Lansdowne Vote Comes as News To Many Residents

By Tammi Marcoullier
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Living in LoCo is Tammi Marcoullier's blog devoted to all things interesting in Loudoun County. You can find it at This column of highlights from the blog appears in this space every Sunday.

Our newest correspondent, Lansdowne's Dave Nemetz, reports from the community homeowners association's annual meeting:

The transition is complete. Residents elected the first resident-controlled board for Lansdowne on the Potomac on Wednesday night.

John Caron and Vivian Zoakos, highly regarded members of the community's Facilities and Grounds Committee, were elected with the two highest vote totals. The other three slots went to incumbents, President Jeff Brown and directors Raj Amin and John Whitbeck.

Feedback from some residents indicates that the election of Caron and Zoakos signals a more measured approach on the new board, as opposed to what some viewed as the intrusive and antagonistic governing style of the 2006-07 board.

The meeting was held at the Lansdowne Resort. But judging from the attendance, a phone booth might have been adequate. In a community with almost 2,200 homes, an estimated 100 residents attended.

A bit more encouraging was the 453 votes cast. Residents were able to vote either on the Lansdowne Web site, by proxy or in person at the meeting. And this election was ultimately a battle of proxies.

Some residents made the effort to go door-to-door to collect proxies, to a mixed response. George Pitiera, who lives in the River Oaks section of Lansdowne, said he encountered only a couple of hostile residents when he asked for their proxies. "What surprised me was that most people didn't even know there was an election, and some just didn't care," Pitiera said.

Another River Oaks resident, Fulvia DeBenedetto, also talked to neighbors who were unaware of the election and meeting. "The Lansdowne residents . . . I'm so disappointed in them," she told me. "They'll have no right to complain if something goes wrong."

What most probably won't change is the decision by the current board to notify home day-care providers in Lansdowne that they need to shut down their operations by mid-2008 or risk further action by the HOA, including foreclosure.

These residents, who say they purchased their homes with implied approval to operate home businesses, will be forced to either lose that income or sell their homes in a depressed real estate market. Families of the children under care will have to make alternative plans for child care.

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