SOA Ballot Submittals and Annual Owners Meeting

SOA Board of Director Elections  –  By now, all owners should have received their Ballots for electing three of the five candidates to fill the three open  SOA Board of Director positions.  Included in the Ballot mailing package are statements from each of the candidates. SU encourages reading them carefully, and accessing other sources of information, before making up your mind.

To insure the proper submittal of Ballots, the following instructions are offered::

  1. After filling out the “Official Secret Ballot”, following the instructions printed thereon, place it in the yellow envelope marked “BALLOT” and seal it.
  2. Place the yellow BALLOT envelope inside the white “Somersett Owners Association” envelope and fill out the return address portion. Note that it is not required to fill out the “SOME Account #” line as long as the “Name”, “Address” and “Signature” lines are provided.
  3. Stamp the return envelope and mail it, or alternately, a Ballot Box is available at TCTC for drop off. Please note that no drop off Ballot Box will be available at the Aspen Lodge as in past years.
  4. All Ballots must be received no later than 1:00 PM on November 16th at TCTC. If mailing, be sure to allow a contingency for US Mail delivery times.
  5. After receipt, the yellow BALLOT envelope will extracted from the mailing envelope, which at the November 16th Annual Owners Meeting, will then be opened and the enclosed Ballot counted

Annual Owners Meeting  –  The Annual Owners Meeting Agenda and the follow-up Organizational Meeting Agenda, also included within the Ballot mailing package, are available for viewing via the following links. Note that the primary purpose of the Annual Meeting is to tally the votes for the Director positions and to ratify the 2021 SOA Budget. Budget ratification is essentially automatic because at the Annual Meeting it would take the vote of 75% of owners to reject it. The purpose of the Organizational Meeting is for the new Board to select their officer positions. That is, who will fill the President, Treasurer, Secretary and the two VP positions.

Annual Owners Meeting Agenda                   Organizational Meeting Agenda

Note that in past years there was not a formal “Organizational” meeting open to Homeowners when the new Board convened to decide who would be filling the President, Treasurer, Secretary and VP positions. Not sure what an open Organizational Meeting accomplishes as Homeowners have no say in who fills what position. SU believes that “listening in” on this session by Homeowners would be counter productive. Perhaps  someone has determined that, under Nevada Law, when the Board gets together for this purpose it constitutes an Executive Board Meeting which must be open to Homeowners.

Who to Vote For?

No, not referring to Trump or Biden, but rather for the SOA Board of Directors. All owners will soon be receiving their ballots to vote for the three open positions on the Board. Five candidates have thrown their hat into the ring, two incumbents: Tom Fitzgerald and Terril Retter, and three other owners seeking to serve:  Mark Capalongan, Bill O’Donnell and Jacob Williams. Clicking on the forgoing names will link to the individual candidate statements that will be included within the ballot mailing package.

The question is, what are you looking for in a Board Director?  Financial expertise? Prior HOA Board service? Management experience?, Diversity?, Sub Association affiliation? Active in community affairs? New blood (i.e., replace an Incumbent)? Other reasons?

Some of these aspects were addressed at the October 21st Candidate Night Meeting, which due to COVID-19 restrictions were held via a Zoom video conference session. If you were one of the Zoom participants, you certainly heard a lot to assist you in making up your mind, as each candidate was asked to respond to a series of diverse questions prepared by the SOA’s Communication Committee.

However, if you were not able to participate in the video conference  (only about 55 participated) and want to hear candidate responses to the posed questions (many being softballs for incumbents),  the session was video taped and is available for viewing via the following link (it may require backing up). The video tape is also available for viewing on the SOA website under the “Meet the 2020 Board Candidates” news article:

https://youtu.be/p-NaSFh9S-U

The prepared questions asked of each candidate were as follows, interpretation of responses is left to the listeners of the video:

  1. Did you access any social media outlets in preparing yourself for this Candidates’ Night, and are you familiar with the communications modes the Board has at its disposal to keep the community informed of and to get community input on critical issues? Do you have any ideas on how the Board can improve communication with the community?
  2. What is the top priority that you would like to undertake upon being elected to the Board?
  3. As a member of the Board, you will be expected to be a member and/or alternate member of one or more committees. On which committees would you be most interested in serving?
  4. Why are you running for the Board and what other leadership or volunteer roles in which you have served particularly qualify you for this undertaking? Have you attended Board or committee meetings to prepare for this?
  5. Do you understand the relationship of the Somersett Owners Association with the sub-associations of Sierra Canyon, The Village, and The Vue; the reasons and authority for the sub-associations; and how you would use this structure to improve the cohesiveness of Somersett as a community?
  6. Have you reviewed the SOA Budget and Reserve Study and how would you address potential budget and reserve shortfalls, including our current debt?
  7. Are you aware of the composition, duties, and function of the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee? Please describe the ways in which you would balance the aesthetic priorities of the community with the individual desires of our Association members to produce harmonious outcomes.
  8. How would you describe the connection between the Somersett Golf and Country Club and the overall Somersett community?

In addition to the canned questions, at the end of the formal session, participating owners were able to ask their own. Four were submitted which are paraphrased as follows:

  1. How would you work with the Town Square property owners to revitalize the area with activities as it has become somewhat of a “ghost town”?
  2. What new steps would you take to improve water conservation?
  3. What is your vision of the community in 2035 and how would you sell it to others?
  4. An opinion that current Board leadership is lacking and how would you use your leadership skills to: a) improve Board responses to owner questions and concerns?, b) initiate cost reductions and responsible budgets, and c) Improve community relations and communications?

In addition to the Candidate Night video, what other sources of information are available to assist owners in making up their mind? Obviously the ballot mailing candidate statements referenced above, talking to friends and neighbors to gain their perspectives, and social media publications.  For the later, candidates Retter, Capalongan, O’Donnell and Williams have posted insightful statements supporting their candidacy on this website (just scroll down through the October Postings). Also, the “Somersett Nextdoor” website contains dialogs (if you can navigate to them) between candidates and residents.

It is interesting to note that candidates Capalongan, O’Donnell and Williams have collaborated on their vision for the community and are running as a “Team”. In this regard, they have established a website wherein they summarize their qualifications, promises to the community, perceived shortfalls of the current Board, solutions to ongoing issues, and a forum for reader interaction. Their website may be accessed via the following link:

www.NewSomersett.com

It is apparent from Candidate Night responses and visiting their website, that the non-incumbent candidates Capalongan, O’Donnell and Williams have spent considerable time educating themselves on community issues in preparation for Board service. Much more so that most candidates in the past. Please note that this is just a SU observation, who has followed these Board elections for many years. and not an endorsement, we will leave that to others.

In accessing the video tape, one will observe the quality leaves somewhat to be desired, perhaps a learning curve for future such sessions. Also, SU does not understand why owner questions could not be asked directly by the owner, as has been the practice in the past, rather than being filtered and presented by the Moderator. Certainly the technology for this exists.

For for those you who want to voice your support for or endorse a particular candidate or candidates, and why, your comments are always welcome.

October 14th SOA BOD Meeting Recap

Following is a recap of topics discussed and/or approved at the October 14th Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting, held via a Zoom Video Conference with Association members.  For background information on the agenda items discussed below,  see SU’s previous post   “October 14th BOD Meeting Agenda

Homeowner comments on agenda items (i.e., as interpreted from the meeting audio file)

Three Document Review Committee members voiced their objection to a Board member amendment to the proposed SOA Bylaws changes. This amendment would alter the Board Director term of office from two to three years. The Committee members objection was based on having discussed the Director term of office in detail and concluded that the community would be better served with a two year term of office.

A suggestion that one Board member should be responsible for watching the $1,000,000+ we spend on landscaping and the $300K on fire suppression,  as they go hand in hand. Also, that many of the damaged curbs and gutters were caused by Reno Green snow-ploughing with inadequate equipment. Therefore, should they not be held responsible and did they have insurance to cover the damages?

An owner commented on the proposed 2021 Budget, questioning: 1) why the $564K Contingency line item in the 2020 Budget had been eliminated from the 2021 budget, and 2) noticed that the General Common reserve transfer increased from $430K in 2020 to $610K in 2021, and rather than increasing reserve transfers, could they be decreased in favor of lower assessments?

4.  Committee Reports

4.b.  Communication  –  The Board approved the Committee’s recommendation to release the homeowner acquired survey data to the community at large. This would pertain to the data only, and that Board conclusions, recommendations and/or actions related thereto would be released later.

4.d.  West Park Garden  –  The Committee reported that they have 85 applications for the 50 available garden plots. Allocation will be on a lottery basis.  Committee submitted a set of Rules and Regulations to the Board for consideration. After much discussion, it was concluded that approval at this time would be premature as more work needed to be done. Given that the West Park is open to the general public, a discussion ensued as to how would the rules. regulations, violations, appeals etc. be handled for both Somersett residents and non-residents.

4.e.  Governing Documents Committee  –  The Committee submitted their final recommendations for changes to the SOA’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws with a recommendation for Board approval and distribution for homeowners vote in conjunction with the 2021 Budget mailing package. See Agenda item 6.b. below for Board approval actions.

6.  Unfinished  Business Items

6.a.  Legal Updates  –  No updates or discussion on the Somersett Development Company or SGCC Rockery Wall lawsuits. However, two new issues with Preston Homes were identified: 1) Preston Homes has filed an amended complaint against the SOA on the vehicle access issue to Back Nine Trail.  The parties have met with another session scheduled for the end of October. If an agreement cannot be reached, then litigation in the courts is likely, and 2) the SOA has received a letter from Preston Homes complaining that construction of a rock wall by Ryder Homes has encroached on Preston Homes property. The SOA’s position is that this is a Preston Homes/Ryder Homes issue and does not involve the SOA.

6.b.  Revised Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws  –  The Document Review Committee’s recommended changes were approved as submitted. This after the amendment proposed by Board Member Retter to increase the BOD member term of office from two to three years was disapproved on a 3 to 2 vote. The Board also advised that the approved documents could not be included for owner vote within the 2021 Budget mailing package.

7.  New Business

7.a.  Rockery Wall Mitigation for Main Entrance  –  Two proposals for this work were received: 1) Environmental Protection Services (EPS) at $161,542, and 2) Granite Construction at $200,200. The Board voted to accept the EPS proposal. Work includes the following activities: Slope Scaling (removal of troublesome rocks), Bench Evacuation (removal of rock and sediment from the 400 ft long by 8 ft wide mid-slope bench), and Traffic Control (implementation of traffic control measures along the Parkway as repairs proceed). The authorized work was identified as “Phase 1” of the project in that it only addresses an immediate problem. A “Phase 2” of the project will subsequently be required to provide a more permanent solution. Because of this there was much discussion on slope maintenance costs and potential annual maintenance savings resulting from Phase 2.

7.b.  Community Wide Concrete Repairs – This work consists primarily of repairs to damaged curbs and gutters. Two proposals were received: 1) Cheek Construction LLC at $69,803,and 2) Supreme Concrete at $56,488.  The Board voted to accept the Supreme Concrete proposal. In response to the owner comment on Reno Green liability, the Board responded that this had been addressed with Reno Green to no avail, and that the cost of any litigation would most likely exceed repair costs.

7.c.  Fire Fuel Abatement Proposal  –  One bid for $78,000 was received and accepted. Abatement work will be centered on SOA Common Areas behind owner residences adjacent to split rail fences, and is expected to be completed this year. Note that the 2020 budget for this work was $100K. The budgeted amount for 2021 is $300K and will concentrate more on hillside slopes.

7.d.  2021 General Common, TCTC, Town Square & Gates Budgets  –  Budgets were approved as submitted with the exception of the proposed $2/month increase in the General Common assessment, which was disapproved on a 3 to 2 vote. The result being that the General Common assessment will remain at $105/month. There was much discussion on this issue, with the Board majority voting against the proposed $2/month increase over the objections of the Board Treasurer and Finance Committee. An objection was also raised over the increase in the Common Area reserve transfer fee of $610K for 2021, which is up from $430K in 2020. The Board member questioning the increase felt the monies could be better utilized within the operating budget or paying down the SOA debt. After discussion, the Board decided to leave the transfer fee at the proposed $610K figure. The TCTC budget was presented with two options for the TCTC loan debt payment, one at $250K and the other at $100K, neither having an effect on the TCTC assessment amount, which will remain at $89/month. After discussion the Board approved the $250K amount.

7.e.  2021 General Common, TCTC, & Gates Reserve Study – The SOA reserve studies prepared by the Browning Reserve Group were acknowledged. Note that HOA Reserve Studies are required by Nevada Law and are not subject to Board approvals, rather it is a document prepared by a third party to assist the HOA in budgetary and planning purposes. That is,” to forecast the Association’s ability to repair or replace major components as they ware out in future years”. The study established a reserve funding level of 63.8% for TCTC and 116.4% for Private Streets and Gates, the overfunding of which providing the basis for the $4/month decrease (i.e., from $54/month to $50/month) in the Gates assessment.  For reasons unknown, the Board meeting packet did not contain a Reserve Study on the General Common, the reserves of which had been significantly depleted as a result of the Rockery wall failures. SU suspects that the funding level for the General Common Area is still under recommended amounts.

7.f. Policy Reviews  –  Previously approved policies for: 1) Collection of Assessments, 2) Compliance with SOA Governing Documents, 3) Association Expenses, and 4) Association Investments were acknowledged and approved for owner distribution/access.

Post  Meeting Homeowner Comments

A scathing comment from a homeowner complaining about the Board’s persistent, dismissive and insincere responses, and non-responses, to owner concerns, comments and suggestions, the owner cited five examples pertaining to irrigation waste, legal fees, community outreach, SGCC lawsuit and governing document changes, wherein the Board provided no or inadequate responses. Board response was that, in the future, they will provide responses to post meeting comments at the next Board Meeting under “Unfinished Business” as well as some interim feedback either on the Somersett website or directly to the commenter.

A letter to the Sierra Canyon Board from a Sierra Canyon owner objecting to reopening of the trail access at Firefly Court was read. The owner cited several adverse impacts that unblocking the trail would have on adjacent property owners (two total ?). In the event that a decision was forthcoming to reopen the trail access, it was requested that some type of barriers be installed to isolate and protect owner property from intrusions and disturbance by trail walkers, such as a fence and stairs to discourage bikers and skaters. The Board advised that discussions between the SOA and the SCA are currently underway in an attempt to resolve this issue.

A couple owners commented on  “dog poop” problems and the need for additional stations along walkways and trails. Response was  that plans have already been made for the addition of five new poop stations and others will be considered.

A recommendation that additional lighting be installed at the West Park area to accommodate those wishing to use the dog park after work when it becomes dark, especially with the end of daylight savings time. This could become a City of Reno issue

A comment that the SOA is unnecessarily expending legal fees in pursuing their lawsuit against the SGCC rather than negotiating a settlement. An allegation that the SOA Executive Board has refused to meet with the SGCC in this regard, which, rightfully so, the Board refuted. Also requested an accounting of legal fees, past and present, for pursuing the lawsuit.

SOA Board Candidate Statement

The following post submitted by SOA Board candidate Terry Retter

Uncompleted Business

When I was elected two years ago, I had stated that I wanted to improve communications throughout the community, assure more consistency regarding community standards and update our controlling documents.  Much progress has been achieved over the last two years but there are still improvements needed.

Better Communications

The conflicts that existed two years ago are for the most part gone.  We have regular discussions with all the sub-associations where suggestions can be exchanged, and issues resolved before they become problems.  Our information distribution to the community has been improved a great deal with expansion of Somersett Living, the growth of the periodic email — Somersett Happenings and the improvement of the Somersett web site.

Community Standards

Through my “Terry Talks” I was able to identify several areas of concern and facilitated changes which were included in the revisions made to the Aesthetic Guidelines that were approved in September and go into effect at the start of the year. Not only were changes for string lighting and sheds incorporated but many other small change requests were made easier to implement and less expensive to process. In addition, changes in the notification process from the AGC were adopted, so when submittals are not approved specific reasons are provided.

Finance and Budgets

Financial strength and stability are the backbone for a strong community.  Over the last two years the problems caused but unanticipated events have been addressed such that cash and reserve issues of two years ago are resolved.  Further, plans are evolving to more rapidly address the debt concerns that developed with the acquisition of the golf course land and water rights. And this is being accomplished while keeping assessments from rising inordinately (no increase this year).

Controlling Documents

The board approved the modifications to the Article of Incorporation and ByLaws and these will now be put to the homeowners for approval.  The updates to these two documents clear up many administrative issues and set the foundation for the next 10 plus years.

Improvements anticipated

Communications

The next iteration of the web site improvement is underway, and the rollout of this upgrade is expected in January. The revision will provide more ease of use features, more robust access and search of all Somersett documents, increased functionality for event and amenity scheduling and reservations and a robust platform for feature additions such as surveys, problem reporting and others. There will also be content expansion with more articles in both Somersett Living and Happenings including input from the SGCC.

I anticipate restarting the “Terry Talks” in January starting with Zoom and moving toward physical meetings when allowed.  The continuing direct input from homeowners goes a long way in influencing the actions of the committees and the board.  The discussions are essential to my commitment to the community so I can properly represent their interests.

Community Standards

The revised Aesthetic Guidelines will be distributed along with the election ballots in October. But this is just the first step in providing information to homeowners regarding requesting and implementing changes. Many change requests in the past had to proceed through a multistep process. Now these are handled by a quick review and approval.  The redundancies between Sierra Canyon’s ARC and the AGC have been eliminated. More complex change requests still need to be reviewed for consistency however, this process is expedited as much as possible and specific information is returned when issues arise.  The intent of these changes is to make it easier to get requests processed and more expeditious to get problems resolved.

Finance and Budgets

While our finances are good today there are three things that we are anxious about: most of our core infrastructure is more than 15  years old and will need to be replaced, so we are closely watching reserve levels; our day to day operating costs continue to increase as the demand for services increase, so we are watching our income and expenses closely; and we have increasing requirements for expanded amenities, so we are trying to reduce our debt and are looking for alternative sources of capital.  There has been a lot of progress made in the last year in all three of these areas, but constant attention is still needed.

Controlling Documents

While we have two of the key documents being submitted for approval this year, a key document that needs further effort is the CC&RS. There are multiple areas of change that need evaluation and in some cases negotiation. There remain a few sections where the original developer still has rights that may conflict with the intended direction of the SOA.  Negotiation with the developer to determine what changes would be allowed and which ones would not have been started but deferred until next year. A second concern has to do with an accurate property description and associated easements.  These will require a bit of investigation to finalize the documentation needed for this document.

So, I believe I have more work to do for our community and need your vote in order to complete these tasks.

This year I have participated with the AGC Committee, the Finance and Strategy Committee and the Communications Committee. We have seen improvement in the interaction among these committees. This needs to be expanded such that a strategic plan is evolved that sets goals for amenity improvements, more effective use of existing facilities, increased events, social activities and such, and more efficient processes for managing and administering everything. Then this plan should be coordinated throughout the community to obtain resonance with its goals and to gather modifications as Somersett continues to mature.

Somersett is a thriving and diverse community with variety in demographics, interests, and expectations. Thus, it is only through continuing improved communications and planning that we will be able to discern what the more essential actions should be for now and into the future.

I believe I have demonstrated that I do communicate effectively with people and I do translate that into improved activities by our committees and the board.  I need another year or so to finish the tasks that were started over the last months.

Thus, I need your vote.

Terry Retter

 

SOA Board Treasurer Resignation

As the result of an action taken by the SOA Board at the October 14th meeting, Simon Baker resigned his position as the SOA’s Treasurer (however, not as a Board Member). Following, published with the permission of Mr. Baker, is a copy of his resignation letter:

“Dear fellow members of the SOA Board,

When I ran for a seat on the SOA Board of Directors last year, I had no agenda.  My desire, having recently retired as the Corporate Treasurer of Fox Entertainment Group, was to use my 20 years of experience in running large corporate treasuries to try to benefit the Somersett community.  I was duly elected to the Board and then elected by the Board to be Treasurer.

Last week, I presented the proposed budget for 2021 to the homeowner community.  As you know, that budget called for a modest $2 increase in the assessment for the General Common cost center.  At last night’s Board meeting, the Board voted to overturn the recommendation of its Treasurer and the recommendation of the Finance Committee and to keep the General Common assessment flat.  If you recall, the General Common assessment was raised by $13 in 2019.  The reason for this is because prior Boards had failed to set adequate assessment rates in an environment of rising costs and the SOA was consequently running dangerously short of cash.  Now that the SOA is on a better financial footing, the Board has voted to continue the mistakes of the past and risk having to have further large catch up increases or special assessments in the future.  Many areas of Somersett are now 15 years old and maintenance costs are only going to increase.  In addition, the SOA still has $5.5m in debt and hence my recommendation was to take some initial positive steps to start attacking this level of debt.  It is deeply disappointing to me that the Board ignored this recommendation.  This came on the same day that I was also troubled by the Board’s blanket approval of bonuses for First Residential staff and the Board’s apparent indifference to my request for greater transparency in the cost structure of First Residential, a vendor that accounts for a substantial portion of the SOA’s total annual expenditure. 

As a consequence of the above, it has become clear to me that the Board does not value my experience.  It is the ultimate vote of no confidence when a Board overturns the budget recommendation of its Treasurer. Therefore, effective immediately, I am resigning from my position as Treasurer and my participation on the Finance Committee. I will continue to serve on the Board and will await the outcome of the upcoming Board election, where three of the five Board seats are up for election.  Should the future Board determine that they would value my contribution as Treasurer, I will reconsider my position at that time.

Sincerely,

Simon”

SOA BOD Candidates Pledge

The following post submitted by SOA Board candidates Jacob Williams, Bill O’Donnell, and Mark Capalongan

Our combined Pledge to Somersett Residents

The three of us are motivated by positive change and if elected will invest the time and energy to make this happen.  Your association board can better represent homeowners by instilling a “New Culture” that works WITH you rather than against you.

Better Transparency and Communication.

So much is currently misunderstood or miscommunicated about the Somersett Homeowners Association.  Let us fix that with email updates, publishing in the magazine and with readily accessible information.  No action will ever be hidden or pushed through without prior homeowner notification.

A Kinder and Gentler Culture.

Our homeowners are intelligent and accomplished adults and need to be treated as such. The enforcement of the rules should take on a more cooperative approach where homeowners are treated with respect and alternate ideas are considered.  We can work together on compliance efforts and realize community standards yet at the same time foster a happier and more cooperative community. We also need a process for appeal when there are differences. We need to ensure the AGC (Aesthetic Guidelines Committee) does not overstep their charter and homeowners should have independent appeal rights.

Lawsuits

Lawsuits between our friends and neighbors can never be fruitful.  It needlessly divides the community and rarely does it benefit anyone monetarily (except the attorneys).  An over-dependency on legal action wastes precious resources and to-date the SOA major lawsuits have failed to recover a dime. We intend to re-engage directly with opposing viewpoints and sit down and put in the effort to reach a negotiated solution.

Somersett Homeowners vs.  Somersett Golf and Country Club.

Whether you golf or not, the Golf Course itself is a net benefit to homeowners as well as the Grill and Restaurant.  These amenities increase property values of the homes here and beautify the look and feel of the community.  But the Golf and Country Club needs to stand on its own and not be subsidized by the homeowners of Somersett.  With the right thinking we believe this is quickly achievable.

Both parties here have responsibilities, and both can enjoy benefits if we choose to set aside the lawsuit and re-engage directly so that creative ideas can again emerge.   We are looking for a win-win and when that happens the homeowners will get good value and the golf course will remain on a path to sustainability and success. We intend to set this right so that the issues are fully resolved and will not re-emerge with added costs every time the unexpected happens.  The differences are significant, but the rewards of a negotiated solution are far greater.

Expenditures and Budgets

Holding down costs will allow us to afford future amenities.  This requires a tightly managed budget and getting good value on every line-item.  Two contractors, First Service Residential and Brightview Landscape represent over half the budget! (1)   We want annual performance reviews of our major contractors.  Why does First Service Residential seem to be renewed without competitive bids?  We need to hold BrightView accountable for water waste which includes not just smart controllers but also a comprehensive survey of sprinklers heads that soak the street, needed pressure reduction, and water leaks which go un-repaired.

We spend $400,000 each year on water so this represents a big savings opportunity. This takes some independent analysis from someone independent of our landscape contractor.  In the last two years the SOA has spent or budgeted over $750,000 in legal expense.   What kind of amenities might we have had for that kind of waste?  There remains huge potential for savings if we stop throwing it away on principles and loose management.  We intend to get on that.

Construction and Development

Why do the construction companies have debris, cargo containers, and garbage set about long after the homes are finished?  Why are security gates left open even when residents are charged for them?   When drivers should be watching crosswalks, why are there countless signs on each roundabout pointing to homes and models that are not even there anymore?  Yes, there are developer rights in place but that doesn’t mean we can work with our builders to make this the quality community that they advertise in their brochures.  While they finish their homes, they need to respect the residents who have already purchased their homes.

Sierra Canyon

We all live in Somersett and we should plan activities that unite us.  Let us look for opportunities to cooperate, perhaps share amenities, or host friendly get-togethers.  The SOA should respect the wishes of the Sierra Canyon board and residents should not have to submit their applications and plans first to Sierra Canyon and once again to the SOA.  Let’s work together to find the solutions that benefit both communities.

Kids and Families

Expand activities for kids. Keep the pool open longer in the year. Consider Somersett sports leagues.  Temporarily allow limited basketball hoops during COVID.  Improve some of the pocket parks in our neighborhoods.  Expand and restore access to trails that are already a part of the planned development in this community.  Keep our homes and kids safe. Work closer with law enforcement when there is a theft or problem in our community.

You have our pledge.

We would like your support to make this happen.  This October, vote “JBM”:  Jacob, Bill and Mark.

We also have a website where more information can be learned, including a feedback and comment form. Visit us at www.NewSomersett.com

October 14th SOA Board Meeting

Following is the Agenda for the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting at The Club at Town Center (TCTC) to be held at 5:30 PM on October 14th.

October 14th BOD Meeting Agenda

Given that TCTC is still operating under COVID-19 restrictions, Owner participation will again be via  “Zoom” videoconferencing.

The Board Packet providing background information on Agenda items is available on the SOA Website (www.somersett.net) under the SOA Committees and Meetings link.  Comments on agenda items follow (agenda items noted):

4.  Committee Reports

4.b.  Communications  –  Committee requested Board Permission to release Owner survey data to the community at large. Survey topics and related data are available in the Board Meeting Packet referenced above. Questions centered on opinions and not suggestions, and included the following: 1) Like living in Somersett (76% indicated satisfaction), 2) Community appearance (67% indicated satisfaction), 3) Board effectiveness (28% indicated satisfaction), 4) Management company performance (38% indicated satisfaction) and SOA communications (58% indicated satisfaction). However, since only about 17% of Owners responded to the survey, one could question the accuracy of the results.

4.d.  West Park Garden  –  Committee has submitted a  “Community Garden Policy and Rules” document for Board approval.  Document is available in the Board Meeting Packet.

4.e.  Governing Documents Review  –  Committee has submitted the revised SOA “Articles of Incorporation” and “Bylaws” documents for Board approval. Copies of the revised documents along with a summary description of the proposed changes are available in the Board Meeting Packet

6.  Unfinished Business

6.a  Legal Updates  –  1) Rockery Wall Lawsuit – Appeal briefs are still in the filing process. The defendants have until October 14th to file their answering brief, after which the SOA will have 30 days to reply. Per the SOA Attorney legal update letter, “the matter will then be reviewed by the Supreme Court to determine whether it is suitable for oral argument and whether the matter will be retained by the full Supreme Court or routed to the Court of Appeals”. 2) SGCC Lawsuit – According to the SOA Attorney legal update letter, a bench trial has been set for January 24, 2022 (really?) with a pre-trial conference set for November 2, 2020.

7.  New Business

7.a.  Rockery Wall Mitigation for Main Entrance  –  A Request for Proposal (RFP) prepared by Padovan Consulting to solicit bids for “Phase 1 of the Rock Fall Mitigation Project”, which addresses the ongoing rock fall hazards on the Somersett entrance hillside slopes. The RFP includes an Appendix containing a letter from Black Eagle Consulting describing existing conditions (with pictures), project scope, and RFP guidelines.

7.b.  Community Wide Concrete Repairs  –  A RFP prepared by Padovan Consulting to solicit bids for concrete repairs at designated locations throughout Somersett. Generally dealing with curbs and gutters.

7.c.  Fire Fuel Abatement Proposals  –  Opening of sealed bids

7.d.  2021 General Common, TCTC, Town Square & Gates Budgets  –  Ratification of the proposed 2021 SOA Budget, with assessments as follows: 1) General Common – $107/month, a $2.00/month increase, 2) The Club at Town Center – $89/month, no change, and 3) Private Streets and Gates – $50,month, a $4/month decrease.

7.e.  2021 General Common, TCTC, Town Square & Gates Reserve Study  –  Results of the Browning Reserve Group SOA Reserve Study for 2021. The Reserve Study forecasts the SOA’s ability to repair/replace major components as they wear out in future years. The 2021 study establishes a funding level of 63.8% for TCTC and 116.4% for Private Streets and Gates. For reasons unknown, the Board Meeting Packet did not contain a Reserve Study for the General Common, perhaps an unintended omission or not yet available.

7.f.  Policy Reviews  –  Review/Approval of the following Association Policies: 1) Collection of Assessments – Policy on the levying of assessments and collections, includes a schedule of collection fees and costs, 2) Compliance – Policy for handling violations to the Associations governing documents, includes a schedule of fines, 3) Expense – Policy on expense limitations and bid requirements for Association operations. 4) Investment  –  Policy on investment objectives for Association funds, 5) Executive Board Awareness Form – Not a policy, a required signature form that the Board is aware of all legal requirements pursuant to the applicable laws and regulations.  All of the aforementioned policies are available in the Board Meeting Packet for viewing.

2020 SOA BOD Candidates

It appears that we have five candidates for the three open Somersett Owners Association Board of Director positions currently held by Tom Fitzgerald, Terry Retter and Joe Strout. Of the three  incumbents, Fitzgerald and Retter will be running for re-election whereas Strout has chosen not to run again.

In addition to incumbents Fitzgerald and Retter, the following Association members, along with their candidate statements, have thrown their hat into the ring.

Mark Capalongan  

Mark Capalongan BOD Candidate Statement

 

 

Bill O’Donnell

Bill ODonnell BOD Candidate Statement

 

 

Jacob Williams

Jacob Williams BOD Candidate Staementent

 

 

Each Association member will be receiving the submitted BOD candidate statements in the ballot mailing package. However, these candidate statements are limited to one page and therefore, this forum is open to any candidate who may wish to expand on their qualifications and purpose for seeking a Board position. 

As additional information becomes available on each of the candidates, SU will so publish on this website.

Also, as always. reader comments on any of the above candidates are solicited and welcome.

September 23rd SOA Board Meeting

Following is the Agenda for the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting at The Club at Town Center (TCTC) to be held at 5:30 PM on September 23rd.

September 23rd BOD Meeting Agenda

Given that TCTC is still operating under some COVID-19 restrictions, Owner participation will likely be via  “Zoom” videoconferencing.  When access information is announced by the SOA (usually via email distribution) SU will also post on this website.

The Board Packet providing background information on Agenda items is available on the SOA Website (www.somersett.net) under the SOA Committees and Meetings link.  Comments on agenda items follow (agenda items noted):

2.  Homeowner Comments

If you wish to comment on any of the  agenda items, suggest you send an email to the SOA Assistant Community Manager Bernadette Rodas at bernadette.rodas@fsresidential.com and it will be read into the record by a Board member.

3.  August 26th BOD Meeting Minutes

A summary of what was discussed and/or approved at the August BOD Meeting may be accessed via the following link (some of the Homeowner comments make interesting reading):

August 26th BOD Meeting Minutes

4.  Committee Reports

4.b.  Communications  –  Completed review and analysis of the July owner survey. Prepared a Board briefing with results, recommendations and proposed owner communications, which included the establishment of an “Information Coordination Committee” to accomplish.

4.c.  Strategic Planning & Facilities Committee  –  Working on development of the 2021 Project List to be posted on the SOA website for community feedback and additional suggestions.  Other activities include obtaining proposals for converting TCTC gym stage into a fitness studio (estimated at $60K) and for additional storage space at TCTC.

4.f  General Manager  –  The Fire Fuel Reduction proposals expected for September Board meeting approval have been delayed until October due to the busy fire season. Abatement work still planned to commence by the end of October.  Announced the FSR hiring of a full time Concierge and are interviewing candidates for the open Club Manager position.

5.  Financials

No financial statements were included in this months BOD Meting Packet.

6.  Unfinished Business

6.a  Legal Updates  –  No new developments on the Somersett Development Company Rockery Wall and SGCC Lease Agreement lawsuits, except that for the SGCC lawsuit, the parties have until September 21st to set a trial date.

6.b. Revised AGC Guidelines  –  Approval of proposed changes to the Somersett Aesthetic Guidelines was deferred from the August Board Meeting because of questions/concerns raised by two of the Directors. which were to be resolved in a subsequent “workshop”. Apparently now back for approval/disapproval by the Board.

Note:  For those interested, a full copy of the revised Guidelines is contained in the September 23th BOD Meeting Packet.

6.c.  Revised CC&R’s and Bylaws  –  No backup material in the Board Meeting Packet on this item. Do not expect any action regarding proposed changes to evolve. Perhaps just a decision to either move forward with the proposed changes or to place on hold for the time being.

7.  New Business

7.a.  Unanimous Written Consent #79 – Acknowledgement of prior approval (done outside of a Board meeting) to amend the BrightView Landscape Contract to include the Somersett West Park for an additional $2,000 per month, bringing the BrightView monthly billing amount to $82,048.

7.b.  Unanimous Written Consent #79 – Acknowledgement of prior approval of an Overhead Fire Protection proposal, in the amount of $5,860, to perform fire hydrant testing and repair services.

7.c.  Tennis Court Resurface Proposals  –  Two proposals for repair and resurfacing of the Tennis Courts were received: 1) Beynon Sports Surfacing in the amount of $20,606 plus $13,828 in options, and 2) Zaino Tennis Courts Inc. in the amount of $23,180 plus $3372 in options.  Some amount of work will be required to compare the two proposals on an “apples to apples” basis.

7.d.  Snow Removal Proposal  –  Renewal of the BrightView snow removal agreements based on hourly rates for labor and equipment usage.

7.e.  Insurance  Proposal  –  Renewal of the SOA LaBarrew/Oksnee Insurance policy. No details contained in the Board Meeting Packet.

7.f.  Wellbeats Subscription Renewal  –  Renewal of the Wellbeats virtual fitness class subscription (kiosk only) at $249/month. A streaming access option, at $399/month, was also proposed that could accommodate up to 400 users.

7.g.  2225 Pepperwood Contract  –  Renewal of the Dickson Reality Exclusive Right to Sell contract for the SOA owned property (lot) at 2225 Pepperwood Court for an additional 8 months. Selling price being established at $69,900.

7.h.  Open Access Requirements of PUD  –  A complaint placed on the agenda by a homeowner who contends that the SOA/SCA is in violation of the PUD as a result of the SCA blocking access to a Somersett trail at Firefly Court and Larkhaven.

7.i.  Open Access Requirements of PUD  –  A complaint placed on the agenda by a homeowner who contends that the SOA is in violation of the PUD by limiting access to trails through the Canyon9 golf course property.

8.0  Board Member Comments

With the exception of Board members Retter and Fitzgerald, not usually taken advantage of, or very informative.

9.0  Homeowner Comments

One’s chance to comment pro or con, good or bad, on any other community issue not on the agenda. Same comment as in item 2 above as regards sending an email to be read into the record.

August 26th BOD Meeting Recap

Following is a recap of topics discussed and/or approved at the August 26th Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting, held via a Zoom Video Conference with Association members. Approximately 27 members logged in to the conference at one time or another. For background information on the agenda items discussed below,  see SU’s previous post   “August 26th BOD Meeting

Owners were allowed to submit comments, on agenda items or otherwise, via email up to 3:00 PM prior to the meeting. Those that did so had them read by the Board.  Additionally, at the conclusion of the meeting, some video conference attendees were allowed to speak directly to the Board via voice activation.  Several owners commented on a variety of subjects. Paraphrased summaries of which, as interpreted by SU, follow:

  • A strong objection to the proposed changes to the AGC Guidelines on the basis they were not consistent with the design plans put forth by the Developer and the PUD guidelines (among other stated issues). The commenter also expressed a concern over the current structure of  the AGC Committee.
  • A request that those Board Members (Fitzgerald, Strout & Retter) whose terms are up for election announce as early as possible their intent to seek or not seek re-election as it may influence decisions by others.
  • Due to a number of car break-ins in Somersett, a suggestion that high definition cameras, focused on capturing license plate numbers, be installed at the entrances to Somersett. –  Board response was that this is something the Board will be looking at in the not to distant future.
  • Three owners commented on BrightView Landscaping making the following points: 1) Brightview costs appear to be quite high and suggested formation of an oversight committee to monitor landscape costs and performance; 2) Brightview performance in maintaining the Somersett landscape is subpar and the quality of their workmanship is totally unacceptable; 3) Brightview’s work is not being properly managed by the SOA and: 4) based on BrightView’s poor performance, why was their contract renewed without going out for competitive bid? – In response, the Board defended both BrightView’s costs and performance, stating they were a good partner and very responsive to correcting landscape issues and providing meaningful reports.  Also, that their costs and performance were being closely monitored by the FSR Project Manager. The SOA did not go out for competitive bid because BrightView’s contract included a one year renewal clause which the Board activated.
  • A couple owners complained that mask requirements were not being enforced at TCTC especially in the sports court and fitness center areas. – Board response was that per the Governor’s directive, those engaged in high intensity activities are exempt from wearing a mask, but that social distancing is still required. The Governor’s directive will be posted at the TCTC for all to see.
  • A couple comments on the SOA/SGCC Hole 5 hillside repair lawsuit: 1) A SGCC member questioned the SOA hostility against the SGCC in the filing of the lawsuit, contending that it was a SOA problem and not an SGCC problem, that the SGCC has paid all its contractual obligations as well as other payments as a good faith gesture. Comments included some pretty harsh (and improper) statements directed toward the Board’s motivation (e.g., the SOA seems hell bent on destroying the SGCC) as well as those owners who support the lawsuit (people who are upset with the SGCC can sell their houses and leave). In condemning the Board’s actions as unproductive and unjustified, the commenter pointed out benefits he believes the SGCC brings to the community.  – Board response was that the Board met with the SGCC on 2-3 occasions to resolve differences (unsuccessfully), that this was a simple contract issue, and if the commenter wanted to avail himself as to the causes of actions, the legal documents are available from a variety of sources. 2) Another owner requested the reading of an email sent to the Board, which included: a request for legal fees associated with the lawsuit, a tabulation of all costs (both SOA and SGCC) associated with the Hole 5 hillside repair, plus additional questions.  – The Board advised that the email has been forwarded to the SOA Attorney for response.
  • Three owners commented on open access violations pertaining to the Somersett Trail System. 1) A denied use of a trail through the Canyon9 golf course, which is a designated part of the Somersett Trail System as set up by the Developer and defined as such in the PUD (supporting documentation was provided), hence should be open for all to access, including dog walkers. The issue being that the SOA has denied access to this portion of the trail system during Canyon9 operating hours (7AM to 7PM), citing safety reasons. – The Board response was an opinion that preventing access during Canyon9 operating hours does not violate any PUD requirements. 2) Sierra Canyon (SC) has blocked access (using trees and boulders) to a connector path to a Somersett Trail at Firefly Court, the stated reason being that SC residents were being adversely affected by bike riders, skate boarders, runners, children etc., and that the SOA and SC Boards need to get together and rectify the situation. – The Board responded that the SC is heavily invested in this blockage and not sure what can be done about it. No current action was identified. 3) The sidewalk entering the Cliffs development is equipped with encoded access, thereby denying outside public access and that all sidewalks in Somersett are part of the Somersett Trail System and sidewalk access through gated communities is required by the PUD.  – The Board advised that this issue has been communicated to Toll Brothers with no response to date.
  • A comment that the Board was going to install more dog waste stations as a result of increased complaints of dog owners not picking up their dog waste or disposing of it improperly. – The Board advised that a map showing waste station locations, that will include an additional ten locations, was in the works. However, regardless of where the dog does his thing, the CC&R’s require all dog walkers to pick up their dog’s poop and take it with them until they can dispose of it properly.
  • A question on the status of potential assessment refunds due to COVID-19 mandated closure of the TCTC and other SOA amenities. –  Board responded that this is a budget topic for Finance Committee review and recommendation. A former SOA Treasurer commented that any surplus generated in this area should be used to replace depleted reserves or to reduce our long term debt rather than being returned to owners.
  • A complaint that the open operating hours of the security gates at Back Nine Trail compromises the neighborhood safety and security that the residents are paying for. Gates are apparently open from 7:30AM to 6:30 PM to accommodate Preston homes construction traffic, which will likely extend for 3-5 more years. Unfortunately, this being the time when residents are away from home and break-ins occur. This represents an unacceptable situation for owners with a suggested solution being for Preston Homes to post an individual at the gates to control construction vehicle access. – Board response was, given the existing agreement in place between the SOA and Preston Homes regarding Gate operation, they will forward this complaint to the SOA Attorney to see if something could be done.,

Although not as interesting as the homeowner comments, the meeting agenda Items were disposed of as follows:

Committee Reports

  • 4.b.  Communication Committee  –  The Committee has been evaluating migration of the SOA website to a different platform hosted by HOA Express (currently the Sierra Canyon’s website platform). They have completed their evaluation, presented a slide show of results at the meeting and recommended moving forward with the HOA Express system as being less costly and more functional than the current platform. This evaluation apparently began as a result of dissatisfaction with the current vendor’s (D4) technical support and costs. The Board approved moving forward with the project.

Unfinished  Business Items

  • 6.a.  Legal Updates –  No discussion by the Board
  • 6.b.  Revised AGC Guidelines  –  Board members Strout and Hanson had questions and  concerns regarding the proposed changes, which were considered too numerous to discuss at the meeting.  It was decided to conduct a “workshop” between these Board members and an AGC Committee representative to address their questions and defered approval, or disapproval, to the September Board Meeting.
  • 6.c.  Revised CC&R’s and Bylaws  –  Basically the same disposition as for item 6.b. A workshop will be held between Board members and the Document Review Committee Chairman to provide additional background on the proposed changes and the cost/benefit to the Community for moving forward. Board member Terry Retter (a Document Review Committee member) gave a roughly estimated cost of $40,000 for legal review and the process for presenting to owners for a vote. Mr. Retter also revealed that the Somersett Developer (Blake Smith)  has declined to participate in the elimination of those sections of the CC&R’s that still provide certain rights and approvals to the Developer.

New Business

  • 7.a. Turn Over of West Park  –  The Board formally approved turnover of the West Park from the City of Reno to the SOA. The SOA now has responsibility for upkeep and maintenance, even though some work (e.g., dog park clearing) still remains to be accomplished.  However, the West Park Foundation has $25,000 available for any needed improvements, which is available to the SOA. The SOA costs of maintenance have been estimated at $2000/month for landscape and  $600/month for bathrooms.
  • 7.b. Unanimous Written Consent $78  –  No action, just a discussion on a previously approved ” Kids Program Liability, Release and Indemnification Form” as required signing by all parents or guardians. Primarily with regard to the contacting of COVID-19.
  • 7.c. Rockery Wall Monitoring Renewal Contracts  –  Renewed the Kane Geotech contract in the amount of $5,500 for equipment rental, inspection and data monitoring services (quarterly reports) for the Crescent Point Rockery Wall and SBE hillside. Extended the CFA contract in the amount of $12,750 for three additional stability observations at four month intervals at ten SOA wall locations. Given that to date there has been no movements detected on these walls, there was a discussion whether continued monitoring was necessary. Renewal was subsequently approved. There was a request by a Board member that the resulting Rockery Wall monitoring reports be summarized in a more understandable format for Board members, particularly with regard to data implications.
  • 7.d. Design and Construction Management  – Approved a  Padovan Consulting proposal in the amount of $8,400 for Construction Management Services pertaining to erosion repair of the Common Area hillside behind 1880 Dove Mountain Ct.
  • 7.e. Irrigation System Replacements  –  Approved two proposals from Brightview Landscape; one in the amount of $50,000 for replacement of 13,000 feet of ¾ inch driplines, and another in the amount of $154,488 for replacement of 32 irrigation system controllers with 24 “Smart” controllers . Discussion centered around the cost/benefit of the replacements and the need for Brightview to include, in a meaningful way, a cost/benefit analysis in their proposals. A comment was made that the positive effect on water savings by using “Smart” controllers could amount to $46,000/year. The motion to approve included a requirement to institute a process that closely monitors water usage to confirm the projected savings.
  • 7.f. Holiday Lighting Proposal  –  Approved three proposals from Lawn Express to install and remove holiday lighting at the following locations:  $11,900 for the  Somersett Parkway entrance cottage, $2,500 for The Club at Town Center, and $1,200 for the Verdi entrance monument.
  • 7.g. Revised Rules and Regulations  –  For consistency with City of Reno ordinances, the Board approved a change for the display of political signs. Signs may now be displayed starting 90 days prior to an election date (was 60 days), and removed within five days after the election date (was 10 days). Which means residents can now put up their political endorsement signs.

Note:  For those interested in the details, the proposed changes to the AGC Guidelines (agenda item 6.b. above and a summary of the CC&R and Bylaws changes (Aaenda Item 6.c above) copies may be accessed via the following links:

Proposed AGC Guideline Changes

Document Review Committee Summary of Recommendations