Town Crier Articles

Posted on October 1, 2019 9:00 AM by Jim Bowers
Categories: NTRA Business
Much of the landscape preparation for next year’s growth has already been executed:
 
  • Mowing height has been lowered
  • The ground has been aerated
  • Lawns have been over seeded
 
No doubt you have seen plugs of sod left from the aeration process and wondered where the lumps of clay came from. Besides promoting grass growth, this may help some lawns drain better.
 
There is still work to done in 2019:
 
  • Pruning will start around October 28  
  • An application of winter weed killer will be done in December, but the exact dates depend on the weather.
Posted on October 1, 2019 9:00 AM by Phil Casey
Categories: NTRA Business
Our pool is buttoned up until the 2020 opening, but 2019 was a successful season. 
 
 
Attendance was steady from the year before and never became a problem.  The biggest crowds during the year were in fact during the NTRA sponsored pool party events for which attendance was estimated at 150.  This was the second year that we kept the pool opened for use during extra weekends in September.  The weather was good each weekend, unlike 2018, so we got a better idea of use.
 
The year end maintenance went smoothly with no major investments or maintenance actions known to be required to open in 2020.  Town Management will investigate costs for painting the “mushroom” fountain and for design modifications to the gazebo to prevent water capture and wood rot.
 
The furniture we bought to begin 2019 was integrated with existing furniture and will continue to be cycled through as indicated by wear.  To date, the new furniture is wearing well and the extra umbrellas provided welcomed shade throughout the season.
 
It was a quiet year regarding pool policies and rules.  No new rules were identified for consideration.  In fact, the only issue identified by residents to Town Management during the season was about the temperature of water coming from the newly installed drinking water fountain.  Speaking of that, we saved about 450 plastic water bottles via the new feature for filling reusable containers.
 
New plants were added around the pool border in 2019.  It turned out that the hydrangeas we used could not tolerate the heat well.  The landscaper will replace them with a hardier variety.
 
We were very lucky with our lifeguards this year.  They were a steady presence through the whole season.
 
So, that marks the close of the pool for 2019.  It’s a great year when the most pressing issue is that the drinking fountain dispenses too cold water!
Posted on October 1, 2019 9:00 AM by Lucy Painter
Categories: NTRA Business
As you know, much of what goes on in New Town does so because of dedicated volunteers who work on different committees to keep our community running smoothly.  With this issue, we begin a look at these different groups that impact our everyday lives.
 
Do you go to pool parties, talk with neighbors at the December Holiday parties, learn about happenings outside of our area at Noon Talks?  Thank the Activities Committee. Do you know what to do in an emergency, how to prepare, where to go in case of evacuation? Thank the Emergency Preparedness Committee. Are you reading this article online? Thank the Communication Committee.
            
These are only three of the seven committees that operate here. To let you know what each does and how it functions, we begin a series of articles highlighting their work and, in some cases, how you may get involved.
            
We begin with two committees that currently do not require volunteers - the Architectural Review (ARC) and the Transition Committees. The Board of Directors appoints these members, unlike other committee volunteers. 
 
According to the ARC Charter, the "ARC is empowered to provide for efficient review, approval, or disapproval of all plans submitted by Owners within the Association for additions to or alterations of the exterior appearance of completed structures of a property itself."  Vice Chair Libby Flowers explains that such changes are permanent alterations to the exterior of a home such as addition of fencing, storm doors, satellite dishes, solar panels, patios and decks, and change in exterior paint colors.
            
Once the ARC receives an application, its members visit the site of the proposal to see how that change would affect the neighborhood.  Traditionally the ARC members have worked to maintain the appearance of our community, the orderly and maintained sense of place it now has. 
            
Another important committee that impacts our community's future is the Transition Committee, now in process of completing its Charter.  In response to our request for information, Rick Fisher provided the following:
 
The Board of Directors (BOD), at the June 2019 meeting, directed that a Transition Committee be formed to ensure that a due diligence review is performed by an independent group of homeowners prior to the Transition from the Developer.  The Transition Committee will have an approved Charter and membership. The Charter will become a self-explanatory document that will be shared with all homeowners and will outline specific tasks that will be accomplished by assigned Committee members. 
 
During this process, there are many categories of work planned that cover our community from its fiscal to its physical health. Some categories included are review of documents, existing policies and procedures, nomination and election processes, insurance coverage and vendor contracts. More details of the scope of this committee will be available as the Charter is approved.
 
In future issues of Town Crier, look for more information on what is happening around you and how you may want to get involved. 
 
 (Editor’s Note:  After three years as editor, I solicit a volunteer to replace me.  If interested to learn more, please send a note to ntratown.crier@gmail.com)
Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Categories: NTRA Business
Angela Lesnett and her husband, Fred, moved to New Town’s Village Walk neighborhood from Arlington, Virginia, in 2017. 
 
Since moving to the Williamsburg area, Angela’s involvement in the community has included volunteering for Literacy for Life and starting the Women's Lunch Group in New Town. She enjoys travel and reading, and is committed to daily workouts at the Jamestown Recreation Center (...a necessity, Angela says, because she also enjoys the many good restaurants in Williamsburg). 
 
 
Angela loves the friendly and walkable Village Walk/New Town community and is happy for the opportunity to serve on the Residents' Advisory Board to maintain New Town as a great place to live.
 
Angela retired after 26 years as an in-house corporate attorney for Freddie Mac. Prior to that she was an associate at a large St. Louis law firm and held two judicial clerkships.  Angela holds a Master of Laws in Taxation from Georgetown University, a J.D. from IIT/Chicago-Kent, and a B.S. from Quincy College in Illinois.
Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Jim Bowers
Categories: NTRA Business
This past spring, the Landscape Advisory Committee emailed a link to our first Landscaping Survey to better understand how our landscape contractor, Virginia Lawn and Landscape, is doing and what our residents would like to see going forward. The survey helps our committee identify ways to improve landscape services while maintaining efficiency. 
 
To see more of the overall survey responses, please view the Committee’s presentation on the NTRA website
 
As we have heard from our residents, landscaping plays an important part of our community. Proper landscape plantings and care increase our residents’ satisfaction with their homes and community. Additionally, it sustains and improves our property values. New Town has a diversity of housing types and unique neighborhoods all conveniently located within walking distance to a wide variety of commercial establishments. It is this very diversity that also creates challenges for landscape maintenance. 
 
Our response rate, 30% of homeowners, is considered quite good by survey standards. Those who responded told us quite a bit about how our contractor has done and what we can do better.
 
Over 60% of respondents were pleased with the overall quality of landscape work performed. The same number felt that the landscape staff demonstrated knowledgeable, profession and courteous service. Over 75% felt that the landscape staff left the areas clean and neat.
 
When we asked residents if they would prefer to do some or all of their own lawn care, a resounding 80% said “No." Those 20% who would choose to do some of their own work, primarily cited pruning/trimming followed by weeding. 
 
When asked for areas of improvement, respondents cited a need for better communications and related supervision. Subsequently, we have met with Town Management and Virginia Lawn and Landscape.  We have communicated to our landscaper the priorities of our residents as expressed in the survey. 
 
Another area for improvement includes maintaining size and form when pruning trees & shrubs. Pruning is particularly tricky considering the need to maintain security around homes, the variety of plants in New Town and the sheering schedule currently in our contract. There were also numerous comments about the condition of the common areas in New Town. (In some cases, parks are a combined responsibility of the NTRA and the New Town Commercial Association.) Next steps will evolve as we continue to meet with the landscape company.  
 
Our committee of volunteers appreciates the community’s responses to our survey. We need more residents to become involved with our Committee and help oversee beautification efforts. Please come to one of our meetings (third Wednesday of the month) or volunteer to serve with us!  
 
Posted on July 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Dave Holtgrieve, AMC
Categories: NTRA Business
The Asset Maintenance Committee is executing their home inspection process in the general area of Charlotte Park.  The first phase inspections and notification steps were completed in April.
 
Re-inspections took place on June 17th for some homes on Center Street, Elizabeth Davis Boulevard, Ercil Way, Olive Drive, and Rollison Drive.  Second violation notifications were sent out by the June 21st requesting that owners complete the required maintenance.  If violations are not rectified by the final inspection, the owner will receive a hearing notice to appear before the Board of Directors. 
 
Most owners have been in compliance with the program that was designed to ensure homeowners' real properties are maintained consistent with a "first-quality" development.  
Posted on May 1, 2019 2:47 PM by Mary Cheston
Categories: NTRA Business
So how are you enjoying the new NTRA website?
 
As of April 27, we have 330 residents registered on the site.  ANY resident of New Town may register - owner or renter.  Our website is the best means to keep informed about association policies and activities around New Town.  For example, for the 2019 community pool season, information will be posted on the site rather than using mailings to each homeowner.
 
This web platform has a mobile version that is also user-friendly. Log in to the site on your mobile device and see what you think.
 
Looking for information on NTRA committees?  All Committee records are downloadable from the Newsletters/Committees/Policies menu item.
The Website Team needs your input and help.
 
• Do you have ideas for other web features or some style suggestions for pages on the site? Pass them along or better yet, volunteer to serve with us.
• Are you a Facebook fan? Volunteer to help us spruce up the NTRA Facebook page and keep things interesting for our followers. (This support can be provided from the comfort of your own home – no meetings required.)
 
• Send us photos of your favorite New Town locations or activities – we want to have seasonal pictures to post.  (Horizontal slice/view photos are preferred.)
 
We’d like to hear from you – the hard part of migrating to a new internet platform is done, join us to make the site even better!  Send an email to ntrawebsitecommittee@gmail.com.
Posted on May 1, 2019 2:45 PM by Mary Cheston
Categories: NTRA Business
“Gee, our mailbox post is really looking sad, we need to paint it”, I said to my husband, Ric about 2 months ago. “Not my problem” he replied, and to my surprise he was right.
 
As of the April 18 Board of Directors meeting, the official mailbox maintenance policy is that New Town homeowners are responsible for the box itself – in cases of rust or damage, the homeowner must repair or replace it (except for Village Walk where the metal community boxes are association-maintained).  However, the NTRA will now formally maintain all posts. Currently, there is a backlog of about 100 mailbox posts that need painting.
 
History of Mailboxes in New Town
Mailbox maintenance has taken a winding policy path in New Town. The NTRA Declaration’s protective covenants state that only mailboxes and newspaper tubes approved by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) are permitted to be used in New Town, and that the ARC may adopt specific criteria that vary by neighborhood. (Article VII, Section 7.1 (z))
 
In March 2011 the NTRA ARC submitted specifications to the Board of Directors for the first “Standard Mailboxes” in New Town. “The cost of the repair/and or replacement are to be borne by the users of the mailboxes, even if these are not located on their property.” Where multiple mailboxes are involved, each user was expected to pay their share of the repairs/replacements. The Board approved these specifications to be provided to existing and future builders.
 
Subsequently, in 2013 the Board of Directors reviewed the policy based on a few complaints about the condition of mailboxes and continued the practice that maintenance of residential mailboxes is the responsibility of the property owners. The ARC started some surveying of mailboxes in disrepair to notify owners of the need for improvements. However, by June 2014 it was clear that shared mailboxes were dilapidated and Town Management agreed with the Board to repair damaged mailboxes “on a prioritized basis.” Mailbox maintenance first became a line item in the NTRA budget for 2015.
 
With the growth of New Town, there are now at least three different types of mailboxes: single home post mailboxes, double mailboxes (2 boxes sharing a common post), and cluster mailboxes (3 or more boxes in a group) – such as the boxes at Village Walk and Roper Park-where multiple mailboxes are grouped together. The reality is that current funding allows Town Management to pay for repainting only about 55 mailboxes a year, according to Community Manager Tim Grueter, and there will ultimately be about 620 homes in our community. This puts Town Management in the position of determining which mailboxes are in the poorest condition.
 
Since the NTRA had assumed some responsibility for repairing mailboxes, they were not included in the 2017 home inspection and exterior maintenance policy. At its January 2019 meeting, the Residential Advisory Board (RAB) discussed how to practically resolve this issue and how to handle it under future home inspections. The RAB requested to include an inspection item for the mailboxes, but there were varying opinions from the Board of Directors on how to correct existing deficiencies. So, no final decision was reached until the April meeting.
 
Under the new policy, home inspections will include mailboxes and this report will serve as the basis for painting/repair. The Asset Maintenance Committee will oversee implementation of the new policy. So Ric, thanks for putting this on your “honey do” list and painting our post anyway.  Next time, you can take the afternoon off!
 
 
Posted on May 1, 2019 2:40 PM by Bill Voliva, Chair, LAC
Categories: NTRA Business
With the spring rains and the heavy yellow pollen residue taking over our community, the Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC), working with our landscaping contractor, Virginia Lawns and Landscape, has established the spring/summer landscape maintenance plan.
 
The weekly mowing schedule will begin in Village Walk on Mondays, Abbey Commons and Savannah Square on Tuesdays, Charlotte Park on Wednesdays and Thursday/Friday in Roper Park and Chelsea Green (weather permitting). Please be sure all fenced-in areas are open and easily accessible for the mowing and trimming crew.
 
Virginia Lawns and Landscape has a new on-site foreman this year whose focus will be attention-to-detail and clean-up.
 
For those areas with irrigation, start-up is scheduled for the first week of May by Hampton Roads Irrigation.
 
A landscape enhancement plan will be completed by our landscape contractor around the pool in time for the Memorial weekend opening.
 
Don’t forget the LAC will be conducting a landscape services survey. The survey schedule is:
 
• send the survey out to homeowners by May 15
• collect responses from homeowners by June 15
• communicate results to homeowners by July 15
 
Your participation and comments are an important factor in the ongoing efforts to provide quality landscape services from our contractor.
 
Enjoy your spring and summer.
 
Posted on March 30, 2019 11:33 PM by Rick Fisher, RAB Member
Categories: NTRA Business

The Transition Program Team is continuing to plan for the turnover of the NTRA from the Developer controlled Board of Directors (BOD) to a Homeowner controlled Board.  The Team has been expanded to include all of the Committee Chairs.  The turnover is officially scheduled to take place on April 1, 2020. This specific date can be found in the Amended and Restated Master Declaration of Protective Covenants and Restrictions.

 

The Transition of a Master Planned Community from Developer to Owner control is the most critical Phase in a community’s growth.  A smooth Transition benefits both the Homeowners and the Developer.  In our case, the Developer recognized early on that there was a need for continuing Owner involvement and education in Association operations.  The Resident Advisory Board (RAB) was specifically formed for this purpose and has been functioning at the direction of the Board of Directors.  The BOD asks for and highly values RAB recommendations.

 

Transition is a process.  In a well-planned and implemented Transition Program, “actual turnover is a  formality that marks one event, during an extended process, when the Developer relinquishes control of the Association.”  In the case of New Town, the RAB and standing Committees have been in place for many years. Having a strong Committee structure in place is key to the future of our community.

 

Legal work will be required to review existing NTRA documents, make modifications and draft new documents as needed.  This will be done by an independent third party.  In addition, a financial review/audit will also be accomplished by a third party accounting firm.  These are just two of the major work elements.  We will be reporting on all the work being done in future Town Crier issues.  

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