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.

January 13th BOD Meeting Update

The upcoming Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (Board) meeting agenda was previously published on the  SU Post of January 4th entitled ”January 13th SOA Board Meeting”, with limited comments. This prior to issuance of the Board Meeting Packet, which is now available on the SOA Website (www.somersett.net) under the SOA/Committees & Meetings tab. The Board Meeting Agenda is again made available via the following link, followed by associated information (or lack thereof) obtained from the Board Meeting Packet:

January 13th BOD Meeting Agenda

Agenda Item 4.  Committee Reports – It appears that none of the SOA’s standing committees have anything to report at this Board meeting

Agenda Item 6.a.  Unfinished Business – Legal Updates

This agenda item listed three topics for discussion, 1) “Preston Homes”, 2) “Rockery Wall Update”, and 3) “Legal Opinion on Sealed Bids”.

Items 1) and 2) represent outstanding legal actions to which the SOA is a party to. Since the Board Meeting Packet contained no update on these items, one may assume there is nothing new to report. With regard to the Preston Homes lawsuit against the SOA, their legal complaint is accessible via the following link:  CV20-01274 Preston Complaint (081820).

Item 3) appears to be a result of a December Board Meeting item related to the opening of sealed bids for the Dove Mountain hillside repair project. During a conversation on the bids with Seth Padovan (SOA Consulting Engineer) it was revealed that when bids are received he opens them for review, reseals them and then submits to the Board for another opening and action. Board members Simon and O’Donnell questioned this process as it could be subject to malfeasance.  Mr. Padovan and the FSR General Manager, Ryan Fields, who stated he does not see them, defended the process. However, concerned Board members who were not aware of this on-going process apparently requested an opinion from the SOA legal team. The result of which is contained in the following letter from SOA attorney, Michael Schulman, in which he states this practice is not in compliance with Nevada Law, and provides the reasons therefore.

Legal Opinion RE Sealed Bid Question

One would think that FirstService Residential, who is very big in the HOA business, especially in Las Vegas, would have known that this practice was not appropriate.

Agenda item 7.a.  “Rescind motion taken at December 17, 2020 Board Meeting – Gail Wiley proposal for erosion repairs at 1880 Dove Mountain”.  Perhaps as a result of the legal opinion on opening of sealed bids, the Board wants to revisit this project, and perhaps put out for re-biding.

Agenda Item 8. New Business

Four items in this category: 1) “American Geotechnical Proposal for Rock Wall Inspection”, 2) “Smoke Curtain Replacement Proposal – 1st Floor Elevator”, 3) “Formation of Audit Committee and internal audit of assessments and expenditures across associations”, and 4) “Appointments to the AGC”.

Item 1) represents an American Geotechnical proposal estimated between  $8,500 – $9,500 to inspect the rock walls located in Back Nine Trail that are currently owned by Ryder Homes. Ryder Homes intends to turn over their common area to the SOA in the spring of 2021 and it has been recommended that these walls be inspected prior to turnover. This raises a question as to who is recommending the inspection and why should the SOA be paying for it?

Item 2) represents a $5,705 proposal from Smoke Guard of California to replace a smoke curtain and associated electrical components (anybody know what this is all about?) at TCTC.

Items 3) and 4) contained no associated information in the Board Meeting Packet, will have to see what these items consist of.

SOA/SGCC Settlement Documents

Subsequent to our previous Post “BOD Meeting – Rockery Wall Legal Update”, SU has obtained copies of the legal documents pertaining the Somersett Owners Association’s negotiated settlement of their lawsuit against the Somersett Golf and Country Club (SGCC). These documents are presented here as follows:

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AND MUTUAL RELEASE

This nine page document consists of two parts; 1) the RECITALS, which provides the history behind the lawsuit, and 2) the AGREEMENT, which documents what was agreed to between the parties along with all the terms and conditions related thereto. For the interested, following is a link to the complete document (minus the signature pages):

SOA-SGCC Settlement Agreement

Note that the Agreement contains a clause that provides for some payback to the SGCC in the event the SOA wins its lawsuit against Somersett Development Company et al. What is not clear is how this will be accomplished. That is, by reduction of the annual rent payment, requiring another amendment to the Lease Agreement, or via cash, or perhaps the SOA could pay it to them over a 44 year period.

FIRST AMENDMENT TO COMMERCIAL LEASE

Again two parts: 1) the RECITALS and 2) the AMENDMENT, a copy of which is available via the following link:

SOA-SGCC Lease Agreement Amendment

Note that the Amendment not only amends Section 1.1 of the Lease Agreement, wherein the Base Rent is increased by $5,979 annually for 44 years beginning in 2021, but it also amends Section 8.1 “General Tenant Obligations”.  Not sure what the overall purpose here is but it appears to accomplish two objectives; 1) to eliminate Warranty provisions that no longer apply due to the passage of time, and 2) to cut the SGCC some slack in allowing them to replace components with those of equivalent usefulness and functionality rather than equal value. Which circumvents the SOA’s premise that the Failed Well 5 228HP water pump had to be replaced with like kind and not with a 60HP pump as the SGCC had done.

Bottom line here is that the Hole 5 Hillside repair cost issue is now thankfully behind us and, per our Board President, relationships with the SGCC are good with no issues on the horizon. Let’s hope it stays that way!

BOD Meeting – Rockery Wall Legal Update

The January 13th Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting, under Unfinished Business, includes a “Legal Updates – Rockery Wall Update” Agenda Item.  One would assume that this pertains to the SOA’s Rockery Wall failure lawsuit against Somersett Development Company et al.  However, at the time of this Post there have been no new docket entries in the Appellate Court.  The last one being on December 14, when the SOA filed its reply brief to the defendants brief of why the District Court decision should be upheld  (For details, see SU Post of December 16th, entitled “Somersett Development Co. Rockery Wall Lawsuit Update”).  Perhaps the SOA legal team has some knowledge as to an upcoming Appellate Court ruling or when the ruling will be made, as we are all waiting with “bated breath”.

Then again, there was also the Rockery Wall repair lawsuit against the Somersett Golf and Country Club (SGCC), for which a negotiated settlement was reached (For details, see SU Post of December 10th, entitled “SOA/SGCC Lawsuit Settlement”). The Court action dismissing the lawsuit may be viewed via the following link:  201218 Order to Dismiss

Per the reported settlement, the SGCC is to pay $263,097 to the SOA through an increase of $5,980 in their annual property lease payment over the remaining 44 years of the Lease Agreement. Currently there are two “rent” elements that make up the SGCC’s required annual payments, one at $1000/year subject to escalation, and one at $1200/year with no escalation. Given that the $5,980 increase was not subject to escalation, it is fair to assume that the SGCC’s annual payments will now be $1000 escalated and $7,180 non-escalated.

Which raises the following question. Is not a written amendment to the Lease Agreement required? SU suspects so in order for it to be legally binding.  If such an amendment has been generated, when will it be published for the benefit of owners? Perhaps the Board can answer this question at the January 13th Board Meeting.

Aesthetic Guidelines Committee Membership

A controversy appears to be brewing over SOA Board member O’Donnell’s suggestions on revamping the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee (AGC) process and responsibilities, which were tabled at the December Board meeting to allow time for other Board members to digest his recommendations (See SU Post of December 21st “December 17th BOD Meeting Recap, item 7.m).  This brings us to the January 13th Board meeting, wherein the only Agenda item related to the AGC is Item 8.d. entitled “Appointments to the AGC”.  Therefore, one could properly assume, that under this Agenda item, the Board will only be taking action on who will be serving on the AGC and not any other AGC issues as, per NRS statutes, the Board cannot take action on items not identified on the meeting Agenda.

Regarding AGC membership, perhaps some background information is in order:

The AGC is the only SOA standing committee established by the CC&R’s, whose requirements must therefore be adhered to. Pertaining to membership, the CC&R’s, under Article VI, Section 1, state the following:

“The Committee shall be composed of not less than three (3) nor more than seven (7) members, to be appointed by the Board, at least one of whom shall be a qualified member of one of the allied physical design professions (i.e., civil engineer, architect, land planner, etc.). Committee members shall be subject to removal by the Board, and any vacancies from time to time existing shall be filled by appointment of the Board, except that the Committee need have no more than three (3) members. A quorum of the Committee shall consist of the lesser of a majority of committee members or three (3) persons. A decision may be rendered by a majority of committee members at a meeting at which a quorum is present. Committee members need not be Lot Owners or officers, directors or employees of the Association.”

As one can see, the CC&R’s grant the Board considerable leeway on make-up of the Committee. However, the AGC also has a Charter, approved by the Board (the latest in January 2020), that supplements the CC&R’s, under which the Committee’s purpose, responsibilities and organization are defined. The current Charter is available for viewing via the following link:

Aesthetic Guidelines Committee Charter

Note that the AGC Charter states “The Committee shall be composed of seven Board appointed members: two Board member and five qualified members of allied physical design professionals (civil engineer, architect, landscape architect) who are independent professional service providers. A quorum of the AGC shall consist of a majority of members. A decision may be rendered by a majority of members at a meeting at which a quorum is present.”

So what is the point here?  The current AGC only has five members (i.e., the two board members and three design professionals listed below), so they are currently in violation of their own Charter (but not the CC&R’s). Therefore, the Board needs to either appoint two more design professionals to the Committee or once again, revise its Charter. In this regard, SU questions the need for five design professionals on the AGC and would encourage re-instatement of unit owner membership, whose participation was eliminated by the previous Board.

AGC Members as of January 2021

Mark Capalongan – Board Representative
Bill O’Donnell – Board Representative
Mike McNamara – Landscaping, paid professional – Chair
Seth Padovan – Engineer, paid professional – Co-Chair
Mike McGonagle – Architect, paid professional

Perhaps, when published, the January 13th Board Meeting Packet, will address Agenda Item 8.d in more detail.

January 13th SOA Board Meeting

At the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) December Board of Directors (Board) Meeting, the Board voted to have two open meetings in both January and February, ostensibly because of the large number of items to be addressed. The first of which is scheduled for 5:30 PM on Wednesday, January 13th at The Club at Town Center (TCTC). Given that TCTC is still operating under some COVID-19 restrictions, Owner participation will most likely again be via  “Zoom” videoconferencing. The meeting agenda is available via the following link:

January 13th BOD Meeting Agenda

Agenda items of particular interest include the following:

  • Item 7.  Acknowledgement of Action Outside of Meeting –  This is a new Agenda category not previously seen. The only item under this heading being: 7.a.  “Rescind motion taken at December 17, 200 Board Meeting – Gail Wiley proposal for erosion repairs at 1880 Dove Mountain”. This Agenda item appears to be a result of the new Boards concern over the contractor bid submittal process and whether the Association has been in Compliance with NRS 116.31086 “Solicitation of bids for association project; bids to be opened and read aloud at meeting of executive board”. Also, item is most likely related to Agenda item 6.a “Legal Updates – Legal Opinion on sealed bids”
  • Item 6.a.  Legal Updates, Preston Homes  –  Back in August 2020, Preston Homes filed a lawsuit against the SOA over Back Nine Trail access issues seeking both access relief and damages. It had been previously reported that agreements had been reached in a settlement meeting. Perhaps this agenda item addresses the settlement, or perhaps if indeed it has not yet been settled. For those interested, a copy of the Preston Homes lawsuit against the SOA is available via the following link:        CV20-01274 Preston Complaint (081820)
  • Item 6. Unfinished Business  –  At the December Board meeting it was revealed that another meeting was scheduled with the Sierra Canyon Association (SCA) to resolve the Firefly Court Trail blockage issue. With no such item included under this Agenda item, it is fair to assume a resolution was not reached. Given that this issue has been ongoing for several months now, it is time to either drop it or issue some sort of disciplinary action against the SCA. The trees continue to grow!
  • Item 8.c  Formation of audit committee and internal audit of assessments and expenditures across associations  –  Purportedly a look at sub association assessments and expenditures to determine fairness.
  • Item 8.d.  Appointments to the AGC  –  Since Board member assignments to the various SOA Committees was announced at at December Board meeting, could this item represent a shake-up of other members on the Committee?

The Board Meeting Packet for the January 13th meeting was not yet available on the SOA website at the time of this Post. When published, if additional information is provided, an update will be provided.

More Surveys Coming?

On December 22nd, the SOA published the following newsletter on the SOA Website.

“Starting immediately in January, the SOA Board of Directors intends to obtain feedback directly from homeowners on a variety of subjects. These may include: budget/spending (to spend or not to spend/how much to spend); facilities (what to do with or about …); communications (how are we doing?); staff (do we have the right people doing the right things?); and many other topics.

An electronic/digital e-survey is the right way to do this. We are at the point where we can reach a majority of homeowners in Somersett via e-mail or text.  An e-Survey is totally free of costs; it provides instant results. (If you are unable to take an e-Survey, a hard copy will always be available at the front desk at the Club at Town Center.)

We’re going to make our e-Surveys focused and easy. About 5 questions, answerable in about 5 minutes or less.

The Communications Committee has developed a logo for our Surveys, and we want to introduce it now. When you see this logo, it indicates there’s a Survey where we need your input. We’d appreciate it if you completed the survey on your computer or phone.      

This is YOUR community; the SOA Board works FOR YOU. These e-Surveys will be your chance to give the Board your opinion about important Somersett topics. Survey results will be published to all residents.”

The proposed surveys apparently represent follow-ups to the Survey conducted back in June/July of 2020, which centered more on resident demographic and “are you satisfied” questions. Regarding the June survey, at the October BOD meeting, the Board approved Communication Committee release of the survey data to the community at large. However, unless SU missed it, we do not believe this was ever accomplished.  Whatever the case, for those interested, the June survey data may be accessed via the following link:  SOA Resident Survey June 2020.

Note that only about 500 residents participated in the June survey. Hopefully, with improved e-communications  the upcoming surveys will attract a larger audience.  It also appears that they intend to focus more on specific issues rather than generalities, which sounds like a good move. However, past surveys also had good intentions, but nothing really ever came of them (a SU opinion of course) and participation was always low (16% for the last one), so how valid were they? Will the new Board be successful in altering the course? With your participation they can, so make sure you have registered to receive the SOA’s e-communications. For any questions in this area you can contact the SOA’s Communication Coordinator, Robin Bolson, at 787-4500 x339 or email at robin.bolson@fsresidential.com.

Comment from the SOA President

Following is a comment on SU’s “A Look Back at 2020” Post from the SOA Board President Mark Capalongan. An unusual but welcome occurrence for a Board member. A little long for the “Comment” section, so we have taken the liberty of publishing it here.

“As always, SU provides some great perspective and comprehensive information into the workings of the SOA. We appreciate the energy and organization that goes into the tracking and assembling all this info.

Just a few observations from the inside. First off, I am honored to have been elected to the board on Nov. 16th and subsequently appointed as the SOA president. As you pointed out as of Nov. 16th, 2020 there was a new board majority and newly stated goals for the SOA. 46 weeks in 2020 were under the previous board and the last 6 weeks under the new board, which is an important distinction because the new board inherited a big list of ongoing challenges. Let’s look at that top down in terms of the list in this article.

1. Assessments: Much has been made about how Somersett has an aging infrastructure and will certainly be needing more attention and expense in the near future. I believe that at the same time we can be smarter and more diligent about our expenditures to ensure we spend our money wisely- only on what is truly needed to maintain our beautiful community. If we cut our waste and spend more mindfully then I believe we can also avoid or delay future increases in assessments. It’s now January 1st, the first day of our annual 2021 budget. By next November it will be interesting to see where we stand and what adjustments to assessments will be needed, up or down. I’m working for the latter.

2. Common Areas: Monitoring of our rock walls will always be with us, but lets make sure the effort we make is timely and needed and the output of those inspections is useful and acted upon.

Our landscape company (BrightView) is the largest in the nation with $2 billion in revenue and 20,000 employees. If we’re not diligent they can push us around. In addition to the contract, there are many add-on landscape proposals that traditionally have been approved as a matter of course. These days we’re getting out there with some hands-on monitoring and regular communication with our landscaper. When winter is over we’ll also be looking more closely at water use and water waste.

Many projects were approved in 2020 including the rock fall at the entrance, curb replacements, and others. Some were essential and money was well spend. I’m not convinced that was always the case and the way we identify these, the means of getting engineering advise, and our methods of bidding these projects are now each under scrutiny. I believe there is room for improvement and with that some better cost controls.

3. Litigation. There were three active cases on November 16th and by Thanksgiving we had successfully settled the lawsuit with the SGCC.

The second lawsuit is the Rockery Wall Appeal which was filed and paid for by the previous board. Since there are no additional SOA funds being expended for this, we have chosen to see where the appeal goes before deciding on further action. If the court approves the appeal then the board will weigh legal options at that time, however, our stated goal is to resolve lawsuits while keeping an eye on the costs and risk-adjusted benefit of any action.

Finally, there is an ongoing settlement offer with Preston Homes that seeks to resolve disputes regarding the gate access on Back Nine trail, and also resolve assessment disagreements from Preston Homes lots. This negotiation is still ongoing despite good faith efforts by the SOA board. I never would have guessed the pace of this settlement would be so slow, but with some exceptions the court is mostly inactive due to Covid concerns.

4. The TCTC: In 2021 adding to the convenience of reservations and scheduling will be new homeowner features built into the website which is rolling out this month and going live in February. Our facilities committee us also looking into check-in system for the club, pool, and C9 Golf Course so we can make sure our facilities are properly reserved for our homeowners.

5. Governing Documents: A heroic effort was made in 2020 by committee members to update our governing documents after 20 years. That effort culminated with revised versions of the SOA Articles of Incorporation and SOA Bylaws. The revised version were sent out for homeowner approval in November with the polling closing on December 30th, 2020. By next week we should have the results of that vote. Full transparency here: sometime things don’t go quite as planned and there were numerous problems with this effort including a delayed launch, some proof-reading problems with the documents and with the ballot instructions, and possible issues with the way the ballot was presented via email to homeowners. Redline versions were initially omitted, as well as other reported issues. It’s a complex problem- errors are understandable, even if regrettable. So at my urging the board decided not to continue subsequent voting efforts beyond the 30 day period, until we’ve had the chance to go over the document revisions, gain legal opinion, ensure they are corrected to everyone’s satisfaction, and then learn from these issues before we repeat this process. It will happen again because we are bound by certain upcoming legal requirements. But if this doesn’t pass, then let’s take a breather and get this exactly right next time! Those heroic efforts I mentioned can be archived and preserved so that nothing is wasted when its time to pick this up again. I’ll be setting some relationship building measures in motion to try to get the Declarant onboard to adjust the CC&R’s so that we can get everything done at once the next time around.

The AGC guidelines were updated in October, and as pointed out it seems needlessly confusing. The AGC committee as mandated by our CC&R’s has seemed to grow in size and complexity to the point where our application and approval process is needlessly and imprudently complex, and that committee sometimes studies issues that go well beyond aesthetics or the charter. In 2021, this board intends to investigate how we can gain the same level of compliance with a simplified and less costly procedure, one which serves all homeowners better, respects beautification efforts, and lessens the potential liability of the SOA as a result of over-reaching decisions.

6. West Park – dog park and community garden. The West Park community committee has done an amazing job at oversight of this development and working with the city of Reno. They’ve upgraded the soil and mitigated other problems with the garden plots and the completion of the dog park areas. There is still work to do as the money runs short. A big question relates to what happened with the money earmarked for this park, as it it managed by the city of Reno. There are still questions as to if there are funds remaining, or funds that were donated for this park but which haven’t yet been spent. Bill O’Donnell has agreed to engage with the city to resolve these questions. With luck this park will continue to see progress on the remaining improvements. Meanwhile, this park is a beautiful addition to Somersett with large grassy areas, expansive views, playgrounds, ample parking, two dog parks, and a large community garden area.

7. Development. Many folks were shocked to see the hillside converted to homes at the entrance 1A. This village has been a part of the PUD from the beginning some 20 years ago, so there was little that could be done to prevent this. Our present task will be to ensure that aesthetic requirements are met including structure diversity and proper landscaping, as well as minimizing the disruptions during development. One day in the not-to-distant future the development in Somersett will be complete, our gates can be closed, the developer signs will come down, the sales trailers and Mini-Mobile containers hauled off, and we can concentrate on the homeowner enjoyment of a fully complete community.

Thank you for your time and attention and please let us know if you have concerns or comments.”

-Mark Capalongan
2021 SOA President

A Look Back at 2020

Following is a “Look-Back” at some of the more significant issues addressed by the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (Board) in 2020. The COVID pandemic obviously having an impact on Board operations (perhaps hindering them from misbehaving?). Can we learn anything from 2020?  In 2021, can the new Board members accomplish their campaign pledges? Only time will tell.

SOA Board of Directors:

  • 2020 Elections for 2021   – Three Association members Mark Capalongan, Bill O’Donnell and Jacob Williams ran as a “Team” for the three open Board positions and defeated incumbents Tom Fitzgerald and Terry Retter. Incumbent Joe Strout, who was also the Treasurer of the SGCC, chose not to run for reelection.
  • Officers  –  The new Board chose the following as its officers for 2021: President – Mark Capalongan, Treasurer – Simon Baker, Secretary – Bill O’Donnell, Vice Presidents – Craig Hanson & Jacob Williams.
  • Executive Committee  –  In 2019, the Board activated an Executive Committee to negotiate with the Somersett Golf and Country Club (SGCC) on payment of the Hole 5 hillside repair costs due to rockery wall failures. Since an Executive Committee of the Board must consist of the President, Treasurer and Secretary, the existing Secretary, Terry Retter, who is also a SGCC member, had to resign his position due to conflict of interest considerations. He was replaced by Board member Craig Hanson. Negotiations failed, hence the subsequent filing of a lawsuit.
  • Board Meetings  –   Due to COVID restrictions, all open Board meetings after March 2020 were held via a Zoom videoconference. Attendance did not seem to suffer from the prior physical attendance formats.

Assessments:

  • The Board voted to maintain the 2021 assessments for the Common Area and The Club at Town Center (TCTC) at their 2020 levels of $105/month and $89/month respectively, while reducing the Private Gates & Streets assessment from $54/month to $50/month, this in consideration of excess reserve funds.

Common Area:

  • Rockery Walls  –  Monitoring of two suspect walls continued throughout 2020 with no identified issues. Contracts were awarded to continue monitoring in 2021.
  • Landscape Maintenance – BrightView’s common area maintenance contract was renewed for one year at $961K. They were also awarded annual contracts for Canyon9 Golf Course maintenance at $275K and West Park maintenance at $24K.
  • Projects $50K and above  –  Projects included: 1) Main entrance hillside stabilization at $162K, 2) Irrigation controller replacements, i.e. with “smarter” devices, at $154K, 3) Fuel abatement (fire breaks) at $74K, 4) 1880 Dove Mountain slope stabilization at $74K, 5) Private road concrete repairs (curbs and gutters)  at $56K, 6) Gypsy Hill Trail street improvements at $50K, and 6) Irrigation dripline replacements at $50K. Note that some of the preceding projects will not be completed until 2021.
  • Somersett West Park – The City of Reno construction effort was completed (playground, picnic & dog park areas now in operation) and the Park turned over to the SOA for ongoing maintenance. Work still needs to be accomplished on the Community Garden, which has many more applicants than available plots, these plots will be awarded via lottery in 2021.

The Club at Town Center:

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, closure of TCTC occurred in March when all activities were suspended. The TCTC reopened in April with use restrictions (still ongoing) in keeping with State mandates. The SOA took the closure time to improve TCTC appearance by performing intensive cleaning and maintenance activities.
  • Purchased and implemented the Alosant Amenity Pass System, which provides for self service reservations of TCTC amenities (i.e., Fitness Facilities, Pools, Tennis Courts) via a mobile phone or computer app.
  • Other approved projects –  Conversion of the Gym Stage to a Fitness Room at $51K and resurfacing of the Tennis Courts at $21K.

SOA Governing Documents:

  • CC&R’s, Articles of Incorporation & Bylaws –  An ad-hoc committee of Association members was formed to review these documents for recommended changes. Task was completed and changes submitted to the Board for approval and subsequent submission to owners for an up or down vote. The Board approved the changes to the Articles and Bylaws, but the CC&R’s were placed on hold due to Developer related complications. The Articles and Bylaws were submitted for owner vote in late November with a December 30th deadline for submittal. At the December 16th Board meeting it was announced that only about 450 ballots had been received (which we believe to be the fault of the Board for bad communications and lack of support).  With the Board also not voting to extend the deadline, it is obvious not enough ballots will be submitted for a decision one way or another and the initiative will be tabled. Results have not been made public at the time of this publication.
  • Aesthetic Guidelines  –  More changes proposed in 2020, which appears to be an on-going process and hard to keep up with!
  • A Memorandum of Understanding between the SOA and the Sierra Canyon Association pertaining to  architectural review and approvals was adopted.  A copy of the MOU is available via the following link:   Memorandum of Understanding – SOA and SCA Architectural Review and Approval for SCA Owners

Litigation:

  • Rockery Wall Lawsuit – The SOA Rockery Wall Lawsuit against Somersett Development Company et al. is still in the appeal process, with the parties spending the year submitting appeal briefs and counter briefs. The question for 2021 is what will the SOA do if their appeal is successful, as retrying the case will obviously cost the SOA several $100K’s.
  • SGCC Hillside Repair Lawsuit – The SOA initiated a lawsuit against the SGCC for the Hole 5 hillside repair costs after Executive Committee negotiations failed. This was subsequently settled out of court. See SU post of  December 10th entitled “SOA/SGCC Lawsuit Settlement” for details.
  • Preston Homes Lawsuit  –  Preston Homes filed a lawsuit against the SOA for violating vehicle access requirements to their development in the Back Nine Trail area. The SOA Board reported that the lawsuit was settled out of court, the terms of which had not yet been filed by 2020 year end.

Somersett Residential Developments:

  • The Cliffs at Somersett – This 165 unit Toll Brothers development  is well underway with many homes already sold and occupied. The numerous concerns previously expressed by Somersett Owners regarding hillside appearance and drainage subsided in 2020 with no significant drainage problems reported.
  • The Greens at Town Center – Construction of the 10 connected town house units adjacent to TCTC was completed and are up for sale in the mid $500K range.
  • Ventana Ridge – The offer to sell a small parcel of SOA Common Area to the Ventana Ridge Developer at $300K (i.e., for Pevine Road access) fell through, Therefore no owner vote required.
  • Somersett Village 1A  – Ground breaking and hillside grading started on a 62 residential unit development located south of the Town Center off of Roundabout 1.  Development will cover approximately 70 acres and is the last village to be developed under the Somersett PUD.  Already its hillside grading overlooking the Town Center is drawing negative comments. For a detailed look at this project, click on the following link:    Somersett 1A
  • Growth – The total number of Somersett Units at year end 2020 was ~3176 with ~3338 projected by year end 2021.

Homeowner Concerns:

As usual, homeowner concerns expressed at Board meetings covered a wide variety of topics, the most prevalent of which were associated with the following:

  • SGCC litigation and cost to the SOA
  • Landscape issues, both cost and performance
  • Somersett trail and dog poop & station issues
  • Aesthetic Guidelines: committee make-up, rules and regulations
  • Board responses, or lack thereof, to Owner concerns.