Welcome to a new periodic Crier feature – Know Your Rules. Are you aware of the requirements for NTRA homeowners who wish to rent their New Town homes?
Under the NTRA Master Declaration, only leases of an entire home for at least 12 months are permitted (Article VI, Section 7.1dd), and the lease must expressly state that the tenant will abide by the NTRA’s governing documents. (Thinking of adding an in-law unit or “granny flat?” An accessory apartment that is proposed to be added to a property must be approved by the Board of Directors after review by both the Architectural Review Committee and New Town’s Design Review Board.)
Short-term rentals are not permitted, including any vacation, room rentals or Airbnb-type usage.
In addition, homeowners must notify Town Management of 1) their new address and contact information and 2) the contacts for their tenant and property management company (NTRA Rules, Section II, Para. 21). Any property management company acting on behalf of a homeowner must provide the NTRA with current information for your tenants. Frequently, when tenants turn over, Town Management is not aware of new occupants. If possible, providing the first page of the lease will help Town Management to understand the rental period.
Why does the NTRA have such rental requirements? New Town was designed around fostering community through homeownership and owner occupancy. Besides liability insurance benefits, rental restrictions are viewed as a way to serve the best interests of the community by helping to maintain community standards and keep property values high.
So if you have tenants or neighbors who are tenants, reach out to let them know about the NTRA website. Encourage them to learn more about our Association and its requirements. Suggest that they volunteer on an NTRA Committee. Let’s all get to know our neighbors and take a vested interest in the long-term success of our community.
SUMMING UP THE NTRA’s 2021 BUDGET MEETINGS
In case you were unable, or chose not to attend the NTRA Budget Presentations held on two consecutive evenings via ZOOM, the take-away was this: NTRA financial matters are in good hands.
The purpose of the two ZOOM meetings was to inform NTRA members about the challenges, deliberations and decisions that were involved as the Finance Committee (FC) drafted the Proposed NTRA 2021 Budget. The Board of Directors (BOD) weighed in, made suggestions and ultimately agreed to present the Proposed 2021 Budgets that were the subjects of these meetings. One very important reason to pay attention -- the final 2021 NTRA Budget becomes the basis for 2021 homeowner assessments.
Session I, convened on November 18 at 6:00 PM focused on Village Walk (VW), with 14 residents and 8 panelists from the Finance Committee (FC), Board of Directors (BOD) and Town Management in attendance. Session II opened at 6:05 PM on November 19, with 21 NTRA members and 10 panelists from the above groups present. This meeting dealt with the overall NTRA 2021 Budget.
Information presented at both sessions was detailed, clearly laid out and delivered in a logical sequence that drew those attending into the budgeting process. The FC posted the proposed budget for each session, with commentary, in advance on the NTRA website. This seemed to boost member interest in and understanding of issues. Both sessions allowed ample time for questions.
The two meetings followed the same format. First, Jim Carey, FC Secretary, reviewed how Zoom tools could be utilized during the meeting and laid out the overall timetable for budget review. Then Everett Lunsford, FC Chair, walked attendees through the proposed budget, page by page, adding further detail as needed. Questions were held until he finished.
Exterior Maintenance issues at VW have significantly impacted expenses. During Session I, there was clarification that VW homeowners receive additional services that are not part of the standard NTRA home maintenance plan, including for example, exterior painting, irrigation, maintenance, repair and replacement of roofing and more. These additional costs are reflected in the assessments of VW homeowners.
One of the challenges in 2020 was the discovery that amounts budgeted for VW maintenance were in some cases, inadequate. In some instances, needs were overlooked; in others, costs were underestimated.
Lunsford noted that $1.5K was budgeted for 2020 irrigation system repairs. Actual costs, however, are now approaching $12K. Lack of mapping of the 130-zone irrigation system has made it extremely difficult to obtain accurate estimates for repairs and maintenance. An outside contractor will begin mapping the system in 2021.
Exterior painting of VW homes is a Replacement Reserve expense, but painting was not included in the 2019 Replacement Reserve Study. A quote has been received for roughly $240K to repaint the exteriors of all VW residences over a five (5) year period beginning in 2023.
At times, while reviewing the proposed budget, Lunsford stated that the FC had changed spending projections or altered long-range budget recommendations. He would then continue with a description of the rationale that led the FC to reach those decisions. This likely reduced the number of questions raised during the Q & A, all of which were answered thoroughly.
Session II reviewed the overall budget for the whole of NTRA, presented in a 30-page report. The FC and BOD have been immersed in budget issues and decisions since early October. The 2021 Proposed NTRA Budget was presented with year-to-year comparative figures clearly indicating shifts in spending.
The FC has identified several areas that need to be carefully managed to ensure smooth sailing in the years ahead. Some that were mentioned include: funding the maintenance requirements of VW homes; monitoring Capital Contribution and Administrative Fees generated from home sales; managing the Replacement Reserve of VW and NTRA; and increased awareness of long-term maintenance and community needs.
Everett Lunsford noted that the budget includes a financial audit of the managing agent, Town Management, which is industry practice when an HOA is turned over to owners. This will be a one-time expense of $7 – 9K.
With limited sources of funding, unexpected expenditures are difficult to handle. In 2020, Covid-19 necessitated approximately $10K in expenditures for extra pool personnel, new signage, additional cleaning supplies and services. This expense is likely to continue in the coming year. Money previously earmarked for major landscape projects and 2020 seasonal Activities were redirected to cover these costs and safe, socially distanced activities, Zoom account, etc.
In addition to considering the maintenance timetables recommended for HOA communities, the FC is keeping an eye on actual New Town maintenance requirements. Lunsford again used the VW situation as an example. The NTRA is required to repaint VW exteriors on a periodic basis as part of their exterior maintenance fee. Based on contractor estimates and recommendations, the NTRA expects to begin a five-year repainting program in 2023. Since these homes are mostly clad with factory-painted cement board siding, the recommendation is to repaint every 7 years. However, some homeowners are reporting issues, such as exterior mold problems, that might alter maintenance or repainting schedules.
The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) researched and planned projects to replace dead trees and upgrade the appearance of New Town’s common areas. Funding for these Special Projects was originally approved for 2020 but the money was diverted to cover unexpected expenses. NTRA members that have been asking about the status of those projects were pleased to hear Lunsford say that the LAC plans have been prioritized and are detailed in the 2021 PROPOSED NTRA BUDGET REPORT
The two meetings were an opportunity for NTRA members to dig into the details of NTRA 2020 spending, and ask questions about the details of the 2021 budget on which 2021 homeowner assessments are based.
At the close of the meeting several people recognized the enormous amount of time these committee members have spent on this task and praised the excellent result of their efforts. Comments are welcome through December 3rd. The final BOD-approved budget will be presented at the Annual Members Meeting December 10 on Zoom.
BMP and BRBs in New Town: A Retention Pond Primer
Stormwater Management Facilities or Best Management Practices (BMPs)— “Stormwater BMPs”—are an integral part of any new construction or land development project, today, whether commercial or residential. They are recognized by James City County as key components in improving water quality of all waterways in the Tidewater Area by removing pollutants from rainwater. As defined on the County’s website, rainwater falling on the ground and running across the earth’s surface as stormwater “collects leaves, grass clippings, pet waste, litter, lawn fertilizers, pesticides and more” into area streams, ponds, and rivers, and BMPs are key in minimizing the negative effects of these pollutants on our water ways. There are nearly 800 BMPs in the County, 27 of which are located in New Town, and all are inspected by the County every 5 years using industry standard reporting. Owners of the properties upon which BMPs are located are legally responsible for providing basic annual maintenance to the structures and to make any repairs that may be needed. Typical BMP owners are homeowner associations (HOA), private communities, commercial retail properties, and business property owners.
Of the 27 BMPs in New Town, only three are true BMPs, retention ponds that contain water at all times, and are clearly visible to passersby. The remaining structures are “bio-filters” or Bio Retention Basins (BRBs) that help with the maintenance of the BMPs. BRBs are water filters which syphon off stormwater impurities before reaching the BMPs. They do this through a layered system of gravel and mulch in an effort to maintain the integrity of the BMPs and to avoid expensive dredging costs more often than should be necessary for maintaining the BMPs according to County standards. James City County’s criteria for maintaining BMPs contains specific strategies. Bi-annual mowing, generally in the spring and the fall, no more than 6-8 inches from the ground, repair of holes and bare areas in all concrete structures, and maintenance of flow pipes to make sure they are not broken or overgrown with vegetation.
New Town employs two contractors to meet the County BMP criteria for structural maintenance. Mowings are covered in our current landscaping contract and the structural and water treatment needs are contracted to Aquatic Resources Management (ARM) for which $3,200 is currently budgeted. ARM repairs broken concrete, treats for mosquitoes by adding an algaecide colorant dye to the water to inhibit larvae from hatching, and applies a herbicide preventative to the water to inhibit cattail growth.
Of the three BMPs, the large wet pond at the end of Olive Drive in Charlotte Park will be turned over to NTRA ownership in the very near future. The two remaining BMPs (located behind the Goddard School and adjacent to the SunTrust parking lot) are owned by the New Town Commercial Association. New Town’s BRBs are more numerous. Four are owned outright by the NTRA and are located at the corner of Casey and Town Creek Drive, the corner of Town Creek Drive and Lydias Drive, and in Magnolia Park (Rollison Drive and Luanne Way). Four BRBs are currently owned by Atlantic Homes but will similarly transfer to the NTRA in the very near future. All are located in Charlotte Park: at the termination of Rollison Drive, behind the homes on Olive Drive, (most notably behind 4408 Olive) and at the termination of Christine Court. Two BRBs in Shirley Park are also owned by Atlantic Homes but will be turned over to the NTRA later. As with the BMPs, the BRBs are also governed by JCC maintenance guidelines. In 2018 for example, several BRBs, including the one at Christine Court, were cited for contaminating silt and in need of repair or replacement of special soil, mulch, and vegetation.
Village Walk has two BMPs, and their management and maintenance have not had smooth sailing. Among other problems, they have had serious conservation issues such as damaged fencing and invasive vegetation that have threatened the integrity of their retainment walls, one 15 feet high and upon which the homes on Greenview are located, and another 30 feet high next to the homes on Trailview & Trailside. (See photos) Addressing the maintenance needs of these BMPs has been problematic, because their conservation has been compromised by the insolvency of AIG Baker the original developer of Settlers Market who once owned them. Without clear ownership, meeting the County criteria for structural repairs and maintenance has not been possible. There has, however, been a recent breakthrough in the conundrum.
An October walk-about with County representatives and interested Village Walk homeowners reviewed all the issues needing correction to meet County BMP maintenance criteria, such as the removal of vegetation growth, silt fencing repair, the cleaning out of basin trash and debris, and structural repairs and modifications of pipes and channels. With assistance from County staff, the Board of Directors was able to contact the current responsible party--Rosenthal, a property management company based in Northern Virginia. Rosenthal will be addressing the County concerns and has hired Triad Construction Company to begin maintenance of both BMPs soon. All County conservation issues will be addressed on these BMPs, including the removal of invasive vegetation that can be very destructive to the retaining structures and repair of damaged fencing. Phase I, to include the clearing of the access roads to both ponds, the removal of old silt fencing, and the eradication of all brush between fence and retaining walls, begins this week. Crews working 10-hour days should be able to complete Phase I in 3 to 4 weeks. Larger repairs will be addressed in the new year.
Chuck Stetler, President
This has been a very unsettling year for our country and our little community. But we are all hoping for a healthy, prosperous New Year.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our holiday party in December. Plus, the Covid virus impacted opening of the pool .. Despite the restrictions caused by the coronavirus, the Activities Committee carried out a successful and well attended Halloween party and parade at Sullivan Square.
The Board of Directors is searching for a person to fill the non-voting position of Secretary. This is such an important job, which was performed by Dave Holtgrieve who will be resigning in December.
Recently we had informative Town Hall meetings to explain the proposed 2021 NTRA budget and the proposed exterior maintenance program for Village Walk. This assessment was increased because both painting and power washing the homes in Village Walk were not included in the 2019 Reserve study.
The transition to homeowner control of the NTRA has been challenging and demanding of the newly elected members of the Board of Directors. Thanks to these volunteers who have contributed their time to work and resolve many issues.
Thank you to all volunteers who participated on our committees this past year. Your help was appreciated in carrying out the necessary activities that benefit our HOA.
This coming year we will need new volunteers to participate on both the Landscape and Communication committees. Consider joining one of these important groups.
The 2020 Annual Members Meeting has been scheduled for December 10th. Please watch for the Zoom link to the virtual meeting.
Welcome to the New Year....2021!!!!
Mariellynn Maurer is the Director of Conference & Event Services and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at William & Mary. She is an alumna of William & Mary and her field of studies were English and Secondary Education. She is an active member of several professional associations within the tourism, hospitality, events, and continuing education sectors. Mariellynn is an active member in the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance and an alumna of the LEAD Historic Triangle Program. She is the President of the Professional and Professional Staff Assembly of W&M and sits on the university’s Strategic Planning Committee. Mariellynn’s experience is not limited to the world of higher education, she also spent more than 11 years working in hotel sales and marketing. She is a strong believer that you never stop learning and is honored to be able to speak with you about opportunities available for lifelong learning and volunteering with the Osher Lifelong Institute at William & Mary.
Mariellynn and Carrie will share information about Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at William & Mary. They will share program highlights, areas of study, volunteer opportunities, membership information, upcoming key dates for your calendars, and the current mode of delivery given the pandemic circumstances we are currently working, living, and learning under. Time will be reserved during the presentation for questions and answers as well.