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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:
 
 
 
 
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 continuing actions that may stop the spread of respiratory illnesses:
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
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To navigate around the site, use the navigation links along the top.
 
If you are looking for the list of shops, restaurants, businesses, events, and services in New Town, click here. Welcome home!
 
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Upcoming Events
Hocus Pocus Festival and New Town Halloween Parades
Sunday, October 31st, 2 to 4PM at Sullivan Square
It's back - our Halloween parade. Bigger and better with 3 options to participate - pet parade, individual costume or group/family parade. Log into the website to register!
Presentation of 2022 NTRA Budget
Friday, November 19th at Via Zoom
The Board of Directors will present the 2022 budget to NTRA Owners. Look for information via email with a Zoom link for participation. 
Board Buzz/From the Chair
BOARD BUZZ October 2021, Mark Burgess, Director
Posted on Oct 1st, 2021
 
Hi! My name is Mark Burgess and I’m what one of our New Town residents called the “new guy” on the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Board of Directors, having only joined the Board this past July. I’m also a relatively recent resident of New Town. My wife and I purchased a Village Walk townhouse in November 2018. 
 
Being so new to New Town and the Board has meant, of course, that I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. So while other Board members have been reviewing and revising our Association’s governing documents with the able assistance of several homeowner association (HOA) professionals, I’ve been concentrating on simply reading and trying to better understand both our current and our proposed documents while at the same time paying close attention to what the others are saying about how these documents came to be in the first place and where they need to be in order to better serve our community in the years to come. Here is some of what I’ve learned. 
 
First, our current documents really are old and showing their age. They describe a community that essentially no longer exists. I recently saw a photograph of New Town, for instance, that showed Charlotte Park before it was built out; all you could see were empty lots being readied for development and, off in the distance, a few commercial buildings scattered along Discovery Park Boulevard. Obviously, a lot has happened since. New Town has grown up and with that growth has come the need for our governing documents to take into account the changes that have occurred. So there is no doubt in my mind that our association needs a new set of documents carefully crafted under the aegis of HOA professionals like those we have had the privilege to work with. 
 
But rewriting governing documents is one thing; forming a new community is something else. Documents, responsibly drafted, can describe a community, they can help define a community, they can even assist in laying the groundwork for how a community may function within the bounds of federal, state, and local statutes, but they cannot in and of themselves establish community. People make communities, and the best communities, in my experience, are those where neighbors care for and about one another, where they respect each another, and where they share a vision of what they would like their communities to be. 
 
Creating new communities therefore takes patience, a LOT of patience. I can’t emphasize that enough. Living so near to Jamestown and Williamsburg has given me an entirely new insight into just how MUCH patience might be required. Think of the long years of hardship those early colonists endured before their lives became settled! So, yes, it may be just a wee bit longer before New Town is complete and all the pieces of a new community are finally put in place. 
 
In the meantime, as a Board member, I shall continue my study of our governing documents and work with you as well as other members of the Board to make sure we make as smooth a transition as possible to a new management company and continue to progress as a homeowner-controlled association.
Message to the Community from Rick Fisher, NTRA Treasurer
Posted on Sep 17th, 2021
For personal reasons I have resigned from the Board of Directors and will not be continuing as Treasurer.
 
We moved into New Town in August of 2011.  I have enjoyed providing continuous service to the Community for a period of ten (10) years.  I recall an early meeting in 2011 with Bob Keith and John Wright.  At that time, the existing RAB felt it was time to have a Finance Committee and I was asked to be the first Chair.  We worked closely with Town Management to construct a new Budget Process. We also began the process of investing replacement reserve funds into CD’s based on a laddering approach. There were numerous other finance related accomplishments throughout the years. 
 
I have worked closely with the new Board members to ensure that the Association remains strong and is a “first class” place to live.  The challenges are great, but with strong Community involvement and support we will meet them.
BOARD BUZZ September 2021, Angela Lesnett, President
Posted on Aug 31st, 2021
September always holds that “back to school” feeling for me - - a time of change and new beginnings. And so it goes for our Association.
 
Last week we announced that Dick Durst, resigned from the Board of Directors for health reasons. Dick joined the Board in September of 2020, and was elected President of New Town Residential Association (NTRA) in January 2021. He served as President during an extremely challenging time for NTRA and we will miss his energy, engagement, and 6:00 a.m. emails. We offer Dick our heartfelt thanks for his expertise and hard work on behalf of NTRA and our sincere best wishes for the future.
 
Last week brought another change: it has been decided that NTRA and its current managing agent, Town Management, will part ways effective late this fall. The Board has undertaken a search for a new managing agent to partner with the Association as we take the next steps as a homeowner-controlled HOA. Engaging a new managing agent will be a new beginning for the NTRA.
 
In another new beginning, the Board has been working diligently to revise NTRA’s governing documents. A draft of the revised documents will be published today and a virtual Town Hall meeting is scheduled for September 22, during which the Association’s attorney, Sue Tarley, will provide an overview of the documents and will be available to answer Members’ questions. [Please submit your questions in advance if possible: amendments@ntrawilliamsburg.org.] Due to the need to devote resources to the search for a new managing agent, however, the Board is delaying the Member vote on the documents until the new Board is in place.
 
Yes, the “new Board.” The terms of some Directors will end in December and Members will have the opportunity to elect 3 new Directors. Think about running for one of these positions. Being an NTRA Board member is challenging, but serving on the Board is an opportunity to shape our Association in important ways.
 
How about a change and new beginning for you?  If you haven’t volunteered on a Committee, I encourage you to do it now. NTRA’s committees do a lot work for our community - - re-writing the pool rules (Pool Committee), inspecting the Association’s physical assets (Asset Maintenance Committee), publishing the Town Crier and maintaining NTRA’s website (Communications Committee), and planning social events (Activities Committee) - - just to name a few. The time and location of each committee meeting is listed on the website calendar and all committee meetings are open to Members so you can see how the group operates. In addition to supporting your community you will meet new people with whom you already share a common interest - - the success of New Town.
 
The Board, with the assistance of the Finance Committee, has also been working on developing NTRA’s 2022 budget. In last month’s Board Buzz, Rick Fisher, NTRA’s Treasurer, described a number of projects the Association has undertaken in 2021. Of course, each of those projects affected the Association’s finances. From managing our own household budgets we all know that prices are going up, so you will not be surprised that in 2022 we expect to see substantial increases in costs in every area. Some of these are due to increases in labor and material costs. Some increases may occur as contracts that have been in place for several years with no increase are now being renewed at 2022 prices.
 
As NTRA’s costs increase, its assessments must also increase to cover those expenses, including a reasonable contribution to NTRA’s Replacement Reserves. The Replacement Reserves are funds put into specially designated accounts that are used for expenses related to specified assets such as NTRA’s streets, pool, retention ponds, fences and other assets that have a long useful life. Allocating funds to the Replacement Reserves requires balancing short-term needs with long-term needs.
Having adequate reserves on hand to meet expenses is a sign of a well-run HOA and is a factor in keeping property values stable. As we did last year, the Board plans to hold two Town Halls in November to explain the 2022 budget and assessments.
 
The last couple of weeks brought a change for me, when I was elected President of NTRA. I’m happy to serve the good folks of New Town, and will do my best. NTRA is lucky to have the services of board members Mary Cheston (Vice-president), Rick Fisher (Treasurer), and Mark Burgess, and of Phil Casey (Secretary).
 
There are many changes for NTRA in the next few months. The Board will keep you informed of developments. I look forward to seeing you around New Town.
 
BOARD BUZZ August 2021 - Rick Fisher, Treasurer
Posted on Aug 1st, 2021
Update on Our 2021 Budget Challenge
We began the year knowing that it would be very challenging financially. In the 2021 Budget Town Hall Meeting in November, we discussed the following:
  • Managing Agent Financial Audit
  • Capital Contributions and Administrative Fees
  • Village Walk Irrigation
We have made excellent progress in each of these areas.  
 
The Managing Agent Financial Audit began on May 17th and will conclude at the end of August. At that point in time, the Board of Directors (BOD) will receive an Audit Report which will be posted on the website.  
 
Capital Contributions and Administrative Fees collected at closings for new sales and resales have been deposited in our Operating Savings Account.  This has allowed us maximum flexibility to address incremental expenses not identified in the Adopted Budget.  In the first six months of the year, a number of unbudgeted expenditures have been required (Note: some projects have been approved for completion but are not yet started):
  • Legal expenses associated with the rewrite/revision of our Governing Documents (originally anticipated to begin in late 2021/early 2022)
  • Need for two pool lifeguards to address Covid-19 Requirements
  • Consulting Services to assist the BOD in formulating the 2022 Budget 
  • Playground Site improvements to address drainage, landscape screening for slide
  • Tree removal in Roper Park
  • Employment of an Independent Engineering Firm to inspect assets planned to be transferred from the Developer to the Association
The Village Walk irrigation system is being mapped with the direct involvement of the builder Eagle Construction and significant progress has been made. We are currently spending less in this area than Budgeted. 
 
Major Association Assets identified in the 2019 Replacement Reserve Study, will require repair and replacement earlier than planned. Major items that have already been or must be addressed are:
  • Refurbishment of the pool pergola which was completed before the pool opening.  
  • A complete resurfacing of the pool  as well as caulking, filter recharging and skimmer replacements. The resurfacing is set to begin in the September/October time frame.  This is two years earlier than planned.
  As you can see, the BOD has been very busy addressing a large number of issues, all of which have a financial impact.  
 
BOARD BUZZ July 2021, Mary Cheston, Director
Posted on Jul 1st, 2021
BOARD BUZZ – July 2021 
Mary Cheston, Director
 
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”                   CS Lewis
 
This quote brings to mind two of the major challenges facing our Association: 1) revising our Governing Documents to reflect the operation of a homeowner-controlled HOA, and 2) a likely rezoning fight over adding additional property to the New Town Residential Association (NTRA).
 
Governing Documents Revision
In June the Board of Directors finished its initial review of new draft documents written by our Association attorney. Our comments will now be reviewed and the documents revised to incorporate the many changes the Board feels will improve these texts. By September we hope to have a satisfactory version of the drafts to share publicly with homeowners. Our current Governing Documents are the “wrong road” and the only way we can progress as a community is to start over on the “right road” with a stronger and more appropriate Master Declaration, Supplemental Declaration, Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.
 
Eastern State Hospital Surplus Property to Become Mixed Use Land
Meanwhile, a “tsunami” arrived on our doorstep on June 12th in the form of proposed revisions to the James City County Comprehensive Master Plan, Our County, Our Shared Future. These revisions include a redesignation of Eastern State Hospital surplus land for Mixed Use so that 324 acres of this federal land can be developed over the next 20 years. The State of Virginia is anxious to sell the property, and ABVA Development LP1 has a contingency contract to develop the two parcels of land immediately adjacent to Charlotte Park (C-1 and C-2). Their land use proposal (LU-20-0002) envisions building up to 235 homes (both detached and townhomes) on this land. 
 
The “wrong road” in this case is that these 81 acres have been labeled as “Mixed Use – New Town” based on ABVA’s land use application and its proximity to New Town. The application states that “The Property would be subjected to the New Town covenants and restrictions, owners would be members of the applicable New Town owner’s association and all development would be subject to the New Town Design Guidelines.” Based on this presumption, County staff titled these parcels “Mixed Use-New Town” and throughout the Plan incorporated language such as “any portion of the Eastern State Hospital property to be brought into the New Town development.” 
 
All of this has been done without any consultation with the Board of Directors or knowledge of NTRA owners.
 
To be clear, no land can be annexed or lots added to the New Town Residential Association without the consent of the Association. The parcels being sold are not included in the New Town Master Plan or covered in our Master Declaration. So, although there may be a desire by the developer to market this area as New Town and although the new Comprehensive Plan will certainly add to confusion and misleading assumptions in the future, the Eastern State Hospital property is not in New Town.
 
Not yet at least.
 
In my opinion, the most grievous part of the ABVA application is the intention to access the new development by extending Olive Drive. That’s despite the fact that VDOT and County specialists have advised that neither Olive nor Rollison Drive can sustain the heavy traffic and stormwater impacts of this development without reinforcement. Where will the land come from to widen these streets? 
 
Think about the increased traffic and the effect construction cut-through will have on the community character of Charlotte Park – including our pool complex, the Federal Townhomes and Roper Park. A second site access point is Discovery Park Boulevard and while wider, its increased traffic would create an issue affecting thoroughfares like Casey Boulevard and the vibrancy of Chelsea Green. With new office complexes and 235 additional homes, this growth will likely be felt New Town wide.
 
In just 10 days, my Charlotte Park neighbors garnered the written objections of 114 NTRA owners – 20% of the Association - to this land use application to bring to the June 24th Planning Commission hearing. ABVA representatives personally lobbied some owners, saying they want to do the right thing for New Town, that they may remove the Olive Drive cut-through and work on buffers. But they’ve also threatened/warned that if they do not prevail, a large developer will snatch up the land and be even worse. 
 
Nonetheless, as of today, ABVA has not amended their June 2020 JCC application or adjusted its drawings. The Planning Commission approved it and is recommending the Board of Supervisors also approve it as submitted.
 
This storm was set in motion years ago. A 2008 study about the future of Eastern State Hospital has driven this planned expansion. In 2013, the County platted and reserved all of Olive Drive as a right of way “with the intent of being extended and continued in order to provide ingress and egress to and from future subdivisions of the remaining parcel and to and from adjacent parcels…” Rollison Drive Lot CA-6A was never developed and is still owned by ABVA, although this plat, incorporated into our Supplemental Declarations, says that “All Common Areas (C.A.) shall be dedicated to” the Association.
 
Can the NTRA prevail in the future? The stakes are high and affect all of us.
 
So, what could the “right road” look like at this point? 
  • ABVA could revise or voluntarily withdraw its application to allow more time for the consultations and input it says it wants. 
  • The Board of Supervisors could reject or delay action on LU-20-0002 to provide for its revision. The Board could also revise descriptive text in the plan to clearly separate New Town and protect the Charlotte Park neighborhood. (Since the Planning Commission recommended approval of the draft Comprehensive Plan, the plan's final adoption moves to the James City County Board of Supervisors. That public hearing is scheduled for July 13th.)
To those who say "it’s only a plan”, “the real changes have to go through rezoning” where there can be negotiations over density, access, etc., I would reply that our community has endured 15 years of construction. We are already behind in this process of defending our small-town community and lifestyle and have lost some ability to influence the outcome. The Comprehensive Plan is considered “rigid guidelines for development.” Since ABVA has a purchase contract with the State, formal rezoning of the property may begin within a year – Not 20. Our Association will be negotiating and likely fighting and spending legal fees for months to come. 
 
Yes, Mixed Use at Eastern State was probably inevitable. But New Town is already a model, complete mixed-use community in James City County. How can we make this new land use change the progress we want?  
 
You have two opportunities to learn more - both at Legacy Hall:
  • July 6, 7PM - an NTRA Owners Town Hall with a presentation by ABVA.
  • July 7, 7PM James City County Supervisor Jim Icenhour will hold a listening session with New Town residents so that you may learn more about the County's land use redesignation process and share your concerns. 
Look for emails with more details on these meetings.
 
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1 ABVA's builder Atlantic Homes has been New Town’s primary developer.
BOARD BUZZ June 2021, Angela Lesnett, Vice President
Posted on Jun 1st, 2021
Dear Neighbors,
It’s finally summer, but before we all head to the beach let me recap actions the Board has taken on the important matter that has occupied most of our time and that will require your attention in the coming months: revision of NTRA’s Governing Documents.
 
Earlier this year the Board decided that it is necessary to revise and update the Association’s Governing Documents. At its March meeting, the Board emphasized its goals: understandable documents that provide a transparent assessment methodology and reflect New Town as a community with common areas and amenities shared by all homeowners. Those goals were highlighted in NTRA President Dick Durst’s April 1 “Board Buzz” article. Finally, on May 17 all NTRA owners received a letter from the Board explaining the background of this matter as well as some future actions. (That letter can be viewed on the NTRA website).
 
We are seeking equitable treatment of owners in our revised documents. We must strive for fairness in assessments, while recognizing that our New Town homes are not cookie-cutter units in a high-rise condo. One of several issues that must be resolved is the provision of landscape services in fenced yards. For more information, see the article in the May Town Crier.
 
Your part in this process will come this Fall. As you know, Member approval is necessary in order to change the Governing Documents. The Board will hold a town hall meeting at which you can ask questions about the revised documents and, later, vote on them. In the meantime, educate yourselves by reading eblasts, Town Crier articles, and website notices to stay informed about the issues. For example, we are already updating the FAQ page on the website with answers to your questions. 
 
On a different topic, I’d like to remind owners of an existing covenant that is sometimes overlooked - - the requirement to obtain approval from the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) before commencing a project that alters the exterior appearance of your property. 
 
Before starting construction or installation of a patio, deck, fence, generator, or other structure, and before starting any alteration of the exterior (including changing a paint color) of any dwelling, the owner must submit an application to NTRA’s ARC and secure approval. The application form is available on the website. Other improvements that require ARC approval include awnings, changes to exterior lighting, storm doors, window boxes that are to be attached to the house or garage, large yard ornaments, play equipment, satellite dishes, and solar panels. See the ARC Procedural Guidelines for more information. Failure to submit an application and obtain approval before altering property is an NTRA violation and may result in a penalty. 
 
Finally, the Activities Committee is planning several fun and family-friendly events this summer. An ice-cream social will be held in mid-June and a pool party will be scheduled for July.  Also, the next New Town Talk (on Zoom) is scheduled for June 12. The title is “Williamsburg Regional Library – We’re Not Just Books” and the speaker will discuss the library’s digital collections that can be accessed with a library card.  Watch for more details on each of these events on eblasts, and Town Crier and Facebook notices.  The events will be posted on NTRA’s website calendar.
 
Membership in the NTRA carries with it both obligations, and benefits. Obligations include knowing and following the rules. Benefits include enjoyment of the Association’s amenities, such as social activities, our beautiful walking trails and, of course, the pool.  I hope to see you out and about this summer!
 
 
BOARD BUZZ May 2021, Mike Reilly, Director
Posted on May 1st, 2021
Smorgasbord: 1. a buffet offering a variety of hot and cold meats, salads, hors d'oeuvres, etc.
2. a wide range of something; a variety.
 
This is the official definition but for this Board Buzz article, you can throw out the culinary definition. This article will focus on a smorgasbord of updates from your Board of Directors. 
 
Inspection: careful examination or scrutiny.
 
And that’s what is taking place in our annual AMC Exterior Inspection, for 2021, of the Savannah Square and Abbey Commons neighborhoods. The 2021 inspection process commenced on March 1st with the first inspection of townhomes and notification of violations were sent out so that homeowners could begin planning for their action on the necessary corrections. On April 5th, the second inspection was conducted and after these two inspections and notifications, 75% to 80% of homeowners have responded by taking care of the issue or providing their plan of correction. The final inspection will be conducted on May 3rd and those items that have not been acted upon, either by correcting the issue or by providing a corrective action plan, will be cited for non-compliance and face potential penalties. 
 
This is a busy time for contractors so actual completion of work may not take place until much later, into the summer months. Some homeowners facing the need for shutter painting are trying to coordinate, with adjoining townhome owners, the timing of painting of all shutters. This will maintain a uniform appearance and a much better “curb appeal”. So, remember that the important thing to do is respond and not remain silent.
 
Aqua Zumba: the performance of aerobic exercise in water such as in a swimming pool. Done mostly vertically and without swimming typically in waist deep or deeper water, it is a type of resistance training.
 
The Board has approved a contract to open the pool for the 2021 season on Memorial Day weekend; we will be following Virginia’s Covid requirements.
 
Back by popular demand, the 2021 summer season will, once again, include Ironbound Gym’s ever-popular Aqua Zumba classes at our community pool. The classes will be conducted on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s beginning Tuesday, June 15th and continuing through September 2nd. A couple of major details about timing are yet to be determined. If there are no Covid space limitations, then there will be one class starting at 9:30 AM. If Covid space limitations are in effect, then there will be two separate classes: 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM. Stay tuned!
 
Volunteer: a person who works for an organization without being paid.
 
April was “National Volunteer Month”, and we wouldn’t want this to pass without expressing our heartfelt thanks for all that our New Town Residential Association Volunteers do to help make our community the special place that it is. Did you know that this community is primarily governed and run by the volunteer homeowners who call this wonderful place home? New Town needs support in so many ways and luckily, we are able to find the talent from the members who live here. Let’s take a look at the scope of work that our volunteers generously provide to their neighbors.
 
  • Activities Committee: These neighbors work diligently to bring the community together in fun and meaningful ways by providing events and activities that allow us to gather and celebrate our diverse backgrounds and interests. Due to Covid, many events have been brought to a screeching halt. Finally, the committee will be able to plan events that bring us together as our society begins to open up under our States relaxed guidelines.
 
  • Architectural Review Committee (ARC): These volunteers review all architectural requests for improvements by homeowners to ensure that modifications are in keeping with the special look of our neighborhoods and that they are in compliance with our NTRA documents.
 
  • Asset Maintenance Committee (AMC): This committee oversees the annual home inspection process so that maintenance needs are highlighted as a reminder to homeowners of work needed to bring their home back into compliance. Like individual homeowners, the HOA must ensure that common areas that are in need of repair are held to the same standard. These volunteers conduct an annual community inspection of all Neighborhood Common Areas so that repair needs are noted, and repairs can be scheduled. 
 
  • Communications Committee: When I was in business, the number one issue that was always highlighted as a problem was “communication” – the need for more and better. Communications encompasses so much and is almost impossible to fully get your arms around. The dedicated neighbors who serve on this committee do a tremendous job in managing the communication necessary to keep all informed.
 
  • Emergency Preparedness Committee: Often we are caught off guard when an emergency occurs. There are plenty of things that homeowners can do to mitigate loss and harm by being prepared in emergency situations. Luckily, we have neighbors who help us to keep the idea of “being prepared” in the forefront of our minds when emergencies are on the horizon or surprise us. Thankfully, this committee outlines the precautions and steps that we can take to protect ourselves in times of emergencies.
 
  • Finance Committee: This committee does much of the number crunching and analysis work required to ensure that our assessments (income) meet the operational and long-term needs (expenses) of our community. Some might view this service as “too much like work” but I assure you that it provides volunteers a unique insight into the nuts and bolts of the NTRA organization
 
  • Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC): Our biggest single expense is landscaping. Additionally, landscaping touches each of us in a very personal way. Our real estate investments are enhanced by what I like to call “curb appeal”. Landscaping, along with the work of the ARC and AMC help to keep New Town crisp and our investments more secure.
 
  • Pool Committee: Memorial Day is around the corner and the members of this committee have spent time preparing for a smooth opening. They look to enhance the pool experience for all, and they do much to ensure the safety, especially, with meeting or exceeding Covid protocols. 
 
  • Ad Hoc Volunteers: There are times when work needs to get done and our homeowners step up and volunteer to take on the task. 
 
  • Board of Directors: This group of Members serve to provide direction to the Management Company, Legal Counsel and our Committees so that all of the needs of the community are being met. Members are voted into this body and when positions open before their tenure ends, they are filled by a vote of the incumbent Board of Directors. 
 
There is always a need for members on these committees. Being on a committee allows you an opportunity to use your skills to serve your neighbors. The New Town Residential Association is dependent on our volunteers, past, present and future!!! 
 
Our community relies on your dedication and diligence and we say, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all that you do in the service of others. You are the UNSUNG HEROES!!
 
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.