Bygone Bylaws: the Basics
Now that we have all, I’m sure, studied the primary Declaration for New Town and the Supplementals, we can peruse the Bylaws in our big fat notebooks or e-document.
Our Bylaws delineate the roles, powers, and duties of the Board and establish the guidelines for conducting business. They also cover varied obligations such as insurance, address the role of the managing agent, and mandate some committees (e.g., Architectural Review) while allowing for others (e.g., Neighborhood Advisory Committees).
The caveat, of course, is that these existing Bylaws were written by or for the Developers, New Town Associates, LLC. Although the original Bylaws made some provisions for the day when New Town would be turned over to the homeowners, they are clearly no longer pertinent to our position as an independent Homeowners Association.
Many parts are just simply irrelevant now. Some examples: A great deal is said about Mortgagees since the lenders were of primary importance to the Developers in the early days of New Town’s development. Section 4.2 allows the (Developers) Board “from time to time elect to have the Association treated as a ‘homeowners association’” to satisfy IRS regulations. The list goes on…
Other parts of the Bylaws are in conflict with best practices: Section 4.3, for instance, says that “The Developer or or an affiliate of the Developer may be employed as Managing Agent.” It thus allowed the Developer to hire Town Management even though there was a family relationship between the President and one of the Developers. Importantly, real practices are sometimes different than what is stated in our current Bylaws. They call for the Annual Assessments of our individual properties to be established in accordance with “the Declaration and these Bylaws,” yet they are currently not calculated in the manner prescribed.
Clearly, all of our governing documents, including the Bylaws, must be redone to reflect our new self-governance. The NTRA Board is working (with an attorney) on the re-write, so stay updated. You will need to vote when this work is complete!
Pool Pizza Party July 9 - RSVP here
Activities committee will be hosting a Pizza Party at the pool on July 9 5:30 - 7:00
Your RSVP is helpful so that we will have enough pizza, but minimize waste
BOARD BUZZ – July 2021
Mary Cheston, Director
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” CS Lewis
This quote brings to mind two of the major challenges facing our Association: 1) revising our governing documents to reflect the operation of a homeowner-controlled HOA, and 2) a likely rezoning fight over adding additional property to the NTRA.
Governing Documents Revision
In June the Board of Directors finished its initial review of new draft documents written by our Association attorney. Our comments will now be reviewed and the documents revised to incorporate the many changes the Board feels will improve these texts. By September we hope to have a satisfactory version of the drafts to share publicly with homeowners. Our current governing documents are the “wrong road” and the only way we can progress as a community is to start over on the “right road” with a stronger and more appropriate Master Declaration, Supplemental Declaration, Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.
Eastern State Hospital Surplus Property to Become Mixed Use Land
Meanwhile, a “tsunami” arrived on our doorstep on June 12th in the form of proposed revisions to the James City County Comprehensive Master Plan, Our County, Our Shared Future. These revisions include a redesignation of Eastern State Hospital surplus land for Mixed Use so that 324 acres of this federal land can be developed over the next 20 years. The State of Virginia is anxious to sell the property, and ABVA Development LP1 has a contingency contract to develop the two parcels of land immediately adjacent to Charlotte Park (C-1 and C-2). Their land use proposal (LU-20-0002) envisions building up to 235 homes (both detached and townhomes) on this land.
The “wrong road” in this case is that these 81 acres have been labeled as “Mixed Use – New Town” based on ABVA’s land use application and its proximity to New Town. The application states that “The Property would be subjected to the New Town covenants and restrictions, owners would be members of the applicable New Town owner’s association and all development would be subject to the New Town Design Guidelines.” Based on this presumption, County staff titled these parcels “Mixed Use-New Town” and throughout the Plan incorporated language such as “any portion of the Eastern State Hospital property to be brought into the New Town development.”
To be clear, no land can be annexed or lots added to the New Town Residential Association without the consent of the Association. The parcels being sold are not included in the New Town Master Plan or covered in our Master Declaration. So, although there may be a desire by the developer to market this area as New Town and although the new Comprehensive Plan will certainly add to confusion and misleading assumptions in the future, the property is not in New Town.
Not yet at least.
In my opinion most grievous part of the ABVA application is the intention to access the new development by extending Olive Drive. That’s despite the fact that VDOT and County specialists have advised that neither Olive nor Rollison Drive can sustain the heavy traffic and stormwater impacts of this development without reinforcement. Where will the land come from to widen these streets?
Think about the increased traffic and the effect construction cut-through will have on the community character of Charlotte Park – including our pool complex, the Federal Townhomes and Roper Park. A second site access point is Discovery Park Boulevard and while wider, its increased traffic would create an issue affecting thoroughfares like Casey Boulevard and the vibrancy of Chelsea Green. With new office complexes and 235 additional homes, this
In just 10 days, my Charlotte Park neighbors garnered written objections of 114 NTRA owners – 20 % of the Association - to this land use application to bring to the June 24th Planning Commission hearing. ABVA representatives personally lobbied some owners, saying they want to do the right thing for New Town, that they may remove the Olive Drive cut-through and work on buffers. But they’ve also threatened/warned that if they do not prevail, a large developer will snatch up the land and be even worse.
Nonetheless, as of today, ABVA has not amended their June 2020 JCC application or adjusted its drawings. The Planning Commission approved it and is recommending the Board of Supervisors also approve it as submitted.
This storm was set in motion years ago. A 2008 study about the future of Eastern State Hospital has driven this planned expansion. In 2013, the County platted and reserved all of Olive Drive as a right of way “with the intent of being extended and continued in order to provide ingress and egress to and from future subdivisions of the remaining parcel and to and from adjacent parcels…” Rollison Drive Lot CA-6A was never developed and is still owned by ABVA, although this plat, incorporated into our Supplemental Declarations, says that “All Common Areas (C.A.) shall be dedicated to” the Association.
Can the NTRA prevail in the future? The stakes are high and affect all of us.
So, what could the “right road” look like at this point?
- ABVA could revise or voluntarily withdraw its application to allow more time for the consultations and input it says it wants.
- The Board of Supervisors could reject or delay approval of LU-20-0002 to provide for its revision. The Board could also revise descriptive text in the plan to clearly separate New Town and protect the Charlotte Park neighborhood. (Since the Planning Commission recommended approval of the draft Comprehensive Plan, the final adoption of the plan moves to the James City County Board of Supervisors. That public hearing is scheduled for July 13th.)
To those who say ‘it’s only a plan”, “the real changes have to go through rezoning” where there can be negotiations over density, access, etc., I would reply that our community has endured 15 years of construction. We are already behind in this process of defending our small-town community and lifestyle and have lost some ability to influence the outcome. The Comprehensive Plan is considered “rigid guidelines for development.” Since ABVA has a purchase contract with the State, formal rezoning of the property is likely to begin within a year – Not 20. Our Association will be negotiating and likely fighting and spending legal fees for months to come.
Yes, mixed use at Eastern State was probably inevitable. But New Town is already a model, complete mixed-use community in James City County. How can we make this new land use change the progress we want?
You have two opportunities to learn more - both at Legacy Hall:
- July 6, 7PM - an NTRA Owners Town Hall with a presentation by ABVA Development LP
- July 7, 7 PM James City County Supervisor Jim Icenhour will hold a listening session with New Town residents so that you may learn more about the County's land use redesignation process and share your concerns.
Look for emails with more details on these meetings.
1 ABVA's builder Atlantic Homes has been New Town’s primary developer.
NTRA Committees Need Volunteers
Max Pfannebecker; Chair, Communications Committee
All Committees are currently seeking resident members / volunteers / contributors. Please contact us NTRAwebsitecommittee@gmail.com
to express your interest in one of the following:
COMMUNICATIONS - help keep your neighbors informed. Contribute with the crier, social media presencem and/or website maintenance
ACTIVITIES - help plan fun activities for residents
ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW - establish & enforce guidelines & standards
ASSET MAINTENANCE - maintain function and aesthetics of community properties
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS - coordinate communications with local emergency services, provide direction to relief in event of emergency
FINANCE COMMITTEE - advise Board of Directors on NTRA financials and funding
LANDSCAPE ADVISORY - keep New Town beautiful, govern landscaping operation, planning, maintenance, and changes by property owners
POOL COMMITTEE - create and maintain standards and policies for our community pool
NT Dave's Deals
Which deal do you prefer? Why not try both!
The Holtgrieves, Dave and Paulette of Charlotte Park, are bargain shoppers and they take delight in finding a new deal. It could be food, or fun or furniture. They know how to do it, and they do it well.
Lunches are a special passion of theirs. Better prices, smaller portions, fewer people to jockey with for a table.
In this occasional series (when they find something they like, they’ll let us know), we focus on two New Town staples – Buffalo Wild Wings and Which Wich and a couple of special midweek enticements that are offered on a regular basis.
On Tuesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings, you can place an order for bone-in wings and get a second order free of charge. Small, medium or large. Doesn’t matter.
On Thursdays, the same offer at BWW applies for boneless wings. You get to choose from the same array of sauces, and they’ll put them on the side in case you wish to take leftovers home.
In between days, there’s $5 Wicked Wednesdays at Which Wich. A sandwich of turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, bacon, with cheddar, provolone, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and mayo is just $5.
That’s hard to believe – and no coupon is necessary.
Know Your Rules: Signs – Spreading the Joy? Maybe Not
Mary Cheston, Board of Directors
What do these photos have in common? They all represent illegal signs posted by residents of New Town.
Yes, I used the term “illegal” because the Rules of the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) prohibit the display of most common signs. Truth be told, we’d love to celebrate the arrival of your new baby or your child’s graduation with you. If the Covid pandemic has taught the world anything, it is the value of connections and community. But our Rules (2005) do not account for any of these signs.
Article 7.1(o) of the Master Declaration of Protective Covenants and Restrictions states that except for signs posted by the Developer or the Association and standard “for sale” signs, “no signs of any character shall be erected, posted or displayed” in a visible location. Per the Master Declaration any other permitted signs must be identified in the NTRA Rules.
So what exactly do the Rules permit?
- For sale/rent signs in the special New Town format (available from Town Management)
- Builder advertising signs
- Political candidate signs during election periods
- Homeowner event signs from the NTRA
That’s it – no security system signs, no gardening signs, no personal signs of any kind. And signs are proliferating – there are at least 11 different varieties of security systems signs throughout our neighborhoods.
So we have a situation of widespread noncompliance with the rules. In this case, the Board of Directors is not proposing to confiscate your signs or fine you – for now. We will add “signs” to the long list of issues that need to be revised in our new Governing Documents.
Please don’t shoot the messengers. Board Members live here too and our purpose in sharing these facts is to make you aware of why change is needed in our Governing Documents. 16 years is a long time to go without refreshing the information that serves as the foundation for our homeowner association – or any organization.
We are seeking your support and your ideas – how should we control signs in our community?
Quick Getaways -- Jamestown-Yorktown Freebie
Gas prices being what they are, this might be a good time to look for activities even a little closer to home than the usual fare offered here. The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation has the perfect answer for those living in a wide variety of zip codes, including 23188.
That’s right, the Foundation recently announced that to show appreciation to the local community, free admission is available to residents of James City County, York County, City of Williamsburg, William & Mary students and active military.
That’s not an inconsequential savings. General admission to Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is a combined $28.90 for adults, $14.45 for ages 6-12.
All each guest needs to do is show proof of residency, whether that be a valid Virginia driver’s license or digital copies of a utility bill. William & Mary students need to show a current student ID card.
The offer includes general admission to Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, including daytime special events and special exhibitions. Attendees can enjoy museum gallery exhibits and films, shopping in the museum gift shops and dining in the café.
According to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation website among the exhibits available between now and March of 2022 is titled “Focused: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience.”
It’s principally a photographic exhibition in collaboration with Virginia Indian tribal communities that is drawn from collections held by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, as well as images from anthropologist Frank Speck (1910-1930s). Also featured is the work of Baltimore Sun photographer A. Aubrey Bodine from the 1940s and 1950s.
As the title suggests, the exhibit focuses on the resilience of Virginia’s Indian population, from the passage of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 to the contemporary efforts of 11 Virginia tribes to receive state and federal recognition.
At Yorktown, the Yorktown Battlefield Museum, two unique exhibits are temporarily closed due to Covid. The Moore House (site of negotiations between two British officers and two allied officers immediately before Gen. Cornwallis’ surrender) and the Nelson House (home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., commander of the Virginia militia at the siege of Yorktown and a signer of the Declaration of Independence) remain closed. However, that is subject to change as restrictions are relaxed.
It would be best to phone the Colonial National Historic Park – Yorktown to hear a recorded message with updates on Yorktown and Jamestown. The phone number is (757) 898-2410.
"New Urbanism" at Heart of New Town Experience
New Town Commercial Association & Crier Staff
They likely won’t use this exact phrase but ask residents of New Town why they live here and most of them will point to the development’s philosophy of “New Urbanism.”
In short, New Urbanism refers to a community of homes and businesses that buck traditional design by interspersing homes and businesses among one another. Residents can live above restaurants like Center Street Grill, look over at trendy stores like Trader Joe’s, walk to Regal Cinema, Sola Salon Studios, Barnes & Noble and American Family Fitness. There’s even a small seasonal vegetable stand in the parking lot between Williamsburg institution Paul’s Deli and Ironbound Gym.
They can opt for inviting views of wooded areas or the community swimming pool. There’s something for every taste here, enhanced by businesses that front broad, brick-lined sidewalks, wide crosswalks, bike racks, streetlamps and welcoming benches.
At the heart of New Town’s public square is a fountain, with jets of water that arc toward the center – a striking feature that traditional development abandoned in the slide toward strip malls geared toward motorists.
Yet regardless of how well maintained, how eclectic and how welcoming a community is, the pandemic, supply problems and the nation-wide shortage of workers can have a negative impact anywhere.
According to an April article in The Wall Street Journal, roughly 200,000 establishments closed just during the first year of the pandemic. Even as we come out of the pandemic, the Federal Reserve acknowledges that many businesses continue struggling to remain open.
New Town is no exception.
Lately, residents say that there is a disturbing number of empty storefronts. National merchants like Pier 1 and Stein Mart have departed; other “mom and pop” businesses have followed suit. Adjacent to the movie theater, there have been at least two candy stores in the same location and two Mexican restaurants. One block or so away, two or three Italian restaurants have shuttered. Main Street seems particularly hard hit.
So The Crier wants to hear from you, the residents. We’ve placed a poll on the NTRA Facebook page (link). Tell us what businesses you would like to see come to New Town. Maybe you have a favorite restaurant you frequented when you lived somewhere else. Maybe you can envision a “Cheers”-type hangout doing well here. Perhaps a men’s clothier.
Here’s a chance to tell us, and the Commercial Association, what you think.
There is much to appreciate about New Town’s design. There are hundreds of homes within walking distance of the community’s 170 or so shops, restaurants, medical offices, personal-service options and entertainment venues. Houses often front greenspace, such as a public park. Homes of numerous styles and price points – freestanding and attached, apartments and live-aboves – welcome a diverse cross-section of residents who have a range of needs.
They likely also have a wide range of opinions on how what is already an excellent place to live could be even better. We’re anxious to hear them.
Meet Your Lifeguards
Every summer we like to introduce you to our community pool lifeguards...and if you spend as much time at the pool as my family does, they sort of become family. This year both of our lifeguards have traveled here from Jamaica.
For Trace Beckford, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica is home. He's a father of two who enjoys soccer and describes himself as cool, humble, and hard working. He enjoys playing soccer in his spare time and says his favorite dish from home is Curried Chicken & White Rice.
Your other lifeguard, Richard White, hails from Setmore, Jamaica. Richard describes himself as quiet and calm and enjoys swimming and working out when he's not life guarding. His favorite traditional dish from home is Aki & Saltfish.
Please give these guys a warm welcome and introduce yourselves!
NEW TOWN TALK: WE’RE NOT JUST BOOKS
Barry Trott, Special Projects and Technical Services Director, Williamsburg Regional Library/Sarah Carey
This June 12th New Town Talk was focused on the digital resources on the Williamsburg Library website (www.wrl.org). The two Apps to use are Overdrive and Libby. Help is always available, either by email, chat, text, phone call or coming into the library. Williamsburg Library in downtown is located at 515 Scotland St, Williamsburg and the James City County branch is located at 7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg.
There are 6 digital collections.
- Ebooks, of which there are 25,000, can be renewed 3 times and return automatically.
- There are 13,000 downloadable audiobooks which are a great way to “read” while walking and helpful for the vision impaired. Once they are downloaded, they are offline.
- There is a large digital magazine collection of 3200 issues!
- Streaming and downloadable music can be accessed anywhere, anytime using the FREEGAL App for a total of 3 hours, but during the pandemic it was extended to 24 hours. You can download 3 songs/week and keep them forever.
- Streaming video is through the Kanopy App. You can get weekly updates on new videos available. The video is available for 72 hours and can be streamed to a Smart TV.
- The last collection is Learning at Home which offers resources for teachers, school age children and librarians. There is also a section on resources which includes such topics as ancestry, life-long learning classes, languages, arts and crafts.
Spend some time browsing the library website! It’s not just books.
New Town Talk: Interesting Virtual Distance & Local Activities in our Community
Thank you to Karen Durst and Ellen Weidman for researching activities to do virtually or locally in the area during COVID. Here is a brief recap of their May 10th presentation.
On your computer you can visit museums in other cities, such as the Musee d”Orsay in Paris and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Google and Amazon via zoom have free and some for fee activities, such as wine tasting, cooking classes, travel experiences, dance lessons, and the programs are for adults and children. These are accessed via “explore virtual activities”. The Washington Post offers 30 minute free programs every weekday, the common topic usually current events and require registration. A listing of topics is available every Sunday in the WAPO. Every Friday at 5 pm the Frick Museum, via You Tube, hosts “Cocktails with the Curator”, BYOB and recipes for the cocktail of the time period being highlighted. The SmithsonianAssociates.org has virtual activities for a fee. Check out the NY Times Sunday At Home. There are daily virtual events such as a visit to Coney Island.
Local visits can include Colonial Williamsburg events which can be viewed on the CW website. Sign up for their daily emails which give a daily schedule, special events and a ,newsletter. Be sure to purchase a Good Neighbor Pass, good for entry to CW, at one of the ticket booths or online. There are 3 local farmers markets! Downtown Williamsburg 8-12 Saturday am, Yorktown 8-12 Saturday am and New Town on New Town Boulevard Saturday 10-4, Sunday 10-2. Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Experience Museums are both free to Virginia residents. Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center offers a wide array of classes, not just art classes.
There are numerous regional wineries where you may bring a picnic and your dog. Most are located in highly scenic areas. Barboursville overlooks the ruins of Governor Barbours mansion and is owned by an Italian family from Tuscany. They have two tasting options – self serve tasting and the second seated in the wine library, reservation recommended. Keswick Winery has tastings outside only now and it has a fenced dog run. The King family winery in Crozet has tastings and polo matches to watch!