January 13th BOD Meeting Recap

Following is a recap of topics discussed and/or approved at the January 13th Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting, held via a Zoom Video Conference with Association members.  See SU’s Post of  January 11th “January 13th BOD Meeting Update” for a copy of the Meeting Agenda and previous information obtained from the Board Meeting Packet. Agenda Items are referenced.

2.  Homeowner Comments on Agenda Items

Five owner comments were submitted and read into the record. All five of which addressed Agenda Item 8.d “Appointments to the AGC”. Points made were as follows, not necessarily in order:

  • Objections to the reduction of paid professionals on the Committee. That diligent oversight of property improvements and new construction is required to maintain the Architectural Standards and aesthetics of the community, which requires a diversity of knowledge.
  • Reduction of the number of paid professionals would put undue burden on the other members of the Committee.
  • Major construction efforts are still on-going within the Somersett Community under changing building codes, requiring a diversity of expertise on the AGC to assure compliance, this is not conducive to the reduction of paid professionals on the Committee at this time. Perhaps in the future.
  • Given that one of the purported reasons for reducing the number of paid professionals was cost savings, what actually are the projected savings?  This in consideration that the AGC may often have to contract with an outside professional to account for the lack of expertise on the Committee.
  • An opinion that the Board could not take any action on re-organizing the AGC without first revising its Charter, which was not on the Agenda.
  • Board member O’Donnell’s motions on re-organizing the AGC represent a personal agenda that is shortsighted, detrimental to the community and would undermine the AGC process.
  • Suggestions that a homeowner representative be included on the AGC

3.  December 17, 2020 Meeting Minutes

The December 17th BOD Meeting Minutes were approved and may be accessed via the following link: December 17, 2020 BOD Meeting Minutes

4.  Committee Reports

4.a,b,c,& d. – No reports from any of the SOA Standing Committees

4.e.  General Manager

  • Reported that the Fire Fuel Reduction program had started on January 12th. SU assumes this relates to the clearing of common area land adjacent to owner split rail fences as approved at the October 14, 2020 BOD meeting.
  • Advised that 692 owner ballots were received (as of the December 30th deadline) on the Governing Documents (Articles of Incorporation & Bylaws) amendment initiative No breakdown was provided. However, SU subsequently learned that there were 536 in favor and 156 against, far less that the approximately 1500 votes required to either approve or disapprove the initiative.
  • SU Comment – Why the lack of ballots? SU believes the following; 1) ineffective communications, 2) lack of support by the Board, and 3) ballots of this type most always require time extensions, which unfortunately the Board voted not to extend.

5.  Financials

For those interested in the details, this 30 page report is available on the SOA website (www.somersett.org)

6.  Unfinished Business

6.a.  Legal Updates

  • No update on the status to the Preston Homes (SOA defendant) or Rockery Wall (SOA plaintiff) lawsuits.
  • The SOA Attorney, Mike Schulman, provided a ruling that the SOA Consulting Engineer could not open sealed bids for review, then reseal and present to the Board for re-opening. Mr. Schulman.s letter may be accessed via the following link:    Legal Opinion RE Sealed Bid Question

7.  Acknowledgement of Action Outside of Meeting

7.a.  Rescind of Motion taken at December 17th Board Meeting

  • The Board rescinded their previous approval of  a $74K proposal from Gail Wiley Landscapes for hillside repair work at 1880 Dove Mountain Court. This based on the SOA attorney letter referenced under Agenda item 6.a. above. Project will be sent out for re-bid.

8.  New Business

8.a  American Geotechnical Proposal, Rock Wall Inspection

  • An American Geotechnical T&M proposal estimated between  $8,500 – $9,500 to inspect the rock walls located in Back Nine Trail that are currently owned by Ryder Homes, but subject to turnover to the SOA in the Spring of 2021. The SOA Consulting Engineer, Seth Padovan, has recommended that the SOA perform their own wall inspections prior to turnover, hence the proposal from American Geotechnical.
  • This item generated a discussion as to the need for our own independent analysis. That is, why we should not accept the Ryder Homes inspection report if prepared by a qualified engineering firm. Also, what would the legal ramifications be if the SOA inspection report differed from the Ryder Homes inspection report. As a result of these discussions, action on the Geotechnical proposal was tabled until the next Board Meeting, pending the acquisition of additional information and answers to Board member questions on the turnover process.

8.b.  Smoke Curtain Replacement Proposal

  • Action on the  $5,705 proposal from Smoke Guard of California to replace a defective smoke curtain and associated components at the TCTC elevator was also tabled. Need for the work was not disputed, but there was a question about an extra charge comment contained in the proposal that needed clarification.

8.c.  Formation of Audit Committee and internal audit of assessments and expenditures across associations.

  • A proposal by Board member O’Donnell to establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate whether or not the assessments being paid into the master SOA by the sub-associations are fair and equitable. After much discussion, primarily led by the Board Treasurer, Simon Baker, as to the complexity of this endeavor and whether anything meaningful could be accomplished, it was decided not to act on the establishment of a committee. Rather, they passed a motion to contact Ray Lee, who as a previous Board/Committee member, apparently looked into and reported on this issue and to communicate the results of that effort to the Board.

8.d.  Appointments to the AGC

  • Action on this item came after considerable introduction by the Board president, Mark Capalongan, in which he: 1) wanted clear up what he felt were misconceptions on the Board’s objectives in re-organizing the AGC and emphasized that there were no intentions to lower the SOA’s Architectural or Landscape Standards, but to obtain better compliance and execution, 2) referenced the many motions made at the December BOD Meeting with regard to the AGC process and that they would be addressing them on an individual basis with specific recommendations, therefore, only AGC membership would be addressed under this Agenda item, 3) obtained an opinion from the SOA Attorney, Mike Schulman, that reorganizing the AGC did not first require a modification to its Charter, that the Charter was an “operational document” not a “legal one” and that the Charter could be amended later to reflect the Boards actions and 4) suggested that the current AGC membership did not represent the correct mix, which resulted in some questionable decisions and hence the need for a change.
  • Subsequently the Board approved a motion to remove Mike McGonagle (paid Architect) and Seth Padovan (paid Civil Engineer) from the Committee and to add Rob Jordan as a homeowner representative. Existing AGC members Steve Hendricks (paid Residential Planner) and Mike McNamara (paid Landscape Contractor) and Board members Capalongan and O’Donnell were retained as Committee members.
  • SU Comment  – Obviously the hottest topic on the Agenda. Whereas SU recognizes that the Board has the right to appoint whomever they want to the AGC, we believe that the manner in which they proceeded here was somewhat disingenuous and sets a bad precedence. First, it was obvious that the Board had already decided on this action, but did not clearly identify it on the BOD Agenda or in the Board Meeting Packet.  Second, legally or not, do we want a Board that acts on their own agenda by ignoring SOA operational documents, under the premise they can be amended later?  Does this also mean that the Board can ignore the Aesthetic Guidelines in their decision making with the justification they can be amended later? Would it not be a better approach to amend the operational documents first and, when appropriate, let the community comment on them before acting, especially for those of significant impact on the Community such as the Aesthetic Guidelines.  One could perhaps defend such action if urgency was an issue, but this was not the case here.  In their haste to implement their campaign promises, the three new Board members need to be careful and not get the cart before the horse!

9.  Board Member Comments

No additional comments were made by Board members

10.  Homeowner Comments at Conclusion of Meeting

Three owners submitted written comments to be read into the record and five others voiced opinions via the Zoom video conference connection. Points made were as follows, not necessarily in order:

Any suggested changes to the AGC process, as introduced by Board member O’Donnell at the December Board meeting be posted online for residents to comment on prior to implementation.

A concern as to whether or not, after elimination of the Architect (McGonagle) and the Civil Engineer (Padovan) and appointment of Rob Jordan (homeowner), the revised AGC had the requisite qualifications to carry out its business. That with the elimination of the Architect and Engineer, did the remaining Committee members meet the requirement of at least one “qualified physical design professional” on the Committee as required by the CC&R’s.

Objections to the elimination of an Architect and Civil Engineer from the AGC. These were needed because of the major construction activities still on-going within Somersett and also the need for professionals conversant with what was going on within the City of Reno.

An objection to the removal of members from the AGC as the Agenda item only addressed Appointments to the AGC, therefore removals could not be acted on. A request that the removal issue be deferred until the next Board meeting to allow more owner input.

That the AGC be active in fending off any annexation efforts into the Sommerett community by the original developer, Somersett Development Company (Blake Smith).

An objection, by Sierra canyon residents,  to the re-opening of the Firefly Court trail access into Sierra Canyon, citing safety, damage, and privacy concerns.

A comment questioning the need for the ad-hoc “assessment” committee (Agenda item 8.c). That most of the complaints come from Sierra Canyon residents, especially after levying of the special assessment, and that the issue of SCA common area assessments has been previously addressed and put to bed.