Board Buzz

View Archives

BOARD BUZZ July 2021, Mary Cheston, Director
Posted on Jul 1st, 2021 Comments (0)
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 New Town Residential Association (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.” 
 
All of this has been done without any consultation with the Board of Directors or knowledge of NTRA owners.
 
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 Eastern State Hospital property is not in New Town.
 
Not yet at least.
 
In my opinion, the 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 growth will likely be felt New Town wide.
 
In just 10 days, my Charlotte Park neighbors garnered the 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 action on 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 plan's final adoption 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 may 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.
  • July 7, 7PM 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.
BOARD BUZZ June 2021, Angela Lesnett, Vice President
Posted on Jun 1st, 2021 Comments (0)
Dear Neighbors,
It’s finally summer, but before we all head to the beach let me recap actions the Board has taken on the important matter that has occupied most of our time and that will require your attention in the coming months: revision of NTRA’s Governing Documents.
 
Earlier this year the Board decided that it is necessary to revise and update the Association’s Governing Documents. At its March meeting, the Board emphasized its goals: understandable documents that provide a transparent assessment methodology and reflect New Town as a community with common areas and amenities shared by all homeowners. Those goals were highlighted in NTRA President Dick Durst’s April 1 “Board Buzz” article. Finally, on May 17 all NTRA owners received a letter from the Board explaining the background of this matter as well as some future actions. (That letter can be viewed on the NTRA website).
 
We are seeking equitable treatment of owners in our revised documents. We must strive for fairness in assessments, while recognizing that our New Town homes are not cookie-cutter units in a high-rise condo. One of several issues that must be resolved is the provision of landscape services in fenced yards. For more information, see the article in the May Town Crier.
 
Your part in this process will come this Fall. As you know, Member approval is necessary in order to change the Governing Documents. The Board will hold a town hall meeting at which you can ask questions about the revised documents and, later, vote on them. In the meantime, educate yourselves by reading eblasts, Town Crier articles, and website notices to stay informed about the issues. For example, we are already updating the FAQ page on the website with answers to your questions. 
 
On a different topic, I’d like to remind owners of an existing covenant that is sometimes overlooked - - the requirement to obtain approval from the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) before commencing a project that alters the exterior appearance of your property. 
 
Before starting construction or installation of a patio, deck, fence, generator, or other structure, and before starting any alteration of the exterior (including changing a paint color) of any dwelling, the owner must submit an application to NTRA’s ARC and secure approval. The application form is available on the website. Other improvements that require ARC approval include awnings, changes to exterior lighting, storm doors, window boxes that are to be attached to the house or garage, large yard ornaments, play equipment, satellite dishes, and solar panels. See the ARC Procedural Guidelines for more information. Failure to submit an application and obtain approval before altering property is an NTRA violation and may result in a penalty. 
 
Finally, the Activities Committee is planning several fun and family-friendly events this summer. An ice-cream social will be held in mid-June and a pool party will be scheduled for July.  Also, the next New Town Talk (on Zoom) is scheduled for June 12. The title is “Williamsburg Regional Library – We’re Not Just Books” and the speaker will discuss the library’s digital collections that can be accessed with a library card.  Watch for more details on each of these events on eblasts, and Town Crier and Facebook notices.  The events will be posted on NTRA’s website calendar.
 
Membership in the NTRA carries with it both obligations, and benefits. Obligations include knowing and following the rules. Benefits include enjoyment of the Association’s amenities, such as social activities, our beautiful walking trails and, of course, the pool.  I hope to see you out and about this summer!
 
 
BOARD BUZZ May 2021, Mike Reilly, Director
Posted on May 1st, 2021 Comments (0)
Smorgasbord: 1. a buffet offering a variety of hot and cold meats, salads, hors d'oeuvres, etc.
2. a wide range of something; a variety.
 
This is the official definition but for this Board Buzz article, you can throw out the culinary definition. This article will focus on a smorgasbord of updates from your Board of Directors. 
 
Inspection: careful examination or scrutiny.
 
And that’s what is taking place in our annual AMC Exterior Inspection, for 2021, of the Savannah Square and Abbey Commons neighborhoods. The 2021 inspection process commenced on March 1st with the first inspection of townhomes and notification of violations were sent out so that homeowners could begin planning for their action on the necessary corrections. On April 5th, the second inspection was conducted and after these two inspections and notifications, 75% to 80% of homeowners have responded by taking care of the issue or providing their plan of correction. The final inspection will be conducted on May 3rd and those items that have not been acted upon, either by correcting the issue or by providing a corrective action plan, will be cited for non-compliance and face potential penalties. 
 
This is a busy time for contractors so actual completion of work may not take place until much later, into the summer months. Some homeowners facing the need for shutter painting are trying to coordinate, with adjoining townhome owners, the timing of painting of all shutters. This will maintain a uniform appearance and a much better “curb appeal”. So, remember that the important thing to do is respond and not remain silent.
 
Aqua Zumba: the performance of aerobic exercise in water such as in a swimming pool. Done mostly vertically and without swimming typically in waist deep or deeper water, it is a type of resistance training.
 
The Board has approved a contract to open the pool for the 2021 season on Memorial Day weekend; we will be following Virginia’s Covid requirements.
 
Back by popular demand, the 2021 summer season will, once again, include Ironbound Gym’s ever-popular Aqua Zumba classes at our community pool. The classes will be conducted on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s beginning Tuesday, June 15th and continuing through September 2nd. A couple of major details about timing are yet to be determined. If there are no Covid space limitations, then there will be one class starting at 9:30 AM. If Covid space limitations are in effect, then there will be two separate classes: 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM. Stay tuned!
 
Volunteer: a person who works for an organization without being paid.
 
April was “National Volunteer Month”, and we wouldn’t want this to pass without expressing our heartfelt thanks for all that our New Town Residential Association Volunteers do to help make our community the special place that it is. Did you know that this community is primarily governed and run by the volunteer homeowners who call this wonderful place home? New Town needs support in so many ways and luckily, we are able to find the talent from the members who live here. Let’s take a look at the scope of work that our volunteers generously provide to their neighbors.
 
  • Activities Committee: These neighbors work diligently to bring the community together in fun and meaningful ways by providing events and activities that allow us to gather and celebrate our diverse backgrounds and interests. Due to Covid, many events have been brought to a screeching halt. Finally, the committee will be able to plan events that bring us together as our society begins to open up under our States relaxed guidelines.
 
  • Architectural Review Committee (ARC): These volunteers review all architectural requests for improvements by homeowners to ensure that modifications are in keeping with the special look of our neighborhoods and that they are in compliance with our NTRA documents.
 
  • Asset Maintenance Committee (AMC): This committee oversees the annual home inspection process so that maintenance needs are highlighted as a reminder to homeowners of work needed to bring their home back into compliance. Like individual homeowners, the HOA must ensure that common areas that are in need of repair are held to the same standard. These volunteers conduct an annual community inspection of all Neighborhood Common Areas so that repair needs are noted, and repairs can be scheduled. 
 
  • Communications Committee: When I was in business, the number one issue that was always highlighted as a problem was “communication” – the need for more and better. Communications encompasses so much and is almost impossible to fully get your arms around. The dedicated neighbors who serve on this committee do a tremendous job in managing the communication necessary to keep all informed.
 
  • Emergency Preparedness Committee: Often we are caught off guard when an emergency occurs. There are plenty of things that homeowners can do to mitigate loss and harm by being prepared in emergency situations. Luckily, we have neighbors who help us to keep the idea of “being prepared” in the forefront of our minds when emergencies are on the horizon or surprise us. Thankfully, this committee outlines the precautions and steps that we can take to protect ourselves in times of emergencies.
 
  • Finance Committee: This committee does much of the number crunching and analysis work required to ensure that our assessments (income) meet the operational and long-term needs (expenses) of our community. Some might view this service as “too much like work” but I assure you that it provides volunteers a unique insight into the nuts and bolts of the NTRA organization
 
  • Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC): Our biggest single expense is landscaping. Additionally, landscaping touches each of us in a very personal way. Our real estate investments are enhanced by what I like to call “curb appeal”. Landscaping, along with the work of the ARC and AMC help to keep New Town crisp and our investments more secure.
 
  • Pool Committee: Memorial Day is around the corner and the members of this committee have spent time preparing for a smooth opening. They look to enhance the pool experience for all, and they do much to ensure the safety, especially, with meeting or exceeding Covid protocols. 
 
  • Ad Hoc Volunteers: There are times when work needs to get done and our homeowners step up and volunteer to take on the task. 
 
  • Board of Directors: This group of Members serve to provide direction to the Management Company, Legal Counsel and our Committees so that all of the needs of the community are being met. Members are voted into this body and when positions open before their tenure ends, they are filled by a vote of the incumbent Board of Directors. 
 
There is always a need for members on these committees. Being on a committee allows you an opportunity to use your skills to serve your neighbors. The New Town Residential Association is dependent on our volunteers, past, present and future!!! 
 
Our community relies on your dedication and diligence and we say, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all that you do in the service of others. You are the UNSUNG HEROES!!
 
BOARD BUZZ April 2021, Dick Durst, President
Posted on Apr 1st, 2021 Comments (1)
 
“And This Job Was to be Easy…” - When Chuck Stetler called me late last year and invited me to join the Board to fill an empty seat, my wife, Karen, and I talked through this and I said, “how difficult can this be?  It’s a small group of people making sure our neighborhood looks good and that we are all trying to follow the guidelines to keep it that way.”  Well, the latter sentence is certainly correct….
 
This article is about the evolution of that “job” and, more importantly, about the assessments we all pay.  Those assessments are used, among a myriad things, to pay for landscaping, garbage collection, maintaining street lights and keeping our walking trails and built resources in good shape for the future.  The determination of the amount of our assessments was established several years ago by the original Developer Board; that process has been followed for the last 15 or so years.
 
Last year, as we concluded the budget preparation for 2021, the Board received concerns from a few homeowners who suggested that the methodology that had been used for years to determine homeowner assessments might not be following the methodologies laid out in the NTRA governing documents.  Our Finance Committee shared some of those beliefs and we sought advice from our legal counsel.  After a lengthy review and evaluation she confirmed that we needed to revise our assessment methodology.  
 
As New Town was built in phases over more than a decade, the Supplemental Declarations for each of our neighborhoods became more inconsistent and, in some cases, contradictory.  Just to cite one example, some Supplementals list non-VDOT streets in the Neighborhood Assessments, section IV of your documents, indicating those must be taken care of by neighborhood assessments for the people living in that area of New Town, while other Supplementals do not, leaving it to the whole of NTRA to maintain. There are several such inconsistencies.  Charlotte Park, alone, has TEN (10) Supplemental Declarations, since it was built in several stages and even within those there are various discrepancies.
 
People who live in some of our smaller homes (the term “cottages” has been used in our assessment lingo, even though that doesn’t appear in our Declarations) have been charged somewhat smaller assessments, but that option does not appear in any governing documents, except for three homes in Village Walk (assessed at 70% of their Neighborhood Assessment only). Parcel Developers for New Town have paid much lower assessments during the time they were building homes or units on those vacant lots—again, that reduction seems contrary to our Governing Documents.
 
We are now consulting with experts on options and approaches to rectifying this complex situation, but we are committed to resolve this.  Therefore, we announced at the March board meeting: 
 
"NTRA will revise our governing documents, particularly the Master Declaration and Supplemental Declarations, to address the assessment methodology and update their provisions. Our goal is to have easily understood and enforceable documents with a transparent assessment method. To the maximum extent possible, the Association’s governing documents should reflect New Town as a community with common areas and amenities shared by all homeowners."
 
Governing document changes require a vote of the members (homeowners) and need a 2/3 majority to pass.  You will see much more about this over the upcoming months.
 
We will build our 2022 budget based more closely on our current governing documents as we work through this process.  The Board of Directors are committed to transparency in this development and will schedule a Town Hall meeting to discuss our processes as we move forward.
 
All this has resulted in many, many hours of work for your “volunteer” Board of Directors and will probably remain so for several months, but these good people are resolved to do what’s right.
BOARD BUZZ March 2021 by Mary Cheston, Director
Posted on Mar 1st, 2021 Comments (1)
 
There is an Irish saying, “If you do your best, don’t mind the rest.”  90 days into serving on the Board of Directors and the firehose I have been drinking from has now reduced to a normal stream…that’s the good news. Then somehow a new blaze appears and the firehose can no longer reach it to help.  So, this month I thought I would mimic the classic movie title and share “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” about 2021 so far for the NTRA.
 
  • The Good: The Board has completed orientation training for all Directors and reviewed its insurance coverage in anticipation of a new contract later this year. At our February meeting, the Board adopted two new policies – a collection policy for delinquent assessments and a new policy on the transition of assets from the Developer to the Association. Under this policy, the NTRA will use both a neighborhood working group from the area being transitioned and an independent engineering firm to examine the final common area/asset’s condition. The Board has also approved funds to remove dead trees and replace certain street trees. This work should begin shortly. 
  • The Bad: We have a number of new Association expenses, including legal fees in order to provide the Board needed advice and engineering services to complete 1) James City County’s approval of new playground equipment and 2) the anticipated transition of two neighborhoods’ common areas from the Developer, New Town Associates, to the NTRA. Charlotte Park Section 7 (both Phase X and Roper Park) will be turned over in 2021. Charlotte Park’s remaining areas must pass final James City County inspection. Then the NTRA will have an independent engineering review to ensure that assets are being conveyed “in a condition acceptable to the Association” (per our Master Declaration) as outlined in the policy highlighted above.
The Board has clarified IRS rulings on what type of projects can be charged to replacement reserves and this may change some of our 2021 funding priorities. For example, although the Board approached the Developer about completing the unfinished removal of dead trees in Roper Park, we have been unsuccessful in reaching agreement for them to cover this $7,500 expense. So this is an unbudgeted operational item that we believe should have priority.
 
  • The Ugly: Setting realistic expectations and understanding what can and cannot be done currently in New Town seems to be a never-ending task. Several homeowner concerns are tied to our governing documents which commit us to things that don’t seem logical and are expensive. But until we revise these documents as an Association-which is a multiyear process-there is little that can be done. For example,
    • Maintenance of common areas like trails and BMPs: What seems like the premature shift of maintenance expenses to the Association for areas that are still owned by the Developer is actually required in our Master Declaration (Para 4.1). Once a feature is on a James City County plat, the NTRA is responsible for its maintenance. Remember that our governing documents were written to benefit the Developer. 
    • Managing Agent Contract: The NTRA is obligated to have the same Managing Agent as the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA) under the terms of the Shared Amenities Agreement adopted in 2015. Our contractor, Town Management LLC, must remain as our agent until this Agreement is amended (which is not in our 2021 workplan for document revisions) unless the NTRA wishes to abrogate its Agreement with the NTCA. Can we use the existing 2015 contract to improve performance or do we need a revised contract to set new expectations for our Managing Agent? 
The other “ugly” news is that several Village Walk homeowners have experienced a series of roof leaks and water problems. The NTRA is responsible for the “repair, maintenance and replacement of roof shingles, sheathing, felt and flashing” in Village Walk, which is part of this neighborhood’s separate assessment fee. The number of these leaks is troubling. Forensic inspections are underway as we plan next steps. It behooves all Village Walk homeowners to inspect and clean their gutters, drains and collector boxes to be sure they are clear of debris. (See February Town Crier article “Best Practices for Roof Maintenance.”)
 
My message essentially is that your fellow homeowner Board of Directors is doing our best to balance community expectations and our fiduciary responsibilities. Stay informed, join in our Board meetings which are posted on the NTRA website calendar, and read minutes and other important NTRA communications. As the Irish also say, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass...it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 
 
Have a happy and healthy St. Patrick’s Day!
BOARD BUZZ February 2021 By Rick Fisher, Treasurer
Posted on Feb 1st, 2021 Comments (0)
 
During the first six months following the transition from a Developer Board to a Homeowner Board, the new Board got to work and accomplished a great deal by the end of 2020:
  • Incorporation of Savannah Square into the Association
  • Updating/Re-writing Committee Charters
  • Identify and documenting key operating policies and procedures
  • Reviewing existing association contracts
  • Developing and adopting the 2021 Budget
During January, the Board’s focus has been on:
  • Working with Town Management (TM) to revise it’s contract with the Association. The TM contract must be aligned with the goals of the Association, and TM’s performance must be measureable.  The Board believes that homeowners deserve to receive outstanding customer service.  For example, concerns that are raised by members, and documented through the website ticketing process, should be addressed in a timely manner with follow-up until the issue is resolved. TM is an integral part of this process.
 
  • Continuing to develop and document policies and procedures:
  • Ticketing System on the Web (Finalized)
  • Collection oi Delinquent Assessments
  • Conduct of BOD Virtual Meetings (Finalized)
  • Filling a Board of Directors Position Vacancy (Finalized)
  • Investment of Replacement Reserves (Finalized)
  • Turnover of Assets From the Developer to the Association
  • Managing the Expenditure of Replacement Reserves
  • Working with the Association Attorney to begin to review the governing documents with the intent of bringing them up-to-date and consolidating information (multiple supplements) in a logical and simple to understand manner.  The assessment calculation issue will receive significant focus.  Any changes to the governing documents will require a two thirds vote by members.
 
Beginning with the January meeting, the normal Board monthly meetings will be held from 3-5PM, generally on the fourth Thursday of the month. This is a change from the 6-8PM time.  Although evening meetings will be held when necessary, the Association must pay TM an after-hours charge which we would like to avoid unless it is necessary. Members are still encouraged to participate via Zoom. All the planned monthly meetings as well as quarterly landscape reviews (new) are now available on the website calendar.
 
Chuck Stetler has announced his resignation from the Board for personal issues.  Over many years, Chuck has contributed to the Association in key leadership roles.  His wise counsel and considerable experience will be greatly missed.  We wish Chuck and Susan the very best.
Message to the Community - from President, NTRA Board of Directors
Posted on Jan 8th, 2021 Comments (0)
 
A new year is always a time for personal reflection and renewed commitments. I have reached the difficult decision to resign from the NTRA Board of Directors in order to focus 2021 on family health issues. My commitment to the New Town community remains strong, but I am unable to dedicate the time and attention that Members deserve to this work in any official capacity. I have enjoyed serving you and am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved as New Town has grown.
 
Please support the Board with your energy and ideas, and most of all consider sharing your time and talents by volunteering in some manner with the NTRA. 
 
To all my friends and neighbors, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers - you will be in mine.
 
Chuck
 
Chuck Stetler
President, New Town Residential Association Board of Directors
 
BOARD BUZZ December 2020 by Chuck Stetler, President
Posted on Dec 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
Happy Holidays! 
 
This has been a very unsettling year for our country and our little community. But we are all hoping for a healthy, prosperous New Year.
 
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our holiday party in December. Plus, the Covid virus impacted opening of the pool .. Despite the restrictions caused by the coronavirus, the Activities Committee carried out a successful and well attended Halloween party and parade at Sullivan Square.   
 
The Board of Directors is searching for a person to fill the non-voting position of Secretary.  This is such an important job, which was performed by Dave Holtgrieve who will be resigning in December.    
 
Recently we had informative Town Hall meetings to explain the proposed 2021 NTRA budget and the proposed exterior maintenance program for Village Walk. This assessment was increased because both painting and power washing the homes in Village Walk were not included in the 2019 Reserve study.
 
The transition to homeowner control of the NTRA has been challenging and demanding of the newly elected members of the Board of Directors. Thanks to these volunteers who have contributed their time to work and resolve many issues.
 
Thank you to all volunteers who participated on our committees this past year. Your help was appreciated in carrying out the necessary activities that benefit our HOA.
 
This coming year we will need new volunteers to participate on both the Landscape and Communications committees. Consider joining one of these important groups.
 
The 2020 Annual Members Meeting has been scheduled for December 10th. Please watch for more information and use the website calendar Zoom link to the virtual meeting.
 
Welcome to the New Year....2021!!!!
BOARD BUZZ November 2020 by Dick Durst, Director
Posted on Nov 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
This is called “bath by fire…”  I am the newest member of the Board of Directors for the New Town Residential Association, having been appointed to the seat vacated by Larry Burian’s resignation.  Chuck Stetler, Chairman of the Board, asked me to write this November article based on my experience working with two committees, Activities and Asset Maintenance, since we moved to New Town two and a half years ago.  
 
Community service and participation is very important—not just to me, personally, but to the long-term success of our neighborhood.  We very much enjoy the location and atmosphere we’ve found here, after having had a home in the Williamsburg area for more than 20 years.  The volunteer committees ensure that the quality of life we all enjoy will be maintained; even though the two committee charges (our “charters”) are vastly different.  That has appealed to me, since the Activities Committee is all about the “social” aspects of New Town; providing a way to enjoy the company and camaraderie of our neighbors and friends.  Together we’ve planned pool parties, Kentucky Derby celebrations, Oktoberfest, billiards, Halloween parades, the great Noon-time Talks, and several other events, all designed to bring us together as a community.  It’s a lot of work and the committee needs help to maintain (and expand) those social interactions.  COVID 19 has forced us to rethink the kinds of events we’ve done and I assume that in the future (when life returns to some semblance of social interaction in addition to social distancing) we will discover the “right” blend of those opportunities. 
 
The Asset Maintenance committee charter couldn’t be more different—our charge is to annually coordinate the “inspection” of all of the “built” assets of the New Town Residential Association, including residences of our homeowners and the shared community assets (like the pool buildings, our white fences, and our green spaces), to ensure that all those remain of a quality that is representative of a first-class community and reflect positively on our neighborhoods. 
 
As you are well-aware, many of our homes, beyond those newly constructed in Village Walk, Roper Park, and Shirley Park, are beginning to “come of age.”  Karen and I live in Abbey Commons and our home was built in 2006.  Unfortunately, in developments like ours, builders don’t always use top of the line, first-class materials and equipment, which means for all of us our own personal assets are beginning to need attention.  We’ve just replaced one of our air conditioning units, both inside and outside.  We’ve replaced the flooring in the first floor, had shingles replaced and gutter systems redone.  The paint on many of our homes are beginning to show their age.  I’ve noticed as I walk around New Town that even some of the brickwork is beginning to need attention.  My point is that the volunteer work on the Asset Maintenance committee will become increasingly important as our homes and community assets continue to age. As our committee members reach the end of their terms, it is gratifying to see others step forward to help, but we always need more.
 
There are six additional committees, all staffed by volunteers, that cover most of the aspects of our community, in addition to the Board of Directors (also, all volunteers), so there are so many ways you can contribute.  Those of us who are retired (and seem to have more time to give) also need the balance of younger residents, so that we benefit from all perspectives.  Please think about how you might help?
 
I, along with all Board members, welcome your questions and comments.  See you around the neighborhood!
BOARD BUZZ October 2020 by Jean Brown, Vice President, Board of Directors
Posted on Oct 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
Conversation: #HARDATWORK
 
You can find this phrase in my bio which is a supporting statement that this Board of Director (BOD) member has vision. Your BOD has been hard at work since day one. We began with the training for new board members, an exploration of what Town Management (TM) does for New Town Residential Association (NTRA); a review of  assets, insurance coverage, governing documents, and a check-in with committees to name a few undertakings. 
Let me highlight some of the above endeavors:
 
  • Susan Tarley of Tarley Robinson, PLC as the NTRA attorney provided instructions on the roles and responsibilities of board members.
  • TM provides management services to the NTRA. TM is hired by the NTRA Board specifically to assist the Board to fulfill its responsibilities as defined in the Association documents, including assisting the Board to educate, encourage, and enforce owner compliance with NTRA rules. Helps the Board to manage the assets, funds, and common properties and interests of the NTRA. Supports the efforts of the Board to nurture a lively, healthy, and vital community. NTRA going from a Developer’s board to a Residential board needs a management company that can provide continuity, history, an abundance of experience and professionalism in addition to the services mentioned above. TM brings that to the table for us.
  • Committee support in governance is a treasure to a thriving community. We foster good working relationships and saw the need to formulize Roles and Responsibilities of the Board of Director with Committees.
 
When it comes to transitioning everything is not wrapped in a tidy package with a pretty bow upon it. Such is the case when the Developer’s Board turned NTRA over to the residents.
 
It had come to all attention that Savannah Square neighborhood due to a clerical error resulted in the neighborhood being part of the New Town COMMERCIAL Association instead of the New Town RESIDENTIAL Association. This led to a Ballot: Approval of the first amendment to the NTRA Master Declaration and Covenants to be included during the voting of NTRA first residential board. The Association needed about 100 more votes to pass the Declaration Amendment for Savannah Square so that Savannah Square could be fully and promptly restored into the New Town Residential Association. The goal was not met.
 
Formula: NTRA has approximately 500 properties. A 2/3 vote (334 votes) is needed to pass the Amendment. Voting time, 247 votes had been cast in favor of the Amendment.  
 
The newly elected board had to put a plan into action to gain the remaining votes which was led by Angela Lesnett since electronic reminders did not gain the required number of votes.
  • Plan: provide each non-voting homeowner with a paper ballot and a stamped envelope to return to NTRA . New Town residents would get a doorknob bag that included the ballot.  Addresses outside of New Town (approximately 158 of the 500 New Town properties) would have the ballots mailed to them.
Savannah Square neighborhood is officially part of NTRA because the action taken by the BOD was successful; however, several homeowners did not sign the Savannah Square neighborhood Supplemental Declaration showing their desire to be part of the Association. To date, there are about a dozen who have not signed, so they are still part of the Commercial Association.
 
In summation, much work has been done and there is much work to do, but with the support of both our committees and residents, the BOD is very confident and engaged in making our community work!
BOARD BUZZ September 2020 by Angela Lesnett, Director
Posted on Sep 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
 
This has been an unusual year, so I’m going to forego the standard September essay topic (What I did on my summer vacation) and, instead, focus on NTRA’s budget. In September, the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) will start to prepare its 2021 budget. This is important to each of us because the budget establishes the annual assessment (sometimes called HOA dues) that each owner will pay in 2021. The 2021 budget is especially significant because, as the first budget adopted by NTRA’s homeowner-elected Board, it will start to determine what kind of community we will become, as we move from being a new development to one that is aging.
 
To develop a budget, NTRA’s Finance Committee takes into account all financial aspects of the association, including both sides of the income/expense equation. On the expense side, the Finance Committee asks NTRA’s Committees to submit estimates of the funds needed to accomplish that Committee’s particular objectives in the following year. Working with Town Management, the Finance Committee considers these requests, along with the known and forecasted expenses that NTRA must incur to continue operations and maintain its assets in a manner that meets owners’ expectations for the development. In other words, the Finance Committee considers what it will cost to accomplish the things it must do plus the things it wants to do.
 
On the income side, by far the largest source of income is the annual assessment or HOA dues that each owner pays. The NTRA assesses a fee for each home based on the home type: detached homes, townhomes, and cottages. The other significant source of income is fees collected at closing on sales of both new homes and resales. As discussed at the November 2019 Budget Town Hall Meeting, the addition of new homes in NTRA will slow in the upcoming years as the development nears final build-out. This will result in a decline in income from closing fees and that income will have to be replaced with income from HOA dues.
 
If NTRA’s expenses (for both needs and wants) outweigh its income, the Finance Committee must re-evaluate and prioritize the association’s expenses and also consider what increase in the annual assessment is warranted to fund those expenditures required bring the development up to a level that the owners expect. In prior years this has resulted in an increase in HOA dues. In large part that increase was necessary just to pay for the needs of the association.
 
A new development’s assets require little maintenance at first, but more maintenance (and expense) is to be expected over time. Our pool is just one example: the NTRA pool was new in 2012 and required little maintenance. Now however, after a number of years of normal wear and tear, the NTRA must incur some expense to maintain that important asset to a standard consistent with the development.  
 
The final steps in NTRA’s budget process are the Finance Committee’s submission of the proposed budget to the Board of Directors for review, presentation of the proposed budget to homeowners at the Annual Budget Meeting (usually in late November), and the Board’s adoption of the budget which includes the annual assessment for the upcoming year. 
 
In my application for the Board election I stressed the importance of balancing current needs/expenses with expenses that are projected for the future.  I believe that balance is essential to building a strong community and maintaining property values. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on your Board and to maintain NTRA’s secure financial position.
 
As the September weather cools, I hope we can all find time to enjoy a stroll in the beautiful neighborhood that we call home and to think about what it takes to preserve it. I hope to see you (socially-distanced, of course) outside this fall.  
BOARD BUZZ August 2020 by Secretary Dave Holtgrieve
Posted on Aug 4th, 2020 Comments (0)
 
I was appointed Secretary (Non-voting) at the Board of Directors (BOD) Organizational Meeting on June 19th. I have some experience for the secretary position as I served as secretary for the Transition Committee and a fill in for the Residential Advisory Board (RAB).
 
My responsibilities include preparing the agenda, board minutes, board meeting packet, and general administrative assistance to the board.  I will prepare the minutes for publication on the residential website seven days before the meeting for residents to review.  Meetings are scheduled for the Fourth Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. via Zoom.  The Zoom address can be obtained by viewing the website calendar and clicking on the board meeting 
 
The agenda will include a “Public Comment” period for residents to weigh in if they wish.  This will be held at the beginning of the meeting to allow individuals to speak, but not having to sit through the entire meeting if they are limited by time.
 
To provide early transparency of each meeting, the board decided to approve the minutes via email so to allow posting on the website before the next meeting.  My goal is to try to get the minutes published approximately two weeks after the meeting.  Of course, if the board goes into Executive Session (the meeting is not adjourned with this action), it may be a longer period.  
 
On a final note due to this appointment, I resigned as chair of the Asset Maintenance Committee (AMC) of which Fred Lesnett was elected to that position.  The board has also decided based on the recommendation of the AMC to postpone the AMC program of Third-party Residential Inspections to 2021.  I encourage each Owner to conduct a self-inspection this year to review the maintenance status of their property (mostly power washing and painting), and to lessen the probability of incurring maintenance problems in the future. This action will maintain our property values as a first quality neighborhood.
BOARD BUZZ July 2020 by President Chuck Stetler
Posted on Jul 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
 
[Crier Staff Note: Welcome to the first edition of the renamed “Board Buzz” which will feature the perspective of the President or other members of the Board of Directors each month.]
 
The transition from Developer to Homeowner control of the New Town Residential Association was completed on June 18, 2020.
 
The following residents have been selected to the Residential Board of Directors.
 
Charles Stetler President Charlotte Park
Jean Brown Vice President Savannah Square
Rick Fisher Treasurer Abbey Commons
Angela Lesnett Director Village Walk
Larry Burian Director Village Walk
David Holtgrieve Secretary (Appointed) Charlotte Park
 
Board of Director meetings are scheduled for the 4th Thursday of each month at 6 pm.  Presently, the meetings will be via Zoom, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
The Governor of Virginia has set the Phase Three reopening for July 1, 2020. The Board has approved opening the pool with appropriate precautions. The NTRA Pool Committee and Town Management are diligently working on the details to get the pool open safely for all residents.  Watch for final details.
 
The Master Declaration Amendment for including Savannah Square into the NTRA received 233 favorable votes during the voting period in connection with the BOD election. We need 335 favorable votes-a 2/3 majority-to pass the amendment.  We are working on a plan to solicit more favorable votes from non-voting residents to date.  A package will be delivered to these residents containing a paper ballot, more information about the amendment, and a self addressed, stamped envelope for returning the ballot. Voting will continue until the 2/3 majority is reached.
Final Message from the RAB Chair, June 2020
Posted on May 31st, 2020 Comments (0)
Welcome to summer to all residents of New Town.   It really doesn’t seem like summer because the coronavirus has delayed all the events traditionally associated with the summer  Missed graduations, proms, vacations, visits with friends and neighbors. We all need to stay safe, wear our masks and hopefully everyone will get through this.
 
There will be an election of the new Board of Directors by electronic voting from June 5-15. Results will be announced on June 18th at the transition meeting.
     
Also by electronic voting, you will be asked to approve the first amendment to the Declaration to include Savannah Square. Residents can review information about this issue on the website (Ballot amendment FAQs and June Crier article by Board Member John Wright) and also by electronic mailing. It is important that this amendment passes, so PLEASE VOTE YES.   
     
The pool opening is still on hold. We are awaiting instructions from the pool contracting company as to lifeguard availability. We realize residents are eager for the pool to open and will keep everyone informed whenever we know anything.
     
Good news....the playground drainage project is just about complete. The only thing left to do is the re-mulching of the area.  
     
The RAB will be terminated on June 18th. So, this is the last message from your RAB chair. A big THANK YOU to all the volunteer residents who have served on the RAB.    
The committees will continue, but now they will work directly with the newly elected Board of Directors.  
      
Let’s hope for a peaceful summer....stay safe.
Message from the RAB Chair, May 2020
Posted on May 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
 
Our world has changed significantly in the past months.... no one knows what our new NORMAL will be in the future. But, we will continue to look forward with optimism.   
 
The NTRA will be following the guidelines set forth by our Governor Northam. This includes:
  • Staying home as much as possible.  Walks, with masks, socializing six feet away from neighbors...whatever you need to do to stay safe and keep your neighbors safe, too.
  • The Board of Directors has asked Town Management to look into alternatives for the election of the new Board of Directors, instead of having a special residential meeting.  It’s not clear when or if residents would feel comfortable assembling in the near future. 
  • All social activities sponsored by the NTRA have either been cancelled or postponed.  You will be informed as soon as we know anything. 
  • The pool opening is on hold.  But, we are proceeding with the startup and pre-opening directions so that the pool will be ready whenever clearance is given for the opening.
The LAC is initiating a test project throughout the community, whereby designated areas will be set aside for dog use.  These spots will be mulched and marked with signs about usage of these areas.  With a growing population of dogs, the committee thought it would be a good alternative having certain areas for dogs instead of neighbors’ lawns.  Hopefully there will be a positive response to these doggie areas.  VA Lawn installed the first two Dog Mulch Beds (DMB) on Casey Boulevard on Saturday, April 25th.  Reminder, there are dog stations available for fecal disposal, located throughout New Town.
 
The beautiful Little Library was built and erected in the park at Elizabeth Davis/Center Street. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, there has been a delay in opening it for use.  As with so many things, we can only sit back and wait for the grand opening.
 
Please remember to honor your Mother on her day. (May 10).  She needs a hug especially this year. (We all need a hug.....if we can ever get close again !)
Message from the RAB Chair, April 2020
Posted on Apr 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
 
This is probably going to be the saddest letter from the chair...or from any other committee member. We are strong and hopefully everyone survives in our little community. This quote has been on Facebook and I thought you might read it and think about what it says. It applies to both young and old.
 
"I think that when the dust settles, we will realize how very little we need, how much we actually have, and the true value of human connection."
 
Please remember the requests of our governor. This request was also put on the website about social distancing..staying six feet away from people. It’s so difficult because everyone needs a hug once in awhile. We have postponed all NTRA sponsored social activities for the future until cleared.
 
Also postponed will be the transfer from developer to homeowner control and the election of the new BOD. The present BOD has asked that the RAB and all committees continue to function and NOT terminate on April 1, 2020. They all agreed to comply.
 
Please try to be tolerant of our landscapers. They should be complying with requested behavior by healthcare officials. In my personal opinion, landscaping of our property is a non-essential activity. The landscapers will be  providing a weekly schedule of their services which will be posted on the website.
 
Remember to try to STAY SAFE by following guidelines from health officials. One thing I have noticed more people walking than ever before. So enjoy saying hello to new friends. And maybe lose a few pounds! LOL
Message from the RAB Chair, March 2020
Posted on Mar 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
From the Desk of Chuck Stetler;
 
Welcome  Spring !  One last snow fall before the daffodils show their blooms and warm weather surfaces.  So much is happening in our community in the next couple months.
 
Probably the most important event is our HOA being turned over to homeowner control on April 2, 2020 at Legacy Hall at 6 p.m.  During  this meeting,  members will elect five new directors to the board.  They will serve a term of approximately seven months until the next NTRA annual meeting in December 2020.
 
Activities this month in our community include:
1. New Town Day at William and Mary Kaplan Arena on March 7th at 1 p.m. in Person room. Many residents have supported the women’s basketball games each week. This is our way to thank the women’s team for a great and exciting season.
2. Another sensational season for the Noon Time Talks continues at Center Street Grill on March 11th at noon.  If you’re interested in space, this talk enitled "NASA’s Search For Life Beyond Earth" is definitely for you.  Reserve your “space” soon!
3. If you haven’t heard about it yet, we’re awaiting a Little Outdoor Library to be placed outside the pool area.  You’ll be able to sit at the pool and read a “new to you” book.
4. We welcome some new people to the New Town Communication family….  Max Pfannebecker as new Crier Editor and Christian Kent on the website team.
5. The finance committee agreed to purchase an  audio/visual system for use at our NTRA meetings and parties throughout the year.
The Transition Committee has been busy reviewing NTRA documentation, including all declarations and financial reports.  The actual transition date is scheduled for April 2, 2020.
 
Our annual home inspection program will begin again for all residents commencing on March 16th.  Please prepare your home exterior for your inspection.  Review your self check list.
 
Looking forward to seeing New Town hibernating residents out on our great trails enjoying spring!
 
Message from the RAB Chair, February 2020
Posted on Feb 1st, 2020 Comments (0)
Read the February message from the Chair of the RAB.
Message from the RAB Chair, December 2019
Posted on Dec 1st, 2019 Comments (0)
Read the December message from the Chair of the RAB
Message from the RAB Chair, Nov 2019
Posted on Nov 1st, 2019 Comments (0)
Read the November 2019 message from the Chair of the RAB.
Message from the RAB Chair, Oct 2019
Posted on Oct 1st, 2019 Comments (0)
RAB for October 2019.
Message from the RAB Chair, September 2019
Posted on Sep 1st, 2019 Comments (0)
Read the September 2019 message from the Chair of the RAB.
Message from the RAB Chair, August 2019
Posted on Aug 1st, 2019 Comments (0)
Read the August message from the Chair of the RAB
Message from the Chair
Posted on Jun 30th, 2019 Comments (0)
Read the July message from the Chair of the RAB
Message from the Chair, June 2019
Posted on May 31st, 2019 Comments (0)
Read the June message from the Chair of the RAB
Message from the Chair, RAB - May 2019
Posted on May 1st, 2019 Comments (0)
Read the message for May from the Chair of the RAB
It's Finally Here - Our New NTRA Website!
Posted on Mar 15th, 2019 Comments (0)
Welcome to our new NTRA website. After almost a year, the platform "HOA-Sites" recommended by a resident search team is up and running. You should notice a lot more functionality and ease of navigating this site to find important information.  
 
We need ALL residents of New Town to LOG IN and create a profile.  None of your personal information from the old NTRA site has been saved. When you sign up, be sure to identify your neighborhood (property dropdown box). This will allow Town Management and others to target messages of importance just to your community.  
 
Special thanks to Communications Committee Vice Chair, Anthony Dunleavy, without whose perseverance and remarkable skills this transition would never have been possible!
 
You can help us by getting the word out to your neighbors, and by suggesting items you'd like to see on the site.  Provide us your comments and ideas.
 
If you are a photographer, we could use more horizontal slice photos (1088 X 414 pixels) to post in our banners. And if you have any web skills, please consider joining the volunteer team maintaining the new site. Your Association needs you - just contact Lucy Painter, Chair of the Communications Committee at hokiegirl70@gmail.com.