Archives for February 2015

Information Packet for March 2, 2015 BCA Board Meeting

Posted February 27, 2015 at 8:43 AM
The information packet for the upcoming BCA Board meeting is now available for downloading.
Agenda items include:
  • Discussion of Snow Removal within Brandermill
  • Consideration of Ballot Language for changes to the Restrictive Covenants and A Member Survey to be mailed with the Ballot
  • Consideration of Deed of Easement for VDOT re: Genito Bridge Project
  • Consideration of Pool Management Contract for 2015 and 2016
We encourage residents to attend BCA Board meetings to learn of Brandermill "happenings". For a quick snapshot of what the BCA Board will be discussing, please read the agenda located on the first page of the Board Packet.

NEW! BCA Brush Collection Program

Posted February 27, 2015 at 8:43 AM
The BCA recently announced a Brush Collection Program:
Beginning March 2, 2015 brush will be picked up from homes curbside by a BCA Maintenance crew. Pickup will take place once a week for one of the four neighborhood zones; every zone will have a once a month pickup. You can identify your zone with this chart.
What great timing ... right after the recent snow storms with its fallen tree limbs and brush! Read the full story on page 1 of the February 20, 2015 issue of The Village Mill Online.

Highlights of February 2, 2015 BCA Board Meeting

Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:40 PM
Important Note: The below highlights are reported based on unofficial notes taken by NRC representatives who attended the above BCA meeting. Although we believe the below reporting is reliable and strive for accuracy, we cannot assure 100% accuracy. It is recommended to all readers that they read the approved BCA Board Meeting minutes when published.

Member Voice

Mamie McNeal (Planter’s Wood) provided the BCA Directors with information regarding the “Millennials” and spoke regarding the potential effects of the proposed 15% cap on rentals. She noted that the Millennials have outstanding school loans and are having a difficult time finding jobs. She commented that these young people are presently renting and not buying. She expressed concern that the proposed cap on rentals will hinder the buying of homes in Brandermill.

George Lawson (Huntsbridge) commented that in regards to SCARP’s recommendations pertaining to rentals, he thinks it is an issue of covenant enforcement and customer service, and not so much one of abandoned and rental properties. He questioned the response members receive from BCA Staff when they call about violations. Lawson cited a couple of examples regarding the condition of roadside ditches and vehicles parked on the roadway. He also noted that for Brandermill to have reached its current situation, there had to have been a lack of covenant enforcement at some point. He commented that he did not think it is a good thing to single out renters and rentals. He urged the BCA Directors to enforce the covenants. He noted that renters don’t want to be seen as less valuable in the community and closed by saying that he knows the BCA Board has good intentions regarding the SCARP recommendations.

Gayle Walters (Northwich) noted, as a real estate professional, that when a home is sold in Brandermill, the realtor must cover the disclosure package with the prospective homebuyer. To be sold, the home must be in compliance with the covenants and standards. [Note: Either the seller needs to bring the property into compliance prior to closing, or the new owner will be responsible for the existing violations.] She noted that the disclosure package has a form that has recently been changed, as it now includes a question asking if the buyer intends to use the home as a primary residence or as investment property. She noted that the form had been changed without public discussion of the change. Walters went on to say that the SCARP committee was comprised of four members and commented that this should ideally have been an odd number of members. She noted that when the committee voted at its last meeting on the 15% cap, initially there were two “yes” votes and two “no” votes. One committee member was then prevailed upon to change his vote to support the 15% cap recommendation. She also pointed out that, in her opinion, one question on the NRC questionnaire was misworded and could have caused some bias. She closed by urging the BCA Board to take some time and not rush to a decision regarding the rental recommendations.

Sandra Lacey (Timber Ridge) identified herself as a longtime resident and a business owner in Brandermill. She reminded the BCA Board that she had spoken at its January meeting, urging the Directors to develop a vision for Brandermill. She noted that she had moved to Brandermill in 1977 when it had just been named as the “best planned community in America”. She urged the community to identify its strong points and build upon them. She commented that the Master Plan is posted on the Brandermill website and reminded the BCA Board that the plan talks about such possibilities as constructing 2-story buildings in Market Square so that apartments might be there as well. She noted that she had also spoken in January about the possibility of expanded artistic events in Brandermill, adding that with two universities nearby we have opportunities for reduced pricing on concerts.

Dennis Lacey (Timber Ridge) noted that he owns rental property in Timber Ridge and advised the BCA Board that it looks as good or better than nearby properties. He asked the Directors to consider how it will define the term “rental”. As examples, he asked if the owner lets an adult child live in the home as a renter, is that home considered to be a rental? If an active duty service member is deployed and the spouse goes to live temporarily with family while the home is rented during the period of deployment, is that a rental? If someone is relocated for work and must rent before selling; is that considered a rental? He commented that the BCA is opening an administrative tracking nightmare and possibly creating more bad publicity for Brandermill. He urged the BCA Board to put off a decision regarding rentals for at least a year until they better address the details.

Richard Bradshaw (Regatta Pointe) cautioned the Directors that the 15% proposed cap on rentals would have the opposite intended effect of protecting home values in Brandermill. He gave an example of his daughter’s home in Portsmouth. A Marine Corps family, they were transferred and rented the home for six years (until two years ago) when the homeowners association set a cap on rentals. They fought against the cap but ultimately were forced to evict their renters and sell the home at a loss of $100K. Bradshaw noted that Brandermill’s situation could be affected in a similar way regarding home values. He expressed his belief that no one has presented the members with both sides of the rental cap issue and that Brandermill has not fully developed the rules regarding the proposed rental cap. He urged the BCA Board to drop the proposal to change the covenants and to vigorously enforce the covenants as they pertain to all property owners.

Tommy Baer (Land’s End) urged the community to let common sense prevail regarding the proposed cap on rentals. He stressed that quality and enhancement of property values must be the priority. He commented that it is common sense that too many rentals will reduce property values and argued that some cap is needed. He commented that the discussion at the January 29, 2015 NRC meeting and the results of the NRC survey show that the silent majority in Brandermill supports the proposed cap action to limit rentals to 15% of total properties. President’s Report President Davis thanked the SCARP committee for their work and thanked them for focusing light upon an issue of increasing importance.

First Vice President’s Report

Director Pearson stressed that the association needs volunteers for the Communications & Marketing Committee.

Treasurer’s Report

Director Hillman noted that Brandermill had a net loss for 2014 which, she pointed out, was actually helpful with our tax obligation. She commented that Brandermill is in excellent financial condition. She also pointed out the Board information packet included a new report ("2015 New Capital/Replacement Projects," page 16 of February 2, 2015 BCA information packet) as part of the Treasurer’s Report.

Director Bettin commented that the 2014 operating budget was $2.2 million and a net loss of $16,000 is very minimal.

President Davis noted that the new report was for 2015 projects. He asked where residents could find the financial reports, and Manager Bailey responded that Board information packets are posted on the BCA website, and links are included in BCA eNewsletters and NRC emails.

Manager Bailey commented that, of the roughly $16,000 net loss for 2014, only $892 was on the expense side where expenses had exceeded budget. The balance was due to lower than expected revenues.

Director Malek asked about the Sunday Park tot lot ("SPTL") and the Nuttree Park playground items ("NPTL") that are included in the 2015 New Capital/Replacement Projects report. Manager Bailey noted that these had originally been included in the 2014 budget but were removed until a recreational plan could be created.

Community Manager’s Report

Manager Bailey noted that the weekly BCA email blast is now going out to 2,063 member emails. He urged anyone not receiving the emails to sign up.

He stated that President Davis' and Director Bettin's present terms will terminate this spring. Members interested in serving on the BCA Board should pick up nomination packets from the BCA office. Deadline for candidates to file the nomination form is February 20, 2015.

Manager Bailey noted that the most recent email blast (sent on January 30, 2015) included a link to the 2-page weekly eNewsletter, a link to the revised SCARP recommendations document, a link to the NRC questionnaire about the SCARP recommendations, and a summary of the January 29, 2015 NRC Annual Meeting.

Manager Bailey commented on the most recent meeting and pending plans of the Communications & Marketing Committee, and noted that "Diggety Dudes", a children’s performance group, will put on a 90-minute program at Sunday Park in April.

Manager Bailey noted that the association needs volunteers for the Maintenance & Ecology Committee. Synopses of recent committee meetings and a calendar of upcoming meetings are included in the weekly eNewsletter. Manager Bailey then covered the report from the Property Management Committee. The ARB received 26 applications for proposed projects in January. They approved 15 applications without changes, five were approved with limiting conditions, additional details were requested for four projects, and two were not approved.

Property Management also resolved 56 violations. Nine were sent to legal counsel, and two are before the Hearing Panel.

Only seven of the old-style brown mailboxes remain to be converted to our current mailbox style. Of the seven, two of are presently being replaced; three owners have shown the BCA proof of payment to an approved contractor for the work and the BCA will pursue the vendors; and two are located on abandoned lots on which the BCA has filed liens against these properties.

Director Hillman noted that it is now more than one-year past the deadline for installation of the new mailboxes. She stressed that lack of covenant enforcement is a key member concern and asked for resolution of the remaining seven mailboxes. Manager Bailey responded that the BCA will actively pursue completion of the remaining seven mailboxes. He also explained that in general we need to do a better job of educating residents on the process to fix a violation. He explained that even when things are fast-tracked, the process can take a year because of legal due process and other legal efforts.

President Davis made the point that there are plans to update the website to make it easier to navigate, and this may aid in the effort to better educate residents concerning violations. He also noted that the proposal from SCARP recommends an expedited process for correcting abandoned properties and suggested that this process might be a model for faster violations enforcement.

Director Malek asked if the association provides updates to residents when they call to ask about the status of correcting a specific violation. Manager Bailey responded that, in the past, the association has not done this, due to privacy issues. President Davis commented that it seems that the person who has made a complaint identifying a violation should be able to know where we stand in the covenant enforcement process. Director Malek asked if Brandermill has a proactive process to identify violations. Manager Bailey responded that the BCA does identify violations based upon complaints but that we also have a pro active process to identify violations. He estimated that property management staff drive through each neighborhood about once every quarter.

NRC Report

Newly elected NRC Chair Linda Quackenbush presented the 2015 NRC officers: Joe Herbst, First Vice Chair; Tamara Virginia, Second Vice Chair; Sally Ragsdale, Secretary; and Mamie McNeal, Treasurer. Chair Quackenbush also formally presented the final results of the NRC online questionnaire concerning SCARP's revised recommendations.

Director Bettin thanked the NRC for the survey and added that the information was very helpful. He hopes for a real partnership of the BCA Board and the NRC, and thinks the association can do much better soliciting feedback.

Discussion of the Amended Report by the Special Committee on Abandoned & Rental Properties

Director Pearson, SCARP Chair, presented the amended report. He made the following key points:
  1. There are no fees proposed for registration of rental properties in the revised report.
  2. The primary reason for the proposed 15% cap on rentals is the effect that rentals have on property values. He thinks the members would consider a 50% cap too high but some lower cap is necessary.
  3. The community standards for rentals and owner-occupied properties are one and the same, and would remain so under the proposals in the amended SCARP report.
  4. The property owner has the legal obligation for maintaining the property to association standards.
  5. Owners always have the right to appeal to the Board on matters regarding enforcement of standards.
  6. Making changes to the association’s Covenants is the right of the members and not of the Board of Directors. Changes to the Covenants would require a 75% "yes" vote of the total number of members voting in a referendum.
Director Pearson felt that there should be a discussion regarding the number of rentals to be allowed and asked the association to consider if an “unlimited” number of rentals as the proper number. He noted that 59% of the respondents supported the recommendation for a 15% cap on rentals, according to the NRC questionnaire. He also stressed that the BCA Board has heard it loud and clear: Residents want to have the standards enforced and feedback on the status of enforcements.

Director Pearson noted that SCARP had found that, regarding abandoned properties, standards were not being enforced in a timely manner. He noted that the committee, under its charge from the BCA Board, had limited its discussions to dealing with a total of 460 residential properties (450 rental properties; 10 abandoned properties).

Director Pearson clarified that the language in the SCARP recommendation regarding the filing of a lien on an abandoned property has been changed; the new language reflects "a vote by the Directors is needed before a foreclosure is pursued".

Director Pearson moved to approve the SCARP recommendations regarding abandoned properties. This motion was seconded by Director Bettin and passed by unanimous vote of the Directors.

Director Pearson discussed the committee’s recommendations regarding rental properties. He noted that the BCA had learned, based upon consultation with legal counsel, that the proposal requiring owners to register rental property would require a covenant change. Director Pearson then made a motion to have an attorney develop the language for this covenant change and to put this change on the April 2015 ballot as a referendum. This motion was seconded by Director Bettin.

Manager Bailey clarified that, if this motion was approved, the BCA attorney would develop the referendum language in time for the Board to approve that language at its March 2015 meeting, and the referendum could then be placed on the ballot. Director Hillman then asked how the association would identify rental properties and enforce the registration requirement. Director Pearson responded that we would rely on the residents to enforce the new standard in the same way we currently enforce standards.

This motion passed unanimously.

Director Pearson then moved for approval of the committee’s recommendation to create a 15% cap on rentals. Director Bettin seconded the motion. Director Pearson noted that the NRC questionnaire had shown 59% of respondents supported a referendum to create this cap. He stressed that it would require a 75% affirmative vote of those voting for passage.

Director Bettin commented that the biggest problem reported to him by residents is that we need to better enforce covenants and expressed his support for the cap.

Director Malek commented that he would prefer to delay action until the BCA Board knows with greater certainty how many rentals already exist.

Director Hillman expressed the opinion that action on a cap might be premature, noting that the association doesn't know how this might affect prospective buyers. She commented that the comments on the NRC survey raised questions. She noted that she had attended the last SCARP meeting and that committee member Tom Jacobson thought Brandermill was not at a critical point since it appears that we currently only have about 12% rentals. She indicated that she does not support a cap at this point.

President Davis began his remarks by asking if the cap applied to Brandermill as a whole or more specifically by neighborhoods. Director Pearson responded that the proposed cap would apply to Brandermill as a whole. President Davis felt that the BCA Board was creating a lot for the residents to digest concerning abandoned and rental properties and thought the association might be premature in creating a cap at this point.

Director Blom indicated that he did not support creation of a cap for all of the same reasons that had been noted in the discussion.

The question on having a 15% rental cap was called, and the motion was defeated 2:5 (Directors Pearson and Bettin voting "for", and Directors Davis, Hillman, Blom, Malek, and Leonard voting "against").

Director Pearson then thanked the members of the SCARP for their hard work; he also thanked the NRC for conducting the questionnaire and gathering valuable input from the community.

President Davis also commented that meaningful progress had been made toward maintaining property values by the actions taken. He felt that rental properties, at roughly 450 total, are an issue but not a “3-alarm fire”.

Consideration of the Hearing Panel Appeal by Mr. Lakshmana Mummanei of 13611 Winterberry Ridge

Lakshmana Mummanei appealed to the BCA Board, saying that he had submitted a landscape plan to remove trees and to create a vegetable garden on the side of his house. Although he had spoken directly with the ARB, but the plan was rejected.

Hearing Panel Co-Chair Debbie Jones responded that the matter began with a request by Mummanei to remove 27 trees and selected shrubbery. The ARB had only approved removal of 15 trees. Mummanei removed all 27 trees and shrubs without submitting the requested landscape plan. She also noted that Mummanei had not attended the Hearing Panel review.

President Davis asked if the ARB needed to receive a plan from a contractor. ARB Chair Andy Wyman responded that the ARB has never required a professional landscape plan but had asked for a better illustration from Mummanei to clearly show how Mummanei would replace the 12 trees which had been removed without approval. Chair Wyman indicated that the ARB and Hearing Panel would be satisfied if the owner replaces those 12 trees with adequate replacements in the approved designated locations.

Director Malek indicated that the owner had not left the BCA Board a choice, since he had not followed the association’s procedures for seeking approval regarding landscape changes. Mummanei responded that all of the trees approved by the ARB for removal were less than 6” in diameter and could have been removed under the association standards without ARB approval. He noted that he had received approval to remove only one large tree which was next to his deck and further claimed that neighbors had removed trees without ARB approval. Director Malek responded that he thinks the ARB needs to be more open to the removal of trees due to mold and other effect on homes. He also commented that the BCA Board had received positive feedback about the removal of trees along the parkways.

Chair Wyman responded that thinning of trees by the association along the parkways is different than clear-cutting trees by an owner without ARB approval.

President Davis asked if there was a likelihood that Mummanei and the ARB could find agreement upon a landscape plan. Chair Wyman responded that a treeless perimeter is not an option that the ARB could approve. Mummanei indicated that he is open to a conversation. President Davis asked Mummanei to submit a clearer landscape plan for approval. Director Blom stated that it was not the BCA Board's place to mediate a solution but rather that the proper channel for mediation is with the Hearing Panel.

Director Pearson agreed with Director Blom’s comments and moved to uphold the findings of the Hearing Panel. Manager Bailey clarified that passage of this motion would give Mummanei 30 days to respond to the Hearing Panel’s decision before further action is taken by the association. This motion was passed unanimously.

Consideration of Changes to the Residential Design Standards regarding Satellite Antennas

Director Leonard made a motion to adopt the changes to the standards regarding Satellite Antennas (page 30 of February 2, 2015 Board packet) as presented by the ARB.

The proposed change requires residents to submit plans regarding the size, location and documentation regarding the need for a satellite antenna. Manager Bailey advised the Directors that the association cannot legally prohibit satellite antennas, but it can require adherence to a community standard going forward. He clarified that existing antennas must be grandfathered and that the community could not require them to be removed since a standard did not exist when they were first installed.

First Vice President Pearson called the question, and the motion passed unanimously. President Davis was not present for the vote.

Consideration of Changes to the Financial Policy

Director Hillman summarized the changes (pages 31-33 of February 2, 2015 Board packet) as follows:
  • Regarding delinquent accounts, the change would eliminate the requirement that the association send a certified letter before the account goes to collection. Director Hillman noted that the association already sends three letters and the association’s attorney sends a certified letter. First Vice President Pearson moved that this change be approved, and the motion passed unanimously, with President Davis being absent.
  • Regarding use and sale of BCA assets, the change is necessitated to include language prohibiting personal use of BCA assets. First Vice President Pearson moved that this change be approved, and the motion passed unanimously, with President Davis being absent.
  • Regarding check signing authority, a change to require any non-recurring expense over $10,000 have two signatures and that a receiver of the check could not be one the two authorities to sign the check. First Vice President Pearson moved to approve this change, and motion the passed unanimously, with President Davis being absent.
President Davis then appointed Directors Leonard and Pearson to review the association’s financial processes.

BCA Email Recipients

Manager Bailey commented that the association needs to be more assertive in communicating via email and asked the Board to approve an “opt-out” policy rather than the current “opt-in” policy. The Directors indicated their support for doing so; therefore, in the future, the association intends to send emails to all members for whom they have emails. Members will need to request that they be removed by opting-out from the email distribution list.

2015 NRC Officers Meeting

Posted February 4, 2015 at 11:29 PM
NRC 2015 Officers Meeting
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
6 p.m., Holiday Inn Express

The meeting will be held in the Breakfast room of the Holiday Inn Express located at 5030 West Village Green Drive, Midlothian, VA (corner of Hull and Old Hundred Road)

All are welcome to join us!

Since this space is complimentary, there will be no amenities available.