatures to call for such a meeting. Overnight we got about 75 from 39 households, so we stopped gathering signatures and sent the petition to the Board. (If we had kept going, at that rate, I think we could have easily gotten over 100 households to sign on.) The petition aimed at slowing things down until the SDRC had finished its work and the civic association had had a chance to revise the guidelines. The Board chose to delay the special meeting for which we had petitioned. (I hope a review of the by-laws will consider whether the Board can unilaterally postpone a meeting petitioned by the membership.) Anyway, for reasons that have been amply explained in the Bulletin, the special meeting was postponed for several months. By the time the meeting was actually held, things had changed: on the one hand we had the lawyer’s opinion suggesting it might not be possible to ban teardowns and on the other hand the Drury Lane project had not proceeded any further, yet.

But in the meantime much had happened. Some of us, some of whom were members of what we dubbed “the House in the Woods Club,” started attending DRC meetings so that we could follow what was happening with that potential teardown and to see how the DRC worked. Because the time, place, and agenda of the meetings was often not up-to-date on the website, we would write to the DRC chair to ask for details and the agenda. When we received it, we’d post it on this blog. After the meeting, since the minutes usually wouldn’t be publicized until the next Bulletin appeared several weeks later, we’d post our observations on the blog as well. None of this was greeted with open arms. Many were probably thinking, “Who are these people and why are they second-guessing us?” Clearly things had been running as they were for quite some time, so that our polite but insistent questioning was taken for something other that what it really was: simply access to information that should be public, anyway.

At the first DRC meeting we attended, there was a huge amount of tension. During one session with applicants, the observers were told that the applicants wanted privacy and hence that the observers would have to leave. And so they waited out in the hall during that session. Also, in between meetings, some of us asked to see the plans for the Drury Lane project, but we were denied because of “privacy issues” and because the process had long been such that only the DRC and contiguous neighbors were to be shown the plans. During another session we were told we couldn’t attend the DRC’s executive session, which is the time during which the DRC looks over proposed plans.

In the Bulletin, one letter from a neighbor said that we could go directly to the homeowners to see the Drury Lane plans. It’s true that the applicants on Drury Lane said once, during one of our House in the Woods Club meetings, that if we wanted to see the plans, we could have just asked. But when we subsequently asked to see the plans, they said no.

So, it seemed that something was amiss: the only people who could see the plans were immediate neighbors and the DRC itself. It seemed quite possible that immediate neighbors, because they are neighbors, might hesitate to raise objections. The DRC itself was following the guidelines in a way that had just allowed that very controversial house. And all the other members of the community, who certainly had a stake in the outcome of DRC decisions, were often prevented from seeing proposals. The Drury Lane case, in particular, is not the issue. Maybe it’s a perfectly great design for a Hollin Hills home; maybe it’s in harmony and conformity with the community. But who knows? Only the DRC and the neighbors.

Now, I say none of the above to disrespect the neighbors or the DRC or the owners of the controversial house that set off much of this discussion. The latter I am quite fond of, and they are the parents of one of my son’s best friends. They also followed the protocol as it was spelled out all the way down the line. As for neighbors, I trust that they will often call things the way they see them—most of the time, though likely not all of the time. And all the people that I personally know on the DRC I like and respect very much. And the others whom I don’t know as well I like, too. I even like the fellow who threw the observers, including my husband and some of my friends, out of the DRC meeting. This person and I have disagreed on things and still will talk things through via email and the blog. Also, as my friends and I have attended more DRC meetings, the DRC has become more open and accommodating. They even ask for our input. So I have no gripe with the people involved. In fact, I am very grateful that there are people with such integrity and commitment who are willing to serve the community.

Our concern is with the process. As it is currently formulated, the DRC process allows for approval of projects that violate the guidelines; it allows the committee to bar civic association members from observing deliberations, plans, and votes (that is, to the extent that votes are taken during closed proceedings); it allows the DRC to post minimal minutes of its meetings, well after the fact; it provides no process for appeal by the community nor any avenue or opportunity for community-wide input. (By this last point, to anticipate Barbara Ward’s concerns, I do not mean that the whole community should vote, only that all should have a chance to weigh in, just as any city council allows for public input while the council itself decides things.) The existing process allows all this. In the heat of a decision, it is the rare DRC member, a neighbor after all, who would begrudge another neighbor a Home Depot pre-fab shed that no one else would see – even if this means violating a clearly stated guideline. The process allows it, so why not. And what DRC member would begrudge a neighbor’s “right to privacy” of plans that many others in the community might start picking apart? When torn between the face of a beseeching neighbor and an abstract set of design review guidelines with vague parameters, it’s a hard road to always stick by the abstract and negate the beseeching neighbor.

It is because we are neighbors and want to wish each other the best that we need a stronger process that ensures harmony and conformity.

SUGGESTIONS

Having come across these problems with the DRC process, we decided to offer the SDRC some ideas for its survey of the community. The SDRC was, after all, inviting community input. The SDRC chair, Chris McNamara, attended one of the House in the Woods meetings over the summer to discuss issues, and the SDRC invited members of our group, including my husband, to one of its meetings to offer suggestions.

Our hope was that these suggestions would make their way in to the questionnaire. We also hoped that questions would be framed in a way that would capture the extent to which the community might value preservation, a word that easily conjures up images of time capsules, museums, buildings frozen in time. It’s easy to caricature a movement to value existing buildings, to paint advocates for preservation as dyed-in-the-wool obstructionists and purists – when in fact most preservation movements are keen to make sure that people are happy and comfortable in their homes, that additions can be made in a way that preserves the original aesthetic without preventing contemporary living. It’s so easy to misrepresent preservation that we wanted to have a look at how the questions are framed by even the most well-intentioned and hard-working volunteers, many of whom also value preservation.

But, as my last post noted, the Board and the SDRC decided not to make the questionnaire available in advance. I still think this is a mistake. Various reasons were offered in defense of this decision.
• One advocate of this decision argues that community input into the questionnaire could lead to “respondent bias.” But that term applies to entirely different phenomena, such as when people respond to questions in a way to make themselves look good to the survey researcher (“yes, I always vote”), or due to other personal proclivities.
• Another argument was that time was wasting and posting the questionnaire would set back the process. But we started asking for the questionnaire nearly two weeks ago, and there was no reason that a very short time limit couldn’t be made for accepting suggestions. So this rationale doesn’t hold much water.
• As for the other rationale, “trust us, we’re hard workers, and you can complain later if you don’t like, it,” well, gosh. How does one begin to respond to this? The issue is not about the integrity of the volunteers but about making the process fully open to community input in the midst of things, not after the fact. Linda Hesh made this point in a comment to the previous post.

Anyway, we won’t be seeing the questionnaire in advance. So let me pose here some things for us all to consider, points we hope are covered in the questionnaire. Let’s consider the following:

Whether, in the interest of openness and transparency, all Design Review Committee sessions with applicants should be open to all residents of Hollin Hills;

Whether all Design Review Committee decisions should be made at sessions that are open to all residents of Hollin Hills;

Whether all plans pending before the Design Review Committee should be made available to residents of Hollin Hills;

Whether the Design Review Committee should post its agenda on the Civic Association website at least 48 hours before any session;

Whether the Design Review Committee should notify the residents of Hollin Hills of any non-regularly scheduled meeting no less than 48 hours in advance;

Whether the Design Review Committee should post minutes of its sessions within 72 hours;

Whether, when issues of privacy are raised by applicants, the Design Review Committee should give equal weight to the principles of openness and transparency.

It’s not up to the Board, or the SDRC, or the House in the Woods Club to decide these things. It’s up to everyone in the community. So, please think these and other ideas though; debate them over dinner with your family and at parties with friends. If there’s no question on the questionnaire about any of these matters, write something in, whatever your views. And let’s ask the SDRC to look at all the qualitative suggestions made and not just run the numbers. Let’s  make sure that the DRC process as well as the guidelines are the best they can be.

Agenda for September 10 House in the Woods Club Meeting

The House in the Woods Club is meeting today from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Sherwood Regional Library, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria, VA. The agenda is as follows:

I. Introductions and brief background on the House in the Woods Club
II. Discussion to identify and consider the range of views in the neighborhood on the issue of teardowns
III. Discussion of  issues to consider for the September 12 special meeting
IV. Report from the Resources Committee
V. Future topics, tasks, etc.

July 9 Meeting of the House in the Woods Club

The House in the Woods Club, a newly formed group of Hollin Hills residents interested in the past and the future of the community, held its third monthly meeting on July 9.  For this session, the club convened a forum open to all to discuss design review issues. Our featured guest was Chris McNamara, the head of the newly formed Special Design Review Committee, chartered to revisit the design review guidelines and process. More than fifty Hollin Hillers attended, including past and present members of the civic association board and other committees of the association.

The meeting provided a space for the community to raise issues that the SDRC could put to the community in its upcoming survey, which will become the basis of its recommendations to the civic association.  There were a number of lively issues:  How wide should community input and involvement be in the DRC process?  How much weight should be given to the privacy concerns of those going before the DRC versus the community’s right to an open and transparent process?  And how can the DRC “harmony and conformity” standard be better defined and more effectively enforced?

These weren’t simply abstract questions. One of the pressing concerns to many in the community is the issue of teardowns and what might replace them. Present at the meeting were a range of people, from some averse to any teardowns to one who was in the process of petitioning the DRC for a proposal that involves tearing down some portion of a Goodman house. Speaking up in any meeting calls for courage, but none more than the courage of our neighbor who came knowing that her proposal to the DRC was causing a good deal of controversy.  The ensuing discussion was remarkably productive, civil, and useful.  What emerged seemed to be a sense that the DRC process — formally and informally — needed to be more open, transparent and effective.

Another issue addressed at the meeting was the fate of the Special Meeting that 39 members of the Civic Association had petitioned for in mid-May largely because of the proposed teardown. (Article IV, section 2 of the bylaws reads: “Special meetings may be called by the President or the Board of Directors or by written petition to the President of not less than twenty-five (25) members.”) The purpose of the meeting was to discuss whether to put a moratorium on DRC approval of any teardown until the Special Design Review Committee had completed its work., which had started the petition, It was not what CAHH Board president Judy England-Joseph described it as in her June column in the Bulletin: an opportunity for the community “to voice its opinion as to the proper interpretation of the scope of DRC authority with regard to a teardown.” Given the misunderstanding, the Board decided to postpone the special meeting until about mid-July when it had heard back from a lawyer as to whether the DRC had such authority. But now as mid-July approached, that meeting had yet to be called. Civic Association board member Richard Seltzer spoke up at the meeting to give his account for the delay, namely that the lawyer they had consulted to clarify issues had still not clarified them enough to make a meeting productive.  Others in the meeting made the case that the Board had no authority to delay a meeting duly called by the membership. The matter is still unresolved, though Seltzer promised that the meeting would be called as soon as the Board felt it had the information needed. Seltzer added that, as a member of the By-Laws review committee, he could report that this committee was proposing language that would clarify how soon the board needed to call a meeting petitioned for by the membership.

Even with some disagreements, in the end, the meeting seemed to succeed in its principal aim to provide a space for informal public discussion and deliberation on matters affecting the community.  Many at the meeting observed that this informal space for public discussion can provide ideas and energy for the Board and formal committees of the Civic Association.  They need not be in competition but can work together for the good of the community.

At the meeting, the House in the Woods Club also began forming committees that could become valuable resources for the community, including one that would find resources to help maintain Hollin Hills houses, one that would maintain a website, and another that would serve as the speakers and special events committee. Though some in attendance expressed concern that these committees might be duplicating efforts already undertaken by the Civic Association and the newsletter recommendations list, others countered that the club activities could expand on these efforts without putting an additional burden on the Civic Association.  In addition, an online recommendations list could be updated immediately, and could list specific producers and sources of building materials to assist those looking to preserve the look and feel of the original Goodman houses.    Members of the House in the Woods Club look forward to holding these meetings regularly as well as occasional forums on broader issues of Hollin Hills history and nuts-and-bolts seminars on maintaining one’s own bit of architectural history.  Please send ideas to houseinthewoodsclub@gmail.com.  Also visit our new weblog, Hollin Hills Talks, at https://hollinhills.wordpress.com.  You can add a comment to any article posted there. And if you’d like to author an article, let us know.  If you prefer the telephone rather than the Internet, feel free to call me at 703-768-2235.  And please join us at our next meeting, scheduled for Sunday September 10 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Sherwood Hall Library meeting room.

–Noëlle McAfee for the House in the Woods Club

PS—For those not familiar with our group, The House in the Woods Club is a loose association open to all residents of Hollin Hills who are interested in maintaining the architecture, design, community and integrity of Hollin Hills—something that could surely be said of virtually all residents. We hope to provide a friendly setting to discuss ongoing and developing issues of Hollin Hills’ architecture, aesthetics, and community. Our aim is to hold regular open discussions that will provide an unofficial venue for public deliberation on issues facing the community and that these deliberations might generate imaginative and productive proposals for maintaining the character of Hollin Hills. The club itself takes no position on issues, though many of its members – like most residents of Hollin Hills – have their own opinions on things.

Agenda for July 9 Meeting

House in the Woods Club Meeting & Community Forum
Sherwood Hall Library

July 9, 2006, 3 to 5 p.m.

Agenda

I. Synopsis of last meeting https://hollinhills.wordpress.com/2006/06/14/hello-world/.

II. Status of the special meeting.

III. Follow up on ideas that emerged from our last meeting. Need volunteers to coordinate efforts:

– Resource Committee. Locate manufacturers who can fabricate replacements for specialty HH items such as: low-profile casement windows, smooth T-111 siding, and odd-sized doors and door frames. This would allow the DRC to require that windows, siding and other features be replaced in-kind without creating undue hardship for homeowners.

– Preparation of Greeters Packets. As discussed, this would include materials that greeters can provide to new HH residents that would provide information about the HH aesthetic, increase awareness of the covenants and the DRC process, and encourage new owners to go to the DRC early when planning an alteration to their home.

– Creating a HITWC Knowledgebase. This would involve colleting and disseminating information about resources available to HH residents. This might include everything from where to buy appropriate furniture and fabrics the proper construction of a HH roof. Could also be a column in the Bulletin or on the website.

– Developing and maintaining a HITWC Website. Maybe use the site already started: https://hollinhills.wordpress.com/

– Speakers and Special Events Committee. Hold events throughout the year.

IV. Running up costs. Need a treasurer and small contributions.

V. Community Forum: discussion of design review issues affecting Hollin Hills with members of the Special Design Review Committee, including its chair, Chris McNamara.

VI. Date and topic for next meeting.

Hollin Hills Talks July 9

A Hollin Hills Community Forum, sponsored by the House in the Woods Club
July 9, 2006, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Sherwood Hall Library, First Floor Meeting Room, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane

Please join us on July 9 from 3 to 5 p.m. for what we hope will be a community-wide discussion of design review issues affecting Hollin Hills with members of the Special Design Review Committee, including its chair, Chris McNamara. This will be the third meeting sponsored by the House in the Woods Club, a group started by Hollin Hills residents interested in the past and the future of the community. All Hollin Hills residents are invited to come. For more about the club see https://hollinhills.wordpress.com/ or e-mail houseinthewoodsclub@gmail.com.

House in the Woods Club meets

On June 11, 2006, a beautiful Sunday afternoon, 25 residents of Hollin Hills convened the second monthly meeting of the House in the Woods Club. We met at the Sherwood Hall Library and in attendance were several past and present members of the CAHH Board, the Design Review Committee (DRC), the Special By-laws Committee, (SBC) and the Special Design Review Committee (SDRC), as well as many newer residents in the neighborhood. By the time of this meeting, the original Club had already garnered some notoriety, having petitioned the Board to hold a special meeting to discuss teardowns and having started inquiries into the DRC process. Rumors and suspicions were in high gear. So, the first part of the meeting was devoted to who on earth this new Club is and what it is up to. Here’s the background, followed by a summary of our Sunday meeting.
After reading in the May 2006 Bulletin about a potential teardown, several Hollin Hills residents got together on May 16 at the home of new Hollin Hills residents, David Armstrong and Noëlle McAfee, of 2306 Kimbro Street, to discuss the issue. This group included John Burns, Susanne Garvey, Hana Hirschfeld, Bob Kinzer, Gretchen Raber, and John and Paige Totaro. By the end of the afternoon they decided to call themselves the “House in the Woods Club” and to invite others to join. During the course of the meeting, information popped up that the DRC seemed to be approving the teardown. (As it turns out, this wasn’t exactly true.) The Club thought it might be prudent to slow things down so that the SDRC, which had been chartered to look into whether or not teardowns could be prevented, had done its work. Pursuant to the CAHH By-laws, the Club circulated a petition calling for a special meeting to discuss the matter, a meeting that would consider calling for a moratorium on teardowns until the SDRC had made its recommendations to the Board, and until the community had had a chance to revisit the DRC Guidelines. Within one day, the Club gathered more than enough signatures and sent the petition to Judy England-Joseph, the president of CAHH. Judy and David Armstrong had a long talk one night and, given legal issues that might put the covenants into jeopardy, they decided to amend the purpose of the meeting to simply discussing the issues. Subsequently the Board decided to postpone the meeting further until more legal information was in. How long the Board can postpone a special meeting petitioned by the community is something that the Special By-laws Committee is now considering.

Sunday’s meeting began with a discussion of what the House in the Woods Club is. The agenda read: “The House in the Woods Club is a newly formed Club of Hollin Hills residents interested in the past and the future of the community. We are a loose association open to all residents of Hollin Hills who are interested in maintaining the architecture, design and integrity Hollin Hills—something that could surely be said of virtually all residents. We hope to provide a friendly setting to discuss ongoing and developing issues of Hollin Hills’ architecture, aesthetics, and community. We hope that our regular open discussions will provide an unofficial venue for public deliberation on issues facing the community and that these deliberations might generate imaginative and productive proposals for maintaining the character of Hollin Hills.”

Aware that some people in the community seem to be concerned that this Club is trying to obstruct the processes already in place to handle Hollin Hills’ affairs, or that it is trying to be a shadow government, moderator Noëlle McAfee offered another frame of reference, drawing on her professional work as a political philosopher. She noted that any truly democratic society has both a well-functioning governing structure and a vibrant civil society and public sphere in which citizens vigorously and deliberatively discuss matters of common concern. These public deliberations might generate more reflective public judgment and public will that can make their way up to the level of policy making. In other words, the open meetings of the House in the Woods Club are not meant to usurp the work of the existing policy structures but rather to generate ideas and sound judgment that can inform and bolster these committees. The Club’s aim is to hold public meetings that can produce ideas that are then recommended to the various committees. Sometimes, of course, these “recommendations” will seem like a pain in the neck, a thorn always present in a democratic society. They are, however, offered with the best of intentions in an effort to preserve the unique character of Hollin Hills that we all cherish.

At Sunday’s meeting, the group did discuss the issue of teardowns. Even among this small segment of the community, there were significant differences of opinion as to how to define the issue and whether the “teardown issue,” however characterized, must be addressed with urgency. Bob Kinzer and others gave a history of the small number of houses that have been torn down in Hollin Hills, and some expressed concern that once two or three homes have been permitted to be demolished by choice, rather than by necessity, a precedent would be set and would be difficult to reverse. While differences remained by the end of the meeting, everyone seemed to agree that: (1) this is an appropriate time in the neighborhood’s history to discuss the issue; and (2) having a strong design review of whatever is built in Hollin Hills is key to maintaining design integrity in the neighborhood.

The rest of the meeting was taken up by two matters: (1) generating ideas about what issues the Club would focus on; and (2) developing suggestions for the CAHH Board and the SDRC regarding the DRC process and the DRC guidelines.

1. Items to address in the future fell into these general areas:

• The need to inform prospective and new homeowners of the covenants. The meeting considered developing literature that could be put in the Greeter Packet given to each new resident; providing material for realtors (an idea with a long and not very productive history) and finding other ways to inform homeowners of the covenants and design review process, including making this information more accessible on the Hollin Hills web site.

• Making the Club a knowledge and resource base for how to maintain a Hollin Hills house. The Club might hold regular meetings, with as much past and present DRC input as possible, on how to replace a roof, find window parts, or put in a patio, all in keeping with the Hollin Hills’ aesthetic. In addition to holding sessions, the Club could put information on the Hollin Hills’ website, or on its own website, and eventually put out pamphlets or a book to help homeowners. The Club might also hold semi-regular seminars on topics such as modern architecture and design and Hollin Hills’ history.

• Find ways to encourage homeowners to go to the DRC for early input and guidance.

• Provide ideas for strengthening the DRC Guidelines that the SDRC can take to the community for consideration.

• Publicize history of the Hollin Hills’ aesthetic.

2. Items regarding the DRC process.

• The Club discussed ideas for allowing greater community input into the DRC process. Gretchen Raber spoke to the already huge commitment and workload of the DRC members. In the past, very few people volunteered to be on the DRC, but now people are being turned away. There is growing community-wide interest in opening up the process to more community involvement. The Club considered ways to open up the process further, allowing community-wide input to the DRC process. These ideas will be presented to the SDRC in the near future.

• Another matter under discussion was whether and how to strengthen the Design Review Guidelines with more specific language as to what is in harmony and conformity with the community's aesthetic, perhaps focusing more on the original design.

• The Club was pleased to learn that the DRC will start holding its monthly meetings at a regular meeting place, such as Hollin Meadows School library.

These points were just touched on briefly. The discussion helped clarify what might be items for further discussion in future meetings.

To sum up, the House in the Woods Club is well on its way to being a venue for informal public discussion and idea generation for the community.

The next meeting of the House in the Woods Club will be July 9, 3 to 5 p.m., at the Sherwood Hall Library first floor meeting room. All residents of Hollin Hills are invited to be a part of this discussion group.

For more information, please email houseinthewoodsclub@gmail.com
This piece was written by Noëlle McAfee with help from Barbara Helm, Larry Goldberg, John Totaro, Paige Totaro, and David Armstrong. Present at the second meeting were the above plus John and Elizabeth Higdon Brigden, Ann and Al Carr, Solveig Cox, Tim Day, Jere Gibber, Woody and Marjorie Ginsburg, Daniel Goldberg, J.G. Harrington, Hana Hirschfeld, Kevin Ann Huckshorn, Bob and Lee Ann Kinzer, Noel Mazade, Mary-Carroll Potter, Jay Pescoe, and Gretchen Raber.
For the name, we are indebted to Dennis Carmichael, who wrote the booklet A House in the Woods: A Landscape Aesthetic for Hollin Hills (1989).