Submitted by Geoffrey Brooks, Board Candidate
The current (until January 1) SOA Board, controlled by the developer (Blake Smith) has worked hard to pick up the pieces from the Great Recession (one estimate indicates that Somersett may have lost $500,000,000 in value since 2007) that has shattered the reality of the Somersett Development’s dream.
Blake Smith literally ran out of money, and in 2010 he “handed over” the Country Club (SGCC), to the equity members. During 2011, behind closed doors a deal was worked out whereby a “Lease Agreement” was signed that took $15/mo of our assessment monies and gave them to the SGCC. This in return for community amenities built and financed via these assessments. After the agreement was signed and made available to the residents, it became obvious to ALL that this was the worst possible deal for Somersett owners, and we did NOT get to vote on it.
Several owners approached the Board asking for an explanation of the value for money, which appeared to be North of $6,000,000 over 10 years. Why would we invest so much, for so little in return? We were told unofficially that unless we did this the golf course could turn “brown”.
Another contentious issue was that Blake Smith did not own enough property to maintain control of the SOA, a fact noted by the Auditor in 2009. Extensive research showed that he did not control enough of the 3742 units officially authorized for our PUD.
In December 2011, a petition was signed by 40 + residents complaining about developer control and the SGCC Lease. Somersett United (SU) was formed, its website is up and running and has proved a viable forum for exchanging community views.
Letters were sent to the Board challenging the validity of Developer Board control, the SGCC Lease and SDC Repayment Agreements. Following Board response to these challenges, Intervention Affidavits were filed with the Real Estate Division’s Ombudsman’s Office. These are currently under review by the Ombudsman’s investigative department,
In March, SU was interviewed by the RJG as was Blake Smith concerning the “Lease” and the fortunes of the SGCC. Blake Smith said he was voluntarily planning to turn over the Association within a year and indicated that he had doubts about the SGCC being able to make it.
Following submittal of the Intervention Affidavit, Blake Smith announced that he was voluntarily leaving and that elections for an all homeowner board would be held. This Affidavit was subsequently withdrawn.
As Somersett is a golfing community, we own Canyon 9, towards which we all pay $14 a month. Regarding the SGCC, recall that the CC&R’s do not allow participation by residents in the SGCC unless modified. However, all supporters of SU are anxious to find an equitable solution that supports its continued operation.
The SGCC relationship is not the only issue. As all can observe, there are serious issues with the irrigation system designed to maintain our superlative landscaping. Unfortunately, litigation to resolve the claims against Moana Nursery is required; SU urged that all residents vote on continuing the claims in court. Anyone who drives into Somersett from the East will see the disaster with the dramatic portal through the Peavine foothills into the Somersett Valley. Unfortunately, in obligating unit owners to incur costs for correcting these defects, the developer controlled Board did not act in full fiduciary responsibility to the homeowners.
Pressure exerted by SU has recently “persuaded” the SOA and the SGCC to change one of the “mysterious poorly worded” escalator clauses in the Lease Agreement – so that resident contribution is capped at $15/month.
We need to thank the many residents who have spent many hours working to understand the realities of the SOA by attending meetings, writing letters and submitting issues to the Ombudsman, to the benefit ALL residents..
Over a 1000 houses have yet to be built and the character of our community will evolve. SU plans to work to keep our community, modern and competitive. Then, the housing values will go back up again, especially as new owners arrive to live in our small emerald world in the Eastern Sierra Desert. A community of unparalleled ambience, which will attract people as the BEST place to live in Northern NV.