April 22th BOD Meeting Recap

Somersett UnitedFollowing is a brief recap of the April 22 BOD Meeting Agenda items: Reference:  April 22 BOD Meeting Agenda

Items 2 and 8 – Homeowner Comments:

  • The Administrator for the Sierra Canyon “Waggin Tails” Group spoke on behalf of a Dog Park Concept for the proposed Somersett West Park. This was followed by other Dog Park supporters. One homeowner, experienced in Dog Park planning and fund raising, offered her services in this regard. Another homeowner spoke in favor of the Community Garden concept. Both Dog Park and Community Garden proponents were not opposed to sharing space within the park.
  • Safety concerns were expressed over having a dog park and a children’s play area within close proximity of each other. Another concern related to traffic, parking and access issues regarding use of the park by non-Somersett residents, being that it will be open to the public.
  • The BOD was asked to re-consider access and fee structure requirements placed on visiting grandchildren.
  • A Morgan Point homeowner expressed concern over the amount of time it was taking to resolve common area drainage issues and the impact it has had on their property, They presented an Engineering plan to the BOD they obtained for a proposed solution.
  • Given the BOD response about being constrained by the Somersett PUD with regard to approval of alternate xeriscape solutions, it was suggested that minor changes to a PUD are easily obtained, and therefore, the BOD should consider this.
  • In response to a homeowner question, it was stated that the total SOA legal fees associated with the CC&R Amendment litigation was not exactly known at this time. However, it was estimated to be in the $165K range (later reported as $156K through March). The BOD advised it will attempt to recover legal fees through their liability insurance carrier

Item 3 –  Committee Reports:

The BOD president reported that emails had been received from homeowners regarding alternate xeriscape solutions, primarily related to the “mow strips”, that the SOA was not in a position to approve.  Reason being that they were constrained by the Associations governing documents (e.g., the Somersett CC&R’s and PUD) that specified acceptable landscape alternatives.

Item 6.a) – Litigation:

The BOD ratified a negotiated CC&R Amendment litigation settlement that had been approved by all parties (see previous blog post entitled “CC&R Amendment Lawsuit Settlement” for details).  The BOD president stated primary purpose for the settlement was to save significant additional legal fees (estimated in excess of $100K) that would have been incurred in moving forward with the case, even though he felt they could have prevailed. The settlement agreement will be published on the SOA website. He also advised that the Nevada Attorney General’s Complaint (i.e., citing violations of law with regard to the previous Country Club Lease Agreement) against the previous developer controlled BOD would not be moving forward. (Note: an alternate source was informed by the Attorney General’s office that subsequent passage of the amended CC&R’s and Country Club Purchase Agreement by homeowner vote, in addition to the litigation settlement, did not warrant its pursuit).

Item 6.c) & 7. g) Winter Creek & Morgan Point Common Area Improvements:

Much discussion on this subject.  It was concluded that area improvements regarding erosion/drainage and rock wall modifications still has items to resolve before final approval.

Item 7. c) – Common Area Irrigation Test Section

Installation of a couple test areas within the common area to evaluate improved irrigation techniques was approved.  Groundskeeper will perform the work

Item 7. e) – Cross Walk from Town Center to East Park

Traffic Works was approved as the vendor (~$5K contract) for the design and obtaining Reno City approval of pushbutton activated flashing lights at this crosswalk.  Although a public street, the City of Reno will not pay for this safety feature, which was been deemed necessary by the BOD.

Item 7. f) – West Park Conceptual Plan

Original concept for this park was for a children’s play area and community garden. After much discussion, regarding community garden, dog park, children’s playground and public access issues, the BOD approved the formation of a sub-committee to interact with homeowners on prefered concepts (e.g., via survey) to insure that the final plan best fits the needs of the community.

Item 7.h) – Canyon 9 Drought Contingency Plan

Due to Truckee River water source issues, a contingency plan for obtaining water from the Country Club’s Hole 14 lakes is under consideration.  The problem being that no pipeline to transport water for Canyon 9 usage from these lakes currently exists.  Approval to move forward on a plan to accomplish this end was obtained.

CC&R Amendment Lawsuit Settlement

Somersett United
Somersett United

History

  • In 2014, A group of Somersett homeowners (Plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit against the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) alleging the CC&R Amendment voting process was unlawfully conducted, this resulted in a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which prohibited the SOA from officially recording the amended CC&R’s and moving forward any new activities associated with the SGCC purchase agreement.
  • In December 2014, a hearing was held in the 2nd Judicial District Court of Nevada regarding the lawsuit. The purpose of this hearing was to determine Plaintiffs request for a preliminary injunction which would extend the provisions of the Temporary Restraining Order until disposition of the case on its merits.
  • The December hearing resulted in a Court Order denying the issuance of the preliminary injunction. The primary basis for the Court’s denial order was that the Plaintiffs did not demonstrate irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction was not issued. The Order stated “the Court has difficulty in recognizing irreparable harm as a result of defendant’s actions” and that “the Court is convinced that a monetary award can adequately compensate the plaintiffs should they prevail on their claims”.
  • However, in issuing the Order, the Court also made the following findings: “there is a reasonable probability that the plaintiffs will prevail on most of their claims for relief since it is apparent that the Board did not follow the requirements of NRS 116.31035 nor NRS.311(9) as they pertained to the vote on the CC&Rs amendment” and that “The response of the Board to the plaintiffs’ repeated requests for equal time to present their positions, in the Courts opinion, was disingenuous.” 
  • The lawsuit moved forward with the litigants negotiating a settlement, which has been agreed to by all Plaintiffs and the SOA Board of Directors. Pertinent details of the settlement are summarized below.

Settlement

  • Plaintiffs will receive a payment in the amount of $40K from the SOA, and their $5K Bond will be refunded.
  • Case is dismissed and both plaintiffs and the SOA are released from all claims associated with the case.
  • Plaintiffs agree not to pursue any new claims, either through the Courts or the Nevada Real Estate Division, related to the underlying facts of the case. Also, not to work with any other parties in pursuing such claims.
  • Neither the Plaintiffs nor the SOA shall make any disparaging remarks, either verbally or in writing, against each other regarding the subject matter of the case.
  • Settlement does not constitute an admission of liability by either party.
  • Each party will bear its own costs, expenses and legal fees.

Comment

Both parties will most likely spin the settlement to their advantage, but it remains that the BOD felt it better to settle than to continue to pursue through the Court system. Whatever the case, SU believes praise is in order for those homeowners who stood up for what they believed to be for the good of all.  Although costly for the Association, perhaps the BOD has learned a lesson here. That is, to assure that all future ballot measures are conducted in a proper and lawful manner.

Water Usage – A Homeowner Perspective

Following is an open email to the SOA Community Manager in response to the Association’s position on water saving ideas. Written by Joe Bower, Sierra Canyon homeowner.

Lauren,

Please let the Somersett Board and Finance Committee members know that I appreciate their looking at my previous email to them regarding water saving.
 
By copy of this open email to them, please let them know that while they depend on TMWA to “monitor and enforce watering per their set days and schedule” that that is NOT a reason for the Board to fail to execute the power given to it under Section 27 of Article IV of the Somersett CC&R’s which allows the Association to “promulgate use restrictions (e.g. allowed watering days, length of time watering occurs, etc.) on outdoor water use.” 
 
I believe the Board is failing its fiduciary and civic responsibilities by not promulgating water use restrictions of its own and instead leaving them up to an outside agency. The Board can make a resolution for irrigating members’ lots matching the same set day TMWA schedule. By having its own schedule the Association’s Violation Policy can more easily and quickly and in a more meaningful and effective manner, than can TMWA, bring violating owners into compliance thus encouraging owners’ water saving efforts.
 
By the Somersett  Board re-directing its attention to water saving on members’ lots, more immediate results can be achieved than “looking at test areas to retrofit the irrigation in the hopes to prevent runoff.” Also, runoff can be addressed at no cost by better scheduling the number of watering times and their length. Needless to say, the best way to prevent runoff is to remove turf from parkway center dividers and sides and put in xeriscape. 
 
The Boards of sub-associations may have stricter rules than the Somersett master association as long as they are not in conflict nor contradict. Thus I encourage the Sierra Canyon, where I live, Board to swiftly enact a watering day schedule of its own following TMWA’s.
 
Somersett has been fooling around with mainline irrigation problems for over ten years. Now is the time to stop using a landscape contractor to address these ongoing problems and bring in a company specializing in pipelines and water pressure. 
 
I well realize the PUD requirements/restrictions for private mow strips.  However, the Board can undertake an effort to have the PUD revised so that it will allow for more flexibility and options to address the needs of owners brought forth by the current and ongoing water shortage (not in existence nor anticipated at the time the PUD was written) and their desires to help ease the shortage by installing landscaping that needs no water at all, i.e. decorative rocks. 
 
It should be noted that while the Board keeps a stiff back on how to address the current water shortage problem, it fails to enforce its own Aesthetic Guideline “If the front yard is xeriscaped, approved junipers may be planted in the mow strip area,” by allowing junipers to be in mow strips where the front yard is not xeriscaped. Also, there are at least two private mow strips, if not more, currently made up entirely of decorative rocks. One of them being on the same street as a board member!

Reno Mountain Bike Trail Grant

The following public service announcement was submitted by Keith Cespon, Vue homeowner:

Bell Helmets is awarding a $100,000 grant to fund a mountain bike trail building project, and you get to choose who gets the grant! Three West Coast locations in Nevada, California and Oregon are vying for the grant. The Nevada option being the Sky Tavern location here in Reno.

Sky Tavern (www.skytavern.com) is a community based non-profit Junior ski area off of Mt. Rose Highway that has gotten kids and families out to ski over the years and now looking to expand their horizon to a downhill mountain bike park with the Bell Helmets grant.

To read more about this project go to the Bell Helments websiste listed below, but mostly importantly cast a vote for the Sky Tavern Bike Park Downhill Trail so they can so they can continue to do what they do for kids and families in the Reno area.

Voting closes on April 26, so please vote now! To cast your vote go to:

http://www.bellhelmets.com/bell-built/

 

Somersett West Dog Park

Somersett United
Somersett United

One of the New Business items on the April 22 SOA Board Meeting is “Review and Approval of West Park Conceptual Plan” (the complete meeting agenda may be accessed by clicking on “April 22 BOD Meeting Agenda”). The original concept called for a Community Garden theme.  However, many Somersett Residents have expressed a strong interest in a Dog Park concept, or at least the inclusion of a Dog Park as well. Hence the formation of the “Waging Tails Group” to promote this end.

In support of the Dog Park concept, Chris Watters, a Sierra Canyon homeowner and the Waging Tails Group Administrator, has submitted a historical recap, as well as additional information, pertaining to the Dog Park alternative.  Readers may access this document by clicking on the following link;

Dog Park Concept at Somersett West Park

Readers interested in this concept are encouraged to read the above and attend the April 22 Board meeting (5:30 PM at The Club at Town Center) to express your support.  Start of Park construction by the City of Reno has not yet been scheduled, therefore, community interest in alternative concepts will be considered.

Water – It’s Time to Save!

Somersett UnitedAll are most likely aware of the 25% mandatory water restrictions imposed on California water users as the drought years continue.  Nevada also has its share of water problems, albeit most notably in the south. However, we in the Truckee Meadows area are not immune and are using up our drought reserves as both surface and ground water sources decline.  As a result, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) is now asking all its customers to immediately (voluntary) cut water usage by 10%.

The question is, what are Somersett residents and the Somersett and Sierra Canyon Owners Associations doing to achieve this end and perhaps circumvent what is occurring in California? We assume that both BOD’s are addressing this issue, but to date no concrete plans have been forthcoming.  Somersett residents who may have some  ideas of their own, are encouraged to submit them to the SOA BOD at SOABoard@mysomersett.com as well as sharing them via comments to this article.  In this regard, we are republishing a letter entitled “Water & Landscaping Savings” (click on to read) originally submitted to the SOA BOD by a Sierra Canyon homeowner.

Readers are also encouraged to access the TMWA website at http://tmwa.com/.  This website contains a wealth of information on water issues, especially under the “Your Water” and “Conservation” tabs.  Under the “Your Water” tab click on the “Water Resources” link to learn all about the Truckee River system, water supplies, facilities, resource plan, operating agreements, water rights and water sources (animated video).

Verdi Crushing Plant

The following is a reprint of an email from the “Verdi Community Council” regarding a Truckee-based company, 39 Ventures, that wants to build a materials plant just off I-80 in Verdi. It would crush and recycle concrete, asphalt and stone. Concerns have been raised about noise, dust, pollution, water sources and truck traffic. Being a close neighbor to Verdi, this project may also be of interest to Somersett homeowners.

“We hope this email finds you well! Our apologies we didn’t get an update out last week, however, we wanted to bring everyone up to speed as we have continued serious efforts on our opposition of 39 Ventures. We have an attorney that has been extremely generous and volunteered his time and efforts in this matter to assist, guide and if/when necessary represent us. 

Together we met with McGinnis & Associates who deal with a full range of environmental issues, almost all of which pertain to the 39 Ventures application. More information about this firm can be found at  www.mcginnisandassociates.com. Their staff is extensive including; professional engineers, stream restoration and fisheries management experts, a hydrologist, petroleum hydrocarbons experts and waste-water treatment specialists. They have worked with multiple citizens groups and successfully met their agendas through responsible parties, regulatory agencies and government representatives. 

We are fortunate to have a few residents graciously donate the necessary funds to retain this firm. A Huge “Thank you” to those individuals as we feel strongly this is a more formal approach to our efforts. McGinnis & Assoc. will review the current practices of the Reno Planning Department, the Planning Commission’s action, and the project application for accuracy, negligent and false assertions. They will review all of the previous filings and present us with a written product outlining the best pathway forward for the Verdi Community. They will speak on all scientific technicalities to the Planning Department, Commission and the City Council for us (our “Experts” for all technical purposes). We will continue to share what we learn with you.

We also met with City Council representative Neoma Jardon in hopes of finding out exactly where this proposal stands within the City process. Unfortunately she was unable to provide any details as the project is really in 39 Ventures court to be put back on the agenda (at which time we will be notified and be able to assess if/how they are moving forward). She confirmed this is not a City Council driven pause. The Council has four options, when and if, the application is brought forward again: Approve it, Deny it, Remand it to the Planning Department or accept a withdrawal of the application by 39 Ventures. Additionally she shared that it is very possible another agency could step in within the review process and impose requirements on the applicant (a specific example she provided was the EPA requiring a clean up of the existing site) We did ask if there is a time clock running on the applicant to take action. We are looking forward to an answer on that.

Lastly, we, the Verdi Community Council, have formed a large group of residents that have been exceptionally helpful, motivated and generous with their time to assist in all these efforts. A couple of us have officially applied for a Non-profit Corporation status (which is in process) in order to continue our efforts to protect the Verdi community, keep you all informed and educated on not just this but future projects and protect Verdi’s future.

We have and continue to respond and correspond via email so please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your time and continued interest! We are still receiving petitions and would like to keep those efforts going in the meantime, so please advise if you have or need any.

Sincerely,

The Verdi Community Council: Carly Borchard (carly_borchard@att.net), Phil Povey (povey2030@gmail.com), Chance Reading (chancereading@gmail.com),  https://www.facebook.com/verdicommunitycouncil

SOA Amenities Update

Somersett United
Somersett United

Most Somersett residents are aware of the current amenities being offered within the Somersett Community. That is, The Club at Town Center, Aspen Lodge, Canyon 9 and the Trail System.  However, not all may be up to date on recent developments in this regard, which are summarized below:

SGCC Purchase Agreement – Under the recent purchase agreement, Somersett homeowners may now avail themselves of the following Country Club facilities:

  • Four foursome rounds of golf per year at prevailing guest rates ($60 until May 1, $65 thereafter). Reservations can be made 3 days in advance.
  • Access to front of driving range (grass surface) for a $10/day fee (unlimited balls) with free access (unlimited balls) to back of range (synthetic surface).
  • Access to main dining room, pro shop and bocce ball courts at the same prices afforded to Country Club members. No fee for bocce ball court usage.

TCTC Lot Purchase – Totaling a combined 28,097 sq. ft., these lots adjacent to the Town Center commercial buildings were purchased by the SOA in late November of last year for $260K.  The BOD felt that purchase of these lots by the SOA represents the best available choice for future amenity additions to TCTC.  To date no plans have been proposed for its development.

Somersett West Park – This Park, to be located across from the fire station on Hawk Meadow Trail, will  be built by the City of Reno from new residential construction tax fees.  Although a public park, routine maintenance costs will be the responsibility of the Somersett Owners Association. The Park concept calls for a picnic and play area along with a community garden.  To date, no schedule for start of construction exists. For more details, see the “Somersett West Park–Are We Close?” Blog post dated January 29, 2015.

SOA Amenities Assessment – The $25K contract awarded to Hansford Economic Consulting for a SOA “Amenities Assessment and Planning Process” has been completed with the issuance of a “SOA Final Amenities Assessment Report”. This report was originally published on this website on March 11, 2015, but may be accessed again by clicking on the preceding link. The report contains a lot of informative demographics, usage statistics, HOA comparisons and generalized short and long term recommendations covering amenities, communications and operational planning. It is heavy on process, but somewhat lacking on specifics, leaving this to the discretion of the SOA BOD and Committees. A lengthy report (42 pages), readers are encouraged to at least read the last six pages “Section 5. Findings and Recommendations”

The Strategic Planning Committee is planning to hold an “Open House Presentation” to discuss the report and the subsequent steps they will be pursuing. Strategic Planning Committee meetings are also open to all homeowners, at which they may express their viewpoints.   Strategic Planning Committee meetings are held monthly with the next one scheduled for May 5th, 6:00 PM at TCTC. If you are unable to attend these meetings, and since the Strategic Planning Committee does not have its own email address, one may email their viewpoints to the SOABoard@mysomersett.com for forwarding to committee members.

RV Storage Lot Project

Submitted by Joe Bower, Del Webb Owner and SOA member

The City of Reno and the Somersett Aesthetic Guidelines Committee have approved a RV Storage Lot project at 1001 Somersett Ridge Parkway.  The 5.793 acre site is the first retail pad you see when driving between the roundabout near Maria’s Mexican Restaurant and the entry/exit monument to Sierra Canyon.  Owned by the Witt Family LLC out of Sherman Oaks, CA, the project entails $100,000 in site work and a $251,000 caretaker’s residence.  Nice first impression to Sierra Canyon and greater Somersett.

A location map may be accessed via the following link;   RV Storage Lot

SOA Communications

Somersett United
Somersett United

A frustration often heard at BOD Meetings and expressed on this website is that homeowners have a feeling of being “out of the loop” about what’s going on in their community. Also, that the current Somersett Owners Association (SOA) website (www.mysomersett.com) is not user friendly and difficult to navigate for the average user.

Unquestionably, there is a lot of useful and important information contained within the current website; the problem appears to be the manner in which it is presented to the user. In this regard, the SOA Communication Committee will be looking into a website update to address user interface issues as well as providing additional features. However, their priority appears to be on “Syncing” the various SOA databases (transparent to website users) and updating email lists, rather than a redesign of the website.

With regard to new SOA website features, the following has been suggested in past Communication Committee Meetings without much success:

  1. A homeowner classified section, for example: sale items (home, auto, personal), lost & found and personal services (babysitting, handyman, computer assistance).
  2. A homeowner forum/blog section, wherein homeowners can express their ideas, concerns, questions, letters to the BOD, etc. and expect answers when appropriate.
  3. Informative BOD, Committee and Staff Reports. The current website publishes nothing more than abbreviated meeting minutes with little detail.
  4. Document Access: Not all SOA documents are accessible on the SOA website (e.g., the SOA’s governing documents), but require separate login to the FirstResidentialServices website to access, this should be corrected. Some of the duplication between these websites should also be eliminated and concentrated on the SOA website

It has been reported that the bi-monthly newsletter and homeowner emails are being looked at for enhanced communications.  Item 3 above should also be considered for these documents.

Reader comments on present and future suggestions for SOA to Homeowner communications are welcome.  Readers are also encouraged to email them to Communication Committee members at communications@mysomersett.com.

Homeowners may also attend Communication Committee meetings (held monthly) to express their viewpoints.  The next Communication Committee meeting is scheduled for April 21, 6:00 PM at TCTC.