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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!
 
As of December 1, 2021, Chesapeake Bay Management Company is the managing agent for the New Town Residential Association.  For emergencies or to schedule an appointment, call 757 706-3019. (Chesapeake's office is located at 337 McLaws Circle in the Busch Corporate Center.)
 
 
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NEWS BULLETIN
WELCOME CHESAPEAKE BAY MANAGEMENT INC!
 
Our new management company begins its service on December 1. Look for important communications via mail and email about how to set up your homeowners account. 
Upcoming Events
Elections for the NTRA Board
Thursday, December 9th to Wednesday, December 15th
Information on the candidates for the 2022-2023 Board of Directors is now available on the Board of Directors page. Electronic voting will begin December 9th.
Annual Members Meeting
Thursday, December 16th, 6:30PM at Legacy Hall
PLAN TO ATTEND! The 2022 Annual Meeting of the New Town Residential Association will be held at Legacy Hall. Meet our new management company representatives and learn the results of our Board election. 
 
Be considerate of your neighbors - masks are required. Thanks for keeping our community safe.
Board Buzz/From the Chair
BOARD BUZZ December 2021, Mary Cheston, President
Posted on Dec 1st, 2021
Today begins a new chapter in the history of the New Town Residential Association as we welcome our new management company, Chesapeake Bay Management (CBM). Our community manager, Anne Ingram, will begin work next week – operating out of Chesapeake’s 337 McLaws Circle office. Anne comes to us after 5 years as Community Manager for Colonial Heritage, another community that is still under development. As a Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM), she has broad understanding of a range of association issues and her experience with overseeing stormwater systems is bound to benefit us in New Town. Please warmly welcome her and all the supporting CBM team.
 
Three new faces will be joining the Board soon! Elections for the 2022-2023 Board of Directors will begin on Thursday, December 9th. Each candidate has submitted an application outlining their background and reason for running for the Board – these applications are posted on the website Board of Directors page. Please take some time to consider who you believe will best serve our community in this important function. Email links to vote electronically through EzVote will be distributed when the polls open. (To obtain a paper ballot, please contact Chesapeake Bay at 757 706-3019.)
 
An early Christmas present? In response to NTRA’s report of water intrusion problems in Village Walk, Eagle Construction has notified the Association that they will be conducting “an assessment of the current condition of all the roofs at Village Walk built by Eagle Construction during the month of December.” This will be a drone inspection. We do not have details or dates, but will share additional information with the Village Walk community as it becomes available. The Board is hopeful that this first step may alleviate the need for us to pursue forensic inspections of roofs in 2022.
 
The Board has approved the 2022 NTRA Budget. Thanks to those who participated in our virtual Zoom and those who submitted comments. The Neighborhood Assessment component is using the proportional use methodology. As a refresher, the Board presented a budget with two assessment options to bring us closer to the requirements in our current Governing Documents. Most owners who commented preferred the proportional use allocation for landscape services. A chart of the approved 2022 assessment figures has been added to the FAQ page of the website. (Replies to written comments will be posted later this week.)
 
Two articles in this month’s Town Crier mark a first – pieces written by Randy Casey-Rutland of Town Management and Larry Salzman, President of the New Town Commercial Association - providing some historical perspective on the NTRA and NTCA relationship.
 
Don’t forget our Annual Members Meeting on December 16th in Legacy Hall at 6:30PM.  All homeowners are invited to meet Chesapeake’s representatives and celebrate with our newly elected Board of Directors who will be announced at the meeting. Mask up and visit with neighbors.
 
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season – our Association has much to look forward to in 2022.
 
Remember that the Communications team also takes a short holiday at this time of year. The Town Crier’s next issue is February 1, 2022.
 
 
BOARD BUZZ November 2021, Mary Cheston, President
Posted on Nov 1st, 2021
 
And then there were two…
 
This month Mark Burgess and I are focused on finalizing the Association’s 2022 budget for presentation to the community with the able assistance of our Finance Committee. It is clear that there needs to be a much-needed change of mindset from what we’ve employed in the past on the part of all of us homeowners. 
 
We can no longer seek the best deal/lowest possible HOA dues or expect to artificially link the NTRA budget to inflation or CPI. Underfunding our Association does long term damage both to our physical plant and our reserves. This year with professional advice, we have critically evaluated what it costs to operate and maintain our community and save for the future. For many homeowners there will be a big assessment increase in 2022. Because we are following our documents, assessments will look somewhat different as well (except for the Village Walk neighborhood). To further understand why an increased assessment is needed, be sure to read Treasurer Everett Lunsford’s article this month on our “2022 Budget Challenges.”
 
Exciting news! We will soon welcome a new management company to serve our Association. Effective December 1, Chesapeake Bay Management Inc. will take over as the NTRA management company. Chesapeake Bay manages nearly 100 communities in Southeastern Virginia, has strong technological capabilities, and is committed to making positive change in our community. During the selection process, Chesapeake impressed the Board with its commitment to customer service, “can do” attitude, frankness, and overall expertise. Chesapeake also provides value for the money because their management fee is all inclusive, saving us the myriad fees and pass-through costs of our current contract. Best of all, the NTRA will have a full-time dedicated manager.
 
In the meantime, there is a massive amount of Association data and history to share. This records transition work will consume much of Town Management’s attention this month, so please be patient with your requests. We want as smooth a turnover as possible, especially given the imminent beginning of a new fiscal year. There will be a learning curve for everyone involved.
 
In mid-November homeowners will be officially notified by Chesapeake with information about how to set up your dues accounts. A different bank will be involved in handling NTRA’s accounts, so expect to change your automatic assessment payments for January 1, 2022. Keep an eye out for this important communication. 
 
November is America’s traditional month of sharing and Thanksgiving. In that spirit, I would like to thank my colleagues who beginning in June 2020 served on the homeowner Board of Directors. Despite the roller coaster ride to get here, your ideas and involvement helped us accomplish several important projects to improve New Town’s common areas and operations.
 
Thanks also to Town Management, which at the end of the month will conclude 15 years as the management company for the NTRA. From dirt piles to developed neighborhoods, Town Management has watched and lived the transformation of our community and all of its growing pains. 
 
The volunteers who staff our NTRA Committees also deserve a big thank you. The Board especially appreciates the recent work of our Management Company Search Committee - Bill Voliva, Mike Reilly and Everett Lunsford - who expeditiously screened applicants to fill the critical role of our management company. A big shout out to our expanded Communications team who stepped up to assist me - our new Crier editor, writers, and all those who contributed clear and compelling messages on the need to change our documents. That said, we are always in the market for additional help.
 
A final note of personal thanks to my support system – my unflappable husband Ric and dear Charlotte Park neighbors/friends who have shared a kind word or a laugh (often with a glass of wine) and constantly remind me that the Board is only volunteers, doing the best we can with the cards we were dealt by the Developer Board. New Town is a great community to live in, and these moments rally me.
 
It is so important for all of us to keep working towards having the Association on sound footing-both legally and financially. We look forward to seeing all of you via Zoom at the November 19th 2022 Budget presentation. We are at the start of the holiday season and embarking on a new chapter in our community’s history. Let’s make it an exciting, memorable beginning.
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.
 
________
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.