HOA Board Governance
As a homeowner and resident of The Vineyards, you are a dues-paying member of the Home Owners Association (HOA) and are represented by the Board of Directors which you elect. The purposes of the Board are many, but their over-arching responsibility is to ensure the fair and equitable enforcement of the by-laws and covenants under which our community operates. In addition, they are tasked with developing and adhering to fiscal budgets as well as providing overall direction to the process of keeping The Vineyards one of Williamsburg's premier communities.
Board Members are elected at the HOA's annual meeting which is held at the Vineyards Clubhouse on Jockeys Neck Trail. Each member holds a term of 2 years. Any home owner who is current with their dues can stand for election to the HOA Board. We encourage residents to be active in the the HOA as it is a vital aspect of life at The Vineyards.
HOA Board of Directors
Board Members are lot-owners in good standing of the Vineyards and are nominated by the Nominations Committee, or nominated from the floor at the annual meeting and voted in by the members of the Vineyards HOA by private, written ballot. Nominees with the largest number of votes are then voted in. The Board is comprised of not less than three, but no more than five persons each of which serve for a two year term.
The Board must meet at least quarterly, but a monthly meeting has been established as best practice. The meeting is held on the second Monday of each moth (when possible) at the Vineyards Clubhouse. The monthly meeting of the board is open and all home owners are encouraged to attend. Time will always be made for feedback during these meetings. The schedule for the meetings is posted on this website on the community calendar.
The Board is also responsible for appointing the Officers who's titles are:
President - John Herrin
Vice President - OPEN
Treasurer - Maggie LaCasse
Secretary - Susan Miller
Member-at-large / ARC Chair - Dianna Skelton
Member-at-large - Jeff Barnes
Committees appointed by the Board are:
Architectural Review Committee
Any other as deemed appropriate by the Board
For an in-depth listing of the Powers and Duties of the Board Members and Officers please see you copy of the 2008 Amended By-Laws. This page is for general information only and is not necessarily complete, so your by-laws are the prevailing document.
The Vineyards Homeowners Association
Board of Directors Meeting
Agenda March 13, 2023
1. Call to Order
2. Approval of Minutes
3. Community Comments
4. Lake report
5. Maintenance Report
6. ARC Report
7. Hospitality Committee Report
8. Treasurer’s Report
9. Dam Committee Report
10. New Business
a. Reserve study
b. Pool operations
11. Old Business
a. Annual Meeting agenda and date
b. Evernest status
c. DPOR complaint status
d. Nomination committee status
HOA Board Meeting Highlights
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON January 9, 2023
Here it is, 2023 and a brand-new year ahead! The board held its monthly meeting this week and had a full plate to start the new year. You will start observing tree maintenance on the property, as that big rain/windstorm wreaked havoc on some older, weaker trees. The lake is full, and rainfall recently has been above normal at times. The community closed out the year with a fabulous Christmas party hosted by our Hospitality Committee. We had over 60 neighbors in attendance, enjoying the music and wonderful buffet. Hats off to our hard-working committee! Ellen Spore reports also that they are now working on a St. Patrick’s Day party, so start looking for your “greenery” to wear.
Maggie Lacasse gave an extensive report on our budget, and our status with Evernest, the company we exited from last October. On a positive note, we do have money in our operating account now to pay all vendors, and payments are coming in for quarterly billing. Maggie and Donna will meet this week with Brooks’ bookkeepers to get our balances straight, and finalize 2022. We are still waiting for Evernest to send a reliable check to cover the monies that are still owed to us. So far they have been unable to produce the funds, and our president, John Herrin will pursue our options now with our attorney, Susan Tarley. The board also filed complaints with the state concerning the operation of this company. The board is also scheduling the mandated Five Year Review of all our maintenance, so that we are attending to the upkeep of all property.
Danny Switzer gave the board an update on our progress with state compliance of our two dams. The dam break/inundation study has been uploaded to the Dam Safety Information System as of November, 2022. Lake Ajacan is designated as ‘low risk’ based on the traffic count, and other factors. Our Emergency Preparedness Plan has been completed by Blossom, and will be uploaded to the DSIS. The BanderSmith company has been signed for valve operator installation and outflow pipe inspection. This will be done in April/May. Danny has also been in touch with Sara Ruch, the JCC Energency Manager, giving her information on our dams. She is the person who will be our contact should we ever have an emergency. Big thanks to Danny and Jim Akridge for their extensive efforts on our behalf.
In other business, the board set April 17 at 6:00 for our annual meeting. We will have elections at that time for the three openings on the board. Christine Payne is our chair of the nominating committee; contact her if you are interested in running for one of the positions. We continue to work on various other issues moving forward. Before you know it, the pool opening will be here, and the next summer season officially launched. If you are interested in helping out the community in any way, please contact a board member. There are many capacities in which to serve!!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON November 14, 2022
Amazing that we are in the last few weeks of 2022! The year has whizzed by again. Vineyards folks did slow down somewhat in October to enjoy the Hospitality Committee’s “Trunk or Treat” on Friday, the 28th. In addition to that, sugar overload continued as well on Monday evening, the 31st. Thanks to Ellen Spore and the committee for all the hard work! Focus now turns to December’s annual Christmas party at the clubhouse. Please make sure you RSVP for that event. It promises to be a wonderful time, just like last year’s very popular evening!
The board is continuing the battle with Evernest to get our documents and funds returned. We filed a formal complaint with the Virginia Common Interest Community Board, and now await the results. Brooks Realty is now handling the monies coming in for the next quarter’s payments. The board transferred money from the Capital Reserve to pay some of the most pressing bills. Evernest has a long list of unpaid vendors, which we are attempting to address. It has been a struggle to say the least. Maggie will be sending out our budget for the next year; thankfully there is no dues increase next year due to her hard work and capable analysis.
The lakes are looking good now, with very little planktonic algae present. The upper lake is still below design level at 2 3/8 inches below design. Rainfall in October was at 5.42 inches; we are close to average for the year. November has seen more frequent rainfall, and the weather is much cooler now. Solitude has performed 7 treatments to date, compared to last year’s 11 treatments, and 16 the year before that. Thanks to Dane’s efforts, our chemical usage is down dramatically. Along with the efforts at the lake, Danny Switzer and Jim Akridge continued to work on the dam issues. The traffic count showed an average of 308 vehicles per day crossing the dam. That makes us qualify for ‘rural’ status by VDOT. The surveying work is completed, and now we turn the attention to core samples and stump removal. In the next few months the valve operation will be worked on, and costs will come in for re-sleeving the pipe which runs under the road. All in all, a costly operation.
As the year closes out in the next few weeks, please pay attention to any news from Brooks Realty. They are aware that more mailings are needed; the good news is that they respond to our requests. Changes start in the new year with clubhouse rental, and reservation procedures. The board will take over the community calendar, with Dane’s assistance. We will also be checking on the clubhouse after events. You will also soon receive information on the budget. All in all, a very busy time. Please make the effort to RSVP to Ellen Spore about the Christmas party; we hope to see everyone there on December 8th!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON October 10, 2022
The board met Monday, October 10, and was glad to see several neighbors present. We welcomed Melissa Sabb as our new representative from Brooks Realty. You will be hearing from her soon regarding the transition and our ongoing business for the community. Marilyn Riddle wanted to thank the board for the new trash company contract. She was pleased with their efforts. The new pickup date of Monday mornings seemed to go fairly smoothly. Lakes are looking good so far this fall, despite little rain. We are now down about 3 inches for the year, through September. Reminder to our residents to please not blow leaves into the lake; they make great compost. Maintenance continues as usual, with some renovations occurring at the sports court to more clearly mark the separation between the courts.
Ellen Spore was present to give an update on the “Trunk or Treat” party for Friday the 28th of October. It’s not too late to offer your car’s trunk as a ‘decorated’ candy receptacle if you so desire. Ellen also gave the group a brief review of the history of the “Trunk or Treat” which started several years ago as an effort to make “Trick or Treating” easier and safer for the little children. Few residents took kids out since it is dark here and houses are spread out; the new event has been a huge success. As a reminder, this event was never intended to replace the traditional day. Kids can now have two options for candy! Hope to see many neighbors joining in the festivities, eating hot dogs and socializing.
The board reviewed the preliminary budget for 2023. This will be mailed to you shortly. There are NO dues increases for 2023. We will be working after the new year to refine our five year infrastructure updates which will help clarify our financial targets. We are aware of the large expenses related to the dam coming our way in the next year or two. We are still working with Brooks Realty and our lawyer to get Evernest to transfer our operating expenses so we can pay our vendors. This has not occurred yet, unfortunately.
As the board continues to work through the transition from one company to another, you will be kept apprised of several changes, including the community calendar, and clubhouse rentals. The election process continues; elections will be held in April of 2023, as stipulated in our bylaws. If you are interested in running, call Diana Skelton. We also discussed updating and changing the playground area. Contact Jeff if you would like to offer suggestions. Lastly, see all of you at the “Trunk or Treat” event on Friday, October 28!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON September 19, 2022
Thanks to all the community who came to the meeting Monday and shared their ideas and concerns regarding Evernest. We appreciate all of your input as the board, and our attorney Susan Tarley, navigate our way out of this relationship. Please stay abreast of the developments, especially the status of your quarterly assessment, as we move ahead with plans to exit this contract, and find a more reliable local partner for our H.O.A. Check your email for updates, and call us if you have questions! In that regard, the board also voted unanimously to delay having the annual meeting and voting for replacement board members, as we had planned, for October. We need the help of a functional HOA company to deliver notices, issues proxy ballots, and maintain accurate voting. Thanks again to the community for their patience and understanding.
As we transition to a cooler October, Dane issued his lake report. You probably noticed the unyielding heat and dry conditions over our region in the last 6 weeks. Dane reports that we are about average for overall rainfall for the year, but 7 inches lower than last year. Solitude is continuing the inspection and occasional treatments as needed. Dane and Andrew toured both lakes and shorelines recently. We expected evaporation to continue at the rate of .07 inch per day; instead, we are losing ¼ inch daily. This loss of water exacerbates the algae growth since normally it would float out over the top of the outflow as designed. Now we are 5 ½ inches below design at the upper lake. Algae is trapped at this point. On a brighter front, we are down 50% in terms of number of treatments since 2019. Hopefully we get some rainfall soon.
Maggie Lacasse issued a truncated form of our financial report, since we have had no financial statements from Evernest since June. The problems with Evernest have cascaded to our vendors, who also have not been paid. There was a financial blackout from July through September, which created massive back logs. Next year’s budget is currently a work in progress, but hopefully things will be resolved. The capital reserve looks adequate at this point, and trash and insurance costs are lower for next year. Our big issue is the looming dam expenditures for repairs and adjustments to the system. We will undergo our five year mandated review of all maintenance issues with our property next year.
Speaking of dam issues, Danny Switzer gave an update of the current status of the dam. Blossom has finished the inundation study, but Cardinal still has revisions to do on their survey of the dams. Although a catastrophic failure of the dam would not damage any existing homes, it would destroy our road over the dam, as well as the sewer and water lines which also go along the road over the big dam. Next week you will see the traffic counters across our road over the dam as we get a 3 day average of traffic on the dam. This will go in our final report, along with an emergency action plan developed by Blossom engineers. Finally, we also learned that midway through our big pipe is a flattening that needs to be addressed by running a new sleeve through the pipe. Then lastly, we’ll install an operator to allow the valve to open and close smoothly. Whew!! Thanks to Danny and Jim Akridge for all their hard work on this never ending project.
All in all, this has been a busy month! Ellen Spore gave the board some important dates to put in your calendar. The October “Trunk or Treat” will be held at the clubhouse on Friday, October 28. Please decorate the trunk of your car and have some treats for the kids to enjoy. There will be hot dogs and all the fixings for everyone. Our annual Christmas party is scheduled for December 8, with that dynamic duo of entertainers from last year back to perform! Please contact Ellen and volunteer to help out. She will be delighted to hear from you!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON August 8, 2022
The board met Monday on what felt like the hottest day of the year! Fortunately, Wednesday night saw a break in the heat from the last few hot days. Throughout the vineyards, work goes on. The swing set will get new mulch, and the kiddie pool has been repaired. There seems to be a constant saga of a supply chain and parts issues. People had a great time last Friday at the Friday Frenzy! This Saturday we will host the 5 K race here in the Vineyards. Please be aware of traffic issues!
Dane Belden reported that we received over 8 inches of rain in July, and we are now slightly ahead for the year. Wednesday night and Thursday morning also saw us receiving large amounts of rain. If you keep an accurate rain gauge, and monitor water usage, there has been no need to constantly water lawns. Danny Switzer gave the board the current situation on the dam, and the state requirements. We had a less than encouraging report from Bander-Smith indicating repairs that need to be undertaken. Additionally, the survey report is still not complete. The state of Virginia also needs to clarify their expectations for traffic over dams in the state. We will continue to keep you all updated on this project.
Under old business, the merger with Evernest is off to a rocky start. Please make sure you email Donna Scott at Dodson and get your I.D. number so you can pay your quarterly assessment by mail. The board is going to interview other management options in the next few days. The board is in the process of getting updates on all contracts, and asking for RFP’s for several of them for next year. The renegotiated contract with trash collections saved homeowners 16% for the year. Thanks Maggie!
Just a reminder to folks, the schools in the area will open earlier this year, well before Labor Day. Soon school busses will take practice runs through our neighborhood. Be aware of the changes that are coming in just a handful of days. Enjoy these last few days of August!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON July 11, 2022
Hard to believe, but here we are, halfway through summer. Neighbors have been enjoying the sunshine and the usual Tidewater heat and humidity. Pool traffic is really up on those sweltering days. We hope everyone is taking time to enjoy the Friday Frenzys when they occur, and getting out to meet some new neighbors. There are two new families on Campbell Close, and construction is about to begin on a new house at our entrance. Rainfall seems scattered, but we are about on average for the year. After four years of excess rain, it seems like less, but we are right on track. Thanks to all of you who followed the ARC guidelines for tree removal and other projects around your homes. The clubhouse is getting scheduled for exterior painting, and work continues around the property.
The board in their meeting Monday approved several items, including a new trash contract with Waste Connections, formerly Bay Disposal. More news coming on when this starts, and how we get Republic to pick up old containers. We have been monitoring the pool services in an effort to get some improvement. The lake company has also met with the board to get more compliance with treatments. The board approved a new clubhouse rental agreement as well. Thanks to Jim Akridge for his efforts on everyone’s behalf. Jeff Barnes spearheaded a search for a new insurance carrier, and the board approved Donegal as the low bidder. We also have a new merger, with Dodson merging with Evernest. The hope is that most all services will remain the same. There have been a great many changes in the business landscape recently.
Finally, our budget remains on track, thanks to the efforts of Maggie LaCasse. We are over the required amount for this year’s reserve account, and monitoring costs closely as we move towards the budget cycle for 2023. Danny Switzer gave a report on the dam progress, which is moving along. The surveying has been completed, and the CAD drawings have gone to the engineers. We are awaiting final reports and the inundation study to be completed. More work will be done in the winter when it’s cooler. As a last note, the board discussed the perennial problem of speeding in the neighborhood. There are some drivers who go well over the limit despite emails and pleas from concerned homeowners with pets and children. Please consider if it’s worth the extra minute or two you save getting to Lake Powell Road.
Looking ahead to the October annual homeowners’ meeting, we still need folks to step up and help us on the election committee, and we also need folks to consider serving on the board. Call any board member if you are interested. Have a good July here in Virginia!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON June 13, 2022
The board held its monthly meeting Monday and reflected on the official opening of summer. The first order of business was a discussion of the weather, and the rainfall, and the state of the lakes. After 4 years of higher than normal rainfall, we are tapering off in terms of excess. The early heat, and lack of rain is reflected in the lakes. The upper lake is seeing significant loss, below design levels. The lower lake is at design levels. We have scheduled a meeting next month with our lake management company to address issues of concern. Also related to the lakes are the dams. Our wonderful team of Switzer and Akridge reported that the surveying is hopefully coming to a close, and they will send their final report to the engineers. The face of the big dam has been cut, and looks much better. We will continue with stump grinding, mowing and some more tree removal. The final official report comes at the end of September.
The board also discussed the state of our finances with treasurer Maggie Lacasse. We have $225,000.00 in our Capital Reserve account. There is a capital reserve study coming up in 2023, but we are already noticing significant stress with our contractors as fuel costs reach their highest levels ever. Usually any dues increase comes with our study, but our accelerated discussions of costs and impacts will begin next month. Our expenses are doing well, and we are currently ahead of budget, which is good news, and we have money on hand to complete the dam work. Thanks to Maggie for her diligence on all matters related to money!
Friday Frenzys are a welcome respite for everyone! There are still open dates if you would like to host. The dates are: July 8, September 9 and 23. Let Ellen Spore or Diana Skelton know if you would like to pick up an open date! The board also approved an updated and revised rental agreement which Jim Akridge worked on. There are a few changes, but mostly it has remained the same, although we combined rental and cleaning into one, non-refundable fee. We also are reviewing insurance policies for the property, under the direction of Jeff Barnes.
Finally, the board discussed the Annual Meeting, which will now be held on October 17, 2022. Diana Skelton is in charge of the nominating committee. Let her know if you are interested in helping out, or running for one of the three open seats which are up for re-election. We are also starting in depth study of the 2023 budget for next year. We welcome and need your input on any and all issues! Enjoy your summer!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON May 9, 2022
The board met Monday for the monthly meeting, with several interested homeowners also in attendance. The month of May has been interesting to say the least. One minute it feels like spring, the next like winter. The lake appears to be in good shape, despite some algae growth recently. Solitude Lake Management will be here midweek to inspect and treat as needed. Recently I observed the William and Marry Keck lab here as well, checking on the lake. We are fortunate to have their input. Maintenance is a continuing project. You may have noticed a new fence has been recently installed along the sports court complex. Signature Pools will be here this week as well, to remove the pool cover and get it prepped for our Memorial Day opening.
The board is also blessed to have the financial guidance of Maggie LaCasse. Despite the depressing news coming almost daily from the stock market, we are weathering this storm in good shape. We still have the monies for the dam survey and upgrades, as well as other items on the docket. Phase two of the dam process will be completed by the end of September. The board also discussed the use of the clubhouse and the facilities. Jim Akridge is revising the rental policy to reflect additional changes at the state level on liability for the use of HOA facilities. Our attorney, Susan Tarley, also provided input. We are also revising the rental fee, and combining it with the cleaning deposit, for a one time non-refundable rate. A new form and fee schedule will be sent out shortly. Please call Danielle at Dobson to rent the facility, and pick up a key. Additionally, do not “decorate” the clubhouse earlier than your sign up day; if you need two days, sign up for two days. Others may have scheduled since you last checked the calendar.
Our very capable “Dam Team” reported on the ongoing process. Next on the agenda is the survey and topo study to be done by Cardinal Surveyors, in order to issue an “inundation” report. This report will then be sent on to the state which will assign us a risk level. We also discussed needed stone work at the base of the big dam, as well as stump removal/grinding. This will be done after the survey and recommendations are submitted. Thanks again to Dane Belden and assistants for the tree work, which saved a large amount of money. We are grateful for their efforts! All in all, we are blessed to live here in this beautiful place! We look forward to warmer weather, and the Memorial Day cookout on Friday, May 27. See you then!!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON April 11, 2022
The vineyards homeowner’s board met Monday the 11th of April for the regular meeting. Several residents also came and contributed to this meeting as well. Spring is rolling along. The lakes, with the exception of the pollen on the edges, look great. For a more detailed report, see the website. We are at about average for rainfall to this point, and everything is greening up! Basic maintenance is being done on schedule; the lighting on the railings behind the clubhouse is now repaired with a new transformer.
The financials show our accounts in good order, with the balance in the reserve account above projections. Maggie is continuing to watch the markets; our mutual funds should be able to weather what may be a recession on the horizon, given the conservative nature of our investing plan. All of the financial reports should be caught up by next month. Hopefully, all the trash issues are also resolved.
Ellen Spore gave a report from the hospitality committee. We have four dates committed for our very popular Friday Frenzys. They are: June 24, July 22, and August 5 and 26. The board will open the season by hosting on May 27, which is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. That is also the day our pool will open for the season. Please think about hosting one of the free dates. The open slots are June 10, July 8, September 9 or 23. It’s easy to do! Just provide a main dish, for which you are reimbursed, and invite the neighbors. They will all bring dishes to share! You can do it with one or more neighbors as partners. It’s a great way to get to know folks in the community, call Ellen Spore or Diana Skelton to inquire.
Danny Switzer gave a detailed report on the dams. We now have our certificate, which came in March, and have received a two year time line to complete the project. A study was just completed on the pipes, and video was taken. Our valve opened easily, and a final report from the company is forthcoming. The committee will then move on to the surveying and mapping that is required.
By our next meeting, we will be looking at the pool opening, and the summer projects coming on strong. Remember to contact the ARC for plan submittals. Enjoy the spring weather while it’s here; soon a Virginia summer will be upon us!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON March 14, 2022
Spring is gradually working her way into Virginia, with pear trees and forsythia setting the pace, once we got through the ‘snow’ event a few days ago!! We had our monthly board meeting Monday, with several neighbors present. Dane Belden gave a complete report on the current state of the lake, which continues to do well. We have had no treatments from Solitude so far this year, although there is some pennywort growing on the margins. Lakes will stabilize at their design level over the next few weeks. Dane gave attendees an analysis of the role and function of earthen dams, and described the seepage which occurs at the base of these types of dams. Our dams are functioning normally, which we anticipate will continue as long as we keep them at their design levels. The three year contract with our lake management company, Solitude, will be renewed in August. We are anticipating fewer treatments going forward. All in all, it is a positive report on the lakes and the dams, which are currently undergoing analysis led by Danny Switzer, and Jim Akridge. Their report spoke to the contract with Bander Smith being completed, and the video filming of the pipes and the valve at the bottom being conducted when the lake levels drop some more. The valve at the bottom of the pipe needs to function properly, with a drive shaft, lock and turn wheel. All of this will be revealed after the inspection is complete. Our volunteer tree trimming force has the face of the dam looking good. We are well on our way to fulfilling all the requirements for the dam certification.
As spring home improvements continue apace, please remember to contact Diana Skeleton who leads our ARC, and fill out the appropriate paper work, which can be found on our website. You may have noticed our new sign at the entrance, and the updated and improved lighting for the entrance, and key areas of the property. It’s really been a big improvement. Our treasurer, Maggie Lacasse, gave her report; we are doing well so far, and are ahead in our contribution to the Reserve Account. Even though our investments have dropped slightly with the erratic economy, we are still doing well with our expenses. Work done by resident volunteers has made a huge positive impact in keeping costs down. In August we will pick a new trash company; RFP’s will go out prior to this, in hopes of obtaining a better contract for all our residents. As costs continue to rise as inflation is high, we are doing our best to watch costs for all of us. The board delayed doing a front porch for the clubhouse at this time. Lastly, several residents expressed concerns, as did the board, at the VDOT survey for changes to our main intersection for Rt. 199. All four options will have huge impacts on our traffic patterns. If you haven’t filled out the survey, please do so. It closes down on March 18th; make your concerns known. Next month we will discuss the opening of the pool for the Memorial Day weekend, and the resumption of our popular Friday Frenzys for the summer months. Enjoy the nicer weather and the spring color!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON February 9, 2022
The Vineyards HOA board met on Monday afternoon and were happy to have several residents join us on a rainy afternoon. We had a wide ranging meeting covering quite a few items. The lakes are doing well. In January alone, we had 5.3 inches of rain. No treatments were scheduled for January, consistent with the last 3 years. You may have noticed also that tree trimming and brush clearing has been occurring along the faces of the dams. Volunteers have been working together to coordinate maintenance with the dam committee, who has been working very hard to bring our dams into compliance with the state guidelines. Our inspection was entered into the data base, and we have received a two year conditional certification. Work will proceed to make sure the release valve is in working order, and a CCTV inspection is accomplished. Additionally, more rip rap will be added. When spring begins, mowing will also expand along the face of the dams.
The board also discussed updating the lighting around the gazebo and at the front entrance. In addition to that, we will repaint and relocate the signage to make it more visible. Fence line works continues, and a new fence will replace the fallen section at the sports courts. Financially, we finished the year 2021 five thousand better than budget, and with the reserve account standing at $220,000 which is well ahead of the required year end balance. Jeff Barnes has been doing a review of our insurance policy, and John Herrin has been working on updating the lease we have with the Winery for the use of the front entrance. More will come on these items next month.
Before you know it, spring will be here, and hopefully a little bit of warmer weather. Many of you will undertake major projects. Be sure to contact Diana Skeleton and fill out an ARC application before starting anything big. Clubhouse usage will increase as well, and it won’t be long before we’ll start talking about the pool opening. Please check with Berkeley if you are interested in renting the clubhouse. The lease has been updated to reflect an overall capacity of 70 people, including outside areas as well. Finally, our trash contract ends in August, and we will do an RFP to look for the best value for all homeowners. Our next meeting will be March 14. We hope that all of you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING ON JANUARY 10, 2022
The board held its monthly meeting on Monday, December 10, 2022 and got the new year off to a solid, if chilly, start. The first order of business was a discussion of faulty/ non functioning streetlights. If you have one of these near your home, check out the pole and see if it has a number tag attached to it. Get that number before calling Ron Staples about the light. Some folks around the lake have noticed the winter waterfowl in our area. Dane also made note of this in his lake report summary for the year. The lakes were inspected by him and our new representative Reese on Monday. They are in excellent condition, with the fewest number of treatments in the last few years. Dane believes they have stabilized for the most part. End of the year rainfall had us at about 5 inches above normal, despite the dry autumn weather, which has given way to much colder, wetter weather.
Ellen Spore gave an enthusiastic report from the hospitality committee on the excellent turnout for the annual Christmas party. The crowd had a great time, and thoroughly enjoyed the addition of the colonial music duo. She plans to try and book them for next year as well. If you missed this year’s party, make plans for next year. The committee is always open for new members to help out. Call Ellen if you would like to join the party!
Maintenance picks up in January, with the tree clean up starting in the near future. More dam work will continue, and brush and tree removal is part of this process as well. We are in good shape as we move ahead with the certification of our dams, and grant applications going in to help defray the costs. Thanks to Danny Switzer and Jim Akridge for spearheading this endeavor. Speaking of money, treasurer Maggie Lacasse gave a summary of our finances at this point. We have $223,000 in the Reserve Account, and our income is $9,000 better than budget; expenses are $15,000 better than projections. We will a final report ready by the end of the month.
Finally, the board discussed some calendar changes for the new year. We are moving the annual meeting to October of 2022, which will align it with our last meeting in 2021. There will be 3 openings for the board. Please contact Jeff Barnes if you are interested in running for this new board. Lastly, the February meeting is now going to be held on Monday, February 7, 2022. This will prevent a conflict with the next 2 Mondays, which are Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day. Enjoy the colder weather, as it appears winter has finally arrived. There is possible snow forecast for the weekend, so be prepared! If you are new to the Vineyards, our roads are rarely, and, sometimes never, plowed, so don’t be shocked! Take care and enjoy yourselves!
SUMMARY OF THE ANNUAL MEETING ON NOVEMBER 8, 2021
The Homeowner’s Board held its annual meeting on Monday, November 8 at 6:30. We had a great turnout of more than 35 families in attendance for this oft delayed event. Despite the onslaught of Covid, and the closing of facilities for a time, we have made great progress here in our community. Board secretary Susan Miller reviewed some of the accomplishments over the last two years. The clubhouse has been totally renovated, due to the flooding event of May, 2019. The pool has been refinished and updated with new fence and lighting, as well as storage. The aged deck was demolished and replaced with a more durable all weather composite material, new rails and lights, as well as footings and underpinnings. This past spring saw the installation of the all purpose sports court, with tennis on one side and pickleball, basketball, tether ball and hopscotch on the other. We have had a great response from the community in terms of usage. All of this was accomplished, along with the usual routine maintenance, despite Covid interruptions.
Our treasurer, Maggie Lacasse, gave a report on our finances, which continue to be on track this year, with no increase in annual dues. We will see some increases in expenditures due to the dam inspections, but our capital reserve is fully funded. This year we will do an updated study of our assets, and review the replacements/renovations dictated by the algorithm. This helps us assess our capital expenditures, and focus on the future. All in all, we are in good shape with major projects completed in the previous months.
Dane Belden, our lake steward, gave a summary of the lake’s progress in the last four years. Chemical usage is way down, due to the change in policy of drawing water from the lake. Dane posts monthly reports on the website, and works closely with the lake management company, Solitude, to make sure that the lake is maintained properly. His excellent photographs illustrate the lake’s various stages throughout the seasons. Any questions on the lake should be addressed to our knowledgeable steward, Dane.
Danny Switzer and Jim Akridge have stepped forward to become our dam stewards, addressing the new state regulations for all dams in Virginia. With board approval, they have interviewed engineering companies, and we have hired Blossom Engineers to handle this multi year process. We have had an engineer inspect the dams, and we are filing the necessary paperwork to give us a two year conditional certificate. This will be followed by more studies, and a risk level assessment of the two dams in terms of the level of risk for failure. A low risk assessment means the dams are inspected yearly, and by engineers every six years. These reports are filed on a database for the state. Danny assured the residents that there is no problem with either dam, but we are following state mandates.
SUMMARY BOARD MEETING ON OCTOBER 18, 2021
The homeowners board met Monday for the monthly meeting, with several neighbors in attendance. There was an informative discussion about the trash program and its new configuration for the second quarter of next year. More information will be forthcoming at the general meeting in November. Dane reported on the overall excellent condition of the lakes. Despite the lower rainfall for the last two months, we remain ahead of average. Chemical use has decreased dramatically over the last two years. It is evident that not drawing water from the lakes has had a positive effect on lake health. Please take time to read the lake report posted monthly.
The Dam Committee, Danny Switzer and Jim Akridge, reported on the progress of dam certification. Phase one is almost complete, except for the CCTV work remaining to be done when the team is available. Mowing is being done now, but needs to continue on the face of the big dam. This project will continue over the course of the next few years. The usual maintenance continues as well. This included clean up and repainting of part of the deck due to graffiti being sprayed on it. There was also a report of vandalism on one homeowner’s shed. Be vigilant with your property, and your neighbors, and report any suspicious activity. Our treasurer Maggie reported on the accounts, which are in good shape. We continue to be ahead of projections for the budget, and are ahead of the requirements for the Reserve account. You should have received a letter about the budget for 2022, and we are grateful to Maggie’s financial skills for keeping costs down; there is no increase in quarterly dues for the new year.
The board will continue to examine insurance costs; Jeff Barnes is heading up that investigation. The board has scheduled another work day on Monday the 25th of October to finish planning for the Annual Meeting on November 8. More information will be forthcoming. We have not had an annual meeting in about a year and one half due to COVID restrictions. So all in all, the work continues, and we look forward with all of you for the holidays. Don’t forget the ‘Trunk or Treat’ event on Friday, October 29. Contact Ellen Spore if you are interested in helping out!
SUMMARY BOARD MEETING ON AUGUST 9, 2021
The board met on Monday, August 9 for the regular meeting. Summer is indeed upon us, and many homeowners are on vacation. We did have a nicely attended Friday Frenzy last week, and we have several more planned through September. The pool is enjoying much use, as are the new sports courts. The lakes are looking terrific as well!
We had really good input from our neighbor Kathy Blevins about the continued speeding which goes on in our neighborhood; she offered several solid ideas, which the board plans to pursue. One is the ideas is the use of solar powered flashing speed indicators; another involves more speed limit signs which are posted on the opposite side of the street, to be seen as you exit the property. Again folks, we have many new families here now, and many wonderful kids enjoying the summer weather. Please stay at 25 or below as you drive through the streets.
Maintenance continues, as it always does, on various parts of the property. Fences are continually repaired, and pool inspections are done regularly. We are looking at the pool closing in mid September. Ron Staples has worked with the pool company, and we will post a definite date when we have one. Our pool company oversees more than 200 pools, so it takes time. We also are investigating refurbishing the front entrance to the clubhouse, which is showing its age. We also discussed the tree work which will begin in January.
Our treasurer, Maggie LaCasse, reports that the budget is doing well, better than projected; both our income and our expenses are better than originally forecast. We are also ahead in the revised reserve deposit for the year. Finally, it looks as if we will have the funds available to pay for Phase One of the dam certification process. Speaking of the dam, Jim Akridge reported on the progress being made there. He has requested a legal review of the firms’ liability clauses in their contract as we proceed here. Jim and Danny Spitzer have also analyzed and photographed the face of the large dam on the river side of the road. It appears that it will need much mowing and clearing of undergrowth before the engineer can do an appropriate assessment. This clearing will allow us to better ascertain steps going forward in the dam process.
Finally, just a friendly reminder that this Saturday, August 14, is the annual CDR Road Race. They will begin setting up at the clubhouse on Friday. They plan for an early race Saturday morning, and should be gone before noon. Just remember to plan accordingly, since roads will not be accessible for a few hours that morning. This race is very important to the community at large, and we are proud to sponsor them.
In conclusion, the board will meet September 13. We have decided to push the Annual Meeting to October to give Jeff Barnes a few more days to canvas for folks interested in running for the two open positions. Please let Jeff know if you are interested. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer, and the pool. Schools reopen this year before Labor Day, so time is growing short.
SUMMARY BOARD MEETING ON July 19, 2021
The board held its regular monthly meeting for July. John Herrin has stepped up to be the president of our board, with the departure of Randy Steck. We are happy to announce that Jeff Barnes will be joining the board as our newest member, and vice president. We began the meeting with the lake report for July. Our lakes continue to look really good, considering the heat. There will be some growth in planktonic algae as the summer continues, but it will be addressed as needed. The full report is on our website. Maintenance continues as needed, and everything is in good repair. We are adding some new tables and benches for the deck. Friday Frenzys continue apace, with the next one coming up this Friday. Attendance has been great! If you haven’t been yet, please come join in the fun.
Our treasurer, Maggie Lacasse reported that all of our accounts are on track and doing well, and that we will be able to fully fund our reserve account this year. Expenses are better than budget so far, and we will have enough to cover the expenses incurred with the dam inspections. Speaking of the dams, a big thank you to Jim Akridge and Danny Switzer for taking this big project on. At this time, it appears that we will be hiring an engineering firm, Blossom, Inc. to do the inspections and file the required paperwork needed to certify the dams in the initial phase of the project. Phase two is the risk analysis phase, which dictates the frequency of inspections and repairs, if needed. We are grateful for the help of these men in interviewing the firms, and starting the paperwork needed. We will also be doing a review of the insurance policy, and if needed there, a change/update of that as well.
If you read your emails from the website administrator, we also discussed the continued problems with speeding in the Vineyards. We have no sidewalks, and people walk and run along the road. There are blind curves, and many intersections. Please observe the limit! It would be tragic to cause an accident! We also addressed dog owners who allow their pets on to homeowners’ property. Please do not do this. Walk them in other areas; we have about 80 acres of open natural spaces. Do pick up after them; do not leave the ‘bags’ for others.
Our annual meeting is now scheduled for September 20th, at 6:30. Jeff Barnes is chairing the committee and will ask for help from 2 other homeowners. Contact him if you are interested in running for one of the two open slots. Terms are two years in length. If you are interested in any area of service, please let us know. Our hospitality committee is always glad to welcome new members. Their next meeting is August 19th; contact Ellen Spore if you’d like to come to this. Thanks to all the folks who contacted ARC, chaired by Diana Skelton. You may have noticed many home improvement projects going on around the neighborhood as you drive by.
Finally, as we approach August, please put August 14, a Saturday, on your calendar. The famous “Heroes Run” will be held that day. It does making getting in and out problematic for a few hours, but more info will be available. This will be their close to 20th anniversary. It’s a great resource here in our community for our children! Some changes will also be coming next year in our trash program; more information will be detailed at the annual meeting in September. Enjoy the remaining weeks of summer, and be aware that schools in James City County will open for the first time before Labor Day. Buses will be running in our neighborhood in August.
SUMMARY BOARD MEETING ON June 14, 2021
The homeowners board met on June 14 for the monthly get together. We had several neighbors there as well to provide feedback and insight. Diana Skelton reported an excellent turnout for the first “Friday Frenzy” of the year. About 65 people attended, and all of our upcoming dates are now being hosted! Great news for all our families. The facilities are up and running. We also have a second pickleball class being held. We hope all of the new families will join us at the next Friday event, and take advantage of all the amenities here at the Vineyards.
The May lake report is posted on the website. We had very little rain in May, and the warmer temperatures saw an increase in algae. We had our first treatment in over 6 months, and within two weeks there was a noticeable improvement in water quality. It’s great to know that we are using far fewer chemicals than in the past. Thanks again to our lake monitor, Dane Belden!
We are now halfway through the year, and our fiscal report shows us in good standing. Our income is up due to the capital contributions from new home sales. Our capital reserves are $197,000.00 and we are able to absorb some of the increases coming our way with the Dam Study. Maggie LaCasse is currently updating the reserve study to help us plan for future expenses.
Speaking of the dams, and the dam study, a big thank you goes out to Danny Switzer and Jim Akridge for stepping up and undertaking this task of certifying the dams. Due to recent changes in state mandates, we must have a formal certification done. This certification comes in two phases. We have already filed material at the state level, following their guidelines. Our “Dam Stewards” are interviewing two engineering firms and deciding on our course of action for Phase One, which is an inspection being done by a certified engineer. This will give us a two year certification, and allow us to proceed with Phase Two, which is the risk factor analysis on potential implications from a possible dam failure. This will allow the state to assign us a risk level, and us to proceed with any improvements or recommendations from the state. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Finally, on a somewhat sad note, we say goodbye to our association president, Randy Steck. He has done yeoman’s work for years here in the Vineyards, and we will miss him. Our vice president, John Herrin, will assume the presidency, a post he has held before. One of our residents, Jeff Barnes, will step up to fill this current vacancy. Thanks for all the work and sacrifice on behalf of this small community! In order to give everyone a chance to acclimate to these new positions, the board approved moving the next meeting to the fall of the year.
SUMMARY BOARD MEETING ON May 10, 2021
The Vineyards board held its regular meeting Monday, and several neighbors were there to pitch in. By now you’ve seen the announcement about pickleball instruction, and its big sellout. Hopefully we can schedule another free clinic. Kudos to Kathy Blevins and Margaret Connolly for spearheading the movement. The new sports courts look amazing, with just a few touches left to go. The ADA compatible walkway will be going in soon as well. Kids and adults are all enjoying the new facility!
The lakes look beautiful now, and so far have not had any treatment. We are appreciably lower in terms of treatments needed. As the weather gets warmer, one will probably be necessary. Be sure and read the full report. Speaking of warmer weather, we are anticipating a full reopening of the pool for Memorial Day weekend, complete with our first Friday Frenzy, hosted by the board. We will have dogs and burgers, and ask residents to bring a side dish to share. Drinks are provided! More news forthcoming!
The Hospitality Committee met recently and began the planning necessary to have a successful season. They are actively seeking new members to join this committee, which does so much to make life at the Vineyards happen! Please contact Kathy Blevins or Ellen Spore. If you are a new resident, you are encouraged to come and join; it’s a great way to meet the old and new neighbors. So far the group has planned the following dates for Friday Frenzys: May 28, June 18, July 9, July 23, August 6, August 27, September 10, and September 24. Each Friday is sponsored by one or two families, who provide the main dish, while other neighbors pitch in with side dishes. The sponsoring neighbor is reimbursed for the main dish that they choose. It’s a wonderful way to relax after work, watch the kids play in the pool, and catch up on the last year and a half. Diana Skeleton will also have a sign up sheet for open slots at the May cookout on the 28th. In addition to the summer activities, the group is planning a fall “Halloween Trunk or Treat” on Friday, October 29. Neighbors park their car, and open the trunk, which has candy in it to hand out, as well as other treats. The last time we did this, it was amazing to see the fall decorations on the cars and the neighbors! Lastly, we plan a large family Christmas party in December. Again, we are a busy, involved community!
A final date to put in your calendar is August 14 from dawn to noon. We will be hosting the CDR charity road race for “Superheroes”. They will set up on Friday the 13th to prepare the course. If you are new to our area, the CDR stands for Child Development Resources. Check out their website and read about the amazing work they do for our community!
On a last note, please take your time entering and leaving the neighborhood! The speed limit is 25 m.p.h. or lower! We have many new families, lots of kids out and about now, walkers and joggers and pets galore. It is not worth the one or two minutes you might gain by going faster, and possibly hitting a resident. Thanks for keeping this special place safe and serene!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON April 12, 2021
The board held its monthly meeting this past Monday, April 12, at 4:00 in the clubhouse. It was great to see so many neighbors there to provide insights and opinions! Again, all board meetings are open to all and we welcome your input. The tennis courts have a completion date now of May 1, and we are all looking forward to seeing the new product. Tree removal around the court is finished now, and stumps will be ground, we hope to move one picnic table in this area for families to enjoy as well. Ron Staples is getting bids for an access walkway to the courts. The board has contacted the pool company, and we are looking forward to having this open on the Memorial Day weekend. Speaking of the weekend, we are also anticipating the return of Friday Frenzys. The board will host the first one that Friday. All are invited; bring a dish to share with folks. Board will provide burgers and hotdogs. It’s been a long year plus, and we are gradually resuming our normal lives.
Please take time to read the full lake report on the website. Dane has been closely monitoring them, and they are doing well, despite the pollen. Rainfall continues above normal. We have also been in close contact with the state dam regulator, Mr. Kilgore. Our dams were built in 1988-89, and there are no “as built” plans from that time period. We are also working with the original engineers to see what we can do to comply with new regulations approved in 2016.The dam supervisor approved our ongoing efforts to keep dam faces clear, control rodents, and send cameras down the tubes to check the drain capacity. This is ongoing now. More information will be forthcoming as we move ahead on this.
Maggie LaCasse discussed our financial picture, which continues to be fine at this point. Money was reserved to complete the tennis courts, and other expenses have been within budget. We expect to have costs associated with the dams, but at this point, there is no news. We also had a good discussion with neighbors about ways to save money going forward this year. If you have any ideas, or would like to pitch in to do some small chores, let Randy Steck know. Maggie also welcomes any ideas on saving money this year. Finally, we discussed having our annual meeting late summer/early fall. We have two openings for the board. If you are interested in serving, please contact a board member. The next meeting is May 10, at 4:00, and all are welcome!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON March 8, 2021
The Vineyards held their monthly meeting Monday, March 8 at 4:00 at the clubhouse. Several neighbors were in attendance; just a reminder, all are welcome to every meeting! The board discussed the newly opened hole on Jockey’s Neck Trail. The Virginia Department of Transportation was notified of this ever growing hole. Drivers, please be aware of this and swing wide around it, as the hole is deep. Continuing, the board discussed the Lake Report, which is now on the website. Please take the time to read it, as it is very informative. Our lakes are doing well, with much observed fish and wildlife activity. Our dams are below the height where we would need additional state inspections, but they are inspected every two years. The large numbers of inches recorded for January and February indicate that our rainy pattern is continuing heading into later March. Please think about your own yard and landscape needs before setting a sprinkler system this spring.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our tennis court redo survey recently. The combination of green and blue won, and we are on our way to prep work starting on the courts. A deposit was made, and contract signed. Our treasurer, Maggie LaCasse, observed that the accounts are doing well right now. We have the courts in our budget of major renovation work, and recently made a $9,400.00 contribution to the Reserve Account. Things are proceeding this spring. We’d like to also welcome all the new homeowners who have moved to the Vineyards in the last two months. Hopefully we will be able to host a get together soon, pending on the state guidelines! Again, check out the newly designed website; thanks go out to Dane Belden for all his hard work on our behalf!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON February 9, 2021
The board held its usual monthly meeting at the clubhouse this past Monday. Several residents attended and gave input on various topics. If you are new to the Vineyards, our meetings are always open to all, and are held on the second Monday of each month, at 4:00 p.m.
The board and attendees listened to a presentation by Terry Hughes of Sports Court. We are continuing on our project for the spring, which is resurfacing the tennis courts. Terry illustrated a new product (new to most of us), which is comprised of interlocking tiles of a composite material. It is laid on existing asphalt courts, once the courts are prepped and leveled. It is guaranteed for fifteen years. This product will enable us to redo the one tennis court as a tennis court, and the second court as a multi-purpose court, with two pickle ball courts, and an area for multipurpose uses, including basketball, hopscotch, and tether ball. This broadens the use of these courts to whole families. On Wednesday Randy Steck visited several existing courts in Richmond to see how older courts have held up. He was pleased to see that they still look great, even the oldest one in use at the Country Club of Virginia. We hope to proceed with this project in the next two months.
Our lakes continue to look good, even though they were lowered to the design levels. Dams, which are inspected every two years, were recently measured to make sure they fell in the correct guidelines. Our heavy rains have continued throughout January and now February. We recommend that all homeowners use a rain gauge, and check it weekly. If you set your sprinklers to manual, then you can limit water usage in rainy times such as these.
Ron Staples has continued with tree and brush work, as well as fence repairs. He has also been in contact with VDOT engineers concerning the roads and sewer entries. They will put us on a ‘list’ for future attention. Calls and emails to local elected officials also might help!
On the money front, Maggie LaCasse reports that we are above state requirements for the Capital Reserve account. Expenses are in line, and we are $5,000 better than expected for the operating budget. She will provide more financial data as we move forward with the tennis court renovation. Additionally, Amerika Davis, a local realtor and longtime Vineyard resident, attended the meeting and discussed recent home sales in our community. All eight properties have sold that were listed currently. She discussed trends in the past year for larger homes, more outdoor space, and community amenities. Amerika thought our renovation of the pool, clubhouse and tennis courts will have a positive impact on home values in the Vineyards. Nice to hear!!
Just a reminder to all dog owners who walk their pets here! Please pick up their poop, and don’t let them select your neighbors’ yards as their favorite spot! Our next meeting is March 8, the second Monday, at 4:00. Again, all are welcome to attend!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON January 11, 2021
The Vineyards board had their regular monthly meeting on Monday, January 11. We are heading into a new year, but still dealing with some of the same problems. The regular maintenance continues apace. A new motor was installed in the HVAC recently, and fence work continues. We are looking towards spring now, and the sprinkler system is operational. All lights at the front entrance were also repaired. Even though it is seasonably cold, rainfall has not abated; we finished 2020 almost 30 inches above normal average total. Several residents had commented about the standing water in the field recently. We are at our seasonable high water table now; that and the heavy rainfall cause the underground springs to flow across the field, and empty out on Jockey’s Neck trail. As the weather warms up, this should abate. The lake is full, and wildlife is actively foraging for food. Keep your bird feeders filled!
In other news, we will continue anew to focus on the repair/replacement of the tennis court area. Since it was postponed, we must begin again reviewing vendors. The board hopes to get your input as well, once the vendors have made concrete proposals. Additionally, we reviewed the possibility of an annual meeting. Unfortunately, due to the Covid levels, and the slow roll out of vaccines for the general population, we will have to push the annual meeting to the summer or early fall. We are still looking for interested residents to run for the board, so feel free to contact any board member if you are interested in serving. We will be seeing many new residents moving into the Vineyards, since several homes have gone under contract recently. Please give them a warm welcome to our community! Spring is on the way now, and days are lengthening. Our next meeting is February 8, at 4:00 p.m. It’s open to all, and we’d love to see you there!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON November 9, 2020
The Vineyards Homeowners’ Board held its regular monthly meeting for November. We had several of our neighbors attend and offer insight. Under “Community Comments” we had a discussion about the street lights, some of which malfunction. They are owned by Dominion Power, and have a number coded on them. Call Ron Staples for more clarification on this issue. We also discussed the hunting going on at the Winery. This is done on agricultural land to control the deer population, and is directed by experienced hunters. Please do not hunt on the Winery property, or use the trail until January. The board heard an informational discussion by a new resident, Dan Bohlke, who is a licensed pilot, and a “search and rescue” pilot for this area of the state. He has an approved route out of his property over the Winery to the James River, especially needed when time is of the essence. He has been called on to search for lost children as well as Alzheimer’s patients, in addition to river rescues. If you are new to the Vineyards, take time to go over to the Jamestown Airport; it has been there for quite a long time, and has a great little restaurant, “Charlie’s”, on the property.
In ‘Lake News’ with Dane Belden, rainfall this year is over 20” more than our usual average, with more predicted. We are monitoring the planktonic algae which grow at this time of year. In the mornings it can be unsightly and odiferous, but it retreats into the water column by mid-day. Autumn leaves are falling now, and filling the lake which provide nutrients for the planktonic algae. Please do not blow leaves into the lake or the street, as it drains into the lake/retention ponds. Maggie’s treasurer report was positive this month, and we are ahead of the required amount for the Capital Reserve Account. Hopefully everyone looked at the budget that was included in the letter to the homeowners last week. Quarterly assessments will not increase next year.
The Architectural Review Committee handled several tree removal requests. Again to all homeowners, since so much of this land is under RPA guidance, please fill out the ARC forms and also contact James City County for their approval. It will save time and money in the long run for you! Additionally, Dane reported on our website, which will be undergoing revision in the coming weeks, as Google has changed its format for free sites. As most of you know, the Winery next door is for sale. In an effort to stay ahead of a potential sale, the board is making sure all of our property lines and common areas are clearly evidenced in surveys and records. That’s the news for November. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON October 12, 2020
The board held its monthly meeting on October 12, at 4:00. We were glad to see several homeowners in attendance. All are welcome to attend monthly meetings, and we encourage your feedback! The board discussed various issues with those present. Some residents may have noticed the Game and Inland Fisheries warden in the neighborhood. He is checking for fishing licenses. Again, if you have a guest fishing, you need to accompany them. We also reviewed the rise and fall of the lakes with another resident. The amount of rain in the last 2 ½ months had been astronomical; August and September set records. We are over 20 inches above our normal rainfall annual amount. There is no need for a sprinkler system! Some of you may have noticed tree cutting near the dam, a necessary chore. More will be done to make sure the face of the dam is clean.
In terms of the treasurer’s report, finances are still in good shape, despite the Covid market downturn. Expenses are better than budgeted, and we will be able to fund the Reserve Account above the state required levels. The board reviewed, and then approved the 2021 budget for the association. There was no need at this time for an increase in dues, which have held steady since 2015. The board also discussed ways to improve the trash billing. Currently, about 75% of the homeowners use the Republic program, billed through Berkeley. If everyone used it, we could negotiate a better contract, and lower costs even further. Speaking of money, our neighbor, the Williamsburg Winery, is now for sale, at $40,000,000. Some of you may have seen the information recently in the news.
Under old business, the board would like to thank the community for providing timely feedback to us concerning board meeting times. There did not seem to be any concerted interest in changing the times of the meetings. They will remain the second Monday of each month, at 4:00. All are invited to attend and provide input. Since we have been unable to have an Annual Meeting this year, due to the Covid restrictions, the board has put together a newsletter for you which highlights this year’s activities. We are also sending you a copy of the new 2021 budget. Hopefully the annual meeting can resume in April of 2021, and life can return to a more normal level. If you need a break now, take a stroll through Colonial Williamsburg; the trees are changing and it is beautiful!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON September 14, 2020
The board of the Vineyards Homeowners Association held its monthly meeting on September 14, at 4:00. We were delighted that several homeowners joined us for an informative and lively discussion of items of mutual concern and interest. We were able to field numerous questions about the lakes and the dams, as well as entertain ideas about ongoing maintenance issues for these areas. Additionally, two residents who were in attendance spoke of their concerns regarding how the beaver situation was handled, and the board appreciated their comments. The board acknowledged that the matter will be handled differently in the future should the need arise to take action regarding beaver damage in the common areas. Also, all residents are encouraged to let us know about our meeting time, as an email went out last night to get your input. More information is posted monthly on our website, through the summary and the lake reports.
Speaking of lakes, ours look very clear and lovely at this time of year. The area has again received above average rainfall. As Dane Belden reported earlier, every one inch of rain sees the lakes rise by 3.5 inches. Our efforts this year in treatments of algae and invasive aquatic plants saw a decrease in the number of applications, saving both money and the environment. It is a major focus of this board to preserve and protect the lakes, and the dams which contain them. If you are a new resident, for your information, these lakes are not natural lakes, but essentially storm water retention ponds. In light of this, please take care not to blow fallen leaves into the lakes, or into the sewer drains. This helps us continue to care for them.
Ron Staples, who is in charge of maintenance, reported that painting projects and wood repair for both the entrance and the gazebo are now completed. The entrance lighting is also repaired, as well as the in ground sprinkler system. Monday was the last day for pool use, and it will be covered for the season. Thanks to everyone who made the very difficult season easier for folks. This has been a year of adaptation!
Maggie LaCasse reported that finances are in good shape, and we are ahead of last year’s budget estimates. Our reserve account is also ahead of the state requirements. Next month we will review our 2021 budget projections, and send it out to you for input. The next big project will be the renewal of our tennis courts; this project was delayed by a year because of the impact of the virus. There will also be more tree work on the upper dam area of common property.
Wrapping up this month’s meeting, Diana Skeleton reviewed all of the ARC approvals for the past several months. Please remember to contact Diana before undertaking projects, including adding sheds, or removing trees. There are forms on the website for this.
Our next meeting is scheduled for October 12, at 4:00 p.m. Please feel free to join us, as all meetings are open to the residents.
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON August 10, 2020
The board held its monthly meeting at the clubhouse on August 10, 2020. Several neighbors were in attendance. The board would like to thank Campbell Hickman for her excellent effort at the pool this summer; she has done a fine job, and is leaving for college this week. For the remainder of the summer, Chris Clemons will be our ‘go to’ man for the pool opening, closing, and maintenance. The board also decided to keep the pool open a little longer in September due to the slow start with Covid. Thanks to all the neighbors who helped us out by complying with the governor’s directives!
Dane Belden gave a complete report on the lake status as it stands for August. Tropical storm Isaias was the big event this month. Our lake levels have been kept high over the course of the last months, but Dane was able to lower them prior to the storm, to alleviate stress on our dams. We recorded almost 6 inches of rain in a relatively short amount of time, and the upper lake breached the spillway. The storm moved fast, and by mid- morning the water level had dropped to where it no longer overflowed the spillway. No damage appeared at the spillway, which is important to the safety of the overall dam. Dane’s data indicates that lakes rise at 3.5 times the amount of rain in an event. Our lakes were created by the construction of these two earthen dams, and their safety and integrity is paramount to the community. Dane also prepared an extensive review of the effects that keeping the water levels high had on the lake. In response to concerns of residents, it appears that the higher water level did impact plants on the previous margins of the lake. However, all the margins of both lakes are quite healthy. Plants are green and growing. There is an abundance of healthy fish and fowl around and in the lake. He reviewed our use of chemicals, which is continuing to decline from year to year. This year the lakes had only one treatment of Sonar, at the lowest possible amount of 45 parts per billion. Other treatments have been mostly spot treatments, with no full lake treatments for either algae or invasive plants. We are continuing on our path to reduce treatments to the lowest possible amount, and maintain the environment in a safe and responsible manner.
The board also reviewed ARC recommendations. We thank Diana Skelton and her committee for their efforts on behalf of the community. We also thank our homeowners for participating in a productive collaborative relationship with our committee. It’s a win-win for everyone involved! To our neighbors, if you need help with lawn mowing or other landscape problems, please contact someone on the board. We are here to help!
Maggie Lacasse reviewed our finances. We are in a good position going forward. We have CD’s maturing in the coming months, which will help us pay for some of the tennis court renovation. This project was put on hold due to the virus, but we need to move ahead on it. She is also working on our projected budget for 2021. You will hear more on this in the next month, but it is that time again!
Ron Staples gave a complete report on all of our maintenance for the month. We hired a new pest control company, and save three hundred dollars for the coming year, as well as planning for a termite inspection/treatment at the clubhouse. Our sprinkler system at the front entrance should be up and running soon. Power washing and painting of the entrance trellises and the gazebo are underway. New “Private Property” signs have been erected at the clubhouse. We also approved the hiring of a rodent control specialist to deal with damage to dam faces, and existing landscape on the lake margins. It is imperative to maintain dam integrity, especially now as we enter a very active hurricane season.
All in all, it has been a busy month since our last meeting in July. Again, our meetings are the second Monday of each month, at 4:00 at the clubhouse. We are continuing the work of the community despite the virus. We are also planning on how to best proceed with our much delayed annual meeting, and elections. Covid has certainly been a disrupter this year, but the work gets done. The board encourages your input and collaboration!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON JULY 13, 2020
The Vineyards Board met on July 13 for our monthly report. Despite the pandemic, we are continuing to monitor and work for the Vineyards community. The state of Virginia has moved to Phase 3 in the Covid plan. More announcements on the pool will be forthcoming. Additionally, you will notice more signage around the clubhouse to discourage non-residents from using the facilities such as the lake. Thanks to residents for their vigilance. Our lakes look really lovely at this point in the year; the water is high and the temperatures are normal. Weeds are down; you may see some harmless scum on the surface, especially early in the morning. Be sure and read Dane’s full report, and look at the pictures which cover a three year span. Very revealing! Dominion Power has finally finished installing new electrical lines for the front entrance, and the meter is set. Our entrance is lighted again, and our well pump and irrigation system is being fine tuned, just in time for our hottest part of the year. Our finances, under the stewardship of Maggie LaCasse, are in good shape. Our funds and expenses are better than our budget previously anticipated. We will start looking at next year’s budget soon; our focus turns once again to the delayed tennis court renovation which was pushed to 2021 due to the virus. Entrance trellises and the gazebo will also get some attention. The ARC, under the leadership of Diana Skelton, has approved some tree removal. Residents, please remember to fill out an ARC form before contacting a tree company. All properties on the lake, and many more in the Vineyards, fall under James City County’s RPA guidelines. You cannot remove trees 100 feet or less from the edge of an RPA. Please talk to Diana before attempting to remove trees; you will need permission from the county to do so! A big thank you goes out to the many residents who filled out a waiver to use the pool. We appreciate your understanding and patience in this difficult time. We have several new families in the Vineyards that we would like to welcome. Take time to say hi if you run into them walking or at the pool! Good to have new folks!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON APRIL 6, 2020
On a bright spring afternoon, the board met on the back deck of the clubhouse, at an appropriate distance from each other. These are indeed strange new times, with new challenges. The community is blessed with plenty of space, and beautiful views. Many residents are walking and enjoying the sights and sounds of spring. The board discussed the new guidelines issued by the governor’s office. For the time being, recreation and meeting areas are closed. We will continue operations and maintenance as usual. Tree work has been completed and the clubhouse exterior has been power washed. The board will go ahead and get the pool cleaned and ready for a reopening when the state gives us the go ahead. We are postponing the annual meeting until given a solid time frame, but probably some time in June. There are two openings on the board; if anyone is interested please contact Dave Coffield. Finances are in good shape considering the market fluctuations. ARC approved a fence for the Clemens’ property. The lake is doing well. The yellow covering is the pollen accumulating on the surface. Rainfall has been plentiful in the area, and promises to continue on this pattern. Our next meeting is scheduled for May 11. Feel free to contact any board member if you have concerns. Meanwhile, everyone stay safe and practice your social distancing!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON MARCH 9, 2020
The board met on Monday, March 9 for the monthly meeting. We all agreed that spring is definitely coming in a little early! People are out and about, enjoying the warmer weather. Dane Belden reported that the lakes look good, but it should be noted that the overall water temperatures have been warmer, due to the mild winter. Algae is hugging the southern ends of both lakes where leaves naturally accumulate. Solitude has visited twice each month over the fall and the winter, and we are doing some minor treatment now. Rainfall has balanced out to be about average, with more rain in February.
Maintenance work is ongoing, with fence rail replacements, and winter cleanup. Some tree removal has also occurred around the tennis courts as we move forward with that project. Final railings were installed on the deck, and next month we will discuss the opening of the pool in May. The board also approved a new Welcome Packet for the Vineyards. Dane will post this on the website.
Finally, we are getting ready for the annual meeting. Dane posted an alert for the April 20th date. We will have our monthly meeting on April 6 at 4:00 at the clubhouse; please feel free to join in the discussion. Dave Coffield and Ellen Spore are still recruiting possible candidates for board openings. Call one of them if you have an interest. Again, Berkeley will send out letters and proxies prior to this meeting; we do hope that all will plan to attend. We will have a presentation on the tennis court renovation. The meeting will be in the clubhouse this year, at 6:30.
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING AND COMMUNITY FORUM On JANUARY 13, 2020
The board began the new year with a meeting on January 13, 2020. We had a delegation of members from the Hospitality Committee address the board about the tragic loss of a community leader, Susie Beck, on January 1, 2020. We will begin thinking of a suitable way for the community to remember her. The committee also discussed the board finishing the Welcome Booklet, and clarifying pool and clubhouse rules for the new year. Marti Coffield and Ellen Spore will spearhead the new nominating committee for the April elections. There are two opening; if you are interested please contact them!
Dane gave a report on the lake, which is full, and working above the design levels. The recent rains have it looking great, and no treatments have been done since October 17. Solitude was here on January 8, and inspected the lakes. A reminder to all homeowners, please DO NOT blow leaves into the lake or the common areas of the community.
Ron Staples discussed the ongoing maintenance of the property. The deck is done, and rails and lighting are in, along with some much needed lighting in front of the clubhouse. We will be going ahead and working with Virginia Power to install electric lines for the front entrance. You may have noticed that Cox is laying new cable lines along Jockey’s Neck Trail.
Under new business, we have a nominations committee to seek out interested homeowners to run for the board. There will be two openings. Please contact Ellen Spore or Marti/Dave Coffield if you are interested in running for the board. We also have construction underway on Reserve Drive for a new home. Our next meeting is February 7, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING AND COMMUNITY FORUM On DECEMBER 9, 2019
The board held its December meeting and a meeting for the community on the budget December 9, 2019. Dane Belden gave his lake report, which shows, from 18 months of data, that our decisions regarding the lake have shown positive results. The water level is up, weed/algae control doing well. No treatments are needed until early spring. Beaver are reported in the lake as well, so if you have not securely wrapped your pond side trees in chicken wire, you need to! We are still waiting on the final lighting installation on the deck, but the majority of the project is done. The new deck and refurbished clubhouse looks wonderful, and just in time for the Christmas party! Under ARC news, we have a new home going up on Reserve Drive! Please be sure to contact Diana Skelton for construction/landscape projects, and use the forms on our website.
In a separate meeting, our treasurer, Maggie Lacasse, gave a detailed overview of our 2019-2020 budget. Despite our large projects, and thanks to an excellent insurance settlement, we are solidly on track for the new year. We have a new deck, railings and lighting. Additionally, the clubhouse has been renovated, with new floors, paint, bathrooms, and HVAC system. Ron Staples handled all the vendors in this expensive project. In addition to all of that, our pool was renovated this year. Whew!! Maggie also went over the current Capital Reserve Study, and explained how this contributes to our financial well being. We also have a system, DMA, which allows for ongoing line item updates as we complete projects. Look for more information on this in the future. Also, our dues will NOT increase in the new year, thanks to prudent management of project and contracts. Next year the board will work on refurbishing the old tennis courts, and creating a pickle ball court, in addition to tennis. Much to be thankful for in the new year!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On November 11, 2019
The VHOA board met on November 11 at 4:00 at the clubhouse. Kathy Blevins presented research to the board regarding the new sport of Pickleball. Several residents here are interested in establishing a court and getting together to play. The board responded positively; next year is our year to address upgrading/repairing the tennis courts. It is not difficult to have a court lined for pickleball as well as tennis. The board approved Kathy’s request to paint pickleball lines on the court that has the net. It will not interfere with use of the court for tennis.
On another note, the power line that runs the front entrance lights and sprinkler system was cut during the recent sewer line hookup. Ron Staples is working with Dominion Power to see our options for repair. Bear with us as we work on this problem.
Much work is coming to completion this month. The new deck has the flooring in, as well as significant repair/replacement of joist and support systems. The deck is more handicapped accessible now, where it overlooks the lake. The railings for the new deck will replicate the railings at the pool, thus providing lighting for the deck, and a much improved appearance. We hope that the entire project will be completed by the first week in December. The construction road used for the pool has been graded and reseeded. The lake is looking exceptionally good, according to Randy Chambers of William and Mary, who was here recently for an inspection.
Maggie Lacasse reviewed the budget, and the financial status of the board. We are in excellent shape as we head to the end of the year. We are ahead on income, and expenses have come in better than anticipated. The new trash contract has been signed, and Maggie has also worked on updating our interactive DMA account so that we can stay abreast of costs and upgrades to the property. We will have a special meeting in December to answer any questions about the budget. Look for a mailing coming your way soon about this.
Finally, new construction has been approved by the ARC for a home on Reserve Drive. Jeff and Lynn Levy will be the owners here. We also had a new family move into the former Stephens’ home, Kyle and Joni Johnson. Please welcome them to the Vineyards!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On October 4, 2019
The VHOA board met on October 7, 2019. We had an excellent meeting covering several areas. The two chairs of the Hospitality Committee made a presentation to the board concerning the committee and their future plans. We are track for a Christmas party this year, and 6 Friday Frenzies next summer, when the pool opens. The board went over some guidelines with the committee concerning monthly contacts and communication. The committee functions as “the eyes and ears” of our community, connecting to the newcomers, whether renters or owners. They bring a welcome smile and a Vineyards cookbook to each new family. Although they do not meet every month, they will provide, either in person or in writing, a summary of activity to the board. We look forward to increasing the communication from the committee to the board and the community.
Dane reviewed our lake status. If you have not noticed, the entire southeast is experiencing what is called a “flash drought”. There has been almost no rain for the last two months, nor is there any in the forecast. Lakes are dropping; planktonic algae (harmless) is blooming. The leaf fall is already starting. Be aware of disposing of your leaves. Do not blow them into the lakes! We also have a new replacement for Solitude’s main service agent, Kyle, who has moved to Texas. Hopefully rains may come in the winter to alleviate the drought.
Under old business, the CDR folks have rectified any problems from this year’s race. Next year the race is scheduled for August 8. August 7 is also blocked out if you are planning to use the clubhouse. Please mark your calendars!
Board discussed the replacement progress for the deck. We are going to move ahead with the demolition now, and try to get the deck done before the holidays. Deck will soon be unavailable for access. We will send out a notice before this happens. Look around our community and you will also see new benches going in for your enjoyment. Thanks Ron!!
Maggie gave a complete financial report. Our accounts are all on track, and in good shape. We are making money on our laddered CD’s, and there are funds available for all our construction needs. Maggie also went over our newly renegotiated trash contract with Republic Waste. She was able to reduce fees and eliminate some items. We are going to be communicating further on trash fees with you at the April meeting. We were unaware, but Republic also owns Allied Waste and BFI . Maggie can negotiate a better deal if all homeowners are under one blanket trash policy. More to follow in the Annual April Meeting!
Under the ARC committee, Diana is planning to clarify and update new guidelines for some areas, such as docks. Please remember to fill out the appropriate forms and submit to the ARC committee if you are planning on tree removal or any kind of construction. Much of the Vineyards falls under the RPA and Chesapeake Bay guidelines so be aware of the restrictions.
We are well underway with our budget process this year. The board will hold a special late session in December to review and the budget, at 6:30 on December 9.
We also have a Christmas party for December on the schedule; look for your invitation to this wonderful event!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On September 9, 2019
The board met at the new time of 4:00p.m. Everyone was there, and we proceeded immediately. First, the pool is now officially closed for the season. Next year, the pool will open the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. It will close the Tuesday after Labor Day. There will be no changes unless you hear directly from the board. Overall, the new pool company did a great job with the new pool. Many more residents took advantage of this amenity. In August, the CDR road race was held with minimal disruption to the neighborhood. Changes are in place for next year, including rectifying the parking on Pate’s Creek and Burnwether. Dane then gave his update on the lake, which is looking really good. We have had over 5 inches more rain this year, which helped keep the algae moving over and out of the lakes. Keeping the lake as full as possible helps this process. We used fewer chemicals this year, which was one of our main goals. Solitude responded quickly to any concerns, and we were pleased with them. You can see the full update on the webpage.
Ron Staples reviewed the maintenance, including the pool area. We have had problems with the outside electrical outlets; they are now fixed. Ron and the board went outside to review the condition of the deck, which is due for replacement in 2020. Ron is now in the process of getting bids for the work. The deck is now our focus, for redo in the fall if possible. The final product will complement the new pool area.
Moving forward, the board is beginning the process of working on next year’s budget. Maggie has done a great job reconciling our books. We found that our major trash company (Republic) has increased fees substantially. Residents should look for a letter explaining these price increases. You should see a new trash fee in the next quarter’s billing, if you opted for Republic. Republic went from $52.32 per quarter to $69.03. If you are participating in recycling, you should have been billed by the county separately. Our capital projects for 2020 include the deck, the parking lot, and the tennis courts. Doing these substantial projects is certainly helped with the installation of new software to monitor all our capital project costs.
The autumn weather has many people out and about; please take time to welcome our new neighbors. There are several families either here now, or moving here soon. The board also is endeavoring to improve the communication between our newcomers, the hospitality committee and Berkeley Realty. We hope that our new deck will be completed in time for our annual Christmas party, where we can meet and greet new folks, and old friends. Enjoy Autumn!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On August 8, 2019
The VHOA board met August 8 for its monthly meeting. Overall, things are shaping up well in the neighborhood. All the tree work has been completed, and landscaping is looking great. The newly renovated pool is a welcome treat on these hot days. This Saturday, August 10 is the annual CDR race which we will host again. Please take time to review the lake report posted on the website. Our lakes have never looked better, and are performing as designed. In regards to the clubhouse, all repairs have been made to the board’s satisfaction. Nationwide Insurance covered all the costs, and Ron Staples did yeoman’s work coordinating all the repairs and contractors. Our expenses for the year are coming in as targeted, or slightly lower. The board will begin looking at next year’s budget starting in our September meeting. Our meeting date is September 9 at 4:00 if you would like to attend. There is one more Friday Frenzy, scheduled for the end of the month, prior to the Labor Day weekend. Enjoy what’s left of summer!
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On July 9, 2019
The board held its monthly meeting July 8, 2019. We met in the newly refurbished and repaired clubhouse. Under community comments, much praise for the appearance of the renovated clubhouse, and the pool. There are a few minor repairs yet to be done, but overall repairs are completed.
Dane Belden submitted his lake report. Despite a three week stretch in June with no rain, lakes look to be in good shape. We are slightly ahead of annual rainfall for the year. Lake temperatures are conducive now for algae and aquatic growth. Both are under control with the current treatment schedule. We are treating less than last year. Dane’s data seems to reinforce our initial premise, that ceasing irrigation has had a positive effect on the lakes. We are at or slightly above the design levels. We will continue the monitoring efforts.
The board spent time reviewing all that has been done for the clubhouse since the May flood. We now have the following: all new floors throughout the facility, new bathroom sinks and vanities, new water heater, all new ductwork under the clubhouse, and a completely reconditioned crawlspace. We also have a new 4 ton self-contained HVAC system. The clubhouse has been cleaned, windows washed, and ruined items disposed of. The pool area looks wonderful. We still need to replace the phone system in the clubhouse, and paint the bathrooms. Our thirty year old clubhouse has never looked better! It will take approximately one more month to get all insurance issues completed, but things appear to be going well. We had 55 homeowners enjoy our first Friday Frenzy on July 5. A great time was had by all. We also collected a generous amount of canned goods to donate to the summer food pantries.
The treasurer’s report was positive. So far we have received $88,000 from the insurance company. The lake appears to be costing less, and we are slightly ahead of our budget projections. Our trash contract with Republic comes up for discussion and renewal in August. It appears that some changes will be coming. Also, be aware that homeowners will be billed by the recycling company $7.00 a month for the new recycling pickup. If you do not want it, you must contact the company and opt out.
Under new business, the board elected a slate of officers. They are as follows: President, Randy Steck; Vice-President, John Herrin; Secretary, Susan Miller; Treasurer, Maggie LaCasse; At-large, Diana Skelton. Diana will also be the new chair of the ARC (Architectural Review Committee). Also, the board meetings will be held at 4:00 p.m. starting next month.
Summary of Annual Meeting Held On June 10, 2019
Last night, June 10, was the annual homeowners’ meeting for our Vineyards community. Randy Steck welcomed homeowners to the Winery, who graciously hosted our meeting due to the temporary loss of our clubhouse. The Winery provided wine and food to the assembled homeowners. Later in the meeting Patrick Duffeler, Jr. joined us and gave a brief set of remarks about the progress of the winery, and some news of new releases. The culinary team just returned from the James Beard house, and will be the primary host next year. The Winery has opened tasting rooms in Williamsburg as well as Virginia Beach. Last year was their best year ever. The anticipated release of the 2017 reds is exciting!
This welcome was followed by a brief set of remarks from the leaders of the Child Development Resource association. They were there to thank the homeowners for the use of the Vineyards for their annual road race. The non- profit group is 54 years old, and serves a population of about 1,200 children a year. They need to fund raise to supplement their federal, state and local grants. Over the 12 years they have been in the Vineyards, they have raised $562,000.00 for the children. This year’s race is August 10, in the morning. It should conclude about noon. They plan to add a family obstacle course this year. The leaders encouraged us to form a team and help in this.
Next, Maggie Lacasse reviewed our finances for the past year, explaining budget variances, some loss of income on investments, and our savings of about $5,400 over projections. The 2019 budget is in better shape with a positive variance. Expenses are running at about $162,000, or up 15 thousand from last year. The costs have been kept down by timely repairs and maintenance done by Ron Staples. This keeps us from invading the Capital Reserve. Our lake maintenance is the same as last year, at 17 thousand, but our expenses are down by about 4 thousand. Maggie reviewed the Capital Reserve account. She moved underperforming equities to money market and laddered cd’s. She also moved 120 thousand into mutual funds yielding 4%. Through April we are 12 thousand to the good. We are continuing to be cautious with our money. According to the Capital Reserve study done recently, we need 254 thousand in the Capital Reserve fund by the end of the year. We are on target to achieve that. The interactive study allows us to do a line by line item analysis and update at least every 6 months on our expenditures. Maggie fielded questions on our mutual funds, explaining how we use the reserve study to stay on top of expenses. This interactive account helps us schedule anticipated costs and our corresponding contributions. We hope to continue to keep our annual dues where they are at this point. She also went over the cost of the pool, and explained our investment team at Morgan Stanley.
Susan Miller reviewed the last 14 months of ongoing maintenance items. This year has been challenging. We dealt with the usual issues, as well as moving forward with the lake progress. When the pool opened last year, the board began the process of planning for a complete renovation of the old pool. This process concluded with the opening of the new pool area in 2019. The board worked with various engineering companies as well this past year to establish guidelines for the dams, and the lake levels. Regular maintenance continues with power washing, street cleaning, fence repair, and other issues as they arose. Two areas of concern which will be addressed in July are the decks, and the tennis courts. The deck will need to be replaced, and the tennis courts may undergo modification as well. Our landscape company has signed on for another year, at the same rate. We also hired a new more responsive pool company, Continental, from Richmond, to provide daily maintenance. As the pool got ready to open, we experienced a complete water heater break on a weekend in early May. This water leak, even though discovered the next day, led to the complete replacement of all floors in the clubhouse, as well as all ductwork. Clubhouse still has a way to go before final inspections, and cleaning/touch up of the interior as we work to complete the task.
Under the heading of New Business, Randy Steck discussed some options for the tennis courts. We also answered questions about VDOT and the condition of our roads. All in all, there have been many improvements over the past 14 months in our property. Randy also gave a brief update on the much improved condition of the lakes. Dane will send out a May report, including photos from the previous year, for comparison. Then Susie Beck spoke to the homeowners on a need to get back to doing a collaborative project, such as Relay for Life, to reinvigorate the positive feelings of neighborliness.
Finally, votes were tabulated last night for the 3 open positions on the board. The following people were elected: Susan Miller, John Herrin, and Randy Steck. The board thanks Lisa Goodman for her outstanding contributions to the welfare of the community. The meeting adjourned around 8:00 p.m. Our next community event will be the July 5th Friday Frenzy, where we hope to show off a completed clubhouse facility. We will send out notice of all events as the clubhouse becomes available.
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On May 9, 2019
The VHOA board held its monthly meeting on May 9, 2019. A quorum was established, and we proceeded with much business. The board discussed a general clean up of properties in the Vineyards, including construction projects, and common areas. Board emphasized the need for all homeowners to get approval before cutting down trees, or undertaking additions. Please also attend to your grass mowing, or call us for help if you need it.
Dane Belden gave a detailed lake report. Treatments are now underway as the water warms up. Kyle is now treating for algae and cattails. The slender pond weed is lessening after its treatment in April, so he did not do a bump treatment. Our goal is to treat less, and use less chemical material. The lakes are at the design level, and water outflow is slowing down as temperatures increase and evaporation increases. Rainfall remains plentiful. There is much aquatic activity, with blue gill, bass and turtles in abundance. Water temperatures were at 81 degrees in both lakes on May 5. You will see pennywort in the coves, which hopefully will provide a natural deterrent to the algae growth. Dane and Kyle continue their close working relationship, meeting before and after each visit by Solitude.
Christine Payne gave her report on the election search committee results. We have one additional resident on the ballot for the June election. Christine is interested in establishing a ‘community liaison’ role, where residents volunteer to attend a monthly board meeting. Look for a sign up sheet at the Annual Meeting on June 10. We will also have a presentation at that meeting by the Child Development Resource board. They are a wonderful local group that sponsors a “Road Race” here in the Vineyards as part of their fundraising. It is in early August, so look for details on our website concerning the race.
Maintenance issues consumed a large part of our meeting. Ron Staples gave a detailed report on the pool renovation project, which is coming along nicely. The concrete is done surrounding the pool, and clean up/renovation of the pool itself is underway prior to its being refilled. The new fencing is coming in, and will be installed along with its river stone ‘mulch’. The renovated pool furniture is ready to go also. That’s the good news, now for some unpleasant news concerning the clubhouse. Late last Friday night, May 3, our water heater ruptured and began flooding the clubhouse. Ron’s worker, Joe, fortunately stopped to check on the clubhouse Saturday morning, and discovered the leak. The company Ron called on, Stat, responded within the hour, and began the clean up, which is extensive. It included removal of the floors in the clubhouse, and the bath room areas, as well as ductwork under the clubhouse, which had also flooded as water went down the floor vents. Ron Staples, Susan Miller and the team from Stat met with our Nationwide insurance adjuster Friday, May 10, to review the damage. We are awaiting his analysis before proceeding with what is now a complete renovation of most of the clubhouse areas. We will keep you informed as events develop, and repair/replacements begin. Obviously this unforeseen event has caused upheaval of many planned events, including, possibly, the pool opening day of May 24, and even the June 10 annual meeting. We will keep the community informed by email, and also by our website.
In additional areas of interest, some landscaping will be occurring at the gazebo, and the entrance to the clubhouse, in the next few weeks. The ARC approved a new fence project for a resident, as well as tree removal for another. Please remember to contact the ARC before starting projects, or cutting trees down. Some of you have noticed the gravel ‘driveway’, which was installed to allow the heavy cement trucks to pour cement at the pool. This will be removed in the fall, and the area affected reseeded and cleaned up. We are still awaiting final tree clean up from our tree service.
Please monitor your email, and view the website for updates and meeting changes if they occur. Annual meeting is still scheduled for June 10 as of now.
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On April 8, 2019
The board held its monthly meeting on April 8, 2019. We addressed community concerns about dogs off leash. County law says they can be off leash if they are under the control of their owners. We also discussed construction issues and the trailer left on roadside by a construction site.
Dane gave a very comprehensive lake report. The lake temperature is now in the mid 60’s; Sonar has been applied. Algae and Pennywort are growing in both lakes. Next week Solitude takes water samples and may need to conduct a bump treatment. Sonar does not address Pennywort or cattails. The migratory birds are gone, replaced by water snakes, and a possible beaver. The fish are plentiful, as are minnows. Lake levels are at design levels. An inch of rain leads to four inches of lake rise. Unfortunately, it appears that control valves were not added to either lake to facilitate drainage of the lakes if it was ever needed. Board will consider an action plan for lowering the lakes if needed, such as in a hurricane. We discussed adding Pickeral weed as a natural barrier along the edges of the lake.
Under old business, Dave Coffield and Christine Payne will form a nominating committee to look for people interested in being on the board. Residents were notified by email and also letter. Board annual meeting will be held on June 10. Please contact Christine if you are interested in serving on this committee. Also under old business is our community trash contract, utilized by about 70 residents. We will investigate this program in the near future to see if we can get a better group price for services from Republic if all residents participate.
The pool construction is coming along, despite the rain. We are still on target for our pool season opening on May 24. Please observe the no trespassing signs on this project, and stay off the site while work is going on.
Maggie gave a comprehensive review of our budget, which will also be included in a letter to all residents. Costs for projects are on target, and funds allocated. Maggie and Ed Robbins are meeting soon for a review of finances with the new finance person for Berkeley Realty Property Management. Maggie also opted for CD’s with a better return on our investments. All in all it was a very solid report.
Our next meeting will be held at 4:30 on May 13.
SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING On March 11, 2019
The Vineyards board met on Monday, March 11, at 4:30. We were all in attendance and a quorum was established. Lisa gave an update on Dominion Power. She has contacted them to get them to reset leaning light poles, which could take as long as two months. Ron gave an update about tree work; it is still scheduled based on Top Notch’s availability. The board undertook a detailed review of our draft of the Capital Reserve Analysis. Overall, the analysis is right on target. We made a few small changes, based on ongoing work, and work previously completed. The final report should be done shortly. The board also went over the two contracts with Continental Pools, one for the construction phase and one for the summer maintenance. The contracts were approved, pending one more quote on pipe replacement. Continental will be servicing our pool seven days a week starting in May. There was no formal presentation of a lake report, but Dane said the lake is on target for springtime, and is in good shape.
Under maintenance, Ron reviewed an extensive list. He has replaced the leaking water fountain in the clubhouse. Fence repairs/replacement continue at the entrance. Ron and Randy have made trips to inspect other tennis court repairs/updates to see about the future of our tennis courts. Ron has also brought in a bench for the board’s approval. The board will be placing several benches around the property to provide a place to sit and enjoy the view of the lakes. Ron also met with Knightscapes to discuss changes to the sprinkler system at the clubhouse. The board took some time also before the meeting to inspect the ongoing construction of the new pool deck, which is coming along nicely now that we have a break from the rain.
Maggie gave a detailed review of our financial statements. She has made sure that there is enough cash on hand to fund all the projects. She is also meeting with our investment team to ladder out existing CD’s into more profitable bonds. We are currently looking at costs of the quarterly trash pick up. Additionally, Ed Robbins has hired a new accountant to oversee the books. The board also took time to review costs of capital reserve items for future needs, in an effort to plan ahead for all financial activity.
Finally, next month is our annual meeting, scheduled for April 29, at 7:00 p.m. The board plans to provide a full update of the last 12 months, hold elections, and present a guest speaker for an update on our charitable participation. Hope you can attend!
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON February 4, 2019
The monthly board meeting was held on February 4, 2019. We dealt with some community concerns first, including allowing a non-profit sponsored by a homeowner to meet at the clubhouse. Lisa Goodman Kidd will also represent the board and meet with Dominion Power to have them look at our ‘leaning’ light posts, and offer a solution. The whole neighborhood will be cleaned up of winter debris by Top Notch Tree in the near future.
Dane Belden gave the lake report. Lakes are now slightly above design level, and doing well. He will post a picture of the shiny brown bacterial discharge that is now appearing in the lakes on our website. It is part of a natural process. Dane has also archived the engineering reports from Tri-State engineers.
Under old business, we are still waiting on a report from Waste Management concerning fees. Randy has also talked with Olsen builders about lot clean up on the construction site. We are awaiting the draft of our third reserve study. Once that comes in we will meet at Berkeley Realty offices for a complete review of all items in the Vineyards, their cost and their replacement costs. This helps the board maintain a healthy balance in the Capital Reserve Account to pay for large ticket replacement items.
Our next big focus, spear headed by Ron, is the updating of our thirty year old pool. We have multiple bids, and selected one from Colonial Concrete, to replace the pool decking. Our old fence, which no longer meets code, will be replaced. We also are replacing pipes and plumbing, and adding jets to the baby pool. This will be handled by Continental Pools. Our pool furniture has all been refurbished; some items have been replaced as well. Dane will put a rendering on the website in the near future, so that you can get a look at what promises to be an exciting renovation.
Maggie LaCasse gave the financial report. Our accounts are in solid shape, with money in the reserve account for all projects, as well as monies in additional CD’s. Once we meet and go over the new capital reserve study, we can adjust our accounts as needed. Every month we put money into this account, which then is used for big projects, like the pool, or the HVAC systems. A reserve study guides us in terms of deposits, and eventually quarterly assessments. Good budgeting keeps everything under control. Looking into the future, we may need to replace our aging deck, and possibly the HVAC system.
Our next meeting is Monday, March 11. We hope to have a final Reserve Study by then. We will plan our April annual meeting also. This will be held on April 29. The regular meeting is April 8, at 4:30. The board will elect at least one new member; information will come out in that regard.
SUMMARY OF BOARD MEETING ON JANUARY 14, 2019
The Vineyards Homeowners Board met at 4:30 on Monday, January 14. Some of the items discussed were as follows. Look for more information concerning the ongoing lake treatment program, and other related items on our website. Please make an effort to check the website for all types of pertinent information. The lake is now operating at or above design levels, with water temperature at 45 degrees. There are many migratory birds on or around the lake. Ron Staples discussed the ongoing process to get competitive bids for the pool renovation project. We will be replacing the fence and the concrete, giving the pool an updated and refreshed appearance. Ron and Susan Miller will be going over the tree needs of the neighborhood, and lining up tree clean up, and pruning. We also plan to spread the resulting mulch on the nature trail. Call Randy if you would like to help. Dane Belden and Ron will coordinate with Tri State engineers to get all existing documents and videos of the dams, in an effort to focus on the dam. Ron has met with VDOT to discuss deteriorating road conditions around the Pate’s Creek cul de sac. Berkeley Property Management is coordinating with a new financial team, P.B. Mears. The Vineyards has a new Capital Reserve Project Analysis coming in at the end of the month, from Design Management Associates. We will present this at the annual meeting, and go over some of this year’s projects. The board would like to welcome Diana Skelton as a new member, filling a long existing vacancy. Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 4, which is a change from our usual second Monday meeting date. Time remains at 4:30. Meetings are open to all residents.