It is said that “the grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”
May your new year bring you all three!
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:
The Club at Town Center:
SOA Governing Documents:
Somersett Residential Developments:
As usual, homeowner concerns expressed at Board meetings covered a wide variety of topics, the most prevalent of which were associated with the following:
To all our readers on auto receipt, please ignore our previous transmittal as it was prematurely sent out in error (pushed the wrong button!).
On December 20th the following email was sent out to Association members on the SOA’s email distribution list. It is being republished here for those of you who may not be on this list.
“Dear Somersett friends and neighbors,
As you know the governing documents were updated in committee over the last year which was an exhaustive effort.
Two of these documents are ready for homeowner approval. We need your vote and time is running out
!Homeowners who elected to receive official SOA notifications electronically were sent a ballot via email on November 25th coming from Bernadette Rodas. Those who did not opt for electronic communications were sent a ballot via U.S. Mail. Did you get yours?
If you can’t locate your ballot, no worries. For your convenience, I’ve included below the redline changes to these documents as well as voting instructions.
We’re entering the final week of the voting and we’d like your vote. Why is this important? These documents are nearly 20 years old, and most of the changes provide greater clarity and better reflect our present situation such as removing outdated references regarding the developer. There are, however, a couple of substantial changes that will benefit us. The first is the allowance of electronic voting for most issues. This will make voting easier and less expensive. Other provisions require that the board of directors will be exactly five members serving two-year terms, which is how we operate today.
Thanks for your attention to this matter! Enjoy your Holidays.
– Mark Capalongan
SOA Board President
Articles of Incorporation redline:
Voting Instructions and link to a downloadable version of the ballot:
In order to vote, you must fill out the ballot. This is not a secret ballot.
Mail it to: Somersett Owners Association, 7650 Town Square Way, Reno, NV 89523
Fax it to: 775-787-4511
Drop it off: At the front desk of the Club at Town Center
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the SOA office at 775-787-4500. Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter!”
The above message was necessary due to the low number of ballots received to date and the deadline for submittal of December 30th. Why the low number of submittals? SU believes that the fault lies partially with SOA management for not aggressively marketing and pursuing it. The SOA’s previous email on the ballot issue did not highlight it, but buried it in the third article down in an email that addressed five other topics. Whatever the case, we are now in a position where there is little time left to submit ballots. At the December 17th BOD meeting, the Board voted not to extend the submittal deadline. An unfortunate circumstance given that initiatives of this type usually require extensions to obtain the required number of ballots to reach a decision. even when aggressively marketed.
SU encourages approval of the proposed Governing Document changes, A copy of the ballot is also available via the following link for those who want a quick print. Readers are encouraged to fill it out, one way or another, and drop it off at TCTC.
Following is a recap of topics discussed and/or approved at the December 17th Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting, Meeting was held via Zoom video conferencing with Association members. A copy of the complete meeting agenda is available via the following link: December 17th BOD Meeting Agenda
2. Homeowner Comments on Agenda Items
4. Committee Reports
4.b. Communication – Reported on implementation status of a new SOA website. Requested funding, not to exceed $1,000, for a postcard distribution to announce launching of the website and its expanded features (including an irrigation problem reporting process). Funding was approved. In response to a cost question, it was revealed that fees for the new website host and on going maintenance would be significantly less than the current system.
4.c. Strategic & Facilities – Requested approval for a $51K proposal to close off the gym stage and convert it into a fitness exercise room. Basis being that additional fitness space is needed and the stage is never used. Approval was granted. The Committee also advised that they will be soliciting owner comments on the amenities listed on the Capital Projects List.
4.d. West Park Garden – The Committee reported on a proposed $35 annual use fee payable to the SOA to offset operating costs. A lot of discussion followed regading costs, with the committee chairman stating they needed funds to replace bad plot soil (initially provided by the City), erect rabbit containment fencing, some drip line installations, a water controller and a storage facility. None of which was provided for by the city. A $10,000 amount was mentioned, but no contractor estimates provided. Also that ongoing costs would most likely exceed the $35 annual fee with no current plan to make up any difference. Apparently some believe that there are still monies available from the City pertaining to the Park and the Board needs to work with them to free up additional funding. The proposed Rules and Regulations, were approved with the requirement that the Plot Application Form include a liability waiver clause. SU Note: It appears that the Garden Committee does not have their hands around operating costs, where the money will coming from, and establishment of a budget. Suspect they will soon be coming to the Board for funding support, at least initially.
6. Unfinished Business
6.a. Legal Updates – No update on the Somersett Development Company et al. Rockery Wall Lawsuit was provided, even though the SOA on December 14th filed its response to the defendants brief to uphold the District Court decision. See SU Post of December 16th, entitled “Somersett Development Co. Rockery Wall Lawsuit Update” for details. Announced that the Preston Homes lawsuit against the SOA has been settled but the filing documents have not yet been finalized.
6.b. Firefly Court Open Access – No resolution yet with the SCA on removal of the Trail Blockage. SCA has requested a meeting, not yet scheduled, with the SOA to discuss options. Board member O’Donnell advised that his investigation shows Ryder homes owning the paved area on the SOA side of the blockage and the SCA the parcel on the other side, and that there may be another issue at play here other than just being part of the trail system. Possibly a fire egress requirement, he is looking into this.
7. New Business
7.a. Ryder Homes SBE Street Turnover – The Ryder Homes development is nearing completion and has requested the SOA accept turnover of some of the common areas. One being the streets. After an inspection by the SOA, Ryder Homes performed some identified repairs and the roads are now deemed in good shape. The Board approved turnover and maintenance of these roads are now the SOA responsibility.
7.b. 2020 Fall Tree Replacement Proposal – After much discussion as to the need to replace 100 additional trees at this time (for a total of 400 in the last 18 months), the Board placed BrightView’s $20K proposal on hold to allow Board members time to meet with BrightView to assess this and other issues. This over a vigorous argument as to their need by FirstService Residential’s Project Manager.
7.c. 1880 Dove Mountain Slope Repair Proposal – Apparently a common area hillside adjacent to owner property is having slope slip issues endangering the owners property. Repair work is necessary to reduce the slope angle of the hillside, which includes some hillside grading and installation of a rockery wall. Two bids were opened, one from Gale Wiley Landscape at $74K and one from Joy Engineering at $144K. The board approved the Gale Wiley proposal. During the conversation with Seth Padovan (SOA Consulting Engineer) it was revealed that when bids are received he opens them for review , reseals them and submits to the Board for another opening and action. This prompted a discussion as to whether or not this process was appropriate as it is subject to malfeasance.
7.d. Golf Equipment Fence Proposal – Approved a proposal from Tholl Bros in the amount of $12.4K to install security fencing (similar to that employed at the West Park Dog Park and Community Garden) at the Canyon9 Pump House to protect golf course equipment and materials.
7.e. Verdi Roundabout Plant Replacement Proposal – A $20K proposal from BrightView to replace/install 700 plants along the median from Sierra Canyon’s Aspen Lodge to the Verdi Roundabout. Proposal was tabled for similar reasons as to the Tree Replacement proposal.
7.f. Back Nine Speed Calming Devices Funds Request – A request from a homeowner for the SOA to provide funding for the installation of speed calming devices along Back Nine Trail. The Board had previously approved this request, but with the understanding it would be self funded by the Back Nine Trail residents. However, it now appears that the residents promoting the project were not able to raise sufficient funds from their neighbors, hence the request for the SOA to make up the difference (approximately $4,700). After some pro and con discussions, no funding was approved, but a motion was passed to revisit the issue with a new resident survey.
7.g. Dissolve Executive Committee – This pertains to the Executive Committee formed to negotiate with the SGCC on resolving the Hole 9 Rockery Wall failure costs. Since a settlement has now been achieved, the committee was dissolved.
7.h. Newsletter Contract Renewal – The Somersett Living magazine publishing contract with Just Imagine Marketing was renewed at no cost to the SOA, with a provision that the SOA could include a “Show Case House” article within the magazine.
7.i. Building Maintenance (TCTC) Cleaning Contract Renewal – The board tabled approval for the renewal of the contract with Prestige Building Maintenance. This over the recommendation of the FSR Project Manager. Basis being they wanted to see a competitive bid.
7.j. 2020 Audit Proposal – Approved maintaining Hilburn and Lein audit services at an estimated $7,275/annual fee, which is the same fee as for last year. Board member O’Donnell introduced a motion to approve $5,000 to hire an auditor to look into Sub Association assessments payable to the SOA and determine their value received. This was not acted on as it was not an agenda item, therefore not possible under NRS regulations.
7.k. Board Liaison Assignments for Committees – Board member assignments to the SOA committees, were approved. SU will not list them all here, but refers readers to the the SOA website for the updated assignments. SU also assumes that these assignments will be announced in a subsequent “Somersett Happenings” email.
7.l. 2021 Meeting Calendar – The 2021 SOA Meetings Calendar was discussed with some proposed changes. Most significant was the scheduling of an additional Board meeting in the months of Janurary and February. This to accommodate large backlog of issues. Same comment as for item 7.k. above as regards publication and notice to homeowners.
7.m. AGC Process Changes – Board member O’Donnell presented proposed changes to the AGC process, which he believes would provide a less costly and more friendly approach to owners submitting projects for approval. He addressed eight different problem areas with proposed solutions and motions to approve. Motions addressed : 1) A fast track application process for building projects under $100K and landscape projects under $50K, wherein applicants would meet directly with committee members with no required deposits, 2) A requirement to complete review and action on non-fast track applications by the next AGC meeting, 3) AGC approvals not being required for “aesthetic” type projects, as requirements in this category are adequately covered in the Association documents, 4) Elimination of unattributed to drive-by property policing, 5) Timely return of deposits to owners whose projects did not pass inspection, 6) Reduction of AGC costs by not employing a full complement of the paid professionals when projects are not in their area of expertise, 7) Elimination of dual approvals by the SOA and SCA AGC’s, and 8) Streamline the appeal process. There was limited discussion by other Board members on the pros and cons of the merits of the preceding motions, as these motions were very complex and more time was required to study them. Also, that they needed to be published in a media accessible to owners so their comments could be considered. For these reasons O’Donnell’s motions were tabled a month until this could be accomplished.
7.n. Upgrade TCTC Audio-Visual Equipment – Approved $5K to upgrade TCTC’s conference room AV equipment
7.o. Variance for Driveway Basketball Hoops – In consideration of COVID restrictions, the Board approved a temporary variance (i.e., for 6 months) on the use of basketball hoops in owner driveways, provided they are free standing.
7.p. BrightView Meeting to Discuss Benefits of New Water Controllers – An acknowledgement that Board members would be meeting with BrightView to discuss the merits of their $154K proposal to replace irrigation system controllers. Board members O’Donnell and Williams will represent the SOA.
7.q. Meeting with City of Reno to Discuss West Park – Given the perceived shortfalls in completion of the West Park, and the belief that monies are still available from the City, Board members O’Donnell and Williams were designated to meet with the City to discuss this and other Park issues.
7.r. New Rules & Procedures for Violation Enforcement – Board member Capalongan presented proposed changes in procedures pertaining to owner property violations and a motion to approve. Proposed changes addressed: 1) Elimination of random or periodic patrols to look for violations, to rely on the community to police themselves, 2) Investigation of reported violations, 3) Contacting the affected owner in a more polite and cordial manner with assistance in correcting the violation, and 4) Non reporting of violation statistics in SOA owner communication media. The intended purpose of the motions being to implement a more friendly approach to property violations. Discussions followed on the elimination of the random patrols and the need for more time by other Board members to to study the proposal. As a result, the motion was withdrawn to be included with the action of Item 7.m. above.
7.s. Canyon 9 Signage and Payment Options – This issue was prompted due to the poaching of the Canyon9 golf course by outsiders. Board member O’Donnell introduced a motion to approve $5K to provide signage depicting operating times and fees, the purchase of monitoring webcams, and credit card readers to facilitate pay for play. Motion was passed with Board member Hanson dissenting due to lack of detail.
7.t. Motion on Voting Process for Document Revisions – The Board passed a motion on a 4 to 1 vote to close the voting on the proposed changes to the SOA’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws effective December 30. Board member Hanson dissented arguing that ballots of this type most always required extensions to obtain the required number of votes to reject or pass.
Homeowner Comments Post Meeting
Homeowner comments following the conclusion of the Board meeting agenda items (agenda related or not) included the following:
In early 2019, BrightView was awarded an eighteen-month Somersett Common Area Landscape Maintenance Contract (effective March 1, 2019 thru September 1, 2020) in the amount of $1,440,868. This over Signature Landscapes at $1,376,874 and Reno Green at $1,295,903. Although the high bidder, the Board felt going with BrightView had additional benefits (as recommended by staff) and were unhappy with Reno Green’s prior performance. Note that this did not include the Canyon9 and Town Square Properties whose maintenance was still under contract with others.
So what has transpired since then that prompted this Post? Since March 1, 2019 BrightView has been awarded the following added scope work (not including some smaller work scope items implemented without Board approval).
In addition to the preceding, in December 2019, BrightView was awarded one-year contracts for the Canyon9 and Town Square landscape maintenance in the amount of $34,780, this over Signature Landscapes at $33,156. Not a significant difference and having one company to deal with makes sense. Also, in July 2020, BrightView’s original contract was renewed for one year, extending it from September 1, 2020 thru September 1, 2021. Presumably at the same rate, which would equate to $960,578, this without a competitive bid.
The extra work scope described in items 1 through 13 above totals $436,415. Not an insignificant amount and certainly enough to raise the following concerns:
Given the significant budget associated with BrightView’s responsibilities, perhaps the new Board will, as suggested by a homeowner, assign a member to directly oversee their activities.
The reader is directed to SU’s Post of November 19, 2020 “Rockery Wall Lawsuit Update” for predecessor events pertaining the the SOA’s lawsuit appeal against the Somersett Development Company et al. (Respondents). The November Post referenced and published the SOA’s Opening Brief (filed with the Appellant Court on August 13, 2020) stating why the District Court’s decision against the SOA should be overturned. It also referenced and published the Respondent’s Answering Brief (filed on October 14, 2020) stating why the District Court’s decision should be upheld. The SOA was subsequently granted an extension until December 14, 2020 to reply to the Respondents Answering Brief, which brings us to the following:
On December 14, 2020, the SOA filed a 15 page reply to the Respondents Answering Brief, a complete copy of which is available via the following link:
The SOA’s reply brief consisted of the following elements
INTRODUCTION (~2 pages)
ARGUMENT (~12 pages)
CONCLUSION (single statement as follows)
“Based upon the foregoing, Appellant SOA asks this Court to reverse the district court and remand with instructions to proceed in keeping with its opinion.”
SU has no information as to when the Appellant Court will render its decision. If it upholds the District Court decision, one would assume the process is ended. If it grants the appeal, perhaps the new Board can negotiate a settlement, as was done with the Somersett Country Club.
Following is the Agenda for the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting at The Club at Town Center (TCTC) to be held at 5:30 PM on Thursday, December 17th. Given that TCTC is still operating under some COVID-19 restrictions, Owner participation will again be via “Zoom” videoconferencing.
Background information on some of the agenda items are contained in the Board Meeting Packet available on the SOA Website (www.somersett.net) under the SOA Committees and Meetings link. Packet information, along with comments, are discussed below (agenda item noted):
4. Committee Reports
4.d. West Park Garden – Committee submitted a proposed set of Community Garden Policy and Rules for Board review and approval. A copy of which is available via the following link: SWP Community Garden Policy and Rules
6. Unfinished Business
6.a. Legal Updates – No updates contained in the Board meeting Packet. However, per previous SOA Email, it was announced that the SGCC lawsuit had been settled (see previous post of December 10th entitled “SOA/SGCC Lawsuit Settlement”).
7. New Business
7.b. 2020 Fall Tree Replacement Proposal – A proposal from BrightView to install and replace 100 trees throughout the community at a cost of $25,326. Comment – This appears to be a standard BrightView proposal for the replacement of 100 trees every spring and fall. This proposal equates to the installation of 400 trees throughout Somersett in an 18 month period. Sounds excessive, are that many trees really dying in Somersett, and if so why?
7.d. Golf Equipment Fence Proposal – Proposal from Tholl Fence to install a security fence by the golf course pump house. Comment: Has there been thefts? Why after almost 20 years is a security fence necessary?
7.e. Verdi Roundabout Plant Replacement Proposal – A proposal from BrightView in the amount of $20,157 to install new plants at the Verdi roundabout. Comment – Is this really necessary? The current landscape looks O.K., and who really pays attention to it?
7.f. Back Nine Speed Calming Devices Funds Request – Several months ago residents, complaining of speeding, requested Board approval for the installation of speed calming devices on Back Nine Trail, which were to be paid for by residents, which the Board approved. However, it now appears that the concerned residents are unable to raise the necessary funds from their neighbors and are now seeking SOA funding.
7.h. Just Imagine Marketing & Design Contract Renewal – Renewal of the Somersett Living magazine publishing contract. A no-brainer given no cost to the SOA, revenue is derived via advertisements.
7.i. Building Maintenance Cleaning Contract Renewal – No contract details or cost included in Board packet.
7.j. 2020 Audit Proposal – Renewal of the Hilburn and Lein audit services contract at an estimated fee of $7,275.
7.n. Upgraded Audio Visual Equipment to Facilitate Zoom Meetings – No details in Board packet as to required equipment or costs.
7.p. BrightView Meeting to Discuss Details and Benefits of New Water Controllers – The previous Board approved a BrightView proposal of $154,000 for the replacement of the existing irrigation system controllers with an upgraded more efficient system. Apparently the new Board wants to be convinced this is the right way to go? The Board Packet contains a lengthy report from Monarch Environmental, along with some questions and answers to justify the expenditure.
Note: SU apologizes for the late post on the Board meeting.
To quote our newly elected BOD President (Mark Capalongan) from the December 9th Somersett Happenings Email: “I’m very pleased to announce to homeowners that Somersett Owners Association (SOA) and Somersett Golf and Country Club (SGCC) have resolved the years-long dispute and lawsuit that pitted the SGCC against the SOA, and has divided the community for so long……” So what was the settlement? It can be summarized as follows:
The SOA and the SGCC agreed to share the costs for repair of the Hole 5 hillside due to the failure of the upper (on SOA Property) and lower (on SGCC leased property) rockery walls, apparently without regard to which one failed first, thereby resulting in the failure of the second. After considering costs expended by both parties (some might consider the SGCC’s as unsubstantiated), dividing them on a 50% – 50% basis, and giving credit to the SGCC for payments made to the SOA under the Tolling Agreement, SGCC’s agreed to liability to the SOA equaled $263,097 (a far cry from their previous offer of $30K over time, which prompted the lawsuit)
Given that the SGCC does not have sufficient cash reserves to pay off the liability and “you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip” a time payment plan was negotiated. Herein lies what some might quote “therein lies the rub” as it is to be paid over the remaining 44 years of the property lease agreement by increasing the annual lease payment to the SOA in the amount of $5980. What about the present value of monies to be collected in the years to come one might ask? Apparently, the Board took this into consideration and using CPI data determined that, with this payment plan, the SGCC was actually getting an $85K discount. Some might object to this. However, when you consider the cost of litigation to pursue the lawsuit against the SGCC, the $300K estimate quoted by Mr. Capalongan in the Somersett Happenings email is realistic and goes to offset the $85K.
A win-win situation? SU believes only marginally so, but an acceptable one for the SOA. Therefore, SU congratulates the new Board members for putting this behind us and living up to a campaign promise. If only now we can put the Somersett Development Company et al. lawsuit behind us berore we spend another $500,000 in legal fees on a losing appeal. Also, kudos to our new Board President for communicating directly to owners via the Somersett Happenings emails. A welcome transparency that one can only hope continues.
Once the Settlement Agreement is recorded with the Court, SU will make it available on this website in its entirety.
According to the SOA’s Somersett Happenings Email, Somersett Owners have received, or will soon receive, their ballots for voting on changes to the SOA’s Governing Documents. A little history follows:
At the beginning of 2019 an Ad Hoc Document Review Committee was established by the SOA Board to look at updating the SOA’s Governing Documents. Specifically, the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions of Somersett (i.e., the “Declaration” or” CC&R’s”), the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws, all of which require majority approval of owners to modify. It should be noted that In the event of any conflict between these documents the governing provisions of the CC&R’s , The Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws shall prevail in that order. In addition, these governing documents are all subject to Federal, State and Local law as well as the Planned Unit Development (PUD) approved by the City of Reno. A brief overview of the purpose of the SOA’s Governing Documents follows:
One might ask where do all the SOA’s Rules and Regulations documents fit in? The answer being that the SOA Board of Directors has broad discretion to adopt supplemental Rules and Regulations related to governance of the community that are not subject to owner approval and hence, easier to change. This being the case they are often subject to controversy. However, such Rules and Regulations cannot conflict with the CC&R’s, in which case the CC&R’s govern.
Note that he current Ballot initiative only addresses changes to the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws. A summary of the proposed changes along with a copy of the amended documents (as extracted from the Somersett Happenings email), may be accessed via the following link:
What about the CC&R’s one might ask, given this document is the most important to owners, was it not also reviewed by the Document Review Committee? The answer is yes, in fact the Committee spent the majority of its time reviewing and proposing changes to the CC&R’s, which included the elimination of provisions pertaining to rights and approvals of and by the original Developer (i.e., Somersett Development Company the “Declarant”), Whereas most of these Developer provisions no longer applied, unfortunately some were still subject to time provisions, that is those primarily associated with development rights. Given that the Developer is no longer involved with the governance of the SOA community, an attempt was made to negotiate with the Developer for the elimination of all related provisions, but to no avail, at least to date. Given this roadblock, the Board decided to move forward with approval of the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws changes and defer the CC&R’s to a later date, an unfortunate circumstance as amending the CC&R’s was the primary objective of the Document Review Committee.
SU is recommending approval of the proposed changes to the Articles and Bylaws, and encouraging all owners to submit their ballots, as a majority vote of all is required for passage, traditionally not an easy task to achieve.