Town Crier Articles

Posted on May 1, 2024 7:00 AM by NTRA Pool Committee
Submitted by Barbara Stratton
 
The New Town Community Pool is set to open Saturday, May 25th for the 2024 season. Your Pool Committee is excited to bring you a number of terrific improvements this year, including a computer sign-in at the gate! Additionally, the NTRA Board has generously approved 5 new umbrellas and stands which will help to accommodate pool patrons, while a new, second lifeguard chair will better accommodate the needs of our very appreciated lifeguards! Keeping the pool area leaf and debris-free is a full time job of the lifeguards, and to help with that, the Board also approved the purchase of a leaf-blower for their use. 
   
This season 2024 pool pass registration is available in-person and easily accessible every Tuesday morning through May and into pool season, from 10:00 – 12:00, and two Wednesday evenings (5/15 and 5/22)  from 4:00 – 7:00PM at the NTRA Meeting Room - 5118 Center Street. Most importantly, you’ll get the 2024 DECAL STICKER that indicates your pass is current for the 2024 Season. (Households with pool passes issued in 2022 and/or 2023 must bring their passes to registration.) 2024 Pool Season information has been sent via eblast to NTRA and NTCA homeowners and is posted on this website’s Pool & Clubs Page
     
The safety of pool users, and especially the safety of the children is paramount in the enforcement of Pool Rules and the regulation of pool hours and usage. The lifeguards have a big job, but also truly appreciate getting to know the New Town personalities and create some special relationships over the summer. Stay tuned for several events planned by the Activities Committee at the pool – a real opportunity to meet neighbors and make new friends! 
       
A lot of effort, dedication and time goes into the three months of safe and fun pool days for the residents of New Town. Many thanks go to the friends and neighbors who serve on the committees and the Board to make this all possible! We look forward to seeing you at the pool throughout the season!
Posted on May 1, 2024 6:57 AM by Angela Lesnett
Categories: NTRA Business
 
On April 19th, the NTRA Board of Directors held a meeting to update Association Members on exterior maintenance issues in the Village Walk neighborhood. (For detailed information owners may view the Fortress Building report and the Board’s presentation on the NTRA website.)
 
Takeaways from the Briefing
The Board signaled a shift from an information-gathering stage (documenting design and construction defects present in many units in the Village Walk neighborhood of New Town), to the more difficult challenge of deciding:
  • when and how repairs will be made and, importantly,
  • how funding for those repairs will be apportioned among owners of Village Walk units.
The Board emphasized that no decisions have been made yet, and requested feedback from owners.
 
Estimated costs to carry out the repairs are:
  • Near-term building repairs - $900,000 to $1,000,000 (siding, painting, and Fortress report identified repairs),
  • Rebuilding of all 43 rooftop decks to prevent leaking - $2,150,000, and
  • Other future repairs identified by the NTRA Board - $500,000 to $1,000,000,
The Board stated that a near-term funding requirement of $1,400,000 could be met with a special assessment of $14,000 per owner of a Village Walk unit, spread over one to two years. The Board has not made this decision yet, and is considering options. 
 
Approximately 40 individuals attended the meeting. Jeff Martin of Fortress Building Envelope Consulting, Inc., presented their findings and recommendations, and answered questions.  Jack Espinal, NTRA Board President, then briefed attendees on the status of various Village Walk exterior maintenance issues including siding repair and replacement, leaking in 8 of the 43 rooftop decks, and questions related to the next steps to be taken.
 
Background
There are 21 buildings in Village Walk, comprising 99 townhouses of which 43 units are four-story townhomes that have a rooftop deck, which was offered as an option by Eagle Homes, the builder. Eight (8) of the townhouses with rooftop decks have known leaks, and the Board anticipates leaking among the other rooftop deck units in the future.
 
Village Walk townhomes were purchased subject to an Exterior Maintenance agreement requiring the Association to maintain the exteriors of each unit (in short, the roof and exterior building surfaces, with some exceptions).  Village Walk owners pay an amount over and above their NTRA HOA general assessment to fund these maintenance requirements.
 
Fortress Building Report
The Board hired Fortress Building to perform an inspection and condition assessment of exterior walls and certain roof sections (not including most shingle areas).
 
The big-ticket items for repair are the so-called low-slope roofing issues (leaks from the rooftop terraces). There are 8 units with this feature that are known to be leaking. For the leaking rooftop decks Fortress recommends, in general, first removing the existing decking materials, some siding, and the existing door, and then rebuilding the deck and scuppers and replacing the door, incorporating flashing and caulking, in a manner to prevent all future leaks. Fortress did not provide an estimate for this work, but the Board has estimated this at $45,000 to $50,000 per unit. Fortress also suggested that, in the short-term, a gutter could be installed above the sliding door to the terrace to minimize the amount of water falling directly on the terrace floor.
 
Fortress also provided a listing of current issues and recommendations for repairs. The defects identified included cracks and buckling in some siding, numerous defects in flashing installation and sealing/caulking, and installation issues for some metal panel roofs. These defects often resulted (or likely will result) in water intrusion. Various repairs were identified and recommended; no cost estimate was provided, but some are lower cost repairs.
 
Board of Directors’ Briefing
Jack Espinal reiterated that the Village Walk reserve accounts have been underfunded for some time, despite significant recent increases in Village Walk fees. Jack explained Eagle’s contribution to shingle roof repairs and that negotiations with Eagle over the rooftop deck repairs are on-going. Siding repairs on one building have been completed and no construction defects were identified. The Allura siding that was installed on most buildings has been identified as defective, but the class-action suit on this matter is closed, so there is little chance of any recovery from the manufacturer. Siding repair and painting is expected to cost approximately $100,000 per building or $20,000 per townhome; some of this work can be deferred.
 
The Board estimates near term building repairs (siding, painting, other Fortress Report repairs) at approximately $900,000 to $1,000,000, excluding rooftop deck repairs.
 
The Board has considered several options for funding repair of the rooftop terraces: spread the cost over all 99 homes in Village Walk (including homes without a rooftop deck), spread the costs over the types of homes receiving the repair services, or charge each homeowner when the service is provided. The Board recognized the relative unfairness of these approaches and solicited ideas for additional workable alternatives.
 
Q&A
Jack responded to a number of questions posed by owners including queries about establishing accountability for the current situation. The Allura siding question appears to be settled: since the class action was available only for owners (NTRA did not have standing to be part of the class action) and the time for entering the class has passed (NTRA earlier provided VW owners
information about this potential remedy). Negotiations with Eagle about the rooftop decks are ongoing.
 
The meeting ended with an acknowledgement that there are no easy answers, but the Board wants to develop workable and fair solutions.
 
Posted on May 1, 2024 6:55 AM by NTRA Emergency Preparedness Committee
 
Flooding may result from a variety of causes to include overflowing waterways, dam failures, heavy rains, or clogged storm drains. Further, per the National Center for Environmental Information “Ninety percent of all natural disasters involve flooding.”
 
For many reasons and also because a single inch of flood water can cause $27,000 in damage to a home, it’s important to take steps in advance of a flood to mitigate any possible damage.  
 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, has some suggestions in this regard:
  • Know your area’s type of flood risk.  Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center at https://msc.fema.gov/portal for information.    
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system.  The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and provide emergency alerts.  Register for Williamsburg JCC Alerts at https://www.jccalert.org/.
  • Learn and practice evacuation routes and shelter plans, and flash flood response.  
  • Gather supplies in case you have to leave immediately or if services are cut off.  Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medications.  Don’t forget the needs of pets.  Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.  
  • Obtain flood insurance.  Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding.  If you need help finding a provider, go to https://FloodSmart.gov/flood-insurance-provider or call the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) at 877-336-2627 or your home insurance agent or a private insurance provider.  
  • Keep important documents in a waterproof container.  Create password-protected digital copies. 
  • Protect your property.  Move valued items to higher levels.  Declutter drains and gutters.  Install check valves.  Consider a sump pump with a battery.    
Posted on May 1, 2024 6:50 AM by NTRA Landscape Advisory Committee
 
Weed & Pest Control during the Late Spring, Summer and Fall
 
The landscaping contract that the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) has with James River Grounds Management (JRGM) is for specific commercial services provided in our common areas and the areas around our residences.  It does not include custom services for each resident.  The March and April Town Criers outlined the services that residents should expect to receive during the spring cleanup, mulching, and turf management activities.  Here are the additional services that are provided to lots under our contract.
 
Application of herbicides and pesticides.   JRGM is required to notify Chesapeake Bay Management (CBM) about the application of all herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers used throughout or community at least one week in advance of those applications. CBM advises the community regarding all pending applications.  Information about the specific materials that are being applied by JRGM is available by request from CBM. The MSDS data sheets for every chemical that is being used are available. In addition, notices will be posted in each area one week in advance of every pesticide and herbicide application.
 
There will be applications of pre-emergent crabgrass and weed control materials applied to all turf areas and in all mulch beds two times a year based upon the site and seasonal conditions. Two applications per year of fertilizer with the proper nutrient blend for the fescue’s turf or warm season (Zoyzsia) grass will be applied to all turf areas throughout our community. Of course, weather conditions sometimes govern and can change the actual application date.
 
Three applications per year of a broad leaf weed control chemical to control chickweed, broad leaf plantain, and other broadleaf weeds are provided.  They will be applied in the spring, summer and late summer as appropriate based upon the site and seasonal conditions.
 
Weeding.  Every two weeks, all landscape beds, shrubbery beds, tree beds, cracks in walkways, driveways, parking areas, and curbs will be weeded. This can be done either mechanically or chemically to prevent the growth of grass and weeds.  Weeds and grass killed chemically will be subsequently removed to retain a neat and manicured appearance throughout our community.
 
Our contract does not provide for customizing any these landscaping services.  Homeowners cannot pick and choose the specific landscaping services that they wish to receive.  However, there is some flexibility.  Homeowners may elect to opt out of JRGM landscaping services every year.  Once homeowners opt out of services, those services will not be provided for the rest of the calendar year.  Residents may begin receiving services again the following spring if they so desire.  CBM maintains a list of homes that have opted out of receiving landscaping services and updates them each year.  Homeowner annual assessments will remain the same whether or not homeowners opt out of landscaping services.
Posted on May 1, 2024 6:45 AM by Ruth Burgess, Board of Directors
Categories: NTRA Business
 
A new NTRA Meeting Policy recently approved by the NTRA Board of Directors has been posted on the website. This policy and meeting room rules replaces prior meeting space requirements as well as the website automatic registration system. 

Here are some key points of the policy:
  • The meeting room is available for use only by the NTRA Board of Directors, NTRA Committees, and NTRA Clubs, or for Board-approved charitable activities.
  • Groups using the room must be comprised of NTRA members.
  • The room is not available for private parties.
  • The NTRA Board of Directors has the right to preempt other groups scheduled for the room as necessary
  • Groups using the room must adhere to behavioral and other guidelines in the General Rules statement, use room equipment properly, clean up after themselves, and make sure door is properly locked upon exit. A Responsible Person named on the Approval Form will be charged with responsibility for ensuring the room is used appropriately, as well as opening and closing/locking the room.
All meetings approved for the meeting room will be posted on the website calendar to avoid confusion, and problems double-scheduling of meeting room space.

A final note: our President, Jack Espinal did much of the work in drafting the new policy so that it easily met the approval of John and Sue Tarley, NTRA’s legal counsel. We have both Jack and the Tarleys to thank for this effort to ensure that we have clear and complete guidelines for our Meeting Room.
Posted on May 1, 2024 6:45 AM by Town Crier Staff
 
Wednesday evening concerts in Sullivan Square start tonight at 5:30PM through June 12th. Bring your lawn chair and enthusiasm. Food trucks and beer/wine will be available for purchase. The group Revelation is playing on May 1st.
 
The full roster of future groups is listed below - included some double headers!  Look for reminders on our NTRA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NewTownResidentialAssociation
 
 
 
 
Here is a list of the upcoming 2024 events planned by the New Town Residential Association Activities Committee exclusively for New Town residents. 
 
Posted on April 1, 2024 7:00 AM by NTRA Board of Directors
Categories: NTRA Business
New Town Residential Association Special Meeting
 
Friday, April 19, 2024 from 7 PM to 9 PM
Legacy Hall, 4301 New Town Avenue
 
Purpose:  To discuss Village Walk exterior maintenance and the Association’s options for moving forward.  
 
Background: Each of the Village Walk buildings has been inspected and evaluated by certified inspectors from the Fortress Building Envelope Consulting firm. The NTRA Board of Directors has received their report which includes their findings and recommendations to the community. Representatives from Fortress are coming to our April 19th meeting to present their findings and recommendations to the community and to answer Members' questions.
 
Information gathered from the community will be used by your Board of Directors in developing a comprehensive  plan to address the exterior maintenance problems that Fortress has identified.  (Owners can access the reports from Fortress on the NTRA website - Association section, Committees & Policies page under "Village Walk Information.")
 
Please put Friday, 19 April 2024 on your calendar and plan to attend this critically important meeting that will affect everyone’s future in Village Walk.
Posted on April 1, 2024 7:00 AM by Jack Espinal, Board President
Categories: NTRA Business
 
NTRA committees are seeking new members. These committees advise the NTRA Board of Directors and provide information that helps the Board make decisions that impact everyone in each of our neighborhoods. They also take on projects to maintain and improve the New Town experience.
 
No experience is required for committee membership. All you really need is an interest in our community and fresh ideas that can help New Town be a better place in which to live. Tenants are welcome on several Committees as non-voting members.
 
Generally, Committees meet for about an hour once a month, either face-to-face at our Association meeting room or by Zoom.  Committee members may even join by Zoom if they are out of the area. Meetings generally last about an hour and ideas and recommendations for the Board of Directors are discussed and developed. In addition, plans for upcoming New Town initiatives are made.
 
The following is a list of the seven NTRA committees with membership needs:
  • The Activities Committee has room for one more voting member, but welcomes all interested New Town residents to join them. Activities needs members to help plan and conduct social activities throughout our community.  They plan many of the events that you see advertised in New Town. If you like planning and conducting social events, this is the committee for you.
  • The Asset Management Committee (AMC) needs three new members. This committee along with NTRA's Community Manager evaluates the exterior appearance of each home in New Town and provides exterior maintenance guidance and suggestions to the homeowner. They ensure that the standards in our governing documents are met and homes maintained in order to keep our community attractive and a desirable place in which to live.
  • The Communications Committee has only one member and desperately needs a quorum. The Communications Committee publishes the monthly Town Crier, and maintains the NTRA Facebook page and website. If you enjoy writing or have social media talent, the committee needs your skills. Committee members write and edit articles for publication from New Town residents.
  • The Emergency Preparedness Committee is short two voting members. This committee maintains New Town’s emergency preparedness plans and helps the community prepare for possible future emergencies including hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. The committee works closely with James City County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
  • The Finance Committee is short three voting members. The Finance Committee helps the NTRA Board determine the financial requirements for our association. They find and make recommendations to the Board of Directors for the best places to invest the NTRA reserve accounts. Their goal is to find the highest possible rate of return on investments that will have a minimal risk on the funds value. They also make recommendations for and help prepare the yearly NTRA budget. If you have a financial background and are interested in the Association’s funding and investments, this committee is a perfect place for you to use your expertise and have a positive impact on our community.
  • The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) is short members as well. The LAC is one of our more active committees and is concerned with the landscaping throughout New Town. They plan and execute yearly gardening projects to improve our community. After Board approval they coordinate and participate in the installation. Recently the committee received a James City County grant to improve the Lydias Park play area and remove trash from throughout New Town. They have also planted irises, daffodils, and mums in Roper Park along Casey Boulevard. If you like plants and gardening this is a committee for you. 
  • The Pool Committee is short four voting members. One of the NTRA’s best assets is the community’s swimming pool.  It is actively used during the summer by the majority of our residents. The committee advises the Board on the use of the pool and helps prepare it for the swimming season. If you enjoy swimming in the pool or just lounging on the pool’s deck, please consider joining this committee and help manage our swimming pool.
     
Thankfully, the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) is fully staffed. This committee reviews applications submitted by homeowners who wish to make changes to the exteriors of their home. They ensure that the changes are in line with the New Town Design Review Board documents and keep a consistent and attractive look throughout our community.
 
WE NEED YOU!! If you have an interest in participating in one or more of these committees, please email the NTRA Board Secretary at ntra.secretary@gmail.com and indicate your interest. You will be contacted by the Committee Chairperson and be provided more information about the committee, its current projects, and meeting times and places.
 
Please help our community by joining a committee. Your ideas and efforts will help maintain New Town as a fun, pleasant, and an exciting place in which to live.
Posted on April 1, 2024 6:58 AM by Scott Ellis and Mary Cheston
 
Two major new developments are poised on New Town’s doorstep and are progressing through the James City County rezoning review process: Westwood Park and Cardinal Ridge. In order for either development to be approved, the James City County 2045 Comprehensive Plan will also need to be revised to change the area designation from public land (PL) to multiuse (MU). This Master Plan revision process is expected to occur concurrent with the rezoning actions. 
 
Neither site is scheduled yet for public hearing before the Planning Commission, since comments from County staff are still being addressed. Stay informed about these important zoning actions and do your homework with the plan links provided below in preparation for any future opportunities for public input.
 
Westwood Park Rezoning (Plan Number: Z-23-0004 / MP-23-0001
 
This is the ABVA development on 79.6 acres of surplus Eastern State Hospital land (Parcel C) that has been discussed since 2020. It will directly adjoin Charlotte Park and be accessed by an extension of Discovery Park Boulevard. Currently proposed at up to 86 single family homes, maximum of 125 multifamily/senior living units, and 40,000SF office/commercial buildings. A community pool, recreation area(s) and natural paths are included in the proffers for this area. As reported last year, the community would have its own homeowners association and not be associated with New Town.
 
Traffic studies are being reviewed and the JCC Stormwater and Resource Protection Office has required resubmittal to correct several items missing from the original proposal. As of mid-March, per the Planning Department, the revised application “is nearer to being considered complete.”
 
Cardinal Ridge (Eastern State) Rezoning (Plan Number: Z-23-0008)
 
This development of approximately 368.4 acres by D.R. Horton Inc., one of the largest U.S. homebuilders, was initially submitted to the County on November 15, 2023. Cardinal Ridge would be on Eastern State land to the rear of current Eastern State hospital buildings. Access would be via Longhill Rd., Galt Drive and Foster Rd. 
 
The proposed plan would allow up to 946 residential dwellings, broken out as: 
  • Apartments = 396
  • Cottages = 78
  • Townhomes = 139
  • Single family = 333
In addition to the residential area, the rezoned land would include:
  • Colonial Behavioral Health site (10.9 acres)
  • Hope Family Village (35.4 acres)C
  • Commercial space – (19.6 acres), and
  • Public use site, possibly a middle school (25.5 acres).
D.R. Horton has proposed development in six phases starting with an area of apartments and cottages along Route 199. The commercial area is hoped to be “a grocer-anchored center” along Longhill Road. The submitted project description concludes:
 
“The applicant is proposing a large master-planned development that is consistent with the surrounding land use designations of the area and roadway corridors. The project will also provide additional Public Land for future County use, active and passive recreational amenities, substantial upgrades to the public utilities to serve the project, turn lane improvements to serve the development, a looped public street with a 60’ right-of-way, and multiple large BMP impoundments to provide stormwater management for the development and reduce downstream to control stormwater runoff before releasing it back into the downstream waterway.”
 
JCC Planning Department has completed its initial review of the documentation and is requiring resubmittals in several areas. Two traffic studies have been completed and changes to major thoroughfares are anticipated. 
 
 
Posted on April 1, 2024 6:55 AM by NTRA Landscape Advisory Committee
Categories: NTRA Business
 
As indicated last month, the New Town Residential Association's (NTRA) commercial landscaping contractor, James River Grounds Management (JRGM), provides our Association with landscaping services throughout the year.  This is a standard service for each lot and is not customized landscaping for our residents. The NTRA contract with JRGM provides for the following turf care services: mowing and edging.
 
You can expect the grass throughout New Town to be mowed approximately once per week beginning in late March and continuing through mid-November, weather permitting. Periods of inclement weather can delay and/or postpone mowing if the service would be detrimental to the turf or be unsafe to perform. While riding mowers will be used in many locations throughout New Town, only smaller push mowers will be used for small turf areas and on slopes. This is safer and helps prevent damage to the grass and the surrounding property. The majority of the grass in New Town is fescue and it will be cut to a height of 3 to 4 inches. Summer grass such as the Zoysia in Lydias Park and also in a few other parts of New Town will be cut appropriately for the variety.
 
During a normal week, JRGM starts mowing in Shirley Park and part of Village walk on Monday. Tuesday, mowing in Village Walk is continued and extended through Savannah Square and Chelsea Green.  On Wednesday and Thursday, they are usually mowing Charlotte Park. Of course, weather and a few other factors can impact this schedule. If you have an irrigation system or if you just water your grass manually, please do not water a day or two before your scheduled service days. This will decrease turf damage from mowing equipment and allow JRGM to provide our community better service.
 
Each lawn service will include edging around all tree beds, poles, signage, fencing, foundations, and all vertical structures. Scalping is not only unsightly; it is detrimental to lawn growth and should never occur. JRGM staff have been trained to properly and safely use their edging equipment. When the mowing and edging is completed JRGM will remove all clippings from sidewalks, paved areas, and mulched beds.
 
Sometimes, weather will impact the receipt of landscaping services. Whenever a scheduled service is going to be missed, JRGM will advise Chesapeake Bay Management of the situation. The service will then be provided to the community as soon as the turf areas are dry enough to allow safe mowing without turf damage. If this delay is more than a couple of days, JRGM will advise the affected neighborhoods and provide an estimated date that the delayed service will be provided.
 
Next month’s topic is weed & pest control during the late spring, summer and fall.
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