The Plantations Owners’ Association
Board Meeting – March 19 2011
The Lewes Public Library
The Plantations Owners Board: Carol Reed - President, Nick Fiorino - Vice President, Sherry Minear - Treasurer, Sal Somma - Secretary, Bill Deist - Director.
Absent – C. Reed, N. Fiorino
The Plantations Condo Council: Carol Reed - President, Sal Somma – Secretary, Sherry Minear - Treasurer, Bob Dickey, Elizabeth Wulkan - Directors.
Absent – C. Reed, E. Wulkan
Also present Barry Nichols, Lawsuit Consultant, David Hutt, Community Attorney
Called to Order: 9:05 by Secretary, Sal Somma
Owners’ Forum (15 minutes): Mrs. L. Bronstein expressed displeasure with the trimming of the bushes and the status of swimming pool. She also reviewed all the courtyards and expressed the desire to see equity between them.
Chris Nichols introduced David Hutt, Esquire – the attorney representing The Plantations in the litigation with Sandie LLC. He updated the attendees on the litigation. At this time, Sandie, LLC is paying the monthly maintenance payments to the court. They have made four payments of $1650 and these funds are being held in escrow. Sandie LLC claims they should not have to pay any maintenance fees. A counterclaim was submitted on behalf of Association, stating Sandie, LLC should be required to pay a portion of the upkeep and maintenance of areas/items utilized by Sandie’s customers, staff and contractors (ie road, gates etc). The Discovery phase of litigation is now taking place. Approximately 6,000 pages of documents, requested by Sandie, have been presented by SeaScape. Those docs have been reviewed and all applicable documents have been forwarded to the court for the Sandie, LLC attorney. The next step is to decide if further deposition is required. If Sandie, LLC requires more verification, association vendors may be subject to subpoena. The Plantations has also requested numerous documents to be produced by Sandie LLC. Once a scheduling order is decided, one of two tracks will take place: 1- written motions would prevent a hearing (motion for summary judgment). 2- Chancellor William Chandler would preside over judgment. The estimation is the dispute may be settled in 2011, as originally thought.
Mr. Hutt opened the floor to field general questions from attendees from the community. (10 mins)
Q: Lori Bronstein- concerned about needing so long to resolve the case, while the association suffers as a result. She also expressed a concern about the pool not opening. She believes this is a “little case”.
A: Mr. Hutt noted that this case is actually being heard on an accelerated schedule and most litigation is more than 2 years before having a case heard. This case should be heard this year.
Q: Why did we provide 6,000 pages?
A: They (Sandie LLC) requested these through interrogatories. Barry Nichols prepared and supplied much of the paperwork at no cost to the community.
Superior Court would take a year longer. Litigation is never as quick as anyone would want.
Q: What is Sandie asking for?
A: Ingress/Egress at no fee. Barry Nichols explained that it is important for the Association not want to walk away from this litigation. He explained that it is very important to the community. Sandie asked for invoices, minutes, contracts, etc. They (Sandie LLC) did not feel they should pay in order to have access to their building. Sandie LLC wanted over $600 to use storage unit that was given to community by YMG. Again, Sandie LLC does not want to pay toward maintenance and does not want to offer any assistance in upkeep of roads/bridge. Barry asked the attendees to recall the Country Life litigation that the association ended up dropping the case and then causing more expenses in the long run.
Q: Ed Edison – Who pays legal expenses?
A: Barry Nichols replied that it is difficult to recapture legal expenses, but the Association will be seeking reimbursement in their countersuit.
Q: Sherry Minear – Why didn’t mediation resolve this?
A: Meetings were held with Sandie, LLC and attorneys. Mr. Hutt stated that he thought the meetings went well and could model “Village of 5 Points” as how to resolve. Documents that could have been recorded could have been drawn up and they would have identified each party’s rights and requirements. Sandie LLC stopped making payments and filed suit. Prior to suit, a request was made to Sandie to utilize a 3rd party mediator. They declined by making stipulations.
Q: Will monies being set aside come to association?
A: If court agrees that the $1650 per month maintenance fee is an appropriate amount, then it will go to the association, The court may decide that amount is either too little or too much.
Q: Mrs. Bernstein asked, Is there an opportunity to go back to mediation?
A: The Association let it be known that it would mediate if stipulations put in place by Sandie were removed. No response was received to this offer.
Q: Mrs. Bernstein asked if the Association could sweeten the pot as a motivation to get this resolved sooner?
A: A counter offer is not good in the long run. Considering that Sandie LLC has to pay $1650 per month, the offer would have to be quite high to make this truly attractive.
Closing by Mr. Hutt and he excused himself from the meeting.
Sal Somma made a motion to change the meeting format back to the old way where all business is conducted in one meeting, rather than having separate meetings (Owners’ Board and Condo Board). Sherry Minear seconded the motion. All present agreed. This will begin with the May 21, 2011 meeting.
Bill Deist made a motion to accept the minutes of the January 15, 2011 meeting. Sherry Minear seconded the motion. All approved.
Sherry Minear reported:
Balances in accts: Wilmington Trust Checking: 2,427.67
Wilmington Trust Savings: 16,369.11
Vanguard (Reserve Fund): 7,090.71
The Budget to Actual report was reviewed. All bills were paid except for two. Due to a cash flow challenge caused by not receiving full payments (Sandie, LLC) and legal fees.
The Delinquent report was reviewed and, where appropriate, owners are being contacted by our attorney.
Bill Deist made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report for the Owners’ Association. Sat Somma seconded the motion. All approved.
Architectural Review Committee: Committee Chair, Bill Deist, stated there is
nothing new to report.
Documents Committee: Committee Chair, Paul Carey, stated there is nothing new to report.
Finance Committee: Committee Chair, Terry Prindle, is not present. These items will be discussed in new business
Flag Committee: the committee still needs volunteers. The discounted flag purchased is not working out. It is wearing out quickly.
Landscaping Committee: Committee Chair, Carol Reed, is not present. Chris Nichols reported that the Bldg 9 courtyard would be cleared out in preparation for new plants.
Nominating Committee: Committee Chair, Paul Carey, stated there is no news at this time.
Owners’ Forum Committee: Committee Chair Sue Spencer, expressed concern about some plants being excessively trimmed and suggested that we work closer with the landscaper. (Chris Nichols reported that all feedback concerning landscaping is examined and when appropriate discussed with the landscaping company.)
Sue Spencer also stated that the Owners’ Forum meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. The information is posted on the website. Also, building 2 may not have sufficient “marked” Guest parking spaces.
Security Committee: Committee Chair, Bob Bloomquist, is not present. There is nothing new to report.
Website Committee: Committee Chair, Terry Prindle, is not present. Chris Nichols read a report prepared by Terry about the website. The report noted the addition of the owners forum information on the site.
Welcoming Committee: Committee Chair, Trip Wilkinson, reported that one new resident was provided with a directory.
Property Manager’s Report:
Chris Nichols reported:
- Security system cameras have been adjusted in terms of clarity as well as how the camera records “events”. A light may need to be installed in order to reduce nighttime glare on the windshield and side windows.
- Bridge reconstruction is progressing. It will be stained the same finish as bulletin board.
- Fountains have been installed. Resolving light bulb issues with service provider.
- A break-in was reported in a single family home. A vehicle was stolen, but has been recovered and returned to the owner. Fine jewelry taken has not been recovered.
- Covenant Issues – a single-family homeowner will be asked to remove a damaged basketball net and pole.
- Landscaping work is underway - mulching, pruning, etc. The entrance is complete.
- Insurance Renewal – The premium has been reduced. It was $31,567 and is now $29,848.
- YMG Legal Issues were discussed:
- penalty issued by DNREC
- YMG requests that members of The Plantations begin a letter writing campaign. Before this happens, we need to verify that the information presented by YMG is accurate.
- Bill Deist made a motion to reinstate the Wastewater Treatment Committee. Sherry Minear seconded this motion. All approved.
- Recycling and Yard Waste – This will only affect single-family homes at this time. Rehoboth Home Services will provide containers for each home. A letter will be sent out by SeaScape. This additional service will increase the trash expense $448. In addition, yard waste must be collected separately. Each homeowner is required to place a “Yard Waste” sticker on bags containing yard waste. The Association will be fined if there are violations. The yard waste is billed separately at $7 per bag. It will be billed directly to homeowner. Homeowners must call for yard waste pickup. Individual landscaping services may include yard waste removal in their regular service fee. This is something each homeowner will have to decide upon.
Condo owners may recycle if they desire.
- Recycling will be picked up every other Monday with normal household trash. Information to be included on quarterly newsletter.
Sherry Minear shared the cash flow concerns. This year we are over budget with snow removal, we have new legal fees (Sandie LLC litigation) and we have the loss of income (Sandie LLC’s monthly maintenance fee of $1650, now going into an escrow account). There is a shortage of approximately $50,000.
The proposal to handle this shortfall of approximately $50,000.
- Defer all 2011 Reserve Contributions until end of year
- Raise the dues by $35/per owner/per quarter
- All monies awarded by court to be deposited into Reserve Account
- Reapportion dues in 2012
- This increase ($35) was inevitable when the new Reserve Study is undertaken which will include the roads into the study.
A motion to raise the owners’ fees by $35 per quarter for the remaining 3 quarters in 2011 was made by Bill Deist. Sal Somma seconded it. All voted to approve the motion.
No additional new business.
Paul Carey signed up but deferred comment.
Adjourn: The meeting was adjourned at10:48 AM.
Sal Somma, Secretary (Recorded by Jonathan Poole, SeaScape)