Board Buzz

BOARD BUZZ - March 2024 by Jack Espinal, President
Posted on Mar 1st, 2024

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.
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