Board Buzz

View Archives

BOARD BUZZ - March 2024 by Jack Espinal, President
Posted on Mar 1st, 2024 Comments (0)
Update on Village Walk Stormwater Retention Pond Repairs
As required by James City County, repair work has been underway on the bioretention ponds (BMPs) adjoining Village Walk including the removal of large areas of vegetation. The contractor’s extensive cutting of vegetation is necessary for both retention ponds to be brought up to standards. If allowed to grow, root systems of trees or shrubs can intrude upon and damage vital BMP features - dams, walls, drains. Cleared paths are required to the creek areas and creek culverts.
More significant reconstruction work will be done on the large retention pond (near Trailside) which must be enlarged to meet County standards and drains reinstalled. The wall must be removed, moved and rebuilt requiring additional clearing of the surrounding land. Another 9 months of repair work is likely for this project.
We recognize that the removal of so much natural area is unsettling to neighbors. The NTRA has been assured by Settlers Market’s management company that plants and vegetation in Village Walk proper that are damaged or removed during the reconstruction of both BMPs will be replaced in kind by the contractor. All of this work is the responsibility of the property owners, Settlers Market LLC, and is overseen by James City County. 
Village Walk Construction Issues  
The NTRA Board of Directors is currently exploring special assessment options to cover the Village Walk (VW) exterior maintenance funding shortfall. Owners of VW homes can expect a special assessment this year in order for the Association to continue to provide its obligated services. We want this to be as fair and reasonable as possible, but our extraordinary circumstances warrant taking this action.
The current VW funding shortfall has resulted from a combination of expensive investigations and repairs and underfunding. First, the unanticipated expenses, namely:
  1. Individual roof repairs and evaluations undertaken prior to the widespread repairs by Eagle.
  2. Replacing the failing fiber cement siding on many VW buildings, and
  3. Repairing unanticipated leaks in 7 of the 43 rooftop decks which have been very costly to fix.  
Fixing these roof decks combined with the 1st building siding replacement has depleted the 2023 Village Walk replacement reserve fund.  These unforeseen and large-scale expenses for homes that are less than 10 years old are the primary cause of VW’s current funding problems.
Village Walk has a separate reserve fund account and financial records to isolate the contributions of VW owners. However, cumulatively low VW assessment levels prior to 2020 (when New Town was under Developer control) have contributed to the current lack of funding. The VW Neighborhood Assessment was much too low to build the reserves necessary to fund routine and expected exterior maintenance such as painting for 99 homes as required by our VW covenants. Even the 2021 revised VW Reserve study recommendations did not envision the extent of premature material and structural failures which we now face. Although the VW recommended reserve levels were fully funded in recent assessment years, the siding replacement costs will easily outstrip our resources.
No replacement reserve study contemplates the kind of failures VW is experiencing. While NTRA was successful in getting Eagle Construction to fix roof problems because of demonstrated shingle installation deficiencies, the recent siding investigation at the first VW townhomes did not find that the siding was improperly installed. Rather, siding failures are due to Allura siding manufacturing defects (causing cracking, warping, etc.) NTRA’s legal counsel has advised the Board that an action against the siding manufacturer has extremely limited chance of success because Allura reached a class action suit settlement in 2021.
The VW roof deck leaks present challenges because corrective actions have not effectively resolved all the leaks. The Association may not be successful in obtaining compensation from Eagle who has encountered similar roof terrace design/construction problems in at least one other community. It is too early to know whether we will be reimbursed. In the meantime, water intrusion does not allow for an indeterminate delay in repairs and the Association must be prudent and support these affected owners.
The Association has contracted for an engineering study in order to assess the full magnitude of the VW building problems. This will help provide the information that the NTRA Board needs to develop a comprehensive plan to address all of the VW siding and rooftop deck problems and determine the associated funding that will be needed.
Board of Director Changes
The NTRA Board has appointed Sommer Wrona as a full-Board member through 2024, replacing Glen Mitchell who resigned in January. Everett Lunsford has been elected as Board Vice-President and Sommer will continue to serve as Association Treasurer.
BOARD BUZZ - February 2024 by Jack Espinal, President
Posted on Feb 1st, 2024 Comments (0)
2023 was a challenging year for both the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) and Chesapeake Bay Management (CBM), our management company.  As the Board of Directors indicated in our annual meeting, we have had many major successes including relocating the mailbox in Village Walk, improving our relationship with the New Town Commercial Association, holding several outstanding community activities, Village Walk roof repairs, sidewalk repairs by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), receiving James City County matching grants and providing Internet capability and automation in our meeting room.  
However, we have problems in a number of areas that require attention and we are working hard to address them.  Some owners are not satisfied with the landscaping services that they are receiving, and the NTRA Board will revisit our expectations at a meeting with James River Grounds in February. Village Walk maintenance expenditures continue to rise and we are faced with numerous expensive rooftop deck and siding repairs. We have received data that points to construction defects. We will be meeting with legal counsel to address these defects with Eagle homes. Finally, we are concerned about the level of services being provided by our management company.
The NTRA Board of Directors met with CBM’s President and Vice President in early January 2024 to discuss our concerns about the services we are receiving and to map our way forward. Our discussion covered improving onsite supervision of our landscape and other contracts, ensuring timely follow-up on requests for manager actions, revising the processing of assessment payment checks, and documenting homeowner maintenance deficiencies and corrective actions in more detail.
We are working together with senior CBM management to address each of these concerns.  During our meeting, we developed several changes to our joint processes. Together, we have identified ways that services and communications to our community can be improved. Among other things, the NTRA has adjusted our budget processing calendar so that assessment information can be provided sooner - for CBM to print and timely mail the assessment coupon books and publish the information on our websites. The NTRA also will improve our assessment payment instructions for owners in order to reduce the chances for erroneous late fee charges.  
NTRA’s community manager will be spending more time on site in New Town supervising the work performed by our contractors including our landscaping contractor, James River Grounds. He will also be spending more time interfacing with the residents of our community. Weekly, scheduled office hours in the NTRA meeting room will be established for homeowners to meet with our manager. Violations, and all home maintenance inspections will be more fully documented with both descriptions and photographs. CBM has initiated a search for a new administrative assistant for New Town as well to help address our challenges.
Chesapeake Bay senior management understands our requirements and expectations. They will be working hard with the Board to improve the services that are provided to our Association.  
BOARD BUZZ - Dec/Jan 2023 by Ruth Burgess, Director
Posted on Dec 27th, 2023 Comments (1)
I am writing this on December 26, which in our home is Day 2 of Christmas’s 12-day liturgical season. In practical terms, this means that while we may or may not remove the exterior Christmas wreath on our door earlier, most of our Christmas decorations inside will remain in place until after January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. That will include our Christmas tree, easily visible from the sidewalk outside our living room window, and candles and other décor in our windows.
For many others in New Town and the greater Williamsburg area, however, Christmas is over after Christmas Day on December 25, and all the decorations have to come down and be stored by New Year’s Eve.
So, first of all, thank you NTRA for allowing people like me to observe and celebrate Christmas for a full 12 days, even though for lots of folks in New Town it may be time to pack up the December holiday décor and prepare to move on
Secondly, as an NTRA Board member living in one of our neighborhoods, I want to remind all our homeowners and renters that, according to our NTRA rules, exterior Christmas decorations should be removed on or before January 7. This year, January 7 is a Sunday.
As the dawn of 2024 is fast upon us, and it’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions, this also is a good time to think about homeowner responsibilities.
  • Can you find time to serve on a committee or help with a specific project or activity that may help make New Town a great place to live?
  • How well are you doing at keeping up the exterior of your homes? What maintenance might you need to schedule now so that it is completed before the annual inspections?
  • How long has it been since you had your dryer vents cleared, especially if they are in a place difficult for you to reach? (Many house-fires begin in dryer vents clogged with lint.)
  • Has your HVAC system been receiving recommended inspection and maintenance?
  • Are you promptly and properly stowing away garbage and recycling bins within 24 hours after the scheduled pick-up day? In New Town, this is usually a Wednesday.
  • Do you have a good personal plan for paying your quarterly home’s NTRA assessment when it is due? (Please email CBM at if you have not received your assessment booklet in the mail by December 27, and/or if you need to inform CBM of any errors. Also, be aware that because the booklets are arriving so late this year, the grace period may be extended beyond January 10.)
Finally, the entire NTRA Board of Directors hopes 2024 will be a great year for our community, and wishes all who read this a Happy and Healthy 2024!
Posted on Dec 1st, 2023 Comments (0)
There was no submission from the Board this month.
HERE ARE THE CANDIDATES FOR THE 2024-2025 NTRA BOARD OF DIRECTORS.  Nominations may still be submitted at any time to and will also be taken from the floor at our Annual Meeting on December 13th. You may proceed and vote early on the candidates that have been nominated or you can submit your vote during the meeting in case you want to vote for anyone who is nominated from the floor.
This information is also available on the website election page.
  • Street address: 4615 Town Creek Dr.
  • Neighborhood: ABBEY COMMONS
While living in northern Virginia we purchased a New Town townhouse in 2006 as a second home. We observed New Town grow from the Sun Trust bank, Corner Pocket restaurant, and a few townhouses to the community it is today and find ourselves making New Town a primary residence.
My 20-years of service as President of an HOA in northern Virginia, prior employment as a Senior Systems Analyst, experience teaching college-level Information Systems, and Master of Science in Management give me the experience, skills, and knowledge to interpret complex issues and develop collaborative creative, economically sound solutions.
There are two major challenges facing our homeowner’s association:
First, New Town is beginning to show its age. Infrastructure wear, maintenance costs, and landscaping issues need to be addressed and resolved to keep New Town a vibrant, thriving, attractive community -- and a wonderful place to live. The resolution of these issues will require teamwork in the form of homeowner interest, input, and involvement coupled with careful planning and judicious use of both budgeted maintenance funds and reserve account expenditures by board members.
Second, effective two-way communication and resident involvement in issues and events continue to lag. This is detrimental to the management of the association. Communication, including timely responses to homeowners’ concerns, needs to be enhanced to better engage our residents in issues and activities. Maintaining open lines of communication between our board and management company also is essential.
Last year I served as the NTRA vice president and this year as president. I have worked to improve the relationship between the New Town Commercial Association and the New Town Residential Association. I have worked hard to follow our outdated governing documents and at the same time resolve our problems by doing what is right for our Association. If reelected to the NTRA board, I will continue to work on improving our community.
  • Address: 4203 Greenview
  • Neighborhood: VILLAGE WALK
I am currently on the NTRA Board, served as the Treasurer, and have been a member and chair of the Finance Committee. In addition to living in New Town since late 2017, I have owned and lived in 3 condominiums and 2 townhome communities prior to moving to New Town. I was also on the building committee of an historic Washington, DC church and helped plan a major renovation of the church.
I have Engineering, Industrial Management and Finance and Accounting degrees from University of Michigan, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Chicago. My work experience encompasses engineering, management accounting, and information technology systems. Over the career I earned Professional Engineering (PE), Accounting (CPA), and inventory management (CPIM) certifications.
In Williamsburg I have served as a volunteer at the Mariners’ Museum, Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg chapter of SCORE. Major Finance Committee accomplishments were redesigning the association’s financial statements, developing the budget process, and working on the transition to a new management company.
I am applying for a 2024 Board position because I want to support the new association Treasurer, work on new governing documents (if another rewrite attempt is made), and continue working to resolve Village Walk’s construction defect issues.
  • Address - 4293 Casey Blvd
  • Neighborhood - SAVANNAH SQUARE
I have been a professor in the Mathematics Dept at the College of William and Mary since 2007, where I have been on numerous committees in service to the University. W&M committee work and service to the University in the last 2-year period (on leave 2021) has included:
  • Computational Applied Mathematics and Statistics (CAMS) Applied Statistics Track Director - 6 years.
  • Athletic Policy Advisory Committee Faculty Fellow. 
  • Chair NTE Hiring committee chair - Math/Data Science.
  • NTE Hiring Committee - Math.
  • Undergraduate Curriculum Committee
  • Mathematics Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee.
  • Residency Appeals Board Committee.
  • Parking Appeals Committee.
  • Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society Advisor (+ new inductions and organized ceremony).
I am also currently a member of an owner-run HOA for a small community where I have a rental property.
I would like to serve on the Board of Directors to assist in building a stronger New Town community.
BOARD BUZZ - October 2023 by Jack Espinal, President
Posted on Oct 1st, 2023 Comments (0)
Update on Landscaping of Fenced Yards
Background. In January 2022, the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) stopped providing mowing and pruning services to fenced yards throughout New Town.  This decision was based upon our governing documents which contain language prohibiting: 
"mowing, edging and trimming of grass within portions of lots inside a fenced area," and  
"trimming of shrubs, trees and bushes within portions of lots located inside a fenced area." 
Not all of the ten supplemental documents that established the Charlotte Park neighborhood included this language. This statement was missing in Supplemental Declarations 1, 2, 3, and 4.  In fact, landscaping was not even addressed in the first four Charlotte Park supplementals.
The 2021 Board requested legal guidance on this overall issue and the specific Charlotte Park inconsistency. Legal counsel advised that the missing section in the first four supplementals was likely the result of a developer oversight and that the Board should follow the intent of the majority of the supplemental documents and provide landscaping for all homes in Charlotte Park with the exception of areas that were fenced. Legal counsel emphasized the fact that the NTRA Board must follow the Association’s governing documents.
As a result, in 2022 the NTRA Board ceased providing mowing, edging, and trimming of grass and pruning services in fenced yards throughout our community even though the Developer Boards of Directors had consistently provided this service to fenced areas. The past actions by the developer-controlled Board of Directors, multiple inconsistent HOA documents, and much misinformation became and continues to be a very contentious issue in New Town.  It needed positive resolution.
The NTRA Homeowner Board of Directors attempted to resolve this issue by developing and presenting a revised set of governing documents to owners in 2022 that would have provided landscaping services throughout New Town without regard to fencing. Unfortunately, although the vote in favor was very close, these votes did not reach the needed two-thirds of owners needed to pass the revised documents.
The interim solution. The current NTRA Board of Directors has found a work around that comports with our governing documents and provides full landscaping services for fenced yards.  This workaround treats fenced yards as a “limited common area” and allows the Association to collect a special services assessment from homeowners with fences under the provisions of Article 5.3(c)(2)(ii) or (v) of our Master Declaration and to use that assessment for the limited purpose of providing mowing, edging, and trimming of grass and pruning services in fenced areas. 
Since we are at the last quarterly assessment payment this year, a limited common assessment of $6.00 per service (each cut) will be charged with payment deferred to 2024 for those homeowners who wish to begin receiving landscaping services of their fenced yards for the rest of this calendar year. 
For 2024, a limited common area assessment will also be an option for homeowners desiring full landscaping services inside the fenced portions of their property. This temporary solution meets the requirements of our documents and at the same time provides full landscaping services to the fenced yards as desired by many of our homeowners. 
Landscaping of fenced yards in New Town has been a very contentious issue over the past two and a half years. Your NTRA Board of Directors hopes that its temporary solution to the fenced yard landscaping problem will help unite New Town and restore harmony to our community. It is, however, only a temporary solution that will be used until the NTRA can pass new HOA documents that do not prohibit the full landscaping of fenced areas.  
Next step. Another effort to pass new documents will begin in the near future. The existing draft revised documents will be used as a starting point for new HOA documents that remove developer language, clarify ambiguities and allow flexibility for future NTRA Boards of Directors. If you are interested in reviewing these drafts and making recommendations for changes, please make your interest known to the NTRA Board of Directors ( We would like to have new draft documents completed and ready for a vote by late spring/early summer 2024.
Be assured that your NTRA Board of Directors is committed to solving problems and serving the NTRA’s best interests. Our goal is to continue improving New Town with your help.  Together, we can keep it excellent place in which to live. 
BOARD BUZZ - August 2023 by Ruth Burgess, Director
Posted on Aug 1st, 2023 Comments (0)
Kudos to our hard-working Activities Committee – even with rain delayed events and heat. They are focused on bringing some fun community building events to New Town. For example, the rescheduled June 28th Pool Social was a great success. Having it at the end of a day’s pool hours meant that several families with children came and had great fun. (One family brought their own dinner because that worked for them; their children sampled dessert items and then jumped in the pool.) There were over 50 attendees. The more recent July social was also well received.
The pool now has a new handicap chair lift to replace the one that was broken. Repairs to the Casey Boulevard retention pond were completed in June, and instead of trees growing wildly, you can view the stormwater being held.
The U.S. Post Office has approved moving two group mailboxes for Village Walk from their current location on Merchant’s Court to a nearby location on Greenview. Soon those of us who are served by these will no longer have to stand in the street across from Trader Joe’s to get our mail, and our mail carriers will not be putting their lives at risk or blocking traffic as they stop on a very busy street to fill our boxes. Indeed, the proposed new location is more convenient for our carriers because they will be stopping to fill our mailboxes at a spot on a fairly quiet street that they typically pass by daily. Win-win all around!
BOARD BUZZ - May 2023 by Jack Espinal, President
Posted on May 1st, 2023 Comments (0)
Changes are in the works!
The New Town Residential Association Board of Directors has been engaged in review of two pending construction projects that will impact life in and around New Town. The first of these is the development of the Eastern State Hospital property north of New Town and adjacent to the Charlotte Park neighborhood. The second construction project will involve the repair of two large retention ponds (BMPs) located on the east side of the Village Walk neighborhood. Specific information about both of these projects can be found elsewhere in the May Town Crier.
Additional Property for NTRA Common Areas
The Board of Directors is also currently considering the transfer of land owned by New Town Associates (Larry Salzman) to the NTRA. The proposed land transfer is shown on the map below. This planned transfer would give the association ownership of additional 42.74 acres and would include more of trail system in New Town and the land located along the northern part of the BMP-04 in Village Walk. All of the land in the proposed transfer would become part of the NTRA common area.
Personnel Changes at Chesapeake Bay Management
Starting this month, our Association will be supported by two new Chesapeake Bay Management Company employees. Ahmed Desouky will be replacing Anne Ingram as our Community Manager.  We thank Anne for her tireless work and wish her well as she starts a career enhancing position elsewhere. The NTRA also has a new administrative assistant, Imani Harris, who has been on board for a few weeks.  Both of these new staff will be adjusting during the first part of May 2023. We will be working hard helping them learn about our community and associated NTRA processes. As a result, responses to some tickets and homeowner requests may take a little longer than they have in the past.
A NTRA Special Board of Directors Election
Your Board of Directors is currently short one of its authorized Board members. This shortage has significantly increased the workload for the existing four board members. Requests for volunteers to fill this vacant board position have gone unanswered until now. Recently, Glen Mitchell, a past NTRA Board member, volunteered to run for the Board. As a result, a special election will be held at the end of May 2023 to fill this position. The Board decided to honor requests from several community members to hold a formal election rather than make an appointment to the Board as had been already done for this seat. Please consider running for the Board.  Other individuals in the community who wish to volunteer and run for this vacant position should provide their statement of intent/resume to the NTRA Board of Directors at There is still time to be added to the ballot.
Our governing documents require a minimum of a 21-day notice to be given to Members for all special meetings. Therefore, the earliest that election meetings can be held is during the last part of May. Two meetings will be held using the Zoom Video software:
  • The first Zoom meeting will formalize the election and allow candidates to address the community. Association members in good standing will also be able to be nominated from the floor at that meeting. 
  • A second special Zoom meeting will be held to announce and certify the voting results.
When these meeting dates are established, they will be posted on the NTRA website. Electronic voting using the EZ vote software as in past NTRA elections will be used again for this election.  The EZ vote platform will be open for voting for several days after the first Zoom meeting. Paper ballots will not be used in this election.
BOARD BUZZ - March 2023 by Ruth Burgess, Director
Posted on Mar 5th, 2023 Comments (2)

Volunteers are needed for several NTRA committees, two important offices of NTRA's Board of Directors, and for two newly vacant slots on the 5-person Board of Directors. Sounds like old news, doesn’t it, until you get to the end of the sentence.

Yes, those of us remaining on the Board, have reluctantly accepted the resignations of John Ryan, elected by the Board last summer, and Caitlin Melchior who was elected in December's Member election. A special election is being planned in order to fill John Ryan’s replacement for a term to end December 31, 2023. The appointed replacement for Caitlin also will serve only until December 31. NOTE: Since two of three remaining Board members live in Village Walk, candidates to fill the currently vacant board openings must come from the other NTRA neighborhoods - Abbey Commons, Charlotte Park, Chelsea Green, Savannah Park, and Shirley Park.
Of course, anyone elected or appointed to the Board now may run for a full-term on the Board in NTRA’s next regular election scheduled for early December, 2023. At that time, there will be four vacancies to fill since two current Board members will be completing their two year terms then. Are you a Village Walker interested in Board of Director’s service? Consider running in our next regular election at year’s end!
What is needed in a Board of Directors member?
Time: A willingness to serve, and a schedule sufficiently flexible to allow for participation in sometimes long monthly meetings, preferably on weekday afternoons. Also needed - time to relate to committees for which one is the assigned Board Liaison, time to attend extra work sessions or called “emergency meetings”, and time to address special projects in areas related to your gifts and skills. What else? Commitment to taking seriously legal and fiduciary responsibilities associated with attending to the essential business of the community. Do you have sufficient commitment and ability to function as part of a team where members must value, respect, and support one another if the vital work is to get done? How about the self-management needed to keep confidential information confidential? Will you prioritize the Board’s legal responsibilities and the best interests and welfare of the whole NTRA community, over personal agendas or loyalties to a limited group within the community?
In addition: No outstanding violations: Candidates for the Board of Directors or any of our official committees cannot have uncleared or unaddressed violations. If you think you would be willing to serve the NTRA as a Board member — please, please, please! - clear your violations before you put your name forward. Catch up on your assessment payments if you are behind.
Paint, power-wash, make repairs identified as needed during last summer’s inspections. Ask ARC to review an alteration or addition to your home or your property, even if made years ago before you realized you were supposed to get permission first. Fill out the form and show up for consideration of your application. Whether you have to pay off a backlog of assessments, plus late fees, or pay fines, or modify your additions to come into compliance, commit to doing what you are told you must do to make things right, and apply yourself to doing it. THEN, volunteer!
Finally, ability to handle criticism as it inevitably will come your way. Be prepared for criticism, justified or not, and whether it’s offered as friendly suggestion, or as an ugly, meanspirited jab, or even the well-deserved rebuke and a call for your apology. Can you learn from negativity as you weather it? Can you swallow your pride and say “I’m sorry” when that is warranted? Good luck on growing a thicker skin, but can you slough off some unmerited criticisms - to prevent them from hobbling you? CRUCIAL: Can you serve on the Board and preserve a life balance that helps you to stand through the rougher seasons?
Thoughtfully consider what may be involved in serving as a Bard member. If you think you can handle the time commitments, the investments of self, and the responsibilities of an NTRA Board member, and are not in violation, please put your name forward! Do this by sending an email with your full contact information to, along with a picture and a brief biographical statement which includes relevant vocational information, your special skills, or earned credentials, and your reasons for being willing to apply your particular gifts, skills, available time, and energies to serving your community in this way.
BOARD BUZZ - February 2023 by Jack Espinal, President
Posted on Feb 1st, 2023 Comments (0)
The New Town Residential Association (NTRA) 2023 Board of Directors has gotten off to a good start. Our organizational meeting has been held, officers have been selected, and committee liaison assignments have been made. The Board has also created a list of projects to be executed throughout the upcoming year. These items will be reviewed and priorities set for planning and implementation during the Board’s February work session.
One of our first major actions is to schedule a special election to fill the remaining 2023 term currently held by Board Member John Ryan. As a result, the Board is looking for qualified candidates who are interested in joining the NTRA Board. If you are interested in becoming a member of the NTRA Board of Directors, please submit an application via email listing your experience and reasons for becoming a Board member. Once qualified candidates are identified, a special election will be scheduled. In the meantime, John will continue to function as a member of the NTRA Board of Directors.
James River Grounds Management, our new landscape contractor, has begun work in our community. One of their first actions will be to inventory our community and make recommendations on areas that need attention.
Already known are two significant landscape issues which involve our beautiful crape myrtle trees and the numerous knockout roses growing throughout New Town. (See related Town Crier articles of April and July 2022). The crape myrtles have been infected by a small insect that appears as a white or gray felt-like encrustation on the trees. The bark of the infected trees also often appears black. Our Association has begun treating the infected trees in our common areas. However, homeowners are responsible for treating the crape myrtles located on their lots.
The best window for control of this white scale is in late April or early May as the crape myrtles begin to really flush. The treatment consists of a soil and mulch drench of an imidacloprid product which is commonly available at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Tractor Supply. In addition, soap and water can be used to scrub the bark of the crape myrtle to remove the white scale like material. This can be done at any time during the year. In the summer infected trees will have thousands of pea-sized insects climbing up and down the tree.
The second infestation affecting landscaping in New Town involves the numerous knockout roses found throughout our community. They have become infected by a virus which makes new growth look unsightly and will eventually kill the plant. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this disease and the only available solution is to completely remove the diseased plants. Since the virus remains dormant in the soil, roses of any type should not be used as replacements. The NTRA Landscape Advisory Committee recommends the use Goshiki Osmanthus as a replacement plant. This attractive evergreen will change colors at different times throughout the year. It is a hardy, deer resistant, and slow-growing plant. That makes it is an excellent replacement in New Town.
Currently all of the knockout roses in the NTRA common areas are being removed and replaced by Goshiki Osmanthus where appropriate. Homeowners are required to remove their diseased knockout roses from their lots and replace them with appropriate plants no later than June 1.
BOARD BUZZ – DECEMBER 2022, by Mary Cheston, President
Posted on Dec 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
“No matter what happened yesterday, today is filled with hope and promise…”
The end of the year is always a busy period for the Board of Directors as contracts and budgets must be put in place for the new year.  Here is a recap of some of our key recent actions: 
  • Our 2023 Budget is now approved and posted on the website. Several revisions were made based on owner feedback, especially to the Village Walk neighborhood budget.
  • The landscape contract with James River Grounds Management is in place and the Board has developed guidance for owners on what to expect for services starting in January (NTRA Policy 9.2. Landscape Services and Responsibilities). 
  • Roof repairs by Eagle/Northeast Construction are underway in Village Walk.  All roofs will be examined and repaired over the coming weeks at Eagle’s expense.
The results of our efforts to revise the NTRA governing documents will be tallied on December 14th at the Continued Special Member Meeting on the vote. Because of the Developer’s unauthorized filing of two Supplemental Declarations for Shirley Park, 40 lots have to be removed from the total pool of votes, which reduces the 2/3 threshold for passage of the documents from 411 to 385 NTRA Members. 
At our 2022 Annual Meeting you will be asked to approve an amendment to the Amenities Use Easement and Agreement between the NTRA and the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA). This is an important action to keep the NTRA in compliance with this agreement. The Amendment would remove language which prohibits us from having a management company that is different from the NTCA. The Board is very happy with the services provided by Chesapeake Bay Management and has no plans to rehire Town Management LLC. Please vote in favor of this amendment. (See related article.)
This month brings to a close my service for the past 2 years on the NTRA Board of Directors. In December 2020 I never envisioned the roller coaster that would follow. I was requested to serve, submitted an application and the Board elected me to fill a remaining 2-year vacancy created on the very first homeowner-control Board. Miracle of miracles, I stuck it out.
A big THANK YOU to all those volunteers who have served diligently with me on the Board as well as those who worked tirelessly on our Committees to advise the Board and keep our community engaged and beautiful.  Volunteer to be part of the solution and keep New Town moving forward! Almost all of our Committees are seeking multiple new members as vacancies abound at the end of 2022.
As volunteers, the current Board of Directors has done our very best to represent homeowners while protecting the overall interests of our Association as a corporation. Please be mindful of this responsibility as we welcome a new Board for 2023-2024 – give them your trust and the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions, and treat them with respect. Boards are required by law to follow the governing documents of their Association. Civil discourse when you disagree with a decision without name calling or maliciousness is the least that you owe your neighbors.
As tumultuous as the past year has been, the Association has much to be proud of. Our transition to Chesapeake Bay Management and the tireless contributions of our community manager has been key to many of these improvements – for which I am also very grateful. At our Annual Meeting on December 14th, we will review the accomplishments of 2022 together. Plan on attending both the Continuation of the Special Meeting on the governing documents vote starting at 6:30PM, and the NTRA Annual Meeting at approximately 7PM in Legacy Hall.
Wishing all a happy and healthy holiday season. 
BOARD BUZZ – NOVEMBER 2022 by Glen Mitchell
Posted on Nov 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
With the end of this year approaching, it is time for the Finance Committee and the Board of Directors (BOD) to tackle next year’s budget.  This is no small task given the impact of inflation and the uncertainties surrounding Village Walk, both continued maintenance and the potential turnover of common areas.
The Board is holding the line on costs where possible. To help with the workload for our management company, more administrative support is needed. Additionally, staffing at the pool next summer will be increased for weekends and holidays. Significant BMP maintenance and repairs will be funded from the NTRA reserve fund. Do not forget to attend the Budget Town Hall Meeting at Legacy Hall on November 16th to hear all the details.
Due to the on-going maintenance challenges, the BOD has been negotiating with Eagle Construction to come up with an agreeable solution to roof and siding issues in Village Walk.  We have made some progress in that regard and hope to see the start of roof repairs very soon.  
The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) has informed the Association that they are planning to increase their bus service through New Town.  They propose additional stops on Casey Boulevard and more frequent service. This new service has already been approved by James City County, City of Williamsburg and the WATA Board. Two options for an inbound route stop on Casey Boulevard (Bus Route 15) are possible. Please see the related Crier article and direct any questions and/or comments to
Once again we would like to give a big thank you to the Activities Committee for the great job they did with the Fall Festival! They had a great turnout and the multigenerational attendees really enjoyed themselves. There is one remaining Bake Off and Dessert Fest planned for December, more information to come soon. Each event is a great way to meet your neighbors and make new friends. Don’t miss out!
See more of the Board’s news from this month in the Crier articles on the October 18th Special Meeting and the selection of a new landscape contractor
My term as a Director ends in December. It has been an interesting and enlightening year. I urge you to consider running for election to the 2023-2024 Board of Directors. 
BOARD BUZZ  - October 2022, by Jack L Espinal
Posted on Oct 1st, 2022 Comments (1)
Thoughts of a “New” Board Member
I have two objectives for this month’s Board Buzz. First, to let you know what it’s like becoming a NTRA Board member and second, to update you on four critical issues facing our community that will have a significant impact on our future.
Becoming a Board Member. On a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon last December I decided to relax and read through the NTRA documents to prepare for my new volunteer job as a NTRA board member. I don’t like reading from a computer screen so I printed the documents to have them available for future reference. After using over a ream of paper and part of new toner cartridge I begin wondering what I had gotten myself into. Why were these documents so voluminous? But I began my reading anyway. I was familiar with many of the concepts from my previous experience on HOA boards. It was not long before I started noticing apparent contradictions about requirements that I had already read. I kept having to go back and reread items to understand what was really correct. I tried to do electronic searches to find the contradictions, but that wouldn’t work. The developer governing documents are just not searchable electronically. The only solution was to manually scan and then reread.  Now I understood why there had been such a push to revise these obsolete developer documents over the previous year. I continued to read late into the night.
I concluded that I was going to have to juggle my time between dealing with normal day-to-day Association management issues, the ongoing task of working the homeowner suggested changes and additions into the new documents, and answering homeowner questions about the existing documents. I figured that when the revised documents were approved by the community things would get much easier. That day is not here yet, but I hope that it’s coming soon with the passing of the revised NTRA documents. It is also my hope that no other Board member will have to endure reading and researching the current developer-oriented documents. They are a real mess.
That said, I promised to address four of the recent day-to-day issues that your Board of Directors has been working on. 
Landscaping.  We are currently in the process of selecting a contractor to provide landscaping services to the Association for the next three years. Your Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) took the first step by developing a Request for Proposal (RFP) based upon the Association’s needs and sample RFPs from other communities in the area. The LAC produced an excellent, well written document. The Board reviewed and edited it and then it was circulated to five landscape contractors in the Williamsburg area. 
We gave interested contractor representatives a half-day tour through our New Town community pointing out the work that would be performed under both service scenarios. We visited each neighborhood and discussed their own unique requirements.
Four of the five contractors elected to provide proposals. The written responses to the RFP and cost data were then used to rank each of their proposals. Next, representatives from the top two contractors were interviewed separately. These companies will return their best and final offer to the Board soon based on our questions and expectations.  The next step in this process will be the selection of a new three-year landscaping contractor. The Board will invite our new contractor to an information meeting with owners to share their company’s landscaping practices and expectations.
Common Area Acceptance.  For developer-owned property to be accepted by the Association, that Common Area property and all its improvements must be in an acceptable condition as judged by the Association.  The three neighborhoods that are candidates for future turnover have not progressed to the acceptance stage yet. Let me explain.
Charlotte Park Phase 11 has just begun the process of County acceptance that precedes any possible turnover. In September James City County conducted its initial inspection of the Roper Park limited to streets, curbs and gutters and drop inlets. Our Giles and Flythe engineer accompanied the inspectors and will be submitting a report on all items in these areas.  This report will baseline the condition of the neighborhood for us.  The Roper Park Working Group of residents will also walk the area in October to inventory and document their concerns.  ABVA will be working on the items identified by the County, including curbs and patching.  Given past timelines, it will likely be 2023 before the problems are corrected, reinspected, etc.
For Charlotte Park Phase 10, James City County is still working with ABVA on the drainage situation in Ercil Way, so that issue has not been resolved since our community meeting in May. No formal request has yet been made for turnover of this area.
Village Walk: Members of the Board have met with James City County executives to discuss the developer turnover status in Village Walk. We learned that although the County no longer holds the construction bonds for the Village Walk common areas, more work is needed to the streets for their VDOT acceptance.  James City County must now absorb the cost of those road repairs. 
While Settlers Market/Eagle has formally asked for the Association to accept the common areas (green space, walkways, etc.) within the residential area, the Board has not agreed to accept them.  We provided a detailed list of issues to Eagle and based on lack of progress to date, anticipate it will be a drawn-out process. Regardless of the status of the James City County’s acceptance or the bond release, the NTRA still has the right and responsibility to ensure that the property is in an acceptable condition to the Association before it is accepted.  The Board is looking after all owners’ interests in this process.
Construction Defects in Village Walk.  The Board Is also dealing with roofing and siding installation deficiencies in Village Walk. Roofs are leaking and, in several cases, have had to be replaced after only four or five years of service. Fiber cement siding is cracking and coming off numerous Village Walk buildings. NTRA hired engineers to determine the cause of the failures and they determined that the issues are caused by improper installation and do not result from design features.  Board members, representatives of Eagle Construction VA, and lawyers from both sides have met to work on an acceptable solution for these problems.  Again, the Board is looking out for your interests in this area.
New Development. The Manor on the Green development is undergoing James City County site plan review. In anticipation that this apartment complex will move forward, the Board plans to develop a resident parking only system for our private roadways to help alleviate parking issues. Unfortunately, the Board does not have the same authority on the VDOT owned streets in New Town.  James City County experts have asked the Manor on the Green developers to address a number of items including parking issues and stormwater retention concerns. 
Final Thoughts. It is my hope that the New Town owners will vote “for” the revised NTRA documents so that the Board can direct its full efforts towards resolving the above problems and others like them for the benefit of our Association and its members. I have read both sets of HOA documents and have concluded that everyone, including a few current vocal detractors, will be far, far better off under the revised NTRA documents once they are approved. If the necessary two thirds vote of our membership is not received, the only winners will be the developers and the litigation lawyers.  The losers will continue to be the property owners and residents of New Town.  
This is a critical time for New Town and we really have only two choices to make:  we can continue to operate under obsolete, convoluted, and developer-oriented documents with missing sections or we can move forward with simpler, shorter, and easier to read and understand revised documents. Our Association will be governed by this decision for a long time into the future. The passage of these revised documents is critical and will allow all future Boards to operate more efficiently and effectively dealing with the multitude of problems facing the New Town community.
Please vote in favor of approving the revised documents.
BOARD BUZZ - September 2022, by John Ryan – Director
Posted on Sep 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
As your newest Board Member, I want to thank the many community members who have reached out to me to express their appreciation that the vacant Board Member position has now been filled.  (In fact, I even had one gentleman offer to take me out to lunch at his expense so he could personally bring me up to speed on the problems in the community.)  Having served on two prior Boards for Associations in the past (New York City and Vienna, VA), I can certainly appreciate the amount of time and effort it takes to help out in the community … and with many of us having full-time jobs and families, it is not always an easy task to undertake.  But I stepped up to help in whatever capacity I can, and I encourage all of you to find ways to volunteer and do your part. 
As you know, the Board has been working for the last year on the new governing documents. The Board is required by Virginia law to follow the Association’s current documents (regardless of whether the Developer Board followed them). These documents are old, overly complex and contain errors and omissions. It’s past time for their overhaul.
We recognize that the new governing documents may not meet with 100% approval from all members – but we believe the new governing documents are a big step in the right direction and will benefit the community.  If these revised documents are not approved by 2/3 of the community, the current Developer documents remain in force – and keeping the current documents in force will continue to balloon our legal expenses, complicate our assessment calculations, and limit lawn service to fenced yards. 
On Wednesday evening August 17, the Board had a Zoom Informational Meeting for NTRA owners. Several valid questions were asked and answered regarding the new governing documents – and others were submitted via email and responded to. The slides from this meeting are available on the NTRA website along with a summary of the Board’s response to specific statements that had been widely circulated to owners. The Board posted this document to correct misleading and incorrect information. Read our explanations and form your own opinion. 
One question in particular that seemed to create a lot of confusion at the Informational Meeting was the threshold for calling a Special Meeting of Members. Although our legal counsel recommended a change to 20% to conform with the majority of other associations in the area and for a number of valid reasons, e.g., expense, time, etc., the Board decided to revise this proposal and keep the Special Meeting threshold at 10%.  
We are happy to report that the Association will not need your mortgage holder information after all. We learned of this after the Zoom meeting. So your mailed packet for the upcoming vote will only contain the Special Meeting Notice and absentee/paper ballot.
The proposed documents are being finalized and EzVote links will be sent soon.  Vote yes for progress and affirm that we are one community in New Town. 
More positive steps… We have now received our spring financial reports from Chesapeake Bay Management – you will recall this was a problem noted by our Treasurer, Everett Lunsford last month. The May and June reports are posted on the website, and the Board is reviewing the July data. This leaves only the reconciliation and audit corrections to our 2021 year-end records.
As to the financials, please keep in mind that all expenses and invoices are increasing with inflation, labor, and supply issues.  For example, a recent bill for the proposed winterization of our pool has increased by 15% in one year!  Which reminds me that during August we had an After Hours Social at the pool where I donated $120 to cover the NTRA cost of one lifeguard!
I see this Board working really hard to keep people happy…I look forward to meeting other New Town owners and appreciate your support as I work with my fellow homeowner Board Members to improve the community.
BOARD BUZZ - August 2022, Everett Lunsford, Treasurer
Posted on Aug 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
Welcome to our newest Board Member, John Ryan, a Chelsea Green owner. John was appointed at our July Board meeting for a position through December 2023. Mr. Ryan is a patent attorney and intellectual property counsel for a Virginia based corporation.  He has prior experience on HOA boards in New York City (where he served as condominium association President) and Vienna, Virginia.
The engineering contract for a Roper Park transition study was approved at the July Board meeting, along with the charter for a Roper Park Transition Working Group of residents. (See July Town Crier for more background).  At least one more volunteer for the working group is still needed.  Contact me at if you are interested in assisting the Association in identifying improvements needed to the common areas in Roper Park.
All exterior inspections of homes have been completed through the efforts of our Asset Maintenance Committee volunteers. Reinspections of homes with violations in Chelsea Green is complete and Charlotte Park’s reinspections will start soon. Be sure to respond to any violation notices that you receive.
Our last Lemonade and Listening session with individual neighborhoods will be Saturday, August 13th with Charlotte Park’s home owners (Roper Park was scheduled earlier). Thanks to all those who have joined us for a chat so far.
Mid-Year Financial Review
We appear to be slightly over budget at this point, but doing better than 2021. The biggest overage in our operating budget is late attorney fees for 2021 work (Town Management did not set aside funds for these monthly charges.) Similarly, pool skimmers and filter repairs approved in 2021 from replacement reserves and assumed to be completed, were only recently installed and billed. On the Village Walk operating side, the Board authorized hiring independent engineering and roofing contractors to conduct in-depth evaluations of the roof issues across Village Walk. This investment is already paying dividends in our discussions with Eagle Construction over how to correct this situation.
Some community members have asked about the lack of complete financial statements on the website; no balance sheets for 2022 have been posted, only income & expense statements for January-April.  There are 2 reasons for this:
  • Avoiding confusion or misinterpretation. Last year Town Management had difficulty entering the 2020 audit adjustments to the financial records. Mistakes were made trying to fix these problems through the management company transition.  The 2021 year-end balance sheet is incorrect, and the Board decided therefore to also hold the 2022 balance sheets until all can be corrected, rather than posting and then replacing the information.  Our audit firm has provided the necessary fixes, but they were received after Chesapeake Bay Management started its transition to a new financial software system.  The fixes cannot be entered until that financial system transition is completed.
  • Chesapeake Bay Management’s new financial system. This spring Chesapeake Bay changed its financial software system.  They encountered data conversion problems and have found themselves in the situation of manually fixing the converted data.  Manual data repairs are a slow process, and Chesapeake is a relatively small company with limited staff.  The financial software also had to be integrated with their bank and autopay vendors. Thus, the financial system transition is incomplete, and new monthly reports cannot be produced until that process is carefully audited.  
Even without these full reports, we are continually able to monitor Association expenses. Chesapeake has a robust and transparent payables invoice processing system that remains operational, and NTRA has daily access to that system.  Spending data can be extracted from that system, but it does not contain internal charges like Chesapeake’s management expenses.  Chesapeake is also providing monthly bank statement copies, so checking and investment account balances and activity can be monitored. Bear with us and we will update the website when we are comfortable the data is solid.
 Planning for the 2023 Budget
The 2023 budget cycle started in July with the Finance Committee sending budget request forms to all NTRA committees. 
We are quite aware that the community does not like the assessment increases that were necessary for 2022.  Unfortunately, there is no way for NTRA to avoid noticeable increases again in 2023.  The major drivers are:
  • Replacement Reserves – our updated replacement reserve study (December 2021) recommends larger annual contributions in 2023 ($35,000 more) and future years. The Board is committed to fully funding our reserves and during last year’s budget process, the community was advised that an increase would be required in the 2023 budget.
  • Inflation and increased prices – the US inflation rate is now 9-10%.  Higher costs for fuel, parts, services, etc. as well as inflation will likely affect all of our contracts – pool, trees, repairs, BMP maintenance, etc.  Budget contingencies will have to increase because of the adjustment and add-on clauses that we expect to see in new contracts.  I doubt any of NTRA’s large contracts will be truly “fixed” for a year.
  • New landscape contract. We have bid a new 3-year landscape contract and are awaiting bids. Landscaping is the single biggest vendor for our Association and we know that meeting our requirements plus annual adjustments will be expensive. 
As a Board, we will work to control all discretionary expenses for 2023.  
Finally, editing the new Governing Documents is nearly complete and then we will move expeditiously to a Member vote.  Look for a Zoom community information meeting on August 17th to present the changes and answer any questions. (An in-person Q&A could be scheduled later in August as well.) Engage in the process and become advocates for us to move ahead.  
I know this is a somber ending to our monthly message.  If you don’t like what is happening, please consider the following:
  • The Board is required by Virginia law to follow the Association’s documents (regardless of whether the Developer Board followed them). Look at the new documents and decide whether you think they are an improvement. If these revised documents are not approved by 2/3 of the community, the current documents remain in force.
  • Two Board positions will be open in the December 2022 election.  Run for the Board and bring your ideas forward for future improvements.
BOARD BUZZ – JULY 2022, by Mary Cheston, President
Posted on Jul 1st, 2022 Comments (4)
Welcome to the heat of summer! A song from the musical Oklahoma says “June is bustin out all over” and June definitely “busted out” the Board’s work plan as we tackled a variety of new challenges and actions.  
Two long-awaited projects have been completed. The Lydias Park Zoysia grass has been installed and the gutters in Village Walk have been cleaned.  A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued for a new 3-year landscape contract, and RFPs will be released shortly for the first phase of siding repairs and power washing/painting in Village Walk.
The Board completed its review of the November 2021 Member comments on the proposed draft revisions to our NTRA Governing Documents. In late July we expect to receive a revised set of documents from our legal counsel incorporating our agreed changes, and will be moving forward towards a Member vote likely starting sometime in August.
Upcoming this month, the final round of home exterior inspections will take place in mid-July in Village Walk. You will also see orange warning cones being installed where sidewalk trip hazards exist, until we have some repair action from VDOT. A VDOT concrete contractor assessed the condition of the sidewalks about 2 weeks ago and we are awaiting VDOT’s decision. Marking the most severe areas is the best we can offer at this time. Please continue to be mindful when walking. 
We are bringing back “tags” for trash can violations as part of our enforcement process. (This approach was last used in 2019.) If you see a yellow tag on your trash can, please take action to appropriately store your can inside your garage or trash enclosure to avoid a fine. Better yet, get in the habit of storing your trash can properly now and avoid seeing it tagged!
This month the Board responded to a request from Eagle of VA on behalf of ME Settlers LLC to start the conveyance process for the Common Areas in Village Walk to transfer to the NTRA. The Board has advised ME Settlers that there are numerous corrective actions that remain to be made in Village Walk, and we cannot accept the property in its current condition.  A photo inventory of the deficiencies has been sent to Eagle as well. Much of the information we have compiled is due to the hard work of Village Walk volunteers who served on a Village Walk Asset Acceptance work group in 2020. Many thanks to them for laying the groundwork for the Association’s position.
The James City County acceptance inspection process for Roper Park (Charlotte Park Phase 11) will likely start in the a few months. To help us assess areas needing improvement, the Board will task a working group of Roper Park residents to collect information on site plan discrepancies and needed improvements. (See related July Town Crier article) Everett Lunsford will be our Board liaison for this group. Any Roper Park Owner interested in volunteering should contact Everett at We also plan to hire Giles & Flythe for an independent engineering inspection of the Roper Park area, similar to what was done for Charlotte Park Phase 10.  
The Board has initiated a series of informal neighborhood listening sessions to provide Owners an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas. Our newest communities of Roper Park and Shirley Park were our first audience and the evening was an opportunity for the Board to get input from some happy owners – always a nice thing. Look for an email invitation when it is your neighborhood’s turn to chat!
If you can’t make your scheduled listening session, come to a monthly Board meeting. Members are always welcome to attend – see the NTRA website calendar for dates, generally the third Thursday of the month. 
So lots and lots of things are going on…What we did not accomplish in June is that we did not welcome a new Board member. There were no applications to fill the advertised vacancy on the Board for someone to serve until December 2023. I cannot stress strongly enough that the next 18 months are critical for setting the future path of the Association. Two more Board seats will open for election in December.  Joining the Board now will help put you ahead on the learning curve.
Please seriously consider helping us to tackle these challenges together by sending an application to the Board Secretary, Monique Stevens at
BOARD BUZZ - June 2022, by Glen Mitchell, Director
Posted on Jun 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
Hello friends and neighbors. 
As I’m sure most of you know by now, inspections of home exteriors have been going on for several weeks and will resume mid-month in Shirley Park, Abbey Commons, and Savannah Square.  (Given vacations and other events, our schedule for the Village Walk inspections will await the completion of these other neighborhoods.)
Our Chesapeake Bay Community Manager, Anne Ingram, along with the members of the Asset Maintenance Committee have certainly been busy in May. The inspection process has been going fairly smoothly and I’m pleased to say that for the most part things are looking good! 
In the event you receive a letter of violation, we ask that you address the issue as soon as possible to avoid any further covenant enforcement actions by the NTRA. 
Once all of this home inspection work is complete, the Committee members will begin inspecting NTRA properties.  These include our walking trails, common areas, walkways, etc.  
On another note I’d like to give a BIG shout-out to Alex Trent and her team of Activities Committee volunteers for the wonderful job they did with the Community Potluck on Friday, May 20th!  What a great turnout and what fun meeting new neighbors and friends!  If you missed this event, there are a few other parties being planned for the summer.  It’s a great way to get out, make some new friends and have fun!  Check your email and the NTRA website for notices on these upcoming events. 
Finally, Chesapeake Bay offers its employees summer hours as one of their employment benefits. Their office at 337 McLaws Circle will be closed on Friday afternoons starting at noon. Please be respectful of this great staff’s time and plan your appointments/calls accordingly [Monday thru Thursday  8:00 to 5:30PM;  Friday 8:00-1200.] 
Wishing you and yours a happy and fun-filled summer in New Town!
BOARD BUZZ - May 2022 by Jack Espinal, Vice-President
Posted on May 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
April has been a busy month on the landscaping scene.
The Zoysia Grass Pilot Project
The NTRA Board has approved a project to resurface the grass in Lydias Park with Zoysia sod.  This species of grass is known for its ability to stand up to the summer heat and heavy foot traffic. It produces a dense, beautiful lawn that requires little or no water once it is established. Zoysia is so dense that it literally prevents weed growth. Seeds from weeds and other grasses simply cannot penetrate the turf to germinate in the soil and grow. This eliminates the need for future application of chemical herbicides in Lydias Park and eliminates a future Association expense.
A warm weather grasses pilot project has been in the works for a couple of years after members of the Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) experimented with Zoysia in their yards. They were pleased with the results and recommended that the grass be installed elsewhere in New Town. If the Association is pleased with the results of this initial installation, consideration will be given to planting Zoysia grass in other New Town locations.
Lydias Park was chosen from several  locations for this installation because of the condition of the existing grass and the associated underground sprinkler system which has not operated for several years and would be costly to repair. It also allows us to remove the sprinkler system from our reserve study and saves our Association from having to fund future system maintenance. 
The downside of Zoysia grass is that it turns brown when it goes dormant in the winter or when there is a severe drought. However, warm weather and a little water brings the green grass right back. While brown grass in the winter is a disadvantage, it will eventually create a more consistent appearance and most likely look better than many of the “spotty” lawns in New Town.
Community Landscape Beautification Projects
The LAC has also identified four highly visible areas of New Town that, with additional landscaping, will create a positive visual impact for our community. They researched and identified multiple species of perennial plants and evergreens that will provide changing colors and stay beautiful throughout the year. These Gateway projects are located around the community - in the Village Walk Clock Tower area, a new garden in a mulched area along Roper Park, plantings around the swimming pool sign, and refurbishing of the dog walk area near the swimming pool.
In April the Board approved these LAC recommended Gateway Projects. The LAC assisted by members of the newly established New Town Garden Club (also known as the Never-Ending Garden Party) will provide the labor for the installation, initial watering, and future maintenance of the four projects. These improvements will be made this spring.  If you would like to help with these beautification projects and/or join the New Town Garden Club, send an email to: or call Kelly at 757.713.5755.
I thank the LAC for all of their hard work selecting sites for these projects, researching the perennial plants that will provide color throughout the year, and for volunteering their labor to perform the installation, watering, and maintenance. This effort will significantly improve the appearance of our community at a minimum cost to our Association.
New Meeting Space
The Board has also approved a conditional lease with Williamsburg Developers/Developers Realty, LLC for new space for Association meetings. This space provides two meeting areas - a large space for our Board meetings and a smaller conference area where Committees who do not have many members may choose to meet. Both rooms will be available for reservation. See related Town Crier article this month.
BOARD BUZZ - April 2022 - Laura Loda, Board Member
Posted on Apr 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
Happy Spring!  Isn’t it great to be able to enjoy the weather and to be outdoors?  It won’t be that much longer before summer is upon us and there are things in progress now to prepare for that.
Community Pool
Those of you who frequent the pool will be happy to learn that at its March meeting, the Board approved the installation of a new entry system to replace the outdated and not-always-functional one currently in place.  The new system will be web-based so it will interface with a resident database.  So, for instance, if an owner were to sell their property (why would you want to leave New Town?) their pass would be inactivated.  The new system will also allow us to track usage of the facility by time and day.  That will help with planning future expenditures and maintenance items.  In addition, if there were to be inclement weather necessitating closure of the facility, this could be done remotely so no one’s pass would open the gate.  This would protect everyone who might not see emails or webpage notices.  Stay tuned for more information about distribution of new passes.  It will be done in conjunction with owner signing of the updated 2022 Pool Policies and Rules document. The Pool Committee is busy planning all of this with Chesapeake Bay Management as well as all of the other tasks that precede opening of the pool on Saturday, May 28.
Stormwater Management
A term you may have heard tossed around and not really known what it is — BMPs.  Stormwater Management Facilities or Best Management Practices (BMPs) are a key component in the effort to control stormwater runoff and protect our streams.  There are numerous BMPs throughout New Town, some of which are owned by the NTRA and some of which are owned by other parties.  BMPs owned by the NTRA have all been inspected, an activity planned for in this year’s budget.  Two locations need immediate repair and sediment cleaning.  The Board has approved contracts for this work at the Lydias playground detention basin and the Casey Boulevard BMP (the wet pond next to Abbey Commons).  
More significant non-routine maintenance is required at the Casey Blvd BMP and will include vegetation removal, debris excavation and site improvement to provide proper stormwater management.  This work would be replacement reserve funded.  Chesapeake Bay has proposed that the Association apply for a James City County Clean Water Heritage Grant (matching funds) for the work. The Board authorized our Managing Agent to pursue this grant application that is due at the end of September.  Additionally, the Board has requested a routine maintenance proposal to mitigate future significant repairs.
Casey Boulevard Traffic
I presented to Jim Icenhour, our Supervisor on the James City County Board of Supervisors, comments submitted from a number of residents expressing concerns about different traffic and parking issues on Casey Boulevard.  By far the largest number of comments concerned the intersection with Center Street where there is a school bus stop.  There is no means to slow or stop traffic at that intersection which poses safety issues for the children going to and from the bus stop.  Mr. Icenhour presented the issue at the March 8 Board of Supervisors meeting and has met with the local representative of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).  The VDOT representative contacted me to let us know that a traffic study of Casey Boulevard will be conducted by VDOT.  Unfortunately, I can’t give you an estimate of when this will happen.  Apparently, there is a queue of requests and we’re now in the queue.  I’ll follow up with VDOT regularly and let you know when I learn something more definite.  But, we’re on the list!   And patience is a virtue.
In the last week from public information on the JCC website, the Board has learned about two possible developer projects that could impact our community (See related Crier article). Owners should pay attention to what is being proposed and as we learn more, we will update you.
BOARD BUZZ - March 2022 - Everett Lunsford, Treasurer
Posted on Mar 1st, 2022 Comments (1)
Let me begin with all things financial…
At this time the Board has received the draft December 2021 financial statements from our new management company, Chesapeake Bay Management.  These draft statements are under review.  Several factors contributed to their delay:
  • Bank account transfers and reconciliation.
  • Individual homeowner account reconciliation due to the need for additional data from Town Management. 
  • Payments made by prior management in December that delayed the operating checking account reconciliation.
  • Chesapeake Bay Management worked with the association’s CPA firm to adjust the categorization of several transactions identified in our 2020 audit.  
Most issues, except the 2020 audit adjustments, have been fully resolved. December 2021 and January 2022 statements are expected to be released by mid-March. Slowly but surely we are closing our books and converting to new recordkeeping.
The Board recently hired Adams Jenkins and Cheatham to again do the New Town Residential Association's (NTRA’s) 2021 tax return and to prepare a financial statement compilation for 2021.
Landscaping Season
Spring landscaping is underway. Virginia Lawn and Landscape crews have methodically been mulching through each neighborhood. Mowing will begin this month.
For those who may still question the fenced yards landscaping decision, the Board is acting in the best interests of the entire community given our legal constraints.  The legal review of past practices initiated in response to owner comments on the 2021 budget resulted in 2 key guidance points:
  1. The Board had not followed the New Town Residential Association documents in past decisions and budgets;
  2. The Board has a legal obligation to follow the existing governing documents, regardless of past Board decisions and actions.
This “follow the documents” guidance was reinforced by the comments made by candidates during the search for a new managing agent, and by the consultant hired to assist the Board in addressing the turnover issues identified during 2021.
Solving this situation requires new Governing Documents, approved by 2/3rds of NTRA members.  At some future date, the Board will return to the draft documents presented in 2021, and update them based on comments and lessons learned in the managing agent transition. Unless and until 2/3rds of owners agree to changes, the existing documents remain in effect.
Familiarize yourself with these current Governing Documents available on the NTRA website page. (Use the links on the left side of the page.)
Village Walk Neighborhood Updates
  • The Board and Eagle Construction are currently discussing how to address the roof deficiencies identified by Eagle’s 2021 drone inspections and a subsequent NTRA authorized sample inspection of Village Walk roofs. This February roof inspection, where an inspector walked some roofs, found issues with 5 out of 5 homes sampled. A full independent engineering evaluation of the situation is planned to help us determine whether roof design deficiencies or only installation performance issues are causing these problems.  An engineering firm has been selected and is expected to begin work in mid-March. 
It is possible some Village Walk attics may need inspection as part of the engineering evaluation.  The Board requests your cooperation if you are contacted for attic access.
  • The Board of Directors recently approved a new chart developed by Chesapeake Bay Management that outlines who is responsible for what in terms of maintenance in Village Walk. It is available here. Chesapeake has used a similar matrix in other communities where the homeowners association has exterior maintenance and repair responsibilities. Please use this document to aid in determining whether you (Village Walk homeowner) or NTRA is responsible for a particular repair or replacement. Our thanks to Anne Ingram for her work in creating this valuable tool. 
BOARD BUZZ – February 2022 – Mary Cheston, President
Posted on Feb 1st, 2022 Comments (0)
Welcome Jack Espinal (Abbey Commons), Laura Loda (Shirley Park), Everett Lunsford (Village Walk), and Glen Mitchell (Village Walk) to the NTRA Board of Directors! January has been a rebuilding and organizing month for the Board. With four new Directors, we have spent time getting to know each other and setting up our priorities for this year. Lots of information and history still to share.
Our association’s Annual Meeting on December 16th had a robust turnout. Besides announcing the results of our Board election, there were presentations on the 2022 final Budget by our Treasurer, Everett Lunsford; our legal counsel’s status report on maintenance obligations for the BMPs and other areas in Village Walk; remarks from our new community manager, Anne Ingram; a recap of 2021 accomplishments with a safety awareness briefing on sidewalks and tree roots, and Member comment period. Most questions involved the Board’s decision to enforce the limits to landscaping in fenced yards (see related notice in Town Crier), voting to change the Governing Documents, access to contracts, and concerns regarding speeding on New Town streets (also in the February Crier). 
Many thanks to all the Board members who served during 2021 – Chuck Stetler, Mike Reilly, Dick Durst, Rick Fisher, Angela Lesnett, and Mark Burgess. Their dedication and hard work contributed to common area improvements as well as ten new or revised policies, draft Governing Documents, a new assessment methodology, and selection of a new management company. 2021 was a year that we certainly do not want to repeat, but despite upheavals the Board persevered and achieved many good things for our community. 
2022 promises to bring its own challenges. 
Before the holidays, Eagle Construction conducted a drone inspection of the roofs in Village Walk in response to NTRA data on roof leaks. Last week we were notified that the drone showed 30 homes with roof issues, largely exposed nails without caulking or shingle issues. Eagle offered to repair all items identified from the inspection at their expense, if done immediately. A Special Board meeting with Village Walk owners was held via Zoom on January 26th. The Board is evaluating proposals for an independent engineering evaluation of the situation and has advised Eagle that we will reply formally to their proposal at a later date, once we have this additional analysis. (See article in February Crier
In Charlotte Park, James City County reinspected the Phase 10 common areas (around Olive Drive and Christine Court) owned by Atlantic Homes in preparation for their turnover to the Association. (See related Crier article) Some locations, especially alley drainage, will require more remedial work. NTRA’s engineering firm Giles and Flythe accompanied the JCC team, and will be preparing a future report for the Board. Per our NTRA policy on “Turnover or Acceptance of Assets”, a homeowner meeting will be held when we have their findings and recommendations. 
The lease for the NTRA meeting space on Main Street has ended because the landlord found a new long-term tenant. The Board of Directors and most Committees will likely be moving their meetings back to a Zoom format. (Please check the website calendar for meeting locations.) Developers Realty has generously offered to find another location within the Shops at Main Street for our potential use. As we consider options for new space, we will keep you informed. 
Minor changes are coming in the landscape services schedule for 2022. Look for an article in next month’s Town Crier for more details. Meanwhile, I hope you have enjoyed the beauty of our recent snowfalls.
Chinese New Year – the year of the Tiger, symbol of bold actions - begins today, followed closely by the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Stay warm and settle in to watch the competition. As the traditional saying goes, “May this New Year bring immense joy and happiness.”  
BOARD BUZZ December 2021, Mary Cheston, President
Posted on Dec 1st, 2021 Comments (0)
Today begins a new chapter in the history of the New Town Residential Association as we welcome our new management company, Chesapeake Bay Management (CBM). Our community manager, Anne Ingram, will begin work next week – operating out of Chesapeake’s 337 McLaws Circle office. Anne comes to us after 5 years as Community Manager for Colonial Heritage, another community that is still under development. As a Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM), she has broad understanding of a range of association issues and her experience with overseeing stormwater systems is bound to benefit us in New Town. Please warmly welcome her and all the supporting CBM team.
Three new faces will be joining the Board soon! Elections for the 2022-2023 Board of Directors will begin on Thursday, December 9th. Each candidate has submitted an application outlining their background and reason for running for the Board – these applications are posted on the website Board of Directors page. Please take some time to consider who you believe will best serve our community in this important function. Email links to vote electronically through EzVote will be distributed when the polls open. (To obtain a paper ballot, please contact Chesapeake Bay at 757 706-3019.)
An early Christmas present? In response to NTRA’s report of water intrusion problems in Village Walk, Eagle Construction has notified the Association that they will be conducting “an assessment of the current condition of all the roofs at Village Walk built by Eagle Construction during the month of December.” This will be a drone inspection. We do not have details or dates, but will share additional information with the Village Walk community as it becomes available. The Board is hopeful that this first step may alleviate the need for us to pursue forensic inspections of roofs in 2022.
The Board has approved the 2022 NTRA Budget. Thanks to those who participated in our virtual Zoom and those who submitted comments. The Neighborhood Assessment component is using the proportional use methodology. As a refresher, the Board presented a budget with two assessment options to bring us closer to the requirements in our current Governing Documents. Most owners who commented preferred the proportional use allocation for landscape services. A chart of the approved 2022 assessment figures has been added to the FAQ page of the website. (Replies to written comments will be posted later this week.)
Two articles in this month’s Town Crier mark a first – pieces written by Randy Casey-Rutland of Town Management and Larry Salzman, President of the New Town Commercial Association - providing some historical perspective on the NTRA and NTCA relationship.
Don’t forget our Annual Members Meeting on December 16th in Legacy Hall at 6:30PM.  All homeowners are invited to meet Chesapeake’s representatives and celebrate with our newly elected Board of Directors who will be announced at the meeting. Mask up and visit with neighbors.
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season – our Association has much to look forward to in 2022.
Remember that the Communications team also takes a short holiday at this time of year. The Town Crier’s next issue is February 1, 2022.
BOARD BUZZ November 2021, Mary Cheston, President
Posted on Nov 1st, 2021 Comments (0)
And then there were two…
This month Mark Burgess and I are focused on finalizing the Association’s 2022 budget for presentation to the community with the able assistance of our Finance Committee. It is clear that there needs to be a much-needed change of mindset from what we’ve employed in the past on the part of all of us homeowners. 
We can no longer seek the best deal/lowest possible HOA dues or expect to artificially link the NTRA budget to inflation or CPI. Underfunding our Association does long term damage both to our physical plant and our reserves. This year with professional advice, we have critically evaluated what it costs to operate and maintain our community and save for the future. For many homeowners there will be a big assessment increase in 2022. Because we are following our documents, assessments will look somewhat different as well (except for the Village Walk neighborhood). To further understand why an increased assessment is needed, be sure to read Treasurer Everett Lunsford’s article this month on our “2022 Budget Challenges.”
Exciting news! We will soon welcome a new management company to serve our Association. Effective December 1, Chesapeake Bay Management Inc. will take over as the NTRA management company. Chesapeake Bay manages nearly 100 communities in Southeastern Virginia, has strong technological capabilities, and is committed to making positive change in our community. During the selection process, Chesapeake impressed the Board with its commitment to customer service, “can do” attitude, frankness, and overall expertise. Chesapeake also provides value for the money because their management fee is all inclusive, saving us the myriad fees and pass-through costs of our current contract. Best of all, the NTRA will have a full-time dedicated manager.
In the meantime, there is a massive amount of Association data and history to share. This records transition work will consume much of Town Management’s attention this month, so please be patient with your requests. We want as smooth a turnover as possible, especially given the imminent beginning of a new fiscal year. There will be a learning curve for everyone involved.
In mid-November homeowners will be officially notified by Chesapeake with information about how to set up your dues accounts. A different bank will be involved in handling NTRA’s accounts, so expect to change your automatic assessment payments for January 1, 2022. Keep an eye out for this important communication. 
November is America’s traditional month of sharing and Thanksgiving. In that spirit, I would like to thank my colleagues who beginning in June 2020 served on the homeowner Board of Directors. Despite the roller coaster ride to get here, your ideas and involvement helped us accomplish several important projects to improve New Town’s common areas and operations.
Thanks also to Town Management, which at the end of the month will conclude 15 years as the management company for the NTRA. From dirt piles to developed neighborhoods, Town Management has watched and lived the transformation of our community and all of its growing pains. 
The volunteers who staff our NTRA Committees also deserve a big thank you. The Board especially appreciates the recent work of our Management Company Search Committee - Bill Voliva, Mike Reilly and Everett Lunsford - who expeditiously screened applicants to fill the critical role of our management company. A big shout out to our expanded Communications team who stepped up to assist me - our new Crier editor, writers, and all those who contributed clear and compelling messages on the need to change our documents. That said, we are always in the market for additional help.
A final note of personal thanks to my support system – my unflappable husband Ric and dear Charlotte Park neighbors/friends who have shared a kind word or a laugh (often with a glass of wine) and constantly remind me that the Board is only volunteers, doing the best we can with the cards we were dealt by the Developer Board. New Town is a great community to live in, and these moments rally me.
It is so important for all of us to keep working towards having the Association on sound footing-both legally and financially. We look forward to seeing all of you via Zoom at the November 19th 2022 Budget presentation. We are at the start of the holiday season and embarking on a new chapter in our community’s history. Let’s make it an exciting, memorable beginning.
BOARD BUZZ October 2021, Mark Burgess, Director
Posted on Oct 1st, 2021 Comments (1)
Hi! My name is Mark Burgess and I’m what one of our New Town residents called the “new guy” on the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Board of Directors, having only joined the Board this past July. I’m also a relatively recent resident of New Town. My wife and I purchased a Village Walk townhouse in November 2018. 
Being so new to New Town and the Board has meant, of course, that I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. So while other Board members have been reviewing and revising our Association’s governing documents with the able assistance of several homeowner association (HOA) professionals, I’ve been concentrating on simply reading and trying to better understand both our current and our proposed documents while at the same time paying close attention to what the others are saying about how these documents came to be in the first place and where they need to be in order to better serve our community in the years to come. Here is some of what I’ve learned. 
First, our current documents really are old and showing their age. They describe a community that essentially no longer exists. I recently saw a photograph of New Town, for instance, that showed Charlotte Park before it was built out; all you could see were empty lots being readied for development and, off in the distance, a few commercial buildings scattered along Discovery Park Boulevard. Obviously, a lot has happened since. New Town has grown up and with that growth has come the need for our governing documents to take into account the changes that have occurred. So there is no doubt in my mind that our association needs a new set of documents carefully crafted under the aegis of HOA professionals like those we have had the privilege to work with. 
But rewriting governing documents is one thing; forming a new community is something else. Documents, responsibly drafted, can describe a community, they can help define a community, they can even assist in laying the groundwork for how a community may function within the bounds of federal, state, and local statutes, but they cannot in and of themselves establish community. People make communities, and the best communities, in my experience, are those where neighbors care for and about one another, where they respect each another, and where they share a vision of what they would like their communities to be. 
Creating new communities therefore takes patience, a LOT of patience. I can’t emphasize that enough. Living so near to Jamestown and Williamsburg has given me an entirely new insight into just how MUCH patience might be required. Think of the long years of hardship those early colonists endured before their lives became settled! So, yes, it may be just a wee bit longer before New Town is complete and all the pieces of a new community are finally put in place. 
In the meantime, as a Board member, I shall continue my study of our governing documents and work with you as well as other members of the Board to make sure we make as smooth a transition as possible to a new management company and continue to progress as a homeowner-controlled association.
Message to the Community from Rick Fisher, NTRA Treasurer
Posted on Sep 17th, 2021 Comments (0)
For personal reasons I have resigned from the Board of Directors and will not be continuing as Treasurer.
We moved into New Town in August of 2011.  I have enjoyed providing continuous service to the Community for a period of ten (10) years.  I recall an early meeting in 2011 with Bob Keith and John Wright.  At that time, the existing RAB felt it was time to have a Finance Committee and I was asked to be the first Chair.  We worked closely with Town Management to construct a new Budget Process. We also began the process of investing replacement reserve funds into CD’s based on a laddering approach. There were numerous other finance related accomplishments throughout the years. 
I have worked closely with the new Board members to ensure that the Association remains strong and is a “first class” place to live.  The challenges are great, but with strong Community involvement and support we will meet them.
BOARD BUZZ September 2021, Angela Lesnett, President
Posted on Aug 31st, 2021 Comments (0)
September always holds that “back to school” feeling for me - - a time of change and new beginnings. And so it goes for our Association.
Last week we announced that Dick Durst, resigned from the Board of Directors for health reasons. Dick joined the Board in September of 2020, and was elected President of New Town Residential Association (NTRA) in January 2021. He served as President during an extremely challenging time for NTRA and we will miss his energy, engagement, and 6:00 a.m. emails. We offer Dick our heartfelt thanks for his expertise and hard work on behalf of NTRA and our sincere best wishes for the future.
Last week brought another change: it has been decided that NTRA and its current managing agent, Town Management, will part ways effective late this fall. The Board has undertaken a search for a new managing agent to partner with the Association as we take the next steps as a homeowner-controlled HOA. Engaging a new managing agent will be a new beginning for the NTRA.
In another new beginning, the Board has been working diligently to revise NTRA’s governing documents. A draft of the revised documents will be published today and a virtual Town Hall meeting is scheduled for September 22, during which the Association’s attorney, Sue Tarley, will provide an overview of the documents and will be available to answer Members’ questions. [Please submit your questions in advance if possible:] Due to the need to devote resources to the search for a new managing agent, however, the Board is delaying the Member vote on the documents until the new Board is in place.
Yes, the “new Board.” The terms of some Directors will end in December and Members will have the opportunity to elect 3 new Directors. Think about running for one of these positions. Being an NTRA Board member is challenging, but serving on the Board is an opportunity to shape our Association in important ways.
How about a change and new beginning for you?  If you haven’t volunteered on a Committee, I encourage you to do it now. NTRA’s committees do a lot work for our community - - re-writing the pool rules (Pool Committee), inspecting the Association’s physical assets (Asset Maintenance Committee), publishing the Town Crier and maintaining NTRA’s website (Communications Committee), and planning social events (Activities Committee) - - just to name a few. The time and location of each committee meeting is listed on the website calendar and all committee meetings are open to Members so you can see how the group operates. In addition to supporting your community you will meet new people with whom you already share a common interest - - the success of New Town.
The Board, with the assistance of the Finance Committee, has also been working on developing NTRA’s 2022 budget. In last month’s Board Buzz, Rick Fisher, NTRA’s Treasurer, described a number of projects the Association has undertaken in 2021. Of course, each of those projects affected the Association’s finances. From managing our own household budgets we all know that prices are going up, so you will not be surprised that in 2022 we expect to see substantial increases in costs in every area. Some of these are due to increases in labor and material costs. Some increases may occur as contracts that have been in place for several years with no increase are now being renewed at 2022 prices.
As NTRA’s costs increase, its assessments must also increase to cover those expenses, including a reasonable contribution to NTRA’s Replacement Reserves. The Replacement Reserves are funds put into specially designated accounts that are used for expenses related to specified assets such as NTRA’s streets, pool, retention ponds, fences and other assets that have a long useful life. Allocating funds to the Replacement Reserves requires balancing short-term needs with long-term needs.
Having adequate reserves on hand to meet expenses is a sign of a well-run HOA and is a factor in keeping property values stable. As we did last year, the Board plans to hold two Town Halls in November to explain the 2022 budget and assessments.
The last couple of weeks brought a change for me, when I was elected President of NTRA. I’m happy to serve the good folks of New Town, and will do my best. NTRA is lucky to have the services of board members Mary Cheston (Vice-president), Rick Fisher (Treasurer), and Mark Burgess, and of Phil Casey (Secretary).
There are many changes for NTRA in the next few months. The Board will keep you informed of developments. I look forward to seeing you around New Town.
BOARD BUZZ August 2021 - Rick Fisher, Treasurer
Posted on Aug 1st, 2021 Comments (0)
Update on Our 2021 Budget Challenge
We began the year knowing that it would be very challenging financially. In the 2021 Budget Town Hall Meeting in November, we discussed the following:
  • Managing Agent Financial Audit
  • Capital Contributions and Administrative Fees
  • Village Walk Irrigation
We have made excellent progress in each of these areas.  
The Managing Agent Financial Audit began on May 17th and will conclude at the end of August. At that point in time, the Board of Directors (BOD) will receive an Audit Report which will be posted on the website.  
Capital Contributions and Administrative Fees collected at closings for new sales and resales have been deposited in our Operating Savings Account.  This has allowed us maximum flexibility to address incremental expenses not identified in the Adopted Budget.  In the first six months of the year, a number of unbudgeted expenditures have been required (Note: some projects have been approved for completion but are not yet started):
  • Legal expenses associated with the rewrite/revision of our Governing Documents (originally anticipated to begin in late 2021/early 2022)
  • Need for two pool lifeguards to address Covid-19 Requirements
  • Consulting Services to assist the BOD in formulating the 2022 Budget 
  • Playground Site improvements to address drainage, landscape screening for slide
  • Tree removal in Roper Park
  • Employment of an Independent Engineering Firm to inspect assets planned to be transferred from the Developer to the Association
The Village Walk irrigation system is being mapped with the direct involvement of the builder Eagle Construction and significant progress has been made. We are currently spending less in this area than Budgeted. 
Major Association Assets identified in the 2019 Replacement Reserve Study, will require repair and replacement earlier than planned. Major items that have already been or must be addressed are:
  • Refurbishment of the pool pergola which was completed before the pool opening.  
  • A complete resurfacing of the pool  as well as caulking, filter recharging and skimmer replacements. The resurfacing is set to begin in the September/October time frame.  This is two years earlier than planned.
  As you can see, the BOD has been very busy addressing a large number of issues, all of which have a financial impact.  
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’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 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