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Friday, September 13, 2013

Jeanne Simmons, age 96, refuses to vacate Hillwood Square home

Simmons
“I don’t want to move,” says Jeanne Simmons, age 96, who is refusing to vacate her home of 57 years in Hillwood Square.

A majority of owners of the cooperative complex in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County voted to sell the property to AvalonBay Communities Inc., which plans to develop 461 garden-style apartments. It’s a by-right project—the land is already zoned R-20—so there was no requirement for a public hearing. 

Simmons, the only holdout, believes she has the right to remain in her home and is defying an order from AvalonBay to vacate her home. She’s well aware of the consequences, noting “maybe I will be incarcerated.”



Simmons home at 2848 Franklin Walk.

Simmons can still walk up and down the stairs in her small home but gets dizzy if she sits for a long time. She has a lively sense of humor, loves to talk, and as she noted during a conversation in her small bedroom full of books is “still slim.”

She reminisced about her many travels to Europe, her two grandsons, and her career as a teacher at St. Michael School in Annandale, where she “taught everything except religion“ and played classical music during the lunch period.

She accused AvalonBay of trying to manipulate her by telling her that her son “doesn’t like you; he is just using you.” She said, “That is so cruel.”

Bottled water in Simmons' living room.

There has been no regular water service in Simmon’s apartment for the past three weeks. During our visit, representatives from AvalonBay were working on repairing a broken water main in Hillwood Square. The company has been pumping non-potable water to Simmon’s home from a truck. Meanwhile, the company, as well as friends and relatives, have been bringing her bottled water for drinking and cooking.

“We are attempting to resolve this unfortunate situation safely and fairly,” says Richard Wolff, a senior advisor at Kreab Gavin Anderson, a corporate communications firm that represents AvalonBay. “Over the last several weeks, we have done our best to provide water service.”

“Although Mrs. Simmons herself has expressed concern and fear over being the only person remaining on the 19-acre property, her family remains unwilling to cooperate with us to arrange for her welfare,” Wolff says. “Nevertheless, we will continue to attempt to ensure the delivery of basic services to the residence, until the court issues its ruling in this matter.”

He son, John Simmons, who is advising his mother from his home in Denver, says water mains have broken in the past in Hillwood Square but have been fixed promptly. This time, it’s taking a lot longer.



A water truck in Simmons' backyard.
He accuses AvalonBay of imposing a “self-help eviction” on his mother. They’re “trying to make life so unbearable, she will have to leave.” He worries that the electricity might be cut off and that a fence that has been installed around the property would block access to emergency vehicles.

“They have absolutely no respect for her privacy,” he adds. “They come in any time of the day. They come up the stairs and wake her up.”

She received a letter Aug. 26 from an attorney representing the Hillwood Square Mutual Association, which approved the sale, ordering her to “vacate the unit you occupy within five days.” Having refused to comply with that order, she is now required to appear in Fairfax County court Sept. 27.

At that time, the judge will give her time to secure an attorney and will set a trial date, John says. If the trail “doesn’t go her way, she is prepared to appeal.”

Hillwood Square is fenced in.

17 comments:

  1. If you want to go support her, the hearing is at 9:30am in Courtroom 2A.

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  2. What the hell happened to private property rights?

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    1. Property rights? Once a property is legally sold (the required super-majority of residents of HSMA voted to legally sell to Avalon Bay), you don't actually believe you still have property rights to that property, do you?????

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    2. Hillwood was a cooperative--there were NO PRIVATE property rights. Each one possessed 1/160 share of the communal property. According to the bylaws, which Simmons signed and agreed to when she bought her share of Hillwood, a super majority vote to sell. She has NO RIGHT to anything!

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  3. Moving in itself is very stressful and an enormous amount of work even for someone in excellent shape.Now,imagine your 96 and having to move from your home and start over again.Of course she would have help but I wish these people would put themselves in her place just once. You are 96 years old and someone says Ok this is no longer your home your going to have to leave or else.How sad is this.

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    1. I am sure it would be stressful, but that sort of thing happens all the time when someone gets to the point they can no longer live safely in their home, and Jeanne might have reached that point.

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  4. Once the sale was official on June 24th, the residents no longer owned anything in the co-op. Everyone was legally required to vacate by August 23rd. The 60 days before August 23rd were a transitional period where anyone staying was renting from Avalon Bay. The 60 days was to provide a buffer so that every resident could arrange to find another place to live.

    Jeanne Simmons' son thinks he is supporting his mother, but all he is doing is enabling her decision to stay illegally. I understand that Jeanne has lived there for a very long time, but she really has no legal ground to stay. It's pretty obvious. There were a couple of dozen people that were against selling, but they understood they legally had to move. Everyone did except Jeanne.

    There are options for her. As soon as she vacates, she will get about $228K which should be plenty to move her to a place that will be a much better place for her. Assisted living is an option. Buying a new condo or house is an option. Renting an apartment is an option. Staying is not an option.

    John Simmons should hop on a plane and help his mother find a new place to live.

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  5. John Simmons is evil. He sits in his cushy home in Colorado and just dictates lies to his mother. This man is a terrible, terrible son and should be ashamed of himself. AvalonBay is doing more for this woman than he is! They didnt have to do all that water provision for her. And you all who scream about the injustice? Check to see who is paying for Jeanne Simmons to live there. It's likely the former residents, who have $500,000 holdover money still tied up in case of any legal problems. WE are still paying for this.

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  6. According to the contract, any expenses related to the eviction including legal fees, are the responsibility of the member. I would assume that is the water bill as well. It is obvious her son is after his "inheritance". Well there won't be anything left because those bills keep coming in and I'm sure their attorneys are expensive. So, none of this should come out of the $500,000.

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  7. Can we get an update on this please?

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    Replies
    1. Jeanne Simmons is still living in her home at Hillwood Square and seems to be doing well.

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    2. Wow so she won the court case?

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    3. There hasn't been a ruling. It could take a while.

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    4. I heard that the court continued the case until October 11th. I'm not sure why. I can't imagine that the judge will allow Jeanne to stay much longer. Perhaps the delay is to find another place for her to live.

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    5. What happened in court on the 11th?

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  8. Ms. Simmons does not own a home at Hillwood Square as that property belongs to Avalon Bay. She is a squatter, who is losing money every hour she chooses to stay in place. How unfortunate that her son insists in allowing her to lose her money. As a poster mentioned above, legal fees can be costly, and in this case the fees will be her responsibility (or maybe her son will have to cover the legal fees).

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    1. Apparently Jeanne Simmons is moving to Colorado to be near her son. You should be able to copy the following link and paste it into you browser.

      http://www.nbcnews.com/id/53259728/ns/local_news-washington_dc/#.UmIJA1CURA0

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