Commentary on July 10, 2017 BCA Board Meeting

Posted July 14, 2017 at 2:03 PM, Filed Under: Front Page, News, NRC Email

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

Special Acknowledgement

On behalf of Brandermill, President Charlie Davis expressed gratitude for the security services provided by Officer Rodney Pretko. After 27 years of service to the County and 25+ years to Brandermill, Officer Pretko will be retiring shortly from the Police Department. President Davis presented a gift to Officer Pretko as an expression of our appreciation.

Approval of Agenda

Director Hunt moved and Director Pearson seconded a motion to move the Executive Session topic of "Directors' Communications Protocol" to open session. A vote of 4:2 (Directors Hunt, Hillman, Pearson and Gregory voting "for" and Directors Nardella and Davis voting "against) caused this topic to be added as Item #9 of the open session agenda and announcement of Executive Session to become Item #10.

Comments? >>

Consideration of Board Minutes for June 5, 2017

The minutes were amended to indicate that pool memberships have yielded more income as compared to that of the same time last year but not necessarily more memberships. The minutes were unanimously approved as amended.

Member Voice

NRC Second Vice Chair Sean Rodgers reported that the NRC social held at Steam Bell Beer Works last month was successful and expressed appreciation to the Directors and BCA Staff members who attended and answered residents' questions.

At last month's BCA Board meeting, the NRC had asked the Directors to provide written documentation on how the BCA Board arrived at the value of the Hull Street/Harbour Pointe easement. It was announced that at 4:47 p.m. on the day of this Board meeting, the NRC received documentation in the form of a letter from Graham R. Nunnally, Real Property Agent, Right of Way Office, Chesterfield County, supporting President Davis' statement at the June Board meeting (easement value of $2.30). This, Second Vice Chair Rodgers commented, was in sharp contrast to the documentation received from a Commercial Appraiser in the County's Department of Real Estate Assessments and real estate agents – all of whom stated that the easement should be valued $3,000-$4,000. This now raises the question of why two different County entities valued the same property so differently.

Another question: If the Right of Way Office only recently provided this letter, how did the BCA Board negotiate the value of the easement when the granting occurred several months ago? Given our financial status, it is difficult to believe that the Board could have given away community property for several thousand dollars less than what it might have gotten for the property.

Second Vice Chair Rodgers encouraged the Directors to work with the NRC to have better open and transparent communications between the BCA Board and the community.

Manager Wright stated that Property Manager Al Raimo was the staff person who had originally contacted the County about valuation of the easement. As Property Manager Raimo has been out of the office due to illness for the past three weeks, Manager Wright sent staff to the County earlier in the day to obtain the Nunnally letter. She noted that since the Board had only granted an easement, no property was given away and it is located in a median.

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Erin Collins (Oak Springs), speaking on her own behalf, addressed her April 6, 2017 letter to President Davis asking about the use of executive session to discuss a resident and the resulting threats to her and fellow NRC officers. Collins acknowledged communication from Manager Wright who said that discussion of residents in executive session was based on a legal opinion that volunteers are considered "personnel" which, under the Property Owners' Association Act (POAA), is considered a topic for executive session.  Collins disagrees with this legal opinion.

Since Collins has not received a response to her letter from the BCA Board within the legal timeframe (seven days from receipt of her complaint filing), she urged the Directors to set a date when this issue would be heard in open session.

Director Hunt noted that setting of the agenda was at the discretion of the Board president. The Directors could call a special meeting of the Board if two directors jointly agreed. A vote, however, could only be taken if quorum was met; else only a discussion of the issue could be conducted at this special board meeting. Director Hunt stated that she personally had no issue with putting this topic on next month's agenda.

Acknowledging that he was not in attendance at the meeting when this issue was first presented, Director Pearson expressed his chagrin that the issue has not been addressed. He agreed with Director Hunt that this topic should be placed on next month's agenda, and if not, perhaps he and Director Hunt could call a special Board meeting.

Not receiving such a date, Collins claimed that the BCA Board is now in violation of State law and will proceed to file a formal complaint with the Ombudsman of Virginia's Office of the Common Interest Community.

Manager Wright stated that she will contact Collins within 24 hours with either a specific date and time that the BCA Board will hear this topic or that the BCA Board has decided to not hear the topic.

Director Nardella commented that Member Voice was to allow resident time to express their concerns and to give feedback, but it was not time for a resident to hold a debate with the BCA Board. He concluded that the Directors will take Collins' comments under advisement.

Manager Wright noted that Staff has routinely responded to Collins' requests for information as such became available.

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Greg Epps (Oak Springs) expressed his uneasiness with the BCA Board making a decision on the Hull Street/Harbour Pointe easement in executive session. The community only heard about it after the easement had been granted. He asked if any independent valuation was sought on the easement. Manager Wright responded that the BCA Board responded as quickly as it did because the easement was needed to work on a force sewer main impacting all of Woodlake.

Regarding the topic of volunteers being considered personnel, Epps asked if he was considered personnel as he was a volunteer race director of the 7.4K Race. Manager Wright indicated that the reference pertained to committee members, and legal opinion allowed the BCA Board to discuss potential actions against a committee member who might have demonstrated rogue behavior.

Epps agreed with Director Nardella that Member Voice was not a time for debate and asked if there was a format, e.g., townhall meeting, where residents could ask questions of the Directors and to hold a debate on Association issues. Manager Wright commented that Staff has and is working with the NRC to hold townhall meetings to allow residents to ask questions. Townhall meetings are not times for debate, Manager Wright continued, as the Directors were elected by Association members to make decisions on their behalf.

Epps noted that it is difficult to comment on BCA Board agenda items when Member Voice is placed at the top of each agenda and Board discussion occurs after that. Manager Wright stated that members could always ask Staff for more information on any of the agenda items, even after the meeting.

Director Gregory interjected the comment that the easement was not property sold but rather the right of the County to allow their contractors to perform work on the property. Any damage done to the property by the contractors would be repaired at the cost of the County. He asked that members to please not use the word "sold" as it is inaccurate.

Director Pearson stated that he raised the question of committee members being considered personnel about three years ago. It was determined then that a legal opinion would be obtained, and although he does not agree with the opinion, it is prudent that the BCA Board aligned itself with the opinion of its attorneys. He also recalled that he proposed a motion at last month's Board meeting to hold a townhall meeting with the NRC Chair acting as moderator and the General Manager and Directors fielding questions. The motion failed 4:3.

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Brandon Rumancik (Shadow Ridge) announced that he will be running for a seat on the BCA Board next year. Since the seats presently held by President Davis and Director Friedel will become available in 2018, Rumancik asked both directors if they intended to run for re-election. Director Friedel responded with "no comment", and President Davis responded with "I haven't decided yet; I may."

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Justin Riegler (Turtle Hill) acknowledged Director Nardella as a resident in his neighborhood and as such may be in a better position to respond to his queries than the other Directors.

Riegler stated that he had sought alternative means (television, Facebook, other social media) to seek attention to some neighborhood issues when he discovered through his neighbors that conventional means were not working. One of his neighborhood issues is the need to repair the Turtle Hill neighborhood sign. He asked (1) what was being done to repair neighborhood signs north the Genito Road area; and (2) what sewer emergency was handled by the easement.

Manager Wright replied that a contractor has been hired to repair the stone wall surrounding the Turtle Hill neighborhood sign, and she has spoken to Rupert about the landscaping around that sign. Manager Wright expressed her disappointment that neither she nor Staff ever heard from Riegler before he went to the media. She is committed to having a better, more open, transparent relationship with BCA members.

To answer Riegler's second question, President Davis stated that the County had communicated with the BCA Board that the sewer line was "tissue thin" and was "ready to pop" at any time. It was noted that the sewer line serves all in that area as well as all of Woodlake.

Riegler asked about the difference in the easement valuation. Manager Wright responded the easement is located on a median and not storefront property; and the property was not sold but rather the request was for access to the property.

Riegler expressed his concern that some of his "same-age" friends do not consider buying in Brandermill because of its outdated amenities. He desires to position Brandermill in a better light to compete with the newer HOAs.

Riegler asked why Brandermill changed its landscaper from Turfway to Rupert Landscaping. Manager Wright responded that the Community Appearance and Maintenance Committee (CAM) did not feel Turfway was large enough to handle the needs of the Association; and according to Rupert, the problem with the existing contract laid in communications with management. Rupert will continue to perform landscaping work next year, but a new RFP will be issued in 2018.

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Carrie Webster (Eastbluff) hopes the issue of universal pool access (UPA) remains an open subject as she personally feels it is the best solution for her neighborhood. She also feels that UPA will enable the pools to be kept in good shape. Regarding the Pool Compromise, she feels that the plan was over-complicated and poorly communication. She suggested it might be beneficial to rename a new/modified plan and to configure the plan so it would not include the commercial members.

Manager Wright noted a legal opinion indicating it was not possible to separate the commercial and residential members. To immediately implement UPA, it would require $1.4-$1.6 million to upgrade our pools. Webster acknowledged that the Pool Compromise was a slower method to reach ultimately reach UPA.

Treasurer Gregory commented that he felt it would cost more than the $1.4-$1.6 million to upgrade the pools. He anticipates that this money would need to be borrowed by the Association and a special assessment imposed. Operational cost of the pools is manageable, while the capital/structural cost of the pools would be quite large.

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Lee Tompkins (Harbour Hill) understands how difficult it is for Brandermill to compete with the newer HOAs but would like the BCA Board to hear resident comments in an open, constructive manner as we are all vested members of the Association. Tompkins feels that townhall meetings are probably the best way for residents to learn how Directors reached their decisions so members could work with the BCA Board to achieve common goals. She feels this is would create a greater sense of community.

Manager Wright indicated that she and NRC Chair Collins are working to hold another townhall meeting in the future. Tompkins asked the Directors if they would be present at the townhall meeting. Director Hunt noted that several of the Directors were present at the last townhall meeting as well as Staff. When Tompkins asked if President Davis would attend the upcoming townhall meeting as he was president of the board, he replied that it depended on when the meeting was scheduled as he is still working.

Tompkins complimented Staff on the great 4th of July fireworks, and this statement was followed by round of applause from the audience.

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Erin Eells (Oak Springs) asked President Davis if he voted on the granting of the easement; President Davis stated that the entire Board voted on it. Director Pearson stated that he was not able to attend that meeting so he did not vote on the easement issue. President Davis acknowledged that he signed the contract granting the easement.

Eells asked if President Davis declared a conflict of interest given that he lobbies for the County. President Davis did not feel there was a conflict of interest as he lobbies for the County on political matters not directly dealing with sewer lines.

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Steve Russek (McTyre's Cove) thanked BCA Staff and in particular, Community Services Director Jennifer Strader, for the tremendous 4th of July celebration. The audience again applauded Staff's efforts. Russek also thanked Staff, particularly Pam Etter and Manager Wright, for the great service he received when he called the BCA Office and alerted them of fallen brush on the trails.

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Lee Adams (Planter's Wood) expressed she wasn't "happy" about people taking our problems to the media but was also concerned that the BCA Board did not have a response – something that's happened twice. She feels that BCA Board not responding made the issues look worse than they actually were.

Manager Wright replied that a written response was sent to the first media request and that the second media request dealt with the veracity of wildlife fowl eggs delaying the opening of North Beach pool. She explained that short notice on a Friday from this second media prevented Staff from meeting the media's timeline. Director Pearson acknowledged that broadcast media often work on short deadlines as they need to fill time slots.

Adams gave special thanks to Pam Etter for her hard, effective work.

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President's Report

President Davis again recognized Officer Rodney Pretko for 25+ years of service to Brandermill and also recognized Jennifer Strader for her phenomenal work in the Association's 4th of July celebrations.

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Treasurer's Report

Treasurer Gregory moved and Director Hunt second the motion that the BCA Board approve Mamie McNeal (Planter's Wood) and Carol Schuyler (The Oaks) to be members of the Finance Committee. This motion was unanimously passed.

As an update on the pools, Treasurer Gregory reported that revenue from pool memberships was presently $219K so pool operational costs are now covered. He projected, however, that revenues for the total pool season to be $38K less than that of last year.

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Directors' Report

As Board liaison to the Community Services Committee, Director Hunt thanked Jennifer Strader and Donna Allen for a job well-done on our 4th of July celebrations. She also thanked all the volunteers who worked with Staff to host all the events of the day. Director Hunt also encouraged members to sign-up for BCA email blasts by either emailing the BCA Office (bca@brandermill.com) or by calling 744-1035.

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General Manager's Report

Manager Wright also thanked Jennifer Strader and her team for all their work to achieve a great 4th of July celebration this year. She also commended the BCA Staff (particularly Pam Etter, Margaret Covington and Jennifer Strader) for their dedicated efforts in signing up over 700 pool memberships over the last six weeks.

Our Maintenance Manager Danny Ramsey has been out-of-work for the last two months due to surgery, and Property Manager Al Raimo has been out-of-work for the last three weeks. Manager Wright explained that BCA staffing is so tight that the loss of these two managers has created a real work crunch in the office. She thanked Charlie Cashion who stepped up to help lead Maintenance and Pam Etter for helping with Property Management.

Manager Wright indicated that Maintenance is currently working to refurbish neighborhood signs, the work order system seems to be operating properly, and the next step will be to tie-in the accounting aspects so expenses may be reduced.

Working with Treasurer Gregory, Manager Wright has created an invoicing system and establishment of a weekly check run should improve organizational operations by adding accountability to the system.

Earlier in the day, the Directors attended a legal update workshop to discuss various topics, including responsibilities and unity, which should lead to how we can all better work together.

To quickly review the work order system, Pam Etter has entered over 200 work orders into the system, and most work orders are completed on a daily basis.

BCA Staff has begun work on the 2018 budget, with a focus on identifying those amenities needing repair and prioritizing those repairs based on safety issues.

Manager Wright noted the Association has an opportunity to not cap assessments at 5% in the 2018 budget. It is her desire to bring forth a "really good number" to the Finance Committee and the BCA Board in order to bring our amenities up to standards in both quality and aesthetics – but most importantly, up to safety standards.

Manager Wright squelched the rumor that the Association will not be having 4th of July fireworks next year. The 2018 budget has not yet been determined, and to-date she has found two entities who will help Brandermill sponsor its firework show for next year. It is her desire to find more sponsorships for next year's 4th of July celebration so a wider variety of food may be offered.

Commenting on the Accounts Receivable Profile report (page 28 of the July 10, 2017 Board packet), Director Pearson asked that the report be modified to change the "271 to 3601 days" category to read "271 to 365" and for the "361+ days" category to be replaced with a breakdown by years, e.g., 2 year, 3 year, etc., as needed. He felt this would enable the BCA Board to better manage delinquent accounts receivables. Treasurer Gregory noted that the financial statement does include the line item "Allowance for Doubtful Accounts".

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Swift Creek Reservoir Shoreline

In a memo dated July 10, 2017, Director Pearson stated that he took a platoon ride last week and counted 79 private docks south of Genito Road. He also observed private docks north of Genito Road but has not yet counted them. There were also boats tied to non-dock entities such as trees. Based on his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the County, only 15 docks have been approved by the County.

Director Pearson explained that County ordinance, State law, and the Chesapeake Bay Act protects water quality. Swift Creek Reservoir is one of three sources of water for the County and provides 7.5 million gallons of drinking water per day. Because the County owns the water rights to the Reservoir, it is the cheapest water we can get. These laws protect Brandermill's largest amenity, the Swift Creek Reservoir.

According to 1974 zoning which created Brandermill, if the County stops using the Reservoir because of poor water quality, the Reservoir reverts back to the original four owners of the land beneath the water. These four owners may choose to drain the Reservoir, and if that happened, Brandermill property values would plummet. While studying the maximum phosphorus load for development, the County's Environmental Engineering Department determined man-made lakes last 35-40 years. Swift Creek Reservoir has survived for 43 years.

In a communication from the County's Water Quality Manager Weedon Cloe, "Environmental Engineering's (EE's) procedures related to dock installations in the county were reviewed in detail by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) during our audit last year and were found to be compliant with the [Chesapeake] Bay Act." There are four County departments responsible for inspecting the docks: Building Inspections, Planning, Utilities and Environmental Engineering. "Permission from adjacent landowners and HOAs are also required."

The communique also indicated that all docks located in Reserved Protection Areas (RPAs) are may also be subjected to "mitigation plantings" based on the Chesapeake Bay Act. Director Pearson explained that this is a good thing, as plantings will help maintain water quality.

On May 4, 2009, the BCA Board voted unanimously to approved the BCA Shoreline Buffer Modification policy. This policy states in part: "Shoreline residents who wish to perform any work within the BCA buffer must file the appropriate application with the BCA …. The BCA will forward the application to the county and send a confirmation letter to the applicant."

The Waterfront Structure Application section of this policy states in part: "This application must be submitted for any type of structure, as defined in the Chesterfield County ordinance, and shall be routed to the BCA Architectural Review Board (ARB)."

The Maintenance & Restoration Application section of this policy states in part: "This application must be submitted for non-structural work and shall be routed to the BCA Environmental Committee."

Director Pearson noted that a previous BCA Board eliminated the Environmental Committee and did not initiate the requirement for the ARB to inspect structural types in RPAs. This policy has not been amended nor rescinded since its adopton in May 2009.

On September 8, 2009, the BCA Board adopted the BCA Waterfront Easement & Maintenance Covenant Agreement. This policy established process and procedures for "any activity in the Resource Protection Area (RPA) along the shore of Swift Creek Reservoir in Brandermill". This policy has not been modified nor rescinded.

Director Pearson commented that he would like to make four motions but felt the Directors should first have an opportunity to ask questions on any of the materials presented.

Director Nardella directed his questions to Manager Wright who responded.

  • Are you aware of any Brandermill policy concerning docks?
    Answer: Upon coming to work at the BCA, she was informed by Property Management Staff that there was no dock policy being implemented through the ARB process or through Property Management.
  • Are there any docks on Brandermill property?
    Answer: The docks themselves are on the lake bottom and require approval from East West Partners. She could not directly speak to whether any of the docks are on Brandermill property.
  • So does the BCA have any technical authority over the docks?
    Answer: The BCA has no technical authority over the docks since it has the mindset that there is no policy in place regarding docks.

Director Nardella, Board liaison to the ARB, stated that he was not aware of any ARB policy that it was to review and/or approve installation of docks and asked for additional time to review the materials presented by Director Pearson.

Director Nardella moved and Director Gregory seconded a motion to table this discussion until the August Board meeting.

Director Hillman asked if the County wouldn't automatically inspect the docks without the BCA Board asking them to do so. Director Pearson believed that the County's workload is such that no such inspection would occur unless the BCA Board requested it.

Director Hunt asked if there were any costs involved in getting the County to inspect the docks. Director Pearson replied that there was none.

This motion passed in a 4:3 vote (President Davis and Directors Nardella, Friedel and Gregory voting "for" and Directors Pearson, Hunt and Hillman voting "against").

Comments? >>

Pool Compromise

Directors Gregory and Hillman agreed with resident Webster's recommendation to change the "Pool Compromise" name.

Director Hillman believes that the Directors should consider revamping the plan this coming fall and to hold a workshop to do so.

Director Pearson cited Club Source Design's 2012 report that showed the BCA pools being under-utilized with average daily attendance at all three pools being 354, while the three pools could accommodate 2,100 daily users. He noted that last year's pool memberships were greater than this year's because the cost of pool memberships were approximately 50% less than any other pool membership in the area. However, this year's pool membership cost is still $100 less than any other local pool membership. Even if pool events were increased, this year's pool memberships are approximately 700. Although he does not want to close any of the pools, it is obvious to him that the demand is not there to support all three pools.

Director Pearson felt, however, that the Pool Compromise was close to passing with a "yes" vote of 69.5% this year. [Note: 75% is required to pass a referendum.] The UPA survey question only yielded a 41% "yes" response. Residents need to know that UPA can only be implemented if there is a huge hike in assessments, whereas the Pool Compromise is a gradual approach to UPA.

Director Friedel suggested that the Finance Committee review the "hard" financial numbers before moving ahead with revamping the Pool Compromise. Director Hillman felt that the Directors needed to hold a Board work session to revamp the plan and host a townhall meeting to get member feedback before having the Finance Committee review what monies might be involved in implementing the revised plan.

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Board's Communications Protocol

President Davis commented that there appears to be a problem with Directors relaying information from executive sessions to non-Board members, and he feels that a decision needs to be made on the appropriateness of that action.

Director Gregory moved and Director Hillman seconded a motion that the BCA devise a written policy on Board communications.

Director Hunt felt that nothing discussed in executive session should be released to non-Board members. Director Gregory agreed and added that there are also other communication issues. Having a written policy on Board communications protocol would answer that and other communication questions.

The motion passed with Director Pearson abstaining and the balance of the Directors voting "for".

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The BCA Board then entered into Executive Session to discuss personnel and legal issues.