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Welcome to the New Town Residential Association community web site. We are a walkable, landmark residential community located in James City County, Williamsburg, Virginia where commercial and residential buildings are integrated with public and cultural spaces. Life happens here!
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Here are links you need to Stay Informed about the Covid-19 Coronavirus:
 
Covid-19 Vaccine Information - VDH Site:   Virginians may preregister for the vaccines on the VDH website. You may sign up to be notified when shots are available. This site also provides information on the different phases of the statewide vaccine plan. 
 
 
 
Practice everyday preventive actions now to stay healthy and to care for the health of others. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing these actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, cell phones, remote controls, cabinet handles, keyboards, faucets).
  • Avoid shaking hands and having close personal contact (use elbow bumps instead).
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
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Board Buzz/From the Chair
BOARD BUZZ April 2021, Dick Durst, President
Posted on Apr 1st, 2021
 
“And This Job Was to be Easy…” - When Chuck Stetler called me late last year and invited me to join the Board to fill an empty seat, my wife, Karen, and I talked through this and I said, “how difficult can this be?  It’s a small group of people making sure our neighborhood looks good and that we are all trying to follow the guidelines to keep it that way.”  Well, the latter sentence is certainly correct….
 
This article is about the evolution of that “job” and, more importantly, about the assessments we all pay.  Those assessments are used, among a myriad things, to pay for landscaping, garbage collection, maintaining street lights and keeping our walking trails and built resources in good shape for the future.  The determination of the amount of our assessments was established several years ago by the original Developer Board; that process has been followed for the last 15 or so years.
 
Last year, as we concluded the budget preparation for 2021, the Board received concerns from a few homeowners who suggested that the methodology that had been used for years to determine homeowner assessments might not be following the methodologies laid out in the NTRA governing documents.  Our Finance Committee shared some of those beliefs and we sought advice from our legal counsel.  After a lengthy review and evaluation she confirmed that we needed to revise our assessment methodology.  
 
As New Town was built in phases over more than a decade, the Supplemental Declarations for each of our neighborhoods became more inconsistent and, in some cases, contradictory.  Just to cite one example, some Supplementals list non-VDOT streets in the Neighborhood Assessments, section IV of your documents, indicating those must be taken care of by neighborhood assessments for the people living in that area of New Town, while other Supplementals do not, leaving it to the whole of NTRA to maintain. There are several such inconsistencies.  Charlotte Park, alone, has TEN (10) Supplemental Declarations, since it was built in several stages and even within those there are various discrepancies.
 
People who live in some of our smaller homes (the term “cottages” has been used in our assessment lingo, even though that doesn’t appear in our Declarations) have been charged somewhat smaller assessments, but that option does not appear in any governing documents, except for three homes in Village Walk (assessed at 70% of their Neighborhood Assessment only). Parcel Developers for New Town have paid much lower assessments during the time they were building homes or units on those vacant lots—again, that reduction seems contrary to our Governing Documents.
 
We are now consulting with experts on options and approaches to rectifying this complex situation, but we are committed to resolve this.  Therefore, we announced at the March board meeting: 
 
"NTRA will revise our governing documents, particularly the Master Declaration and Supplemental Declarations, to address the assessment methodology and update their provisions. Our goal is to have easily understood and enforceable documents with a transparent assessment method. To the maximum extent possible, the Association’s governing documents should reflect New Town as a community with common areas and amenities shared by all homeowners."
 
Governing document changes require a vote of the members (homeowners) and need a 2/3 majority to pass.  You will see much more about this over the upcoming months.
 
We will build our 2022 budget based more closely on our current governing documents as we work through this process.  The Board of Directors are committed to transparency in this development and will schedule a Town Hall meeting to discuss our processes as we move forward.
 
All this has resulted in many, many hours of work for your “volunteer” Board of Directors and will probably remain so for several months, but these good people are resolved to do what’s right.
BOARD BUZZ March 2021 by Mary Cheston, Director
Posted on Mar 1st, 2021
 
There is an Irish saying, “If you do your best, don’t mind the rest.”  90 days into serving on the Board of Directors and the firehose I have been drinking from has now reduced to a normal stream…that’s the good news. Then somehow a new blaze appears and the firehose can no longer reach it to help.  So, this month I thought I would mimic the classic movie title and share “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” about 2021 so far for the NTRA.
 
  • The Good: The Board has completed orientation training for all Directors and reviewed its insurance coverage in anticipation of a new contract later this year. At our February meeting, the Board adopted two new policies – a collection policy for delinquent assessments and a new policy on the transition of assets from the Developer to the Association. Under this policy, the NTRA will use both a neighborhood working group from the area being transitioned and an independent engineering firm to examine the final common area/asset’s condition. The Board has also approved funds to remove dead trees and replace certain street trees. This work should begin shortly. 
  • The Bad: We have a number of new Association expenses, including legal fees in order to provide the Board needed advice and engineering services to complete 1) James City County’s approval of new playground equipment and 2) the anticipated transition of two neighborhoods’ common areas from the Developer, New Town Associates, to the NTRA. Charlotte Park Section 7 (both Phase X and Roper Park) will be turned over in 2021. Charlotte Park’s remaining areas must pass final James City County inspection. Then the NTRA will have an independent engineering review to ensure that assets are being conveyed “in a condition acceptable to the Association” (per our Master Declaration) as outlined in the policy highlighted above.
The Board has clarified IRS rulings on what type of projects can be charged to replacement reserves and this may change some of our 2021 funding priorities. For example, although the Board approached the Developer about completing the unfinished removal of dead trees in Roper Park, we have been unsuccessful in reaching agreement for them to cover this $7,500 expense. So this is an unbudgeted operational item that we believe should have priority.
 
  • The Ugly: Setting realistic expectations and understanding what can and cannot be done currently in New Town seems to be a never-ending task. Several homeowner concerns are tied to our governing documents which commit us to things that don’t seem logical and are expensive. But until we revise these documents as an Association-which is a multiyear process-there is little that can be done. For example,
    • Maintenance of common areas like trails and BMPs: What seems like the premature shift of maintenance expenses to the Association for areas that are still owned by the Developer is actually required in our Master Declaration (Para 4.1). Once a feature is on a James City County plat, the NTRA is responsible for its maintenance. Remember that our governing documents were written to benefit the Developer. 
    • Managing Agent Contract: The NTRA is obligated to have the same Managing Agent as the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA) under the terms of the Shared Amenities Agreement adopted in 2015. Our contractor, Town Management LLC, must remain as our agent until this Agreement is amended (which is not in our 2021 workplan for document revisions) unless the NTRA wishes to abrogate its Agreement with the NTCA. Can we use the existing 2015 contract to improve performance or do we need a revised contract to set new expectations for our Managing Agent? 
The other “ugly” news is that several Village Walk homeowners have experienced a series of roof leaks and water problems. The NTRA is responsible for the “repair, maintenance and replacement of roof shingles, sheathing, felt and flashing” in Village Walk, which is part of this neighborhood’s separate assessment fee. The number of these leaks is troubling. Forensic inspections are underway as we plan next steps. It behooves all Village Walk homeowners to inspect and clean their gutters, drains and collector boxes to be sure they are clear of debris. (See February Town Crier article “Best Practices for Roof Maintenance.”)
 
My message essentially is that your fellow homeowner Board of Directors is doing our best to balance community expectations and our fiduciary responsibilities. Stay informed, join in our Board meetings which are posted on the NTRA website calendar, and read minutes and other important NTRA communications. As the Irish also say, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass...it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 
 
Have a happy and healthy St. Patrick’s Day!
BOARD BUZZ February 2021 By Rick Fisher, Treasurer
Posted on Feb 1st, 2021
 
During the first six months following the transition from a Developer Board to a Homeowner Board, the new Board got to work and accomplished a great deal by the end of 2020:
  • Incorporation of Savannah Square into the Association
  • Updating/Re-writing Committee Charters
  • Identify and documenting key operating policies and procedures
  • Reviewing existing association contracts
  • Developing and adopting the 2021 Budget
During January, the Board’s focus has been on:
  • Working with Town Management (TM) to revise it’s contract with the Association. The TM contract must be aligned with the goals of the Association, and TM’s performance must be measureable.  The Board believes that homeowners deserve to receive outstanding customer service.  For example, concerns that are raised by members, and documented through the website ticketing process, should be addressed in a timely manner with follow-up until the issue is resolved. TM is an integral part of this process.
 
  • Continuing to develop and document policies and procedures:
  • Ticketing System on the Web (Finalized)
  • Collection oi Delinquent Assessments
  • Conduct of BOD Virtual Meetings (Finalized)
  • Filling a Board of Directors Position Vacancy (Finalized)
  • Investment of Replacement Reserves (Finalized)
  • Turnover of Assets From the Developer to the Association
  • Managing the Expenditure of Replacement Reserves
  • Working with the Association Attorney to begin to review the governing documents with the intent of bringing them up-to-date and consolidating information (multiple supplements) in a logical and simple to understand manner.  The assessment calculation issue will receive significant focus.  Any changes to the governing documents will require a two thirds vote by members.
 
Beginning with the January meeting, the normal Board monthly meetings will be held from 3-5PM, generally on the fourth Thursday of the month. This is a change from the 6-8PM time.  Although evening meetings will be held when necessary, the Association must pay TM an after-hours charge which we would like to avoid unless it is necessary. Members are still encouraged to participate via Zoom. All the planned monthly meetings as well as quarterly landscape reviews (new) are now available on the website calendar.
 
Chuck Stetler has announced his resignation from the Board for personal issues.  Over many years, Chuck has contributed to the Association in key leadership roles.  His wise counsel and considerable experience will be greatly missed.  We wish Chuck and Susan the very best.
Message to the Community - from President, NTRA Board of Directors
Posted on Jan 8th, 2021
 
A new year is always a time for personal reflection and renewed commitments. I have reached the difficult decision to resign from the NTRA Board of Directors in order to focus 2021 on family health issues. My commitment to the New Town community remains strong, but I am unable to dedicate the time and attention that Members deserve to this work in any official capacity. I have enjoyed serving you and am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved as New Town has grown.
 
Please support the Board with your energy and ideas, and most of all consider sharing your time and talents by volunteering in some manner with the NTRA. 
 
To all my friends and neighbors, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers - you will be in mine.
 
Chuck
 
Chuck Stetler
President, New Town Residential Association Board of Directors
 
BOARD BUZZ December 2020 by Chuck Stetler, President
Posted on Dec 1st, 2020
Happy Holidays! 
 
This has been a very unsettling year for our country and our little community. But we are all hoping for a healthy, prosperous New Year.
 
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our holiday party in December. Plus, the Covid virus impacted opening of the pool .. Despite the restrictions caused by the coronavirus, the Activities Committee carried out a successful and well attended Halloween party and parade at Sullivan Square.   
 
The Board of Directors is searching for a person to fill the non-voting position of Secretary.  This is such an important job, which was performed by Dave Holtgrieve who will be resigning in December.    
 
Recently we had informative Town Hall meetings to explain the proposed 2021 NTRA budget and the proposed exterior maintenance program for Village Walk. This assessment was increased because both painting and power washing the homes in Village Walk were not included in the 2019 Reserve study.
 
The transition to homeowner control of the NTRA has been challenging and demanding of the newly elected members of the Board of Directors. Thanks to these volunteers who have contributed their time to work and resolve many issues.
 
Thank you to all volunteers who participated on our committees this past year. Your help was appreciated in carrying out the necessary activities that benefit our HOA.
 
This coming year we will need new volunteers to participate on both the Landscape and Communications committees. Consider joining one of these important groups.
 
The 2020 Annual Members Meeting has been scheduled for December 10th. Please watch for more information and use the website calendar Zoom link to the virtual meeting.
 
Welcome to the New Year....2021!!!!
BOARD BUZZ November 2020 by Dick Durst, Director
Posted on Nov 1st, 2020
This is called “bath by fire…”  I am the newest member of the Board of Directors for the New Town Residential Association, having been appointed to the seat vacated by Larry Burian’s resignation.  Chuck Stetler, Chairman of the Board, asked me to write this November article based on my experience working with two committees, Activities and Asset Maintenance, since we moved to New Town two and a half years ago.  
 
Community service and participation is very important—not just to me, personally, but to the long-term success of our neighborhood.  We very much enjoy the location and atmosphere we’ve found here, after having had a home in the Williamsburg area for more than 20 years.  The volunteer committees ensure that the quality of life we all enjoy will be maintained; even though the two committee charges (our “charters”) are vastly different.  That has appealed to me, since the Activities Committee is all about the “social” aspects of New Town; providing a way to enjoy the company and camaraderie of our neighbors and friends.  Together we’ve planned pool parties, Kentucky Derby celebrations, Oktoberfest, billiards, Halloween parades, the great Noon-time Talks, and several other events, all designed to bring us together as a community.  It’s a lot of work and the committee needs help to maintain (and expand) those social interactions.  COVID 19 has forced us to rethink the kinds of events we’ve done and I assume that in the future (when life returns to some semblance of social interaction in addition to social distancing) we will discover the “right” blend of those opportunities. 
 
The Asset Maintenance committee charter couldn’t be more different—our charge is to annually coordinate the “inspection” of all of the “built” assets of the New Town Residential Association, including residences of our homeowners and the shared community assets (like the pool buildings, our white fences, and our green spaces), to ensure that all those remain of a quality that is representative of a first-class community and reflect positively on our neighborhoods. 
 
As you are well-aware, many of our homes, beyond those newly constructed in Village Walk, Roper Park, and Shirley Park, are beginning to “come of age.”  Karen and I live in Abbey Commons and our home was built in 2006.  Unfortunately, in developments like ours, builders don’t always use top of the line, first-class materials and equipment, which means for all of us our own personal assets are beginning to need attention.  We’ve just replaced one of our air conditioning units, both inside and outside.  We’ve replaced the flooring in the first floor, had shingles replaced and gutter systems redone.  The paint on many of our homes are beginning to show their age.  I’ve noticed as I walk around New Town that even some of the brickwork is beginning to need attention.  My point is that the volunteer work on the Asset Maintenance committee will become increasingly important as our homes and community assets continue to age. As our committee members reach the end of their terms, it is gratifying to see others step forward to help, but we always need more.
 
There are six additional committees, all staffed by volunteers, that cover most of the aspects of our community, in addition to the Board of Directors (also, all volunteers), so there are so many ways you can contribute.  Those of us who are retired (and seem to have more time to give) also need the balance of younger residents, so that we benefit from all perspectives.  Please think about how you might help?
 
I, along with all Board members, welcome your questions and comments.  See you around the neighborhood!
BOARD BUZZ October 2020 by Jean Brown, Vice President, Board of Directors
Posted on Oct 1st, 2020
Conversation: #HARDATWORK
 
You can find this phrase in my bio which is a supporting statement that this Board of Director (BOD) member has vision. Your BOD has been hard at work since day one. We began with the training for new board members, an exploration of what Town Management (TM) does for New Town Residential Association (NTRA); a review of  assets, insurance coverage, governing documents, and a check-in with committees to name a few undertakings. 
Let me highlight some of the above endeavors:
 
  • Susan Tarley of Tarley Robinson, PLC as the NTRA attorney provided instructions on the roles and responsibilities of board members.
  • TM provides management services to the NTRA. TM is hired by the NTRA Board specifically to assist the Board to fulfill its responsibilities as defined in the Association documents, including assisting the Board to educate, encourage, and enforce owner compliance with NTRA rules. Helps the Board to manage the assets, funds, and common properties and interests of the NTRA. Supports the efforts of the Board to nurture a lively, healthy, and vital community. NTRA going from a Developer’s board to a Residential board needs a management company that can provide continuity, history, an abundance of experience and professionalism in addition to the services mentioned above. TM brings that to the table for us.
  • Committee support in governance is a treasure to a thriving community. We foster good working relationships and saw the need to formulize Roles and Responsibilities of the Board of Director with Committees.
 
When it comes to transitioning everything is not wrapped in a tidy package with a pretty bow upon it. Such is the case when the Developer’s Board turned NTRA over to the residents.
 
It had come to all attention that Savannah Square neighborhood due to a clerical error resulted in the neighborhood being part of the New Town COMMERCIAL Association instead of the New Town RESIDENTIAL Association. This led to a Ballot: Approval of the first amendment to the NTRA Master Declaration and Covenants to be included during the voting of NTRA first residential board. The Association needed about 100 more votes to pass the Declaration Amendment for Savannah Square so that Savannah Square could be fully and promptly restored into the New Town Residential Association. The goal was not met.
 
Formula: NTRA has approximately 500 properties. A 2/3 vote (334 votes) is needed to pass the Amendment. Voting time, 247 votes had been cast in favor of the Amendment.  
 
The newly elected board had to put a plan into action to gain the remaining votes which was led by Angela Lesnett since electronic reminders did not gain the required number of votes.
  • Plan: provide each non-voting homeowner with a paper ballot and a stamped envelope to return to NTRA . New Town residents would get a doorknob bag that included the ballot.  Addresses outside of New Town (approximately 158 of the 500 New Town properties) would have the ballots mailed to them.
Savannah Square neighborhood is officially part of NTRA because the action taken by the BOD was successful; however, several homeowners did not sign the Savannah Square neighborhood Supplemental Declaration showing their desire to be part of the Association. To date, there are about a dozen who have not signed, so they are still part of the Commercial Association.
 
In summation, much work has been done and there is much work to do, but with the support of both our committees and residents, the BOD is very confident and engaged in making our community work!
BOARD BUZZ September 2020 by Angela Lesnett, Director
Posted on Sep 1st, 2020
 
This has been an unusual year, so I’m going to forego the standard September essay topic (What I did on my summer vacation) and, instead, focus on NTRA’s budget. In September, the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) will start to prepare its 2021 budget. This is important to each of us because the budget establishes the annual assessment (sometimes called HOA dues) that each owner will pay in 2021. The 2021 budget is especially significant because, as the first budget adopted by NTRA’s homeowner-elected Board, it will start to determine what kind of community we will become, as we move from being a new development to one that is aging.
 
To develop a budget, NTRA’s Finance Committee takes into account all financial aspects of the association, including both sides of the income/expense equation. On the expense side, the Finance Committee asks NTRA’s Committees to submit estimates of the funds needed to accomplish that Committee’s particular objectives in the following year. Working with Town Management, the Finance Committee considers these requests, along with the known and forecasted expenses that NTRA must incur to continue operations and maintain its assets in a manner that meets owners’ expectations for the development. In other words, the Finance Committee considers what it will cost to accomplish the things it must do plus the things it wants to do.
 
On the income side, by far the largest source of income is the annual assessment or HOA dues that each owner pays. The NTRA assesses a fee for each home based on the home type: detached homes, townhomes, and cottages. The other significant source of income is fees collected at closing on sales of both new homes and resales. As discussed at the November 2019 Budget Town Hall Meeting, the addition of new homes in NTRA will slow in the upcoming years as the development nears final build-out. This will result in a decline in income from closing fees and that income will have to be replaced with income from HOA dues.
 
If NTRA’s expenses (for both needs and wants) outweigh its income, the Finance Committee must re-evaluate and prioritize the association’s expenses and also consider what increase in the annual assessment is warranted to fund those expenditures required bring the development up to a level that the owners expect. In prior years this has resulted in an increase in HOA dues. In large part that increase was necessary just to pay for the needs of the association.
 
A new development’s assets require little maintenance at first, but more maintenance (and expense) is to be expected over time. Our pool is just one example: the NTRA pool was new in 2012 and required little maintenance. Now however, after a number of years of normal wear and tear, the NTRA must incur some expense to maintain that important asset to a standard consistent with the development.  
 
The final steps in NTRA’s budget process are the Finance Committee’s submission of the proposed budget to the Board of Directors for review, presentation of the proposed budget to homeowners at the Annual Budget Meeting (usually in late November), and the Board’s adoption of the budget which includes the annual assessment for the upcoming year. 
 
In my application for the Board election I stressed the importance of balancing current needs/expenses with expenses that are projected for the future.  I believe that balance is essential to building a strong community and maintaining property values. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on your Board and to maintain NTRA’s secure financial position.
 
As the September weather cools, I hope we can all find time to enjoy a stroll in the beautiful neighborhood that we call home and to think about what it takes to preserve it. I hope to see you (socially-distanced, of course) outside this fall.  
BOARD BUZZ August 2020 by Secretary Dave Holtgrieve
Posted on Aug 4th, 2020
 
I was appointed Secretary (Non-voting) at the Board of Directors (BOD) Organizational Meeting on June 19th. I have some experience for the secretary position as I served as secretary for the Transition Committee and a fill in for the Residential Advisory Board (RAB).
 
My responsibilities include preparing the agenda, board minutes, board meeting packet, and general administrative assistance to the board.  I will prepare the minutes for publication on the residential website seven days before the meeting for residents to review.  Meetings are scheduled for the Fourth Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. via Zoom.  The Zoom address can be obtained by viewing the website calendar and clicking on the board meeting 
 
The agenda will include a “Public Comment” period for residents to weigh in if they wish.  This will be held at the beginning of the meeting to allow individuals to speak, but not having to sit through the entire meeting if they are limited by time.
 
To provide early transparency of each meeting, the board decided to approve the minutes via email so to allow posting on the website before the next meeting.  My goal is to try to get the minutes published approximately two weeks after the meeting.  Of course, if the board goes into Executive Session (the meeting is not adjourned with this action), it may be a longer period.  
 
On a final note due to this appointment, I resigned as chair of the Asset Maintenance Committee (AMC) of which Fred Lesnett was elected to that position.  The board has also decided based on the recommendation of the AMC to postpone the AMC program of Third-party Residential Inspections to 2021.  I encourage each Owner to conduct a self-inspection this year to review the maintenance status of their property (mostly power washing and painting), and to lessen the probability of incurring maintenance problems in the future. This action will maintain our property values as a first quality neighborhood.
BOARD BUZZ July 2020 by President Chuck Stetler
Posted on Jul 1st, 2020
 
[Crier Staff Note: Welcome to the first edition of the renamed “Board Buzz” which will feature the perspective of the President or other members of the Board of Directors each month.]
 
The transition from Developer to Homeowner control of the New Town Residential Association was completed on June 18, 2020.
 
The following residents have been selected to the Residential Board of Directors.
 
Charles Stetler President Charlotte Park
Jean Brown Vice President Savannah Square
Rick Fisher Treasurer Abbey Commons
Angela Lesnett Director Village Walk
Larry Burian Director Village Walk
David Holtgrieve Secretary (Appointed) Charlotte Park
 
Board of Director meetings are scheduled for the 4th Thursday of each month at 6 pm.  Presently, the meetings will be via Zoom, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
The Governor of Virginia has set the Phase Three reopening for July 1, 2020. The Board has approved opening the pool with appropriate precautions. The NTRA Pool Committee and Town Management are diligently working on the details to get the pool open safely for all residents.  Watch for final details.
 
The Master Declaration Amendment for including Savannah Square into the NTRA received 233 favorable votes during the voting period in connection with the BOD election. We need 335 favorable votes-a 2/3 majority-to pass the amendment.  We are working on a plan to solicit more favorable votes from non-voting residents to date.  A package will be delivered to these residents containing a paper ballot, more information about the amendment, and a self addressed, stamped envelope for returning the ballot. Voting will continue until the 2/3 majority is reached.