Woodmore is located among the green, gently flowing hills of suburban central Maryland, just minutes from the Capital Beltway. The community is being developed under Prince George's far-sighted Recreational Community Ordinance, which limits residential density. When totally built, Woodmore will be home to only 398 select single-family residences on a site of 799 naturally wooded acres.
With a 67-acre lake and the manicured greens of a tournament class golf course winding through the community, Woodmore boasts a combination of elegant single-family homes on very large lots combined with several Villages of distinct character but uniform in their refinement. The community is oriented around the famous Country Club at Woodmore... a private, member-owned facility with world-class golf, swimming, and tennis facilities. The club, with close ties to the community, also boasts an elegantly appointed clubhouse and a first-class restaurant.
Woodmore is a prestigious community, rich in history and pride.
In 1698, Thomas Spriggs acquired 500 acres of what was then known as the forest of Prince George's County in the Crown Colony of Maryland. Around 90 years later, Dr. Isaac Ducket, husband of Sprigg's granddaughter, inherited and enlarged the estate to over a thousand acres. On this property he built a beautiful two-story brick house, which he named Pleasant Prospect.
The Ducket estate was later bequeathed to a son-in-law, John Contees, often described as a "dashing" Naval Officer. Lucky in love, but unskilled in business matters, Contees became hopelessly mired in debt and sold Pleasant Prospect to the Bowies, perhaps the area's most prominent landowners. The Bowies, in turn, sold the property to the Walkers who ran a lumber business in Washington D.C. and were probably the areas first serious commuters.
Today, Pleasant Prospect, owned by the Estate of Edward S. Walker, still stands at 12806 Woodmore Road. The name Pleasant Prospect has also been given to the name of the main road through the elegant and exclusive community of Woodmore.
Building the Woodmore Community
The current Woodmore community was first organized in October of 1981. It was planned as a blend of attached homes arranged in six Theme Villages with approximately 200 custom-built detached homes on 1-5 acre lots contributing to the upscale nature of the entire development. During its original development and for a short period afterward, each Village was governed separately from both the detached homes and the other Villages. While the resulting seven separate homeowners' associations cooperated to enhance Woodmore, there was excessive and unnecessary overhead as well as inconsistencies among the various service providers. As a result, the homogenous community envisioned was not yet realized.
Merging the seven homeowner associations was a difficult process that took approximately three years. It succeeded with a large measure of good will, a great deal of patience, and a real sense of community. The process consisted of four phases: concept development, planning, marketing, and implementation. The process blended the need to operate as a whole community with the need for each Village to make individual improvements specific to their needs.
During the conceptual development phase, the merger was presented to the Woodmore Homeowners' Association's Board of Directors. The board asked the Treasurer, Captain John Waddell, USN to conduct a feasibility study and report back. Two months later, Captain Waddell made his report that concluded that a merger was a potential "win-win" situation financially. Economy of scale and the elimination of duplicate services could result in reduced fees for both "single family" homeowners and "villagers." After some discussion between the Presidents of the various HOAs and other principals, the Woodmore "umbrella" HOA Board of Directors established a President's Committee, chaired by Ilene Watson and consisting of two representatives of the "single family" homeowners and the President of each village HOA. Additionally, Captain Waddell was asked to remain engaged as a non-voting technical advisor to the committee. Since over half of our community was still under development, each of the two major builders was also invited to participate.
Then the planning began in earnest. The first order of business for the President's Committee was to reach agreement, at least in principal, on a set of bylaws, covenants, and level of service. The outline of this agreement would subsequently form the basis for one set of HOA governing documents, which would be used for the entire merged community. The management company at that time, Condominium Ventures, Inc., was enlisted to obtain the appropriate documents, coordinate with the legal staff, and provide administrative support. The Committee painstakingly examined the governing documents for the Woodmore Association and each of the Villages. Areas to be addressed were noted and priorities were agreed upon. Using the Woodmore documents as a template, the President's Committee scrutinized each item line by line and compared its provisions with that of each Village's documents. Each existing contract was examined in order to determine the feasibility of a common level of service. Budgets and budget line items for both the Woodmore and Village associations were dissected; anomalies and redundant items were flagged.
After more than a year of meeting, discussing (sometimes loudly), negotiating, and finally agreeing to most of the merger provisions, the Committee presented their recommendations to Woodmore's Board of Directors. The Board approved and sent out the tentative plan and agreement to the Association's lawyers for review. Concurrently, the President's Committee proceeded with the marketing phase of the process.
By now, the President's Committee and the Woodmore Board of Directors clearly recognized the logic and tremendous benefits of merging. The earlier skepticism and intransigence of some members was long forgotten.
Briefings were scheduled for each Village Board and Special Meetings were held with various groups of builders and homeowners. Committee and Board members met with their neighbors, Special Meetings were scheduled, and even more meetings planned ad infinitum. Meanwhile, written information was disbursed to all concerned parties. Then, proxies were distributed and a Special Meeting was scheduled to count the merger votes. In the days preceding the vote, committee members went door-to-door soliciting proxies. In order for the merger to take place, 75% of the Village homeowners in each Village and 75% of the entire Woodmore community needed to vote in favor. A failure to vote amounted to a "NO" vote.
In retrospect, those involved in the process feel highly gratified by the results. Costs have been reduced across-the-board and the Woodmore community has become more closely knit. The major lessons learned were to market early and aggressively and believe in your message. The Woodmore Merger completed on January 1 1996. It is believed to be the largest and most complex merger of homeowner associations ever undertaken in the state of Maryland.
The merged Woodmore HOA has a Board of Directors consisting of a representative from each Village and four representatives from Single-Family homeowners. Our Committees are comprised of roughly the same mix of volunteers. We have preserved separate Reserve Funds for the original villages allowing each village the independence to fund its own improvement decisions without requiring a vote from the entire community. We have Common Reserves for the community as a whole. We pool the cash flows of these separate component Reserve Funds to more efficiently finance the needs of the entire community. We operate as a homogenious community having one management company, combined professional services (e.g., insurance, auditing, and legal), and combined security and grounds keeping services all operating from a consolidated budget. Association fees have been reduced and services have improved. Following the merger effort, the Woodmore community spirit is alive and well.