The Plantations Owners and Condominium Associations
Annual Meeting – September 17, 2011
The Lewes Public Library – 1:30 PM
The Plantations Owners Board: Board Members – Nick Fiorino / Acting President, Sherry Minear / Treasurer, Sal Somma / Secretary, Bill Deist / Director.
The Plantations Condo Council: Council Members – Elizabeth Wulkan / Acting President, Sherry Minear / Treasurer, Sal Somma / Secretary, Bob Dickey / Director.
Nick Fiorino, Acting President of the Owners’ Association, called the meeting to order a 1:43 PM.
Chris Nichols, Property Manager, informed everyone that we are short of a quorum. SeaScape employees are presently canvassing The Plantations for owners who can attend the meeting. Therefore, we will hold off on the election until the end of the meeting. If we do not have a quorum at that time, another Annual Meeting will be called. It will be scheduled for Saturday, October 15, 2011.
Until a quorum is present, this will be an informational meeting. Once we have a quorum, we can go into a regular meeting, with motions, votes, etc.
Nick Fiorino & Sal Somma spoke about the bio submitted by one of the candidates, Mr. John Murray. They expressed concern over the inaccuracies expressed in the bio.
The minutes of the July 16, 2011 Board Meeting Minutes were reviewed. There were no corrections or additions.
The minutes of the September 18, 2010 Annual Meeting were reviewed. There were no corrections or additions.
Treasurer’s Report: (Sherry Minear)
Balance in M & T Savings 16,382.83
Balance in Vanguard (Reserve Fund) 7,092.99
The Budget to Actual for the Owners was reviewed. Issues with snow removal and maintenance from the snow caused overages in those budget lines. Other excesses funded these overages. Presently, we are not receiving any funds from Sandie LLC. So, we are putting a hold on non-essential expenses.
The Delinquent Accounts were reviewed. The biggest amount due is from Sandie LLC. Presently, that monthly payment is being made to the court.
Balance in M & T Savings 50,663.16
Balance in Vanguard (Reserve Fund) 12,147.01
The Budget to Actual for the Condos was reviewed. We are slightly over budget at this point, but we are entering the season with fewer expenses. We should catch-up in fall and winter.
The Delinquent Accounts were reviewed. Some issues are being referred to out attorney for collection.
New owners present at the meeting were introduced:
Ken& Nancy Brooks, Belle Grove
Paul & Linda Suldie – Orton
Nick Fiorino, Acting President of the Owners’ Association noted the following
- New bridge walkway & railing
- New lighting around the flag
- New gate arms & battery for back up
- Unfortunately, had a change in payments – due to fact that Sandie LLC stopped making payments and the court is now receiving them. The budget for the year had been based upon receipt of those payments.
Irrigation system is looking GREEN. We must thank Kent Holm
Elizabeth Wulkan, Acting President of the Condo Association noted the following:
- Presently we are involved in a court case with Sandie. It has been indicated that Sandie LLC will also file suit against the Condo Association. The Covenants indicate the parking lot is owned by the Condo, so we may also be a part of the suit.
- Note that Barry Nichols has been serving as a Consultant for this court case. He has received no compensation for this service.
- Sandie LLC has announced that they will not open the pool next year. Geri Garvey will distribute a letter from her and a group of Plantations East owners. There is a petition to Sandie to keep the pool next year. This letter is available at the end of today’s meeting.
- The Condo Association is looking pretty good. The funds are good and we are good financially.
- 2 new roofs have been installed
- there is much new siding
- many 2nd floor units have new steps
- several crawl spaces have been remediated
Chris Nichols informed the attendees that we are happy to announce a MEDIATION session has been scheduled. Sandie LLC and we have agreed upon a 3rd party mediator. This is a real opportunity for us. In the past we were offered mediation with numerous pre-conditions attached.
Chris Nichols Introduced Mr. David Hutt, the attorney representing The Plantations in the Sandie LLC lawsuit. Mr. Hutt started by explaining to everyone the actions that led to the lawsuit
In Dec 2077 Sandie LLC & Dave
After the purchase Sandie LLC negotiated three annual contracts (2008, 2009, 2010) with the Board. In each contact they agreed to pay a monthly fee for maintenance of entrance corridor.
In Dec 2010 Sandie stopped paying the monthly fee and took a position stating that under the Covenants it (Sandie LLC) does not owe The Plantations anything. Prior to that action, we had been looking to obtain a long-term contract. A meeting took place and it was thought to be productive. However, Sandie then stopped paying the monthly fee. The Board then closed the parking lot. Sandie filed suit and filed injunctive brief (to have the barriers in the parking lot removed). The court decided that Sandie had to continue paying the monthly fee ($1600), however, it was now paid to the court and being held in escrow, pending the outcome of the suit.
At this point, Discovery has occurred. There has been an exchange of documents and interrogatories. Everything submitted by this organization (over 6,000 pages) was in very good condition. Sandie also submitted information, but not as much. They were asked for additional information. Mediation was discussed, but Sandie had several pre-conditions attached to it. We were advised us to enter mediation with no pre-conditions.
A motion has now been filed to have the Condo Association joined in the lawsuit. The substance of the lawsuit has not changed, but now all the right parties are involved – as the Condo Association owns the parking lot.
The mediation session is scheduled in Oct, in Mr. Hutt’s offices; Mr. David White is the mediator. He is very good and we enter this with optimism.
Why is this suit important? It is important because it legally involves property rights, which are fixed for long periods of time. The outcome will determine issues (budgets, expenses, etc.) for many, many, many years to come.
Mr. Hutt then opened the floor for questions:
Q- If Sandie sells the property does resolution this apply?
A- YES, the rights are attached to the land, not the owner.
Q- Does the Association have a suit against Sandie?
A- YES, we claim there are funds are due to us.
Q- Are any insurance issues tied up with this?
A- YES, there are concerns. In the past, we have had agreements, contracts outlining various responsibilities.
Q- Is there a precedent for this under DE law?
A- YES, NO. Yes, there are property right laws with ingress/egress. No, there are specific differences here. At one point the Board was responsible for the Recreation area. However, the Developer then sold the area to a private party. The Restrictive Covenants were never changed to indicate this.
Q- Was there a survey of cars coming over the bridge?
A- Yes, it was done prior to the
Q- Were there rights we had with the previous owner?
A- Yes, we had rights to use storage, the garage workshop, play cards in the building, use a library in the building.
Q- Who represents the Owners Association in the mediation?
A- Everyone on the Board - Owners & Condo. If mediation is to be successful, we want everyone there to make it successful.
Q- In DE does this go to binding Arbitration?
A- No, not in the chancery court.
Q- If mediation is not successful, how long do you think it will take to reach a resolution?
A- We have not dropped the lawsuit. The legal motions and the mediation are moving forward together.
Q- Is there an appeal process?
A- Yes, it would go to the DE Supreme Court. You are fixing property rights for a long period of time, so an appeal may be expected. Elizabeth Wulkan added that we are continuing with the lawsuit, along with the mediation. So, there is no loss of time or ground.
Q- Are you payed by hour or by case?
A- Mr. Hutt responded by the hour, but it is a reduced rate.
Q- What is it?
Q- What will the expense of the lawsuit be?
A- We originally estimated it to cost about $40,000. We have spent about $20,000 at this time.
Q- In DE, do we have to pay if we lose?
A- Mr. Hutt stated that is not the law in DE. DE ascribes to the American Rule – this lawsuit is under the America Rule everyone pays his or her own way. In DE under lawsuits involving restrictive covenants, the loser does have to pay. Sandie has tired to move into that area of the law. The absolute, worst-case scenario is that Sandie wins and has ingress/egress with no fees, and we pay their attorney’s fees.
Q- if we prevail do we have that right.
At this point Nick Fiorino stated that we do have a quorum.
Q- Are we seeking fees from the past?
A- Yes, just the monthly fees owed to us. Mr. Hutt stated that they (Sandie) were originally claiming that we had damaged their business by closing the parking lot. They have dropped that claim.
Chris Nichols then repeated that we do have a quorum. So, the proxies will be distributed and we will continue with the balloting.
THE BALLOTS WERE SUBMITTED.
Sal Somma made a motion to accept the Minutes of the July 16, 2011 meeting. Sherry Minear seconded the motion. All voted in favor.
Bob Dickey made a motion to accept the Minutes of the Annual Meeting of September 18, 2010. Sherry Minear seconded the motion. All voted in favor.
Elizabeth Wulkan made a motion to accept both reports by the Treasurer. Nick Fiorino seconded the motion. All voted in favor.
Architectural Review Committee (ARC): Bill Deist, Chairman,
Bill stated there is one issue, strictly for condos. As the Association redoes the siding on the buildings, some condo owners are replacing the windows. For buildings already done, the contactor must use a diamond saw to cut around the window. It has been recommended that for the future a 1” X 4” trim will be put around the window being replaced. This should take place with all condo windows, both 1st and 2nd floor. Therefore, ALL future windows replaced in ALL condo buildings must be trimmed with a 1” x 4” border. This is to facilitate the installation of the hardie plank siding.
Bill continued – as the painters work on the condo buildings, they remove the existing shutters (2nd floor). Sometimes the shutters are in very bad condition. To replace a single shutter, with a style that matches the remaining “good” shutters is virtually impossible, as the styles and particular dimensions change. So, for one or two bad shutters, we are looking at the replacement of all the shutters on the building.
It has been the practice that when shutters are in bad condition, they (all the shutters on that particular building) are not put back on the building. It was reported that Carol Reed, Past-President of the Condo Board, had originally made that decision. This was decided several years ago and apparently, it has not made a difference.
Bill Deist made a motion –
a) When the shutters on a condo building are in bad condition, they are not to be re-installed or replaced.
b) When condo windows are replaced they are to be trimmed with a 1” x 4” wood border.
Bob Dickey seconded the motion. All Condo Council members voted in favor of it.
For uniformity, if one window’s shutter were falling apart, the shutters from the rest of the building would be taken down on that one building. This must be an ALL or NOTHING proposition, since styles of shutter are constantly changing and matching them is almost impossible.
Q- If I have one bad window, what do I do?
A- Call SeaScape, complete the form obtained on the website. Then a visit will be scheduled and an examination is made.
Q- If a shutter falls off, wouldn’t the paint under it be a different color.
A- Most of the issues with the shutters are when the buildings are painted.
Documents Committee, Paul Carey, Chairman
Paul was not present.
Finance Committee, Sherry Minear, Chairperson
Sherry Minear stated that the Finance Committee would be meeting sometime in the near future to discuss the 2012 budget.
Flag Committee – Eddie Edison, Chairman
Ed Edison stated that the flag is being repaired. He asked for volunteers for the committee. Bob Wheeler volunteered.
Additionally, one of the new lights was damaged in the recent hurricane. A replacement lens for that light has been ordered.
At this time, nothing is to be added. The committee will be convening in January and plans for the year will be made at that time.
Nominating Committee: Paul Carey, Chairman
Paul was not present.
Owners’ Forum: Susan Spencer, Chairperson,
Sue Spencer reminded everyone that the Owners’ Forum Committee meets on the 3rd Tues of each month - 1:00 PM – at her unit.
She then reported on the planned memorial for Carol Reed. She had investigated items at the Rock Pile. Engraved rocks are $300 and up. An engraved cement bench is $450/500 and up.
Elizabeth Wulkan made a motion to accept the report and proceed with the suggestion of an engraved rock. Sal Somma seconded the motion. All approved. Chris Nichols then stated that since the Board had appropriated $300 for the memorial, SeaScape Property Management would cover any expense over the $300. A SeaScape representative will accompany Sue Spencer and other owners to Rock Pile to make the decision and place the order.
It is raining now, so a decision was made to postpone the Annual Picnic to tomorrow, Sunday, 9/18 at 2:00 PM.
Security Committee – Nick Fiorino, Chairman,
Nick Fiorino summarized the recent discussion on the cameras at the entrance gate. The cameras are working correctly, but will not take a picture of the driver’s face. An additional camera would cost $400 and it not guaranteed to capture a good facial picture. So, the decision was made to not install an additional camera.
Website: Terry Prindle
Terry reported the website is working well. www.theplantations.org
He reviewed the User Name and Password for all Owners present. He also asked for suggestion and or additions for the website.
Fran informed us that two directories were distributed since the last meeting
Property Managers’ Report:
Chris Nichols reported Accomplishments for 2010-11:
- Completed extensive building / ground inspections
- A SeaScape representative occupies the Gatehouse each Tuesday and Thursday morning
- Replaced 3 bldg roofs - 14, 18, 22
- Painted 4 bldgs - 2, 14, 15, & 22, and touched up another 4
- Replaced siding on 4 bldgs (partial) – 1, 14, 15, & 25 using Hardie Plank. This product lasts longer than cedar and the paint on it also has a longer lifetime.
- Repaired / replaced stairs at 7 bldgs – 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, & 22
- Installed new lighting for the flag pole (circle)
- Major landscaping improvements – bldg 9
- Replaced over 60 plants / trees
- Repaired damaged fascia and rain gutters – bldg 13
- Made foundation repairs at bldg 6
- Corrected building structural issues at bldg 15
- Heavy pest control (ants at 12 bldgs and termites at 2 bldgs)
- Stripped and stenciled approx. 100 parking slots
- Installed drywells and addressed various drainage issues
- Made major repairs to irrigation system (Kent Holm)
- Rebuild bridge walkways and railing (composite and cedar)
- Installed new Bulleting Board at entrance (cedar)
- Replace defective battery back-up system for gate cameras
- Installed new gate arms
- Replaced, repaired and painted 300 road markers (only 226 in the community)
- Installed Ornamental Stones at the circle
- Removed 40 tons of snow, landscaping debris
All of these projects were undertaken with the goal of maximizing the dollars.
Short Term (Condo):
- Crawlspace remediation- has been ongoing for years and will be accelerated. The Finance Committee will make a decision.
- Resolve legal issues
- Sell tools & equipment (reduce storage shed rental)
- Minor landscaping improvements – bldg 5 lost trees several years ago and they have not been replaced.
Long Term (Condo):
- Make Covenant changes
- Mailbox replacements – originally we were told by the Post Office that they (the post office) would be replacing the mailboxes. They recently informed us that this would not happen.
- Make landscaping improvements
- Paint 4 buildings
- Replace 1 o 2 roofs – 2 bldg roofs need to be replaced, however we are looking to accelerate the crawlspace remediation.
- Replace siding on 2 buildings
- Continue irrigation improvements- Dr. Holm has worked all season on the irrigation. When allocated funds were exhausted, he continued doing repairs at his own expense.
- Blacktop 1 or 2 courtyard parking areas – this is a two year process, partial funding is put aside in one year and then finalized in the next year
Short Term (Owners):
- Resolve legal issues
- Improve lighting in the center island (entrance)
Long Term (Owners):
- Make Covenant changes
- Replace fountain (presently there is one less fountain. With the legal issues and expenses upon us, we have put several expenditures on hold.
- Pond issues – we are going into a Pond Maintenance Service Contract. In the long run, this will save us money.
- Draft By-Laws
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):
- Seascape Handbook (fees, “emergencies”, animal control, etc.) has been updated and is available
- Future projects
- Sewer issues – DNREC notified YMG that they were in violation of maintenance issues. As we offered assistance to YMG, they refused to share information with Plantations East & us. They (YMG) have failed to do due diligence.
- Trash pick-up
- Pool status
- Snow removal
-Red ribbons – place a ribbon on your railing or garage door when you are here in a snowstorm
-SFH driveways – our snow removal contractor will be available, however, you should make arrangements with him well in advance of any snowstorm, so you are on his priority list.
Property damage (gates, road markers, etc) – We weathered the recent storm (Irene) well. The minor damage done has been taken care of.
December mailing – Look for this in mid-December
Board Meeting – October 15, 2011 at The Lewes Public Library – 1:30 PM
Directory Updates – Will be available by Tuesday at the Gatehouse.
Owners Board – two seats:
Congratulations to Nick Fiorino and Elizabeth Wulkan.
Congratulations to Nick Fiorino, Sherry Minear and Sal Somma
Owners’ Input; (15 minutes)
Nick Fiorino, Owners’ Board President, adjourned the meeting at 4:14 PM.
Sal Somma, Secretary