Town Crier Articles

Posted on May 1, 2023 7:28 AM by NTRA Board of Directors
Categories: NTRA Business
It’s time to throw your hat in the ring to fill a New Town Residential Association Board vacancy.  The date for a special NTRA election will be announced soon…We need volunteers willing to run for the Board.
Have you considered serving or even run in past elections?  Submit your personal statement to
We need the following information:
·         Name
·         Address
·         Email address
·         Name of neighborhood
·         A brief bio showing your qualifications for being a Board Director
·         A short statement of why you want to serve on the Board of Directors
What makes a good Board member? See this description from Ruth Burgess to get an idea.
Posted on May 1, 2023 7:22 AM by Jack Espinal, Board President
There are two Stormwater Management Best Management Practices (BMPs) (commonly referred to as retention ponds) - numbered BMP-04 and BMP-06 - east of Village Walk as shown in the aerial photograph below. They have never been given full approval by James City County (JCC). The BMPs are solely owned by Settlers Market LLC. JCC only gave interim approval for the use of the two BMPs after their construction years ago. However, numerous problems with these BMPs have been identified by JCC and are pending correction.
BMP-04 and BMP-06 were not constructed in accordance with the original developers proffers and County approved specifications. As a result, Settlers Market has been directed to repair, reconstruct and provide maintenance to both of these BMPs. This corrective action must take place before JCC provides formal approval and accepts both BMPs and releases any bond funding. The following deficiencies and needed modifications/repairs have been identified:
  1. The current 4-foot-high fencing around the BMPs must be replaced by fencing 6 feet high as called for in the original BMP specifications.
  2. Piping for water outflow in both BMPs was not built to the required specification and will have to be corrected.
  3. BMP-04 must be modified by removing the existing wall and replacing it with a new retaining wall that will be offset 5 feet from the original wall.
  4. Some of the BMP retaining walls appear to be moving which require survey stations to be installed on the brick wall to monitor any future movement.
  5. Down drainpipes were not installed at the proper elevation and that has to be corrected.
  6. There are areas of subsidence that will have to be repaired.
  7. There are severe areas of erosion in the barrel pipe outflow areas that require attention.
  8. A down pipe was not installed with a positive slope to the riser structure and this has to be corrected.
  9. Proper riprap (layers of large stones that prevent erosion) was not placed properly in the pond areas and that will have to be addressed.
  10. Volunteer vegetation has grown over the years and must now be removed.
Settlers Market LLC is solely responsible for all of the work that is required to bring both BMPs up to standards. They have contracted with AES Consulting Engineers to develop a plan to mitigate the problems identified by JCC. 
The new Settlers Market management company, located in Florida, wants to have all work on the BMPs completed by late December 2023. Considering the magnitude of the work needed, this date is very ambitious and the mitigation work may take longer to complete. Once JCC approval is received for the plan, bids for the project will go out potential contractors, probably sometime in June 2023. The anticipated time frame for completion of all work is between 180 and 220 days after the contract is awarded.
There are two major BMP construction activities that will have the most impact on Village Walk residents.
The first major activity will be the replacement of the existing 4-foot-high steel fence around both BMP-04 and BMP-06 with similar 6-foot-high steel fencing. The associated work has the potential of damaging some of the NTRA shrubbery that is located near the top of the walls on the west sides of both BMPs. If damaged, the shrubbery will have to be replaced by Settlers Market.
The second and much larger construction activity will be the removal of 580 feet of retaining wall along the north side of BMP-04. After this wall is removed a new retaining wall will be built, offset by 5 feet from the existing wall. This work will include the removal of the existing brick/concrete wall and a large amount of earth.  All of the brick, concrete, debris, and earth will have to be transported out of the area through the Village Walk neighborhood using a short section of Trailview at the edge of the Village Walk neighborhood closest to Shirley Park. The contractor’s vehicles will probably also be using part of Settlers Market Blvd for access to the construction site. We will encourage Settlers Market and the contractor to make good use of all the nearby, usually empty, shopping center parking lots for the staging of materials and parking of their construction equipment and vehicles.
Once the existing wall and earth have been removed a new retaining wall will be constructed. Building materials for this new wall will also have to be moved through the Village Walk neighborhood and be staged in the or near the construction area. Finally, fill dirt will have to be trucked in to backfill the area behind the new wall. This is a very big construction project.
Both BMP ponds will have to be drained and it is likely that significant amounts of sediment will have to be removed from both ponds so that the existing piping can be regraded and repaired. The sediment will also have to be moved through the Village Walk neighborhood. Additional maintenance work in and around the BMP ponds may also be required because both BMPs have not been adequately maintained by Settlers Market since their initial construction.
The costs for all of this repair and reconstruction will be borne by Settlers Market LLC. A site plan has been submitted and a construction plan will be presented to JCC in the very near future for approval. Once the construction plans are approved by JCC, bids from contractors will be requested and a contract will be awarded. The total cost for the project is not currently known but considering the magnitude of the repairs, maintenance, and the reconstruction of one retaining wall, it is likely to be a multimillion-dollar project.
Since the repair work for both BMPs will impact the NTRA, the NTRA will also be required by JCC to approve the construction plans. In order to protect everyone involved, performance bonds for the completion of all work on the BMPs will be required and each entity, including the NTRA, will be included in the contractor’s liability insurance policy.
When the work on the BMPs is completed, inspected, and approved by JCC, the maintenance responsibility for both BMPs will pass to the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA). At that point in time the users of the retention ponds will become responsible for all future maintenance. The cost for this periodic future maintenance will be shared, based upon the amount of stormwater flowing into the ponds from each area.
Posted on May 1, 2023 7:15 AM by Jack Espinal, Board President
Categories: NTRA Business
The Developers for Parcel C of the Eastern State Hospital property have modified their plan for this development and recently presented this information to the NTRA Board of Directors.  They appear to have addressed almost all of the past concerns that were raised by New Town residents. Their new plan, yet to go before James City County (JCC) for approval, significantly lessens the impact on the Charlotte Park neighborhood.  Here’s what we know now:
  1. The new development will propose to have its own homeowner’s association.
  2. It will not use the New Town name and will not be associated with the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) in any way.
  3. The development will consist of 86 single-family, luxury homes on lots larger than those in Charlotte Park. They will be priced in the $800,000 to $1 million dollar price range. These homes will all be located directly north of the Charlotte Park neighborhood.
  4. Discovery Park Boulevard will be extended into the development area, turn west and arc around for the 86 single-family homes. This is the only planed access for the Eastern State Hospital development property.
  5. An additional 150 multifamily units (townhouses and apartments) along with some commercial buildings will be constructed near the start of the Discovery Park Boulevard extension.
  6. An additional 100-foot buffer will be added to the existing 50-foot buffer. This will separate the new development from Charlotte Park by a combined 150-foot buffer between backyard property boundaries.
  7. The idea of extending Olive Drive into the Eastern State Hospital property has been abandoned by the developer.
  8. The new development will have numerous walking trails throughout the site.
  9. The planned Eastern State Hospital trail system will only connect to the New Town trails in the vicinity of Discovery Park Boulevard.
  10. The Eastern State Hospital development will have its own swimming pool and clubhouse which will be located in the multifamily area of the development near the start of the Discovery Park Boulevard extension.
  11. The wetlands in the area will be protected.
  12. The State of Virginia owns the Eastern State property and it is currently zoned for public use. The process for rezoning the property will begin in the next few weeks.
It is not currently known when the Eastern State Hospital Parcel C property rezoning plan will be presented to James City County for review and approval or when actual construction might commence.
Posted on February 1, 2023 7:30 AM by Town Crier Staff
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:
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:
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
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, President, Board of Directors
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
Posted on November 1, 2022 6:30 AM by Mary Cheston, President, Board of Directors
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 ( 
  • 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 –  
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.
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