Category Archives: Storm water

Keeping Children Safe at Play


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What would be more delightful or heartwarming than the sights and sounds of laughing and playing in your community?

 

Every effort should be made to ensure that the joys of childhood continue in associations, especially with the importance of putting community back into community associations.  From a child‘s perspective, “kid friendly” means fewer rules and restrictions. From the adult’s perspective, it means only implementing and enforcing those rules that are absolutely necessary to protect themselves, the children and association property.

 

The existence and enforcement of reasonable rules can protect an association from liability, but liabilities remain, especially when the association doesn’t or can’t enforce those rules all the time. Just as an owner might sue an association based on the board’s failure to enforce a nuisance rule, an owner also could sue if the association failed to enforce a rule that prohibits children from climbing common element trees or playing in common element parking areas. Theoretically, the association passed the rule because of the inherent danger associated with the activity, thus the association had a duty to enforce its rule to prevent the danger. Would such a theory hold up in court? Much stranger things have happened.

 

Summer Fun at the Homeowners Associaition Pool

Associations should pass only rules that are essential to the health, safety and welfare of their residents–and ones that they can and will enforce. But what rules are essential? Each association must answer that question based on the circumstances and needs of the community. However, let’s take a look at the tree-climbing and parking-lot rules mentioned earlier.

 

A rule against children climbing trees on common elements could recognize both that children occasionally fall out of the trees they climb and that the trees can be damaged. Often the tree is too small for the size of the climber or the climber has tried smaller and weaker branches. In both cases, the damage to the tree may be accompanied by injury to the child. These certainly are legitimate interests, but do they warrant a rule? The association should ask first whether it needs the rule as a warning. In my opinion, most courts will recognize that children are naturally interested in climbing trees and may be injured by doing so. The courts also will recognize that it would be difficult, at best, to keep children out of a good climbing tree. Moreover, every child and parent already knows that if a climber falls from a tree, he or she likely will be injured. Thus, the rule is probably not necessary as a warning

 

The association should explore next whether it needs the rule as a deterrent-preventing climbing through fear of consequence. If the fear of falling is not a natural deterrent, I suspect that the fear of a fine or sanction (which mom or dad would have to pay) is not likely to do the trick–at least from the child’s perspective. Nor will it have a deterrent effect on parents. Those parents who would keep their children out of trees even if no rule existed don’t need the rule. Similarly, those who feel it is OK for their child to climb trees probably would find the rule silly and would not be deterred.

 

Then, does the association need the rule to protect association or owner property, or limit association liability? As for the property issue, trees lose limbs and branches naturally, so the loss of a few to climbers probably isn’t a big deal. If damage occurs to a tree on a lot, the owner probably has the right to make a claim against the master policy as well as his or her homeowners insurance policy.

The liability issue is more problematic. The mere existence of the rule may invite liability because the association will not be able to monitor all trees all the time. In actuality, most associations will not watch their trees unless a board member or manager just happens along and sees a climber.

 

Although it might seem ludicrous, a litigant certainly could claim that he or she relied upon the association’s rule to keep his or her child out of trees, and thus out of harm’s way.

 

The real problem, of course, is that this rule is not kid friendly. And, if the association passes such a rule without one or more of the elements mentioned earlier being of primary concern to the welfare of the association, the rule is not likely to have a positive effect.

 

Similarly, a rule prohibiting children from playing in common element parking lots appears to be a no brainer because it benefits all. However, looks are deceiving. In this case, both children and parents should know that playing in the parking lot is inherently dangerous. Parents also know that smaller children must be watched because a passing motorist may not be able to avoid a child darting between parked cars. Motorists also know to drive cautiously in a residential parking lot. Accordingly, a rule against playing in the parking lots is superfluous for warning purposes.

This rule won’t deter children from playing in the parking lots. Presumably, smaller children will be kept from these areas by parents or older siblings. Older children probably will play there whether the rule is known to them or not. Kids have been playing ball and skating in streets and parking lots as long as there have been streets and parking lots.

 

Finally, the existence of this rule is likely to have little positive effect on the association’s liability in the event of a tragedy. Let’s say that a child is injured by a vehicle in the parking lot. The association’s liability for such an incident, if any, will probably concern the lighting level in the parking lot or perhaps poorly placed plantings that impeded the driver’s view. If these circumstances contribute to the likelihood of the injury, having a rule against playing in the parking lots will not protect the association from liability. And, as in the previous example, a grieving parent could claim that, had the association enforced its rule, the child would not have been injured or killed.

 

So what appear at first impression to be two reasonable rules really have no redeeming value; they are not kid friendly. They are difficult or impossible to enforce. If anything, they might add to an association’s potential for liability. In short, they’re unnecessary.

 

The only kid-centric rules associations must have are those related to the swimming pool. Some associations also have rules related to the minimum age for use of tennis courts. Associations with a workout facility may need to have rules about equipment use as well. Otherwise, the best rules for children are the ones imposed by their parents.  After all, the parents will be held responsible for damage done by children that is not covered by insurance.

 

Source: http://www.communityassociationmanagement.com/rules/violations-and-enforcement/2473-children-at-play.html

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Piedmont Heights

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Our experience with Riverside to date has been fantastic! We found the transition to be almost seamless to the homeowners. Everyone at Riverside has worked diligently to get the transition completed as uneventful as possible. We love the service level we have received from all the staff, but especially from Lisa Robinson, Tamara Owen and the Accounting Staff. It’s a pleasure working with such a professional, competent and customer friendly staff. They are responsive. They do what they say they are going to do and always make you feel like a valued customer. I feel that switching to Riverside has been the best decision we have made all year!

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Piedmont Heights Condominium Association

Maintaining Your Residential Or Commercial Retention Pond


Brought to you by Riverside Property Management, Inc.
by Joe Archer

When a new neighborhood or office building is constructed, the natural flow of the land is disturbed. Most of the trees, natural grass and soil are destroyed and replaced with concrete, pavement, sidewalks and other unnatural structures. The topography of the land is likely altered and the former natural flow of water has now been dramatically changed.

Riverside Property Management

The direct result of all the changes is that rainwater that used to be soaked up by the natural land will now flow off the developed land at a much faster rate. The amount of water flowing out of gutters, down driveways, streets and parking lots is much larger then the land can handle. In order to handle the rapid rate of water runoff, both residential and commercial properties are required to establish and maintain retention or detention ponds.

In the State of Georgia and many other states, the Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) and property management companies are required to maintain the retention and detention ponds to ensure that all rainwater on any given property is collected in a manner that does not disturb the surrounding land.

All retention ponds are subject to annual or biannual city or county inspections. The inspector will want to see the retention pond is capable of running at full capacity and that the retention or detention pond meets most of the requirements that we discuss below.

Retention and detention ponds need periodic maintenance. If you are a property manager or part of a homeowners association, you will want to ensure that your retention or detention pond is cleaned out on a regular basis to ensure compliance with city and county codes.

Retention Pond or Detention Pond Maintenance Checklist

* Keep the earth and dam around your retention pond in good order. The vegetation around your retention pond will reduce the pollutants in the storm water; however, the vegetation should be well maintained and any overgrowth should be reduced. It is also a good idea to remove any new trees that may cause future problems.

* On a periodic basis remove any debris and any silt buildup from your retention pond.

* Communicate with the homeowners in your neighborhood or the tenants in your commercial space and make sure everyone understands the importance of reducing the chemicals, pollutants and waste products that make their way down the storm drains in the neighborhood or office park.

* Inspect the headwall, the weir, the exhaust and other key components of the retention pond on a regular basis to ensure the pond is operating as intended.

* Remove any silt or sediment that may have accumulated at the basin forebay on a regular basis.

* Inspect the storm water drains that are delivering water to the retention or detention pond and make sure they are free of debris and in good working order.

Items like grass clippings, pet waste and other various organic materials that find their way down the storm drains causes algae to grow at much faster rates in the pond and increases the maintenance needed to keep the pond in working order.

Taking great care of your retention and detention ponds ensures that the water we are returning to our streams and rivers is cleaner then it would have been had it just passed over a greasy pavement? If we educate people on the roll the retention or detention pond is playing in their neighborhood or office park; people will be more careful the next time they are going to blow their grass clippings or send their pet waste down the closest storm drain.

Most reputable landscaping companies are well equipped to work with the HOA or property management group to come up with a reasonable maintenance plan that will keep the retention or detention pond working as intended. A properly maintained retention or detention pond helps all of us.

Joe Archer is the owner of Mobile Joe’s Landscaping. Mobile Joe’s Landscaping is a full service landscaping and landscape design company based in Atlanta, GA. Joe’s company can help any HOA or property management group maintain their retention or detention pond.

Retention and detention ponds play a critical role in controlling and cleaning the water runoff from neighborhoods and office parks. A properly maintained retention pond helps all of us.

Contact the Riverside to Learn More About Detention Ponds