Town Crier Articles

Posted on February 1, 2023 7:30 AM by Town Crier Staff
 
 
 
?? MISSING SOMETHING
 
 
WE NEED YOUR TIME AND YOUR INPUT
IN ORDER TO HAVE A MEANINGFUL NEWSLETTER
 THAT STAYS INFORMATIVE AND RELEVANT TO THE NEW TOWN COMMUNITY.
 
 
The Town Crier has been published monthly (other than January) since 2012. It is entirely a community effort-not a management company or developer responsibility. Over the past 11 years, a team of volunteers has put the newsletter together each month working on stories and articles that these residents believed would be informative or entertaining.
 
Two lone soldiers can't keep this communication flowing...
 
Volunteer today to join the Communications Committee and help us! We are looking for a new editor, writers, photographers, and any other talent you are willing to share to help our digital communications.  Email: ntrawebsitecommittee@gmail.com
 
 
 
Posted on December 1, 2022 6:25 AM by Town Crier Staff
Categories: NTRA Business
 
The New Town Residential Association will hold its election to fill two vacancies for homeowner Directors starting December 1 to 13th. EZVote will again be the service used for voting so look for your link today from: support@ezvote.com.
 
To help you compare the candidates, here is some additional information. Their full applications can be found on the NTRA Website 2023 Board Elections page. 
 
Two candidates will be elected for fill our vacancies for 2023-2024.
 
Posted on December 1, 2022 6:10 AM by Betsy Darling, ARC Chair
Categories: NTRA Business
 
Did you know that the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) has a procedure for considering applications from homeowners wanting to make permanent exterior changes to their homes?  The main take away for homeowners is the requirement that applications be submitted one week prior to the scheduled ARC meeting which takes place on the 2nd Monday of each month at 4:00PM. This is not a new requirement or change. You can find our requirements on the NTRA website under Committees, Policies, Newsletter Archives/ Policies and Guidelines/4.0 Architectural Review - Changes to Property/ and the following three documents 4.1 (Guidelines) 4.1A (Application) and 4.2. (Procedures).  Excerpts from the relevant ARC process documents are listed below.  
 
The ARC has tried to accommodate homeowners who submit applications within that one-week time limit, but this has become unworkable. An agenda for the ARC meeting must be posted on the NTRA website in advance of the meeting, all applications submitted must be verified by the management company for completion and then forwarded to ARC members, and ARC members must have time to visit the properties to see what the proposed changes involve.  Having a complete application submitted one week prior to the ARC meeting allows time for all of these things to happen in an orderly fashion. Please remember to submit ARC applications at least one week prior to the ARC meeting or they won't be reviewed until the subsequent month.
 
From 4.1A ARC Application and Instructions
 
“Instructions
C.  Please submit your application at least 1 week prior to the scheduled ARC meeting which take place on the 2nd Monday of each month at 4:00PM. …
 
New Town Residential Association
Architectural Review Committee Request Form
• Applications must be submitted 1 week prior to Committee Meeting, held the second Monday of each month. … “
 
 
From 4.2 ARC Procedures
“4. Procedures
4.1.2 The ARC may review applications either in a regularly scheduled meeting or via electronic means. Applications submitted at least 1 week prior to the date of the ARC meeting will be reviewed at that meeting. Applications submitted short of that time will be reviewed at the next month’s meeting. …”
Posted on December 1, 2022 6:00 AM by Mary Cheston
Categories: NTRA Business
 
Another important vote is coming at our 2022 Annual NTRA Members Meeting. There are two ballot resolutions to be approved – 1) the annual resolution allowing the Association to apply any year end surplus funds to our reserve funds to avoid paying income tax, and 2) a proposed amendment to the “Shared Amenities” agreement. Owners are asked to approve both resolutions.
 
In particular, in Resolution 2 owners are asked to approve an amendment to the Amenities Use Easement and Agreement between the New Town Residential Association (NTRA), the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA), and New Town Associates (NTA), the New Town Developer. This vote is an important action to reflect how both Associations are managed and now operate. 
 
What is the Amenities Use Easement and Agreement?
 
The Amenities Use Easement and Agreement (referred to commonly as “Shared Amenities Agreement”) is an agreement between the NTRA, NTCA, and NTA concluded in 2015, when the Developer controlled all three entities. This document outlines the rights of owners in each Association to enjoy the common areas throughout New Town, and the obligation of each party to share in the cost of their upkeep. This agreement covers items like shared electrical lighting, maintenance of dog stations, security, landscaping at community entrances, seasonal banners and decorations, etc.- items located throughout both New Town’s commercial and residential neighborhoods.  Oversight is provided by a Managing Committee with Board Members from both Associations which meets annually to review the cost sharing budgets for the upcoming year.
 
The 2015 agreement places the NTRA at a disadvantage. The agreement’s representation is 1 vote for NTA, 3 votes for NTCA and 3 votes for NTRA. The agreement favors the Developer through at least 2026 because as Declarant for the NTCA and President of NTA, the Developer controls four Committee votes. The agreement also permits the Declarant to unilaterally subject future real estate to the provisions of the agreement (paragraph 1b) “without the consent of either Association or the Committee.” This is a critical challenge for the NTRA given the possibility of development of neighboring Eastern State Hospital property.
 
Why is this amendment needed now?
 
The Amendment would remove language prohibiting us from having a management company that is different from the NTCA. There are two parts of the agreement that must be changed.
 
Currently paragraph R5 in the Recitals states: 
“The Associations have determined it to be in their best interests to provide for management of both Associations and the Amenities by a single management company or manager.  This determination is based upon the benefits inuring to each Association from consistent and unified management and maintenance of Amenities and properties within New Town, economies of scale, the fact that Amenities and utilities serving each Association may be located on property owned by the other, obligations of the Associations established zoning proffers, and the complex interworkings of two associations operating within a single master planned mixed use community.”
 
This paragraph needs to be removed. For many years both the NTRA and the NTCA used the same management company, Town Management LLC. However, in December 2021, NTRA and Town Management mutually terminated their contractual relationship.  At that time the NTRA asked the Managing Committee for a waiver to this single management company requirement and proposed an amendment, but the Chair (NTCA President and NTA President) declined asking the NTCA’s legal counsel to review the situation. NTCA’s legal counsel advised against a waiver, saying “any amendment must be approved in accordance with the Amenities Easement and Agreement.” The Amendment we are voting on follows this process.
 
The assumed benefits of a single manager no longer apply to our community.  Our two management companies work together on maintenance items, services are provided, and bills are paid accordingly. Over the past year it has been demonstrated that this cooperation works, so we need to legally reflect the separation.
 
Similarly, paragraph 7 “Single Management Company” is no longer relevant and needs to be deleted in its entirety from the Agreement.  Paragraph 7 currently reads:  
“NTCA and NTRA currently contract with a single management company to provide services in connection with the duties of each Association and are under, therefore, central management as of the date hereof.  NTCA and NTRA shall continue to contract with a single management company to provide services to the Associations. The Committee shall work with both Associations to facilitate the selections of a single management company by the Boards of Directors from each Association. Once selected, a representative or representatives of such management company may attend and participate in (but shall not be entitled to vote at) meetings of the Committee.”
 
Why does such a change require a Member vote?
 
Section 18 of the agreement requires that “any amendment to Paragraph 7 of this agreement (requiring a single management company) ...must be approved by not less than 2/3rds of the votes cast in person or by proxy at a duly called meeting of the members of each Association at which a quorum is present.”
 
While the Boards of each Association and the Declarant can amend other sections of the document, a change to Section 7 requires both Boards approval and a member vote by both Associations.  The NTRA Board has approved this amended language and we are starting the NTRA voting process by asking for your approval on December 14th.  Then the decision process will move to the NTCA.
 
How will this change affect the NTRA and NTCA relationship?
 
NTRA and NTCA continue to cooperate routinely.  The proposed amendment includes adding a new sentence 6g to recognize the involvement of both management companies at the annual Managing Committee meeting.
 “NTRA and NTCA may appoint a representative or representatives of their respective management companies to attend and participate, but not vote, in Committee meetings.”
 
Recently a Charlotte Park owner publicly criticized the Board for “tarnishing the relationship with the NTCA.” That is not the case. The NTRA Board has been working hard to be treated fairly on cost sharing, and as an equal partner in this agreement. In fact, this December 14th planned amendment vote was suggested by the President of NTCA and NTA as a way forward on this one topic only, so that the NTRA is not kept in continued violation of the agreement.
 
Certainly, more changes to the Shared Amenities Agreement are needed going forward.  The NTRA recently asked that the Managing Committee work on a larger revision of the entire agreement but that motion did not pass.  
 
Support this necessary first step to equal partnership by approving Resolution 2.
Posted on December 1, 2022 6:00 AM by Stuart Dopp
Categories: NTRA Business
 
This informational meeting hosted by the NTRA Board of Directors had dual purposes. 
 
Part 1: Meet James River Grounds Management
 
The first New Town landscaping contract under full homeowner control went to James River Grounds Management, who are well established in this area. Staff members and management introduced themselves with statements regarding their roles in the services provided.
 
James River staff then discussed their planned entry audit of the entire community, including common areas, trails, BMP’s and lots, to document current conditions, flag safety hazards and any areas of concern.  The team described their processes for: 
  • Routine lawn maintenance using smaller closed deck mulching mowers followed by a string trimmer. In response to a question, their policy is to have workers report areas that are too wet to mow for the supervisor’s consideration.
  • Quality control, including weekly inspections of work and site audits to determine overall quality and enhancement opportunities. 
Two specific policies were highlighted:
  • Policy on individualized plant beds, which will not be serviced
  • Buffer zones to be created with herbicide under fences in order to protect them
A calendar approximating services by month was part of their presentation (now posted on the website LINK).
 
Questions included: 
  1. Environmental impact of chemicals. James River follows EPA and JCC guidelines, and uses VA Tech trainers. Chemical treatments are not outsourced.
  2. Request for a phone number rather than submitting tickets. Both the company and Anne Ingram (Chesapeake Management) find the ticket system much more efficient and responsive, at least for now.
  3. Many questions arose regarding fenced yards: James River staff discussed the merit of buffer zones, which will be required, to protect fences, as was standard policy in early days of New Town. Pictures are on the website. Questions and answers regarding costs: the budget has been set up to cover potential costs if the new documents are passed and mowing of fenced yards is allowed. There was discussion of buffers for fences between lots. 
  4. In response to a question, James River will service the BMP’s quarterly, using JCC guidelines. They also prune and mow 6-8 feet alongside the trails and haul all debris away, being mindful of protected areas. 
  5. Crabgrass / weed prevention: James River does its own applications in confirmation of JCC law (48 hours notice to community) and tries to anticipate /forestall problems. 
  6. Irrigation: this is a separate contract, which has not yet been awarded. 
To help ensure that all parties live up to our agreement with James River, a delineation of responsibilities for both homeowners and the company has been approved by the Board of Directors. See the document Landscape Services and Responsibilities on the NTRA website. It goes into effect on January 1, 2023.
 
 
Part 2:  Meet the Board Candidates
 
The second part of the meeting was devoted to an introduction of candidates for the 2023-2024 Board. Board Vice President Jack Espinal stressed that candidates should be committed to serving the entire community, be able to subjugate personal feelings to that goal, and be open to other’s ideas. 
 
Three candidates for the two openings presented their views and credentials, here in summary form. Please check the NTRA website for more information about these candidates. 
 
Ruth Burgess, a retired United Methodist minister, has served on the NTRA Finance Committee and stressed the need for a sense of collaborative community. She previously lived in Reston, the first “new urban” community in VA and draws from that experience and vision.
 
Jeff Kuperstock, a retired attorney, stated that his views are at variance with the current Board, especially his opposition to the proposed revised governing documents. He favors decentralized control through neighborhood boards that could interact on NTRA issues. (Editors note: please see comment below for clarification).
 
Caitlin Melchior is a recent New Town arrival with a background in corporate law, and an MBA augmenting her JD. While still in the learning process about our community, she stressed her commitment to candor and cooperation with civil dialogue. 
 
All candidates agreed that the NTRA should have a constructive relationship with the New Town Commercial Association. In response to concerns about increasing numbers of tenants, the consensus was that there is no legal remedy to limit rentals unless it is done at the outset of a community. 
Posted on December 1, 2022 5:45 AM by Kate Licastro
Categories: NTRA Business
 
Our community has a small, but mighty, communications committee comprised entirely of volunteers. The communications committee sends Eblasts, updates the Facebook page, publishes the Town Crier each month, maintains and updates the NTRA website, designs, prints and posts signage around the neighborhood, and more. If not for the efforts of these volunteers, residents would not receive information about community events, changes and guidance around our residential association policies and procedures, NTRA business, or other informative news. 
 
The current requirements of the committee have surpassed our available resources. We are in last-chance recruitment mode… if you have a few hours to give to your community and have any interest in writing and/or editing for the Town Crier, website maintenance and updates, or general communications support, please join us today! 
 
Without additional volunteers, the following changes are being considered for 2023:
  1. Paid website support: This would be an additional cost paid by homeowner association fees, and therefore not going to other community needs.
  2. Decreased Town Crier frequency: The Town Crier will be published on a quarterly basis, rather than the current monthly cadence.
 
To provide feedback and/or join the team, please email ntratown.crier@gmail.com
Posted on November 1, 2022 6:30 AM by Mary Cheston
Categories: NTRA Business
 
The first phase of our vote for revised Governing Documents took place from September 6th to October 18th.  The results were inconclusive because less than 300 owners voted. This total was announced at the meeting and included all the electronic, absentee and in-person votes as of that date. Due to the lack of participation, the Special Meeting was continued beyond the October 18, 2022 meeting date.  
 
There is still time for you to participate and vote!
 
Generally, the voting for a set of revised HOA governing documents can be a drawn-out affair – averaging 8 to 12 months in many cases.  The Board of Directors hoped to conclude the vote in time for our 2023 budget preparation because the revised documents would change the assessment methodology. Since a new budget must be approved by December 1, 2022, we plan to prepare assessments based on our current documents and await the final vote results. 
 
There have been a few questions about the continuation or adjournment of a Special Meeting under Roberts Rule of Order. Here are some facts to help you sort out this process.
 
  • Per Roberts Rules, it is not required to name a specific date for the meeting to resume.  The Board is considering all options to reconvene as conveniently as possible for owners.  
  • The requirements for Special Meetings are defined in the Nonprofit Corporation Act, VA Code 13.1-839. Special Meetings of the Members are different from Board meetings or Annual Meetings. Only business as described in the meeting’s notice may be conducted. Our notice was for the purposes of voting, not providing presentations or taking comments. We encourage anyone with a question on the documents to submit it to the Board for a written response (ntra.secretary@gmail.com). 
  • Electronic votes count towards a meeting quorum – VA Code 13.1-847C
  • The possible vote to continue the meeting was anticipated and made known to Members. Each ballot contained the language – “I further approve any adjournment or continuation of the Special Meeting.” 
Recall that in 2020 the first NTRA homeowner Board of Directors extended the vote for the First Amendment to the Master Declaration (related to Savannah Square) in order to gather enough “yes” votes to pass the amendment. (Please see the Town Criers of June, July, August and September 2020 for how this was handled – https://www.ntrawilliamsburg.org/news-articles/)  
 
However, in the current election NO ONE HAS COUNTED THE BALLOTS OR IS TRACKING THE FOR AND AGAINST VOTES.  The electronic votes are locked in the ezVote software system and Chesapeake Bay Management has control of the paper ballots as part of their professional responsibility.  We are holding a secured, honest and fair election that has not yet been called.
 
The Association needs sufficient New Town wide participation to determine the will of most owners. Ballots from less than half of our 618 lot owners do not do that.
 
Owner apathy hurts everyone in our community. Get involved! Use an absentee ballot or your electronic ballot link from ezVote to let your voice be heard.
Posted on November 1, 2022 6:25 AM by Town Crier Staff
 
NTRA Board of Directors:
Applicants are needed to stand for election for 2023-24. Send a one-page application with: your name, contact information, neighborhood, background/suitability for the Board, reason for serving on the Board to the NTRA Board secretary – ntra.secretary@gmail.com no later than November 4th.
 
Committee Openings:
  • ASSET MAINTENANCE COMMITTEE – There will be two 2023 vacancies on this important committee that assists with our home exterior inspections and monitoring the condition of NTRA assets. 
  • COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE – HELP!!! Our website and newsletter are dependent on volunteers. In January, there will be at least 4 openings on this Committee. 
  • FINANCE COMMITTEE – There are 4 members rotating off at the end of this year. The work of the Finance Committee is critical to the NTRA budget and annual assessment process.  
  • POOL COMMITTEE – Oversee pool operations and needs by serving on this Committee which has multiple vacancies. This is largely a seasonal commitment.  
Send an email to ntrawebsitecommittee@gmail.com to express interest in any of these Committee positions and we will put you in touch with the Committee chair. 
Posted on November 1, 2022 6:20 AM by Jack Espinal
 
The largest single cost for the New Town Residential Association’s (NTRA) is landscaping. This past spring we began a process for finding the best possible and affordable landscaping provider for the Association during the next three years. 
 
This process began with the Landscape Advisory Committee’s (LAC) development of a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP). They used their landscaping experience in New Town, past New Town landscaping surveys, and sample RFPs from other communities in the area to draft a new NTRA RFP. Next, the Board of Directors reviewed this document and ensured that it reflected the community’s expectations for landscaping services.
 
Five Williamsburg area landscaping contractors received the RFP and were invited to participate in a comprehensive tour of our community.  Each of our neighborhoods were visited during the tour and their specific landscaping needs were explained.  
 
We subsequently received four bids. The pricing and level of services of the four proposals were judiciously compared and evaluated.  The two contractors with the best proposals were selected for interviews.  The Board used these meetings to clarify services and pricing as well as communicate our community’s landscaping policies and expectations.  While the providers were preparing their best and final offers, each of their references were contacted for recommendations.  These recommendations and the contractors final submissions were evaluated and used to select the 2023-2025 NTRA landscaping provider.
 
During our October Board meeting, the NTRA Board approved James River Grounds Management as our next landscaping service provider. James River has been invited to meet the community at a meeting on November 21 in Legacy Hall.
 
One of the first services that James River Grounds Management will be providing is a comprehensive audit of the entire NTRA community. This will help prepare them for providing services to the community in 2023 and will also give the Association the information needed for the LAC to develop a draft five-year plan for landscaping improvements.
 
Hundreds of volunteer hours were spent developing the landscaping RFP and evaluating these proposals. This effort has resulted in the selection of the best and most affordable landscaping services for our community.
 
Homeowner Notifications of Knock Out Rose Infestation
 
Knock Out Roses arguably have the most flower power of just about any shrub available in Virginia.  As reported in the July 2022 Town Crier, and first identified by VLL in February 2021, many of the Knock Out roses in New Town have become infected with the Rose Rosette disease which is carried by a tiny mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphylus) that travels by crawling, through air currents, or on clothing and equipment. The mites feed and reproduce on the tips of new growth of rose bushes. The disease causes deformation and discoloration of the bush as shown below if figure 1.  There is no treatment for this disease and trimming back the infected roses will have no effect as the virus remains in the stocks, roots, and in the ground.
 
Figure 1. Rose Rosette 
 
The LAC has completed an inventory of all NTRA homes where the disease is present. These homeowners will be formally notified to remove these bushes no later than June 1, 2023. 
 
The only solution is to completely remove the bushes and the roots of the infected plant. At this point, only the Knock Out roses in New Town have been infected, but this virus is also known to attack all Rose varieties.  No roses should be replanted in the area.
 
The NTRA will be removing all diseased Knock Out roses from our common areas. We have asked the New Town Commercial Association to similarly eradicate their diseased bushes.
 
Unfortunately this is not the only plant disease problem that we have in New Town.
 
Treat your Crepe Myrtle Black Bark Scale Infestations!
 
Our community has also been attacked by crepe myrtle bark scale (Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae). See April 2022 Crier Article. While it is not a fatal disease, it really stresses the crepe myrtles. Infected trees bloom later in the spring and the blooms tend to be much smaller and fewer than trees that are not infected.  In addition, many of the limbs die and the and the black bark with the white scale becomes an eye sore.
 
The NTRA is now treating all crepe myrtles in our Association common areas. However, homeowners are responsible for treating their own infected crepe myrtles.  You can tell if your crepe myrtle has been infected by examining the bark. If it is black and has small white specks on it, it has been infected. You may also see snow white crawlers moving up and down the limbs.  If you crush the crawlers or white specks, they will turn blood red. 
 
Inspect your trees and treat them now! Crepe myrtle bark scale is treated by washing as many of the blackened branches as possible with a mild detergent and then spraying an oil on the infected bark. The soil around the crepe myrtle can also be treated with a soil drench of imidacloprid or dinotefuran when crepe myrtles begin to leaf out in the spring.  Fertilizer can also be applied at that time to help the tree remain healthy.
 
Working together as a community on both infestation problems will help keep our plantings healthy and beautiful.
Posted on November 1, 2022 5:50 AM by NTRA Board of Directors
Categories: NTRA Business
 
Budget Town Hall Wednesday, November 16, 2022 – 6:30PM
Briefing on proposed 2023 NTRA budget. 
Legacy Hall
 
(Tentative) BOD Candidate Forum and Landscape Briefing - Monday, November 21, 2022 (Time TBD)
Meet our new landscape contractor and hear from those NTRA Members running for the upcoming Board of Directors election.
Legacy Hall 
 
Annual Members Meeting – Wednesday, December 14, 2022 – 6:30PM
Annual meeting of the Members of the NTRA 
Legacy Hall
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