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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Neighborhood Spotlight: Indian Run offers convenience and quiet

If you’ve driven along Little River Turnpike from central Annandale heading east, you can be forgiven for not noticing the Indian Run community. This small townhouse development—with just 38 homes—is hidden from view behind a tree-covered berm.

The community was developed in 1977, and the homeowners association president, Sharon Sellers, says four or five original owners are still here. Sharon and her husband, Mort Glassberg, moved there about 20 years ago because they liked the combination of privacy and convenience.

Morton says one of the best things about Indian Run is its location, between the beltway and I-395, just outside the Annandale central business district and right on the Little River Turnpike bus line. He notes there is no pass-through traffic, as the community backs up to the Indian Run streambed. The developer put up a bridge over the stream, connecting the development to the narrow strip of parkland that borders the Hillbrook/Tall Oaks neighborhood. 

Sharon is completing her fifth year as the homeowners association president, and Mort will be the next president. The couple didn’t set out to run everything, Sharon says. As there’s no management company, the homeowners are responsible for maintaining the common areas and making sure residents follow the rules. “It’s difficult to get people to serve,” she says. “What has made it more difficult is that houses are not selling as fast, so we’re not getting new people willing to get involved with the community.”

Mort says the most recent property sold in the neighborhood was an end unit with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, two half-baths, an eat-in kitchen, and a finished basement, which went for $356,000. That’s a considerable drop from the real estate peak, he says, when similar units sold for $579,000.

Dues to the Indian Run Homeowners Association are $776 a year, which cover landscaping, fences, and lighting in the common areas; twice-weekly trash and recycling services; retaining walls; snowplowing; holiday decorations; and social activities, such as the annual Christmas party for kids.

Sharon would like to see the community revive the popular social activities, such as wine tastings and progressive dinners, that have tapered off in recent years. Those sorts of parties are not only fun ways to build a community, she says, they also promote safety because, “If you know your neighbor, you’re more likely to watch out for one another.”

Sharon says VDOT maintains the berm, and work details from sherrif’s department have removed brush and cleared debris when requested. “We give them brownies and lunches and write thank you notes; they’ve been wonderful,” she notes.

The community does have some “pretty strong architectural controls,” says Mort, who is chair of the Architectural Committee. “You can’t change anything on the exterior without permission,” and if you want to paint your front door or outside trim, you have to stick with a palette of “colonial colors.” Roof colors must match the roofs of houses in the same row, so that requires some coordination among homeowners.

Sharon and Mort with miniature
schnauzers Guy and Gracie
Everyone receives a copy of the rules when they move in, and the rules are enforced. One homeowner ended up replacing a deck that had been painted the wrong color—fire-engine red—and another time, a roofer had to redo two roofs after using the wrong color by mistake.

The rules do get changed every so often, Mort says. The most recent changes prohibit the storing of building materials in the open, require sheds to be below the fence line, and require holiday decorations to be removed 30 days after a holiday. And homeowners are no longer required to use wood for their decks. They can now use composite materials that look like wood.

The HOA has worked with Mason Supervisor Penny Gross on such issues as dealing with homes in violation of zoning laws for having too many unrelated occupants and opposing a plan, later withdrawn, to convert a doctor’s office on the other side of Little River Turnpike into a commercial development. The HOA also opposed plans to develop Poe Terrace Park, which Sharon says provides a privacy screen to the community.

The couple are active in community organizations, including the newly reactivated Mason District Council and Gross’ monthly Kaleidoscope dialogues on diversity issues. Sharon believes it’s important to “reach out to people from other cultures and have a better understanding of one’s neighbors.”

Indian Run Townhomes snapshot
Number of houses: 38
Location: On Little River Turnpike between Poe Terrace Park and Terrace Townhomes
Fairfax County district: Mason
Schools: Columbia Elementary, Holmes Middle School, Annandale High School
Home prices: About $340,000 to $380,000

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