May 22nd SOA BOD Meeting Recap

Following is a recap of issues discussed and/or approved at the May 22th Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting (i.e., as interpreted by SU). Related Agenda items are noted. The full meeting Agenda may be accessed via the following link:

May 22nd BOD Meeting Agenda

4. Committee Reports

4.a  Finance Committee  –  1) The SOA’s final 2018 Audit is expected to be completed for presentation to the Board by the June BOD Meeting. This will include a reclassification of all Rockery Wall expenses to be reported as a singular item within the Audit. 2) Recommended approval of the revised expense policy (see item 7.e below). 3) Recommended that SOA management review areas within the current budget that can be deferred or eliminated due to legal expenses incurred by the James/McCullough case (see Item 6.a below).

4.d  Communication Committee – 1) Recommended development of a procedure for Charitable Organizations wishing to use SOA communication media for solicitations. That is, must be Somersett based consisting primarily of Somersett residents. Such organizations to be approved in advance by the Board as a “Somersett Group”. Communication Committee to work with SOA Management staff on generation of a procedure and recommendations for BOD approval. 2) Recommended approval of the D4 SOA website proposal (see item 7.f below).

4.e  General Manager Report – The General Manager Report is a rather lengthy document summarizing the previous month Association activities as compiled by the SOA Management staff. It generally includes: 1) Aesthetic Guidelines Committee and Community Standards Committee applications and hearings data, 2) The Club at Town Center (TCTC) events, activities and usage data, 3) SOA Communication media data, 4) Updates on Common Area maintenance, TCTC maintenance and Special Projects, 5) Vendor activity reports (e.g., BrightView Landscaping, Reno Green Landscaping and Padovan Consulting) and 6) Specific General Manager (GM) activities. Of particular interest are the GM activity and Padovan Consulting reports, which may be accessed via the following links:

May GM Activity Report         Padovan Consulting LLC., SOA Engineering Update, May 2019.

For those interested in all the details, the total monthly report is always contained within the SOA Board Meeting Packet, which is generally issued a few days prior to the Board Meeting and accessible on the SOA website under the Committees and Meetings page. Also via the Somersett Happenings email distribution. If you do not have login access to the SOA website or receive the Somersett Happenings emails you are encouraged to do so.

6. Old Business

6.a  Legal Updates – The monthly SOA Attorney “Legal Disclosure” letter to the BOD contained the following updates: 1) The SOA Attorney has filed a non-opposition to the James and McCullough motions for recovery of legal fees. SOA liability amount was not disclosed. (SU Note: Given the SOA legal fees of $284K through March 1st, it is not unreasonable to predict the James/McCullough legal fees could be in the $100K range) 2) Somersett Development Company et. al. Rockery Wall Lawsuit – The scheduled trial date of February 3, 2020 has been vacated along with all pretrial dates and discovery deadlines. Reset of these dates are to be determined as agreed to by the parties. No reason given for the delay with no discussion by the BOD on either item.

6.b  Rockery Wall Update – Seth Padovan provided a verbal update on the Rockery Wall project in which he advised the Gypsy Hill Rockery Wall repair was nearing completion (i.e., within two weeks) with some cosmetic work and landscaping yet to be accomplished. Monitoring and evaluation of other rockery walls continue. No subsequent repair work has been specifically identified or scheduled. However, some repair work may be required on a wall in the Wisper Rock area.

6.c  Discussion on Ventana Ridge Access Easement – Ventana Point LLC. has an approved residential development (Ventana Ridge) of approximately 57 homesites, which borders Somersett property at the upper end of Painted River Trail. In this regard, the Developer is seeking a permanent “Access and Utility Easement” through a small portion of Somersett property. As such they have submitted a proposal to the SOA to accomplish same. The Ventana Point LLC. proposal may be accessed via the following link, which also depicts location of the proposed easement.

Ventana Ridge Easement Proposal

This proposal was discussed and voted upon (although the Meeting Agenda only identified a discussion topic, not a proposal to be approved, therefore some might question the validity of this action) with the following results:

1) The Developer proposed price of $53,352 ($28,352 for land value and $25,000 for administrative costs) for the easement was not accepted. A motion to accept the proposed easement at a 150% increase over the proposed price was subsequently approved on a 4:1 vote. The lone dissenter was Board Member Jason Roland, who felt the land value quoted by the developer was not properly evaluated and that both the proposed and counter offer prices were significantly below actual market value. Additionally, that Developer alternatives to the Somersett easement proposal would be many times more costly, if not prohibitive.

2) Following the price approval, a second motion to hold off on sending a response to Ventana Point LLC was also approved. Basis was unclear to SU, but being a request for a permanent easement, perhaps some other legal action or approvals may be required.

7. New Business

The following items were all approved by the Board:

7.a  A Padovan Consulting LLC. proposal ($1,900 fixed price + T&M at $130/hr not to exceed $6500) for survey , RFP preparation and construction management services related to repair of Split Rock Trail low spot issues.

7.b  A BrightView Landscaping proposal ($16,351) for Gypsy Hill Trail Rockery Wall landscaping.

7.c   A Wadsworth Engineering change order request ($13,614) for additional Gypsy Hill Rockery Wall anchors to supplement those that did not pass inspections.

7.d  Nothing to approve on the Gypsy Hill Trail fire hydrant relocation (Note: A proposal by Gradex for $6,916 was previously approved at the April BOD Meeting). Just a comment that there may be some additional issues to consider.

7.e  A revised SOA Expense Policy. The revised policy may be viewed via the following link:

SOA Expense Policy

7.f  A D4 Advanced Media proposal ($1,980) for continued maintenance of the SOA Website.

9. Homeowner Comments

Included the following:

1)  An agreement with Board Member Roland that the proposed and approved price for the Ventana Ridge easement was significantly undervalued.

2)  A concern that the hillside along the Parkway entrance to Somersett was not being properly maintained. That falling rocks captured by the retaining ditch were simply being placed on the ditch berm rather than being removed as was apparently required under the original maintenance contract.

May 22nd SOA Board Meeting

The Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) open meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 at 5:30 PM at The Club at Town Center (TCTC) Sports Court. The Meeting Agenda may be accessed by clicking on the following link:

May 22nd BOD Meeting Agenda (Note wrong date, should read May 22 not April 24)

Details associated with noted agenda items follow:

4.0 Committees:

  • 4.a  Budget & Finance Committee: 1) Finance has asked management for recommendations on areas within the operating budget that can be cut or deferred due to legal expenses associated with the James case causing budget concerns.  2) Maryann McKinley has resigned from the Committee. Vacant position will be advertised on the SOA website. Anyone wishing to serve is encouraged to submit an application.  3) Positions are also available on the Community Standards and Communication Committees
  • 4.d  Communication Committee:  1) Recommended guidelines for Charitable Organizations wishing to use SOA communication media (e,g, newsletters and SOA website). Guidelines include: a) Charities should be Somersett based, b) Charities should consist of primarily Somersett residents, c) Charities should be approved in advance by the Board as a ‘Somersett Group’, and d) A procedure developed for such groups to use to gain approvals.  2) Recommended acceptance of the D4 Advanced Media proposal (see New Business item 7.f below).
  • 4.e  General Manager: A rolling summary update for SOA engineering projects may be viewed via the following link. Note that a cost spreadsheet (past & present) of SOA engineering projects has been included:  Padovan Consulting LLC., SOA Engineering Update, May 2019

6.0 Old Business:

  • 6.a  Legal Updates:  1) Having lost the James and McCullogh lawsuit (See previous post of March 13th entitled “ The Northgate Neighbors Verdict Is In!”, the SOA Attorney has now filed a non-opposition to the James and McCullough motions for recovery of legal fees. SOA liability amount has not yet been disclosed.  2) Somersett Development Company et. al. Lawsuit – The scheduled trial date of February 3, 2020 has been vacated along with all pretrial dates and discovery deadlines. Reset of these dates are to be determined as agreed to by the parties.
  • 6.b  Rockery Wall Update – Seth Padovan, SOA’s engineering consultant, will provide a verbal update. One may also refer to the “Rockery Wall Failures” section of the “Padovan Consulting, SOA Engineering Update, May 2019” link referenced above.

7.0 New Business:

  • 7.a  Split Rock Trail Repair: A proposal from Padovan Consulting to conduct a Topographic Survey ($1,900) and provide Design & Construction Management Services (T&M not to exceed $6,500) for low spot repair work along Split Rock Trail in the Boulders. An RFP will be prepared to obtain bids from vendors to perform the work.
  • 7.b  Re-Landscaping Along Gypsy Hill Trail: A proposal ($16,351) from BrightView for landscaping the repaired Gypsy Hill Trail Rockery Walls.
  • 7.c  Gypsy Hill Trail Rockery Wall Repair Change Order: A Change Order Request ($13,614) from Wadsworth Engineering for additional wall anchors.
  • 7.d  Gypsy Hill Trail Fire Hydrant Move: Unsure on the action item for this agenda item. A proposal from Gradex Construction for $6,916 to perform the work was approved at the April BOD Meeting.
  • 7.e  Revised Expense Policy: A proposed revision to the SOA’s Expense Policy, which establishes limits and required actions for Board approved expenditures as well as vendor bid requirements. A copy of the proposed Expense Policy may be viewed via the following link:  SOA Expense Policy.
  • 7.d  Website Maintenance Contract Renewal: A proposal from D4 Advanced Media ($1,980) for continued maintenance of the SOA website.

Need We Fear the Dark Sky Police?

Fair weather is fast approaching wherein many residents will want to experience pleasant evenings on their Patio – barbequing, entertaining or just enjoying the outdoors. Many with the added use of string lighting (fiesta lights, bistro lights or whatever) for added ambiance and visibility. However, this is not without controversy as witnessed by the dialog that has transgressed on both the “Somersett Nextdoor” and the SOA’s “” websites.

Apparently, the SOA’s Community Standards Committee has issued citations to some Somersett owners citing that their use violates the SOA’s “Dark Sky” policy as required by both the SOA PUD and CC&R’s. But is this really the case? Unless we have missed something, neither of these documents address specific requirements for this type of lighting. In fact, the CC&R’s contain no specific reference to any lighting requirements at all, dark skies or otherwise. As for the PUD, lighting requirements for residential structures are limited to the following provisions:

General Light Standards (page 2-89):

    • Lighting levels should be limited to effect “dark skies”.
    • Unless otherwise specified, lighting will comply with City Code.
    • Fixture scale and illumination levels will be consistent with the specific use.
    • Lighting will not extend beyond its tasks. Fixtures will employ cut-off reflectors or housing shields to eliminate spillover into adjoining areas where the light would be a nuisance.
    • Use of energy efficient lighting design.

Landscape Lighting (page 2-89)

    • Landscape lighting will be used where appropriate to create mood and to accent focal points.
    • When used, landscape lighting will be soft and unobtrusive. Light will be directed and/or shielded to prevent glare.
    • Existing and manmade boulder grouping, outcropping, etc. may be accented by low voltage lighting across the surfaces, in a manner not posing a nuisance to adjacent properties. The light source will be concealed mechanically or with plant materials or smaller rock groupings.

Residential lighting Standards (Page 2-93)

    • Exterior fixtures mounted on buildings will be no higher than the line of the first story eave or, where no eave exists, no higher than 12 feet above finished grade.
    • Building lights will be shielded to prevent light spillage onto adjacent property or streets.

Given the PUD provisions quoted above, it would appear that the use of string lighting would fall under the “General Light Standards” provision. In addition, being that the CC&R’s are silent here, it would subsequently fall upon the SOA’s Aesthetic Guidelines document to define any additional requirements and/or limitations regarding the use of string lighting, which they do not. Thereby leaving it up to the sole discretion of the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee to assess compliance and grant approvals, which, given the lack of specific requirements, should not be unreasonably withheld.

To help assess the use of string lighting in a “Dark Skies” Community, a Somersett Committee Member inquiry to the International Dark-Sky Association ( resulted in the following response:

“Thank you for your question – it is a common one.

Our general opinion is that this type of lighting is usually not an issue for us, depending on how it is used. String lighting is generally:

• low intensity (under 25W for LED bulbs)
• on the warmer color spectrum (less than 3000 Kelvins)
• primarily used seasonally (outdoor months)
• used for short periods of time (turned off by 11pm or so).

From the link you included, that particular product meets all those requirements. Within these parameters, the fact that the bulbs are unshielded is pretty much a non-issue. Additionally in the case you mention, it seems that this lighting would primarily be for personal use (i.e. backyard, around a home, etc.) which is fairly low-impact. If this lighting was used in a commercial space (restaurant patio) however, we’d like for there to be a curfew for when the lights are turned off. Our rule of thumb around outdoor lighting is to only use light when and where you need it.

Is the community you’re working in an official International Dark Sky Community, designated by IDA? If so, I’d be interested to know what community for our records. We do have a specific set of guidelines for communities to follow to become certified (and maintain certification), which I’ll attach here for you. If not an official IDSC, these guidelines may still be helpful for understanding what IDA considers to be dark-sky compliant.

If you have further questions, please let me know.

Best, Diana del Solar “

Note: The parameters for the string light product referenced in the inquiry were typical and may be accessed via the following link:′-LED-Filament-String-Light-Set.product.100405061.html

Bottom line here is that Somersett owners should not be cited or disapproved for the use of string lighting on a dark skies impact basis. Rather they should be assessed on a case by case basis for other considerations.

It should also be noted that Somersett’s “Dark Skies” are probably impacted more by residents who are increasingly leaving their porch and garage lights on from dusk to dawn for what they believe to be safety reasons, also by surrounding communities who do not adhere to a dark sky policy. Unfortunately, Somersett is an isolated dark sky community surrounded by non-dark sky communities, so the benefit of being such is diminishing.

Perhaps an “After-Use” for the Sierra Canyon Goats?

The following submitted by SOA Member Geoffey Brooks:

Goats and Somersett

We drove down to Sierra Canyon the other day to inspect the fire control goats. Some were indeed munching, some were frolicking and others inspecting the “tourists”. I must confess when you look at the jumble of weeds, brush below the Aspen Lodge, I am not sure not even starving goats are going to be able to keep up with the rapid spring growth.

Whilst we were there, the goats kept their distance. I was trying to assess how many goats were female which could be milked for their delicious “sage & cheatgrass” milk. Sage is a great flavor to add to most culinary delights, such as goat cheese, very tasty.

Unfortunately, I was corrected and told that sage brush and the flavor sage are … different. I guess I would have to settle for a Sage Grouse or two instead. No, I was told the Grouse are protected species and essential for the health of the barren desert surroundings.

My June UC, Berkeley Wellness Letter arrived the other day and in their “Ask the Experts” Column they had some comments on goat meat, how healthy it was, and the best way to prepare it (we always eat grass fed beef!).


“This read meat, commonly consumed in China, India and most of the world, is, nutritionally speaking a good alternative to beef because it is leaner”.

“The demand for goat meat in the US has increased in the last two decades due to a growing gourmet market for sustainable “locavore” meat”

“Goat has half as much fat as the leanest beef and is even slightly less caloric than skinless chicken breast (and grouse?)”

“ in fact, it has only 165 calories and 3 grams of fat per 4 oz, (cooked ). Chicken breast is 190 calories and 4 grams of fat.”

“Tender cuts can be roasted, broiled or sautéd”

“Most of the goat meat is imported from Australia. But it is a fast growing industry here in the US.The animals are used for their meat, milk and hair, as well as for brush control (by foraging vines, twigs, shrubs, weeds and other vegetation, they help manage land “like little lawnmowers”, as one goat owning restauranteur put it”.

“Goats are typically raised on fenced pasture on small farms” –
(I would hardly call the hills of Aspen Lodge pasture)

“Some goats are raised for fun as a hobby – Goat Yoga”

“ For goat recipes go to”


Many goat cheeses are delicious… We are now drinking goat Kefir. Maybe we will produce Irish Goat Stew (with lots of carrots) for a future Pot Luck.

Maybe an opportunity for a new restaurant the Town Center – “Yoga,Yogurt and ….”


The following post submitted by Nancy Chontos, SOA Member and Sierra Canyon Owner :

At the April SOA Board meeting, a new fee structure was approved for Somersett owners who want to make changes and/or improvement to their landscaping and/other minor changes. These changes take effect on July 1, 2019.

The three most significant changes that affect non-custom homes are:

  1. The fee for new landscape plans or updates to current landscaping, adding a trellis or patio cover has been lowered from $250 to $125. The fee for minor changes such as painting and minor landscaping changes has been lowered from $400 to $100.
  2. The deposit fee for both of the above categories ( of either $100 or $125) is fully refundable after you have passed inspection by the SOA.
  3. They have a category called “Desk Review” that includes minor tree and shrub species changes, basic design courtyard gates, minor trip color change, hot tubs, mow strip, solar and pre-approved storm doors. The fully-refundable deposit for this category is only $50 AND, you can get approval right away and not have to wait for the AGC to meet and approve.

Homeowners must still go through their sub association first for approval, and then apply for approval from Sommersett.

Lower costs, fully-refundable deposits and a potential for quick approval. All positive changes starting July 1.

A big thanks to the SOA Board, FSR Management and the AGC!!