High Desert homeowner Russ Welsch took this striking photograph just behind his house at the end of High Desert Place. He says it's quite unusual to see a buck in his neighborhood.
Community. It's not just where you live, it's how you interact. Here at High Desert, we believe communication is the number one way to build our community: communication between neighbors, among homeowners and with management.
This website is designed to keep every High Desert resident informed and up-to-date on the vital issues that affect us as homeowners. Here, you'll find quick access to our governing documents, policies and procedures, calendars of upcoming community meetings, copies of our latest newsletter, home improvement information, links to Village news and the e-mail addresses of your officers and directors.
We hope this information will provide High Desert homeowners with what they need to know...and when they need to know it.
For the latest news, scroll down. For more information on High Desert, see the Notices and Reminders page.
High Desert Board Elections Set For Voting Members' Annual Meeting in April
By Tom Kilroy, Nominating Committee Chair
About 800 Original High Desert House Plans Soon To Be Available:
Owners Must Email HOAMCO Office by April 7 and Pick Up Plans By May 16
|By Russ Welsch, |
Chair of the New Construction Committee
High Desert has about 800 original house plans for homes built in the community. If you are interested in possibly retrieving your original High Desert home plans (at no cost if the plans are picked up at the HOAMCO office), please send an email with your name, village, address, and lot number to Highdesertmanager@hoamco.com stating you would like your plans if they are available.
High Desert Residential Owners Association inherited the house plans from High Desert Investment Corporation in early 2011 when the Association took over duties of the New Construction Committee (NCC). The NCC maintained these records in a storage facility that costs the homeowners a significant amount of money each year.
The NCC in coordination with the Board of Directors studied what to do with the records and determined the best course of action is to return the records to the homeowners. Both the NCC and Modification Committees intend to use only digital record keeping as we move forward.
Not all plans for homes in High Desert exist, and some villages have few or no plans available at all, but if you have any interest in arranging your plans (only if available) for pick up, please send Sarah Hoey, Community Association Manager, an email at Highdesertmanager@hoamco.com by April 7. An email is required to request plans. Please do not telephone the office with your request.
Please note: all email requests must include the following:
• The name of your village,
• The lot number,
• The address,
• Your name, email, and phone number.
Pick-Up Dates For Plans: April 22-May 16 Only
Sarah will compile a list of requested plans until April 7, 2014. Requests received after that date cannot be processed. The NCC will then find the requested plans and have them available at HOAMCO between April 22 and May 16 for pick-up by owners. No plans will be available at the office before April 22. Any plans not picked up by May 16, 2014 will be destroyed.
Pick Up Plans In Person Or Have Written Authorization
Plans should be picked up in person at the HOAMCO office by the owner of the property. A photo ID may be required. If the owner cannot pick up their plan personally, they can give written authorization to another individual for pick-up of their plans. The written authorization must be presented at the HOAMCO office for the plans to be released to anyone other than the owner.
$25 Charge to Mail Plans
Owners who will not be in town during the pick-up period (April 22-May 16) may request the plans be mailed to them at a charge of $25. A check or money order for $25 must be received by the HOAMCO office before plans can be mailed. The request for mailing should be made by email to Sarah Hoey at Highdesertmanager@hoamco.com.
Any plans not requested by April 7, or not picked up by May 16, will be destroyed.
Volunteer Recognition Dinner Set For Friday, March 28
|The Third Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner for High Desert will take place Friday, March 28, 2014 to honor Voting Members, Committee members, special event volunteers and Board directors. Each invited member may bring a guest. |
Clay Wright, Board Director, is overseeing plans for this year’s dinner which will be held at the Tanoan Country Club, 10801 Academy Road NE. A cash bar will open at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m.
Invitations were mailed to volunteers in mid-February. The RSVP deadline is Monday, March 17, 2014. RSVPs and menu selections should be sent to the HOAMCO office at 10555 Montgomery Boulevard N.E., Building 1, Suite 100, Albuquerque, NM 87111. If you are a volunteer and did not receive an invitation, please contact Clay Wright at email@example.com.
Each year one or more volunteers is chosen by the Board for special recognition. Last year, the Board selected Jay Hartfield as the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year.
High Desert Opera Trip Planned for The Impresario & Le Rossignol on
Saturday, July 19, 2014
|By Millie Yamada, Chair of the High Desert Opera Committee|
High Desert residents and friends are once again in for a real treat with this year’s Santa Fe opera trip when we will experience The Impresario & Le Rossignol. Tickets are $255 each, or $510 per couple, which includes opera tickets, transportation to and from High Desert, and dinner in Santa Fe. The deadline for sign-up is May 21, 2014 and tickets are limited. Click here to download the 2014 pdf sign-up form.
In Mozart’s The Impresario, divas vie for a plum role while a producer struggles to cope with their rivalry and with the stresses of work in the music business. In these ingeniously framed productions, the stars’ rivalry centers on casting for Stravinsky’s opera Le Rossignol, which forms the second half of a perfectly balanced double-bill. With English dialogue by the British dramatist Ranjit Bolt and additional Mozart concert arias folded into the score, The Impresario takes us to 1920s Paris for the high-stress auditions.
With the same cast, Le Rossignol enfolds us in Hans Christian Andersen’s poetic fable in which an emperor learns the lesson of humility. Sopranos Erin Morley and Brenda Rae face off as the dueling divas. Michael Gieleta will direct, and Kenneth Montgomery will conduct. This production of Le Rossignol honors the centennial of the opera’s premiere in Paris in 1914. It will be a most worthwhile evening! If you have never attended the Santa Fe Opera, these two one-act operas are an excellent first opportunity!
On July 19, our group will travel by chartered bus to dinner at Dinner for Two in Santa Fe and then on to the Santa Fe Opera. The bus will depart High Desert Park at 4:30 p.m. and will return to the park between 1:00 and 1:30 a.m. Tickets are limited, so be sure to get yours soon. In order to meet payment deadlines, the last date of sales is May 21, 2014.
Questions? Call me, Millie Yamada at 856-8523 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting Members Urged to Remind Neighbors To Trim Plants That Extend Into Streets
At their January 23 meeting, Voting Members heard about new efforts by the association to have homeowners trim vegetation that extends into the streets. Board Director Mary Kurkjian spoke about the new campaign to remind all homeowners, especially those living in Premier or Estate lots, to cut back bushes or grasses that extend beyond their property lines.
“Please let your neighbors know that bushes and grasses that extend from their lots onto the street violate High Desert guidelines and city ordinances,” she said. “It’s a safety issue. In some cases, where bushes extend well into the roadway, people are forced to walk toward the middle of the road instead of the side.”
Beginning in May, the Association will send out violation notices to any homeowners who still have not trimmed back their bushes, requesting that the work be done. And if the bushes are still not trimmed? “Depending on the situation, the Board may take action to enforce High Desert’s regulations by levying fines,” Mary said.
Interested in Original Blueprints of Your High Desert Home?
Contact HOAMCO by April 7
Russ Welsch, Chair of the New Construction Committee (NCC), told Voting Members that any homeowner interested in the possibility of obtaining a copy of their original High Desert house plans should email Sarah Hoey at email@example.com by April 7. High Desert Residential Owners Association inherited approximately 800 house plans from High Desert Investment Corporation in early 2011 when the Association took over duties of the NCC. The documents have been stored for many years at a facility charging $2,200 annually. The material was used by High Desert developers, and later the NCC to consider new housing projects in the community. All future submissions to the NCC will be in electronic form, so the storage facility rental can be ended.
The NCC in coordination with the Board of Directors discussed what to do with the records and determined the best course of action is to return the records to the homeowners. The documents are very large and bulky and cannot be mailed except at great cost to the association. The blueprints do not have personal information on them, Russ added, but may be of use to original or subsequent owners of High Desert homes. Not all the house plans exist and some villages have little to no information, but if you have any interest in possibly obtaining your house plans, please send Sarah an email to place your name on the list. Sarah will compile a list of requested plans until April 7, 2014. The NCC will locate the requested plans (if they exist) and have them available at HOAMCO between April 22 and May 16 for pick-up. Any plans not picked up by May 16, 2014 will be shredded, Russ said. (See article above for more details.)
New Builder Guidelines
Russ spoke further to Voting Members about the new updated version of the Guidelines for Sustainability for Builder villages in High Desert. Updates to the Guidelines for Estate and Premier villages were completed last summer. Both documents are now available on the website (see story below) in a searchable pdf form.
“This document represents two and a half years of work,” Russ said. “The Guidelines are easy to search, they have new pictures and together they are the single reference for all material concerning the requirements for the exteriors of High Desert homes.” He emphasized that all homeowners considering any revision to the exterior of their homes must submit a request to the Modification Committee first.
Modifications Committee Still Looking For One More Member
Fred Gorenz, Modifications Committee Chair, spoke to Voting Members, asking them to consider volunteering to serve on the committee. The committee has four members with one open position. The Modifications Committee reviews all requests for modifications, additions and alterations to existing High Desert homes each month. He said the Committee receives eight to ten submissions per month. Interested homeowners should fill out a Statement of Interest for New Construction Committee OR Modifications Committee (also available as a fillable PDF on the Official Forms page.)
Lynn Claffy, Contracts Committee Chair, told Voting Members that her committee is in the process of reviewing the landscape maintenance contract currently held by Heads Up. Major contracts, including security, management and landscape, are each reviewed every three years. The review process should be completed by July 1.
Mary Kurkjian, Treasurer with the Board of Directors, told Voting Members that the budget was “on track” for the year and is even showing a slight surplus. Some unusual expenses include recent irrigation repairs which were higher than expected. Heavy autumn rainfalls also required extensive arroyo clean-up, she added. She said that the gated villages “are in fine shape” with lower than expected landscape expenses. The association’s Reserve Study should be complete within the next two months, she added.
The preparation for the upcoming fiscal year’s budget will get underway in February, Mary said. A first draft will be written for the Board in March, followed by a meeting with the gated village representatives for review. The Board will finalize the budget in April and the Voting Members will review it at their Annual Meeting. The new fiscal year for High Desert will begin July 1.
Tom Kilroy, Board Director and Chair of the Nominating Committee, encouraged Voting Members to consider running for the Board of Directors. The deadline for submissions of the Statement of Interest is February 22 (see story above). Elections will be held at the Annual Meeting in April. Members of the Board spend 20 to 30 hours per month on board duties, he said.
Rita Stafford Leaving High Desert
Sarah Hoey told Voting Members that her assistant Rita Stafford, has been promoted within HOAMCO to management of Rancho Mirage here in Albuquerque. Rita has worked with High Desert for the past four years. “We will miss her terribly,” said Sarah. Nancy Brown has joined HOAMCO as the Administrative Assistant for the High Desert office.
Good News and Bad News…
Board Director Clay Wright spoke for Crime Prevention Liaison Hugh Barlow (who was out of town). “The good news is that crime is low in High Desert,” he said. “The bad news? Crime is low in High Desert—and that breeds complacency. If you leave your laptop sitting on the front seat of your car you might as well put a sign up that says “Please shop here now.” And, he added, open garage doors are like drive-by shopping for thieves.
The Third Annual High Desert Volunteer Dinner is set for March 28, Clay told Voting Members. Invitations will go out shortly and the event will be held at Tanoan Country Club again this year. “The Volunteer Dinner is the one event where the Association says thank you to the one hundred or so people that make this association function,” Tom Murdock added.
NCC Updates Guidelines for Sustainability
|By Mary Kurkjian, Chair, Communications Committee |
The New Construction Committee (NCC) has published an updated version of the architectural requirements for the builder villages in High Desert. This follows the update of the Guidelines for the Estate and Premier villages that was completed last summer. Last published in 2003, the Guidelines for Sustainability are the foundation for all exterior design and modifications of the homes in High Desert.
Click here to see the Revised Guidelines for Sustainability for Builder Homes, or for the Revised Guidelines for Sustainability for Estate and Premier Homes, or go to the Governing Documents page and scroll to "Guidelines for Sustainability."
The Guidelines were developed at the time of original construction of the High Desert community in 1995 and were last updated in 2003. The New Construction Committee is chartered under the Association’s governing documents with writing and interpreting the Guidelines. Under the leadership of the former chair of the NCC, Ray Berg, the Committee undertook a major re-write of the Estate and Premier Guidelines to bring them up to date with our current construction standards and to make them more readable.
NCC member Russ Welsch told the recent Voting Members meeting that the Guidelines have been updated, but not really changed. “We have published a few specific updates to the Guidelines over the past couple years, but essentially the requirements have not changed. We hope that this complete update will allow members to find what they need quicker and with greater clarity.”
Changes included removing the two-column format, which was confusing and duplicative. The Table of Contents was made more complete and accurate. The committee also removed all references to the original developer, High Desert Investment Corporation and replaced them with the Board, NCC or Modifications Committee (MC), as appropriate. They also reordered some sections to collect similar topics together. The Prohibited Plant List, which applies to both Estate and Builder villages, was placed in a separate document by reference so that it can be easily updated and accessed. Provisions that duplicated city, state or federal laws were removed.
Most importantly, the document incorporates the updates that were previously made to the sections on mechanical and solar equipment; mailboxes; lighting; exterior artwork; community walls; and screens, shades and accessory structures.
Homeowners in Estate and Premier Villages Reminded to Trim Their Shrubs
Are your chamisas charging ahead? Are your saltbushes crossing the border? Are your Apache plumes ready to take over the street? It may be time to take back your property!
Owners of homes in the estate and premier villages are responsible for maintaining their landscaping to keep the street clear of shrubs and obstructions at the edge of the lot that meets the street. These villages have many streets with shrubs that are encroaching into the street, narrowing the travel lanes. (See photos at top and below.) Owners are reminded to keeps shrubs and other plant growth off of the asphalt road and the concrete apron that lines the road between asphalt and landscaping.
Maintaining clear roadways is a safety matter for pedestrians and cyclists. There are no sidewalks in the estate and premier villages in High Desert, so it is important that we keep the streets as clear as possible to allow vehicles, bikes and pedestrians to safely navigate. Also, at the intersections of streets, it is vital that drivers be able to see in all directions without obstruction by bushes and trees that have grown up over time.
The estate and premier villages are as follows: Desert Highlands, The Highlands, Mountain Highlands, The Overlook, Trailhead, West Highlands, and Wilderness Estates.
The asphalt road and the concrete apron are city maintained assets. Under City ordinance, owners of abutting lands are responsible for maintaining the landscaping along roadways, including removing vegetation that might obstruct the road. Plants may intrude no more than four inches onto the roadway. (City ordinance 9-8-4 and 9-8-5.)
Keeping bushes and shrubs off of the street and from blocking intersections is an owner responsibility under the High Desert Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Section 5.2 states that each owner “shall keep all shrubs, trees, grass, plantings and landscaping of every kind located anywhere on his Unit (including setback areas, easements and Common Areas within the boundaries of the Unit), neatly trimmed and properly cultivated, and consistent with the Community-Wide Standard and the Guidelines for Sustainability. Such maintenance shall also include, but not be limited to, promptly removing dead trees, plant material, and weeds, and removing encroachment by trees, shrubs or other plant material located on the Unit onto property that is not part of the Unit, including sidewalks, streets, other Units, or the Common Area.”
In the early days of High Desert, the original developer performed maintenance of landscaping along the streets as a part of their efforts to sell the lots. But now these lots belong to individuals. Since every lot in the estate and premier villages extends to the street (and maybe to more than one street), the private lot owner is the one responsible to maintain the landscaping along the city street.
ADVICE TO OWNERS:
Late winter through the spring is a good time to police your lot and cut back or remove any unruly vegetation that encroaches onto the concrete apron and the asphalt street. Pay particular attention to the backside of your lot if it extends to a street behind your house. All edges of the lot are your responsibility.
Starting in May 2014, the Board of Directors has asked HOAMCO’s enforcement officer to cite owners for vegetation that encroaches into the street. Owners will be given notice to fix the problem and enforcement actions allowed under the High Desert Enforcement Policy will be authorized to gain compliance.
Happy 20th Anniversary, High Desert!
|Just a little more than 20 years ago, the first documents establishing High Desert Residential Owners Association were officially filed with the state. These documents paved the way for the development of a community of more than 1600 homes, built in a setting which was, for the times, quite unusual. |
Until 1993, high end subdivisions in Albuquerque featured lush green landscaping and common areas filled with turf, flowers, hedges and shrubs. Planning a new community around the idea of requiring natural landscaping and water conservation was brand new. But this was a special tract of land—1000 undeveloped high desert acres in the foothills of the Sandias— land that had remained empty and unspoiled through time.
In the early 1990s, the land that is now High Desert belonged to Albuquerque Academy, a private school originally founded as a boys school in 1955 in the basement of an Albuquerque church. Between 1957 and 1964, the school was given a large tract of undeveloped land north of Albuquerque, originally part of the massive Elena Gallegos Land Grant.
The Elena Gallegos Land Grant was a tract of 70,000 acres (or 100 square miles) that stretched from the crest of the Sandias down to the Rio Grande. The Grant was created in 1694 by the Spanish Crown for one Diego Montoya, and then transferred to Elena Gallegos in 1712. Over the next 250 years the land was subdivided by her descendents until most of northern Albuquerque was developed on that original tract. But a large stretch of land from the Rio Grande to the foothills still remained empty, and it was the Albert G. Simms family that donated 9,000 acres to Albuquerque Academy 50 years ago.
The school sold the western portion and used the money to create the first Academy endowment and to build the current campus on Wyoming and Academy. Next, the city bought a large section in the foothills from the school, reselling 7000 acres to the US Forest Service which incorporated it into the Sandia Mountain Wilderness and Cibola National Forest. The city retained 640 acres— which is now the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area/Albert G. Simms Park adjacent to High Desert on the north and east.
This left the 1000-acre undeveloped track we know as High Desert. The Academy established High Desert Investment Corporation (HDIC) to develop a master-planned community based on ideas of sustainability, water conservation and native landscaping. The organization designated to oversee the community-to-be was to be called “High Desert Residential Owners Association” (HDROA) and the first Articles of Incorporation were filed in October 1993. The proceeds from this development have provided Albuquerque Academy with a substantial endowment, used partly to defray tuition costs.
On December 22, 1993, the initial Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) was adopted, setting the stage for the development of High Desert and establishing the standards all homeowners agree to abide by today.
The first sale listed in High Desert the following July was for the tract that became the Pinnacle (now Broadstone) apartments. In September 1994 the first lots in Trailhead were sold to individuals.
What made this master planned community all that different from other Albuquerque developments? The answer can be found in the association’s Guidelines for Sustainability where the vision for the community is clearly outlined:
As stewards of this land we are committed to the vision of a community conceived, designed and built to preserve nature’s intricate balance. Our goal—an integrated and sustainable community which honors its Southwestern roots and natural habitats while providing a place that will endure.
...The mandate set for High Desert is to achieve “sustainable development.” ...At High Desert sustainability means design and construction in ways that are intended to preserve the resources, ecosystem and natural beauty of the property. Development respects nature. A large percentage of the land remains untouched in order that the rich habitats for plants and animals may continue to thrive. The arroyos remain in their natural state with only the vegetation enhanced to increase the wildlife habitat.
...Our goal is to make High Desert one of the most desirable places to live in the Southwest — a community which balances the needs of the homeowner with a concern for the future of environment.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of house lot sales in High Desert. It also is the 10th anniversary of the election of the first owner-controlled Board of Directors.
Are you one of the first homeowners in High Desert? If so, we’d like to talk to you about your experiences as one of the first residents for our next anniversary article in the February 2014 issue of the Apache Plume newsletter. Please call Rebecca Murphy at 294-1778 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome Committee Has New Co-Chairs: Maddy and John Shelton
|The High Desert Welcome Committee has two new co-chairs. Maddy and John Shelton have volunteered to lead the committee and the High Desert Board of Directors approved their appointment at their January meeting. Co-Chairs Thea Berg and Susan Gall have stepped down after several years of leading the committee. |
The committee met in mid-January and welcomed new committee members and discussed ideas for new resident Welcome Bags and future committee events.
"Maddy and John Shelton are full of energy and will do a great job," said former co-chair Thea Berg. "With their enthusiasm and new ideas, this committee will be in good hands."
The Welcome Committee is charged with welcoming all new residents to High Desert. To that end, the committee holds two Wine & Cheese parties each year at the home of a committee member. Invitations are sent to new homeowners and each receives a Welcome Bag that includes a jar of locally made salsa, an Albuquerque Vacation Guide, a general information booklet about High Desert, a packet of wildflower seeds, a newsletter and any other pertinent information the committee wants to include.
The Welcome Committee also holds an annual Studio Tour each fall which highlights High Desert artists. The Tour is a chance for residents to meet their artist neighbors and attend a local event within the community.
Anyone interested in joining the High Desert Welcome Committee can contact Maddy or John Shelton at (505) 823-1047 or via email at email@example.com.
New Volunteer Opportunities Statement of Interest Available to Homeowners
|High Desert homeowners interested in volunteering for committees or activities have a simpler way to make their interest known. They may now fill out a new Volunteer Opportunities Statement of Interest and submit it to a central clearinghouse for High Desert volunteer activities. The clearinghouse will be maintained by HOAMCO. Sarah Hoey, Community Association Manager will receive the forms and distribute the volunteer’s information to committee chairs for follow-up. This will help assure that no expression of interest gets overlooked. |
While there has been a formal process for volunteering for the “statutory” committees and elected positions at High Desert (Board of Directors, Voting Member, New Construction Committee, Modifications Committee, and Nominating Committee), it has always been an informal process for those who wanted to volunteer for the many other opportunities to help the community. The new procedure will provide a reliable way to engage those who would like to help out with these committees:
• Welcome Committee
• Community Events (including Opera) Committee
• Landscape Advisory Committee
• Park, Trail and Tramway Cleanup
• Communications Committee
• Contracts Committee
The new Statement of Interest asks potential volunteers for contact information and to list experience, education and/or background that might prove useful.
Volunteers can still contact Committee Chairs directly to discuss volunteer opportunities, if they prefer. For a list of Committees and Chairs see the Volunteer Opportunities page.
“This new procedure will be a useful way to keep an ongoing list of volunteers, their skills and all contact information for easy access by Committee Chairs, the Board of Directors, and management,” said Sarah. “High Desert relies on volunteers and having a central updated registry of names and interests should prove very helpful in matching the needs of committees to our volunteers.”
The new Statement of Interest can be found by on the Official Forms page (scroll to Statement of Interest for Volunteer Opportunities) and downloaded as a pdf, or filled out and submitted online.
Landscape Committee Report
|High Desert homeowners can now view the full Landscape Assessment Report here as a pdf. That report was submitted last spring to the Board by the Landscape Committee, led by homeowner Ray Berg. |
The report, including recommendations, was the result of more than a year's effort by the Committee and several dozen High Desert volunteers who surveyed all the common areas and portions of open space within the community.
Billing Information For Residents
|High Desert residents now have several options for paying assessments. Billing information and payment instructions can be found on the Billing Information page. |
Wildlife in High Desert
Do you have any terrific pictures of wildlife in High Desert that you'd like to share? Submit your photos (in jpeg form) to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post them on our Wildlife in High Desert page. These photos were taken in High Desert by Bruce Loughridge. The lizard was seen on a large boulder in Bruce's front yard in Mountain Highlands back in 2007. He said it measured about 10 inches from front to back and his mate was lounging in the shade nearby. Bruce took the coyote photo below in the snowy winter of February 2006. The coyotes continue to howl and prowl the streets of Ricegrass Place this winter, he said.
Notices & Reminders
To see "Notices and Reminders" for High Desert, click here.