Thank you to all of the almost 50 residents who came out to the Town Hall to discuss all things Aquia Harbour. It was a great discussion and I think we all learned some things. It was especially nice to meet the new residents in attendance. A special thanks to our guests; Jack Cavalier and Cindy Shelton from the Stafford Board of Supervisors and Irene Egan from the Stafford School Board.
It was a long and fast moving meeting with a lot of topics covered. I tried to capture what I could in between responding to questions. I think I got most of it. J The responses here are to ALL members, not just those in attendance so some of the responses have been expanded to include additional information.
Opening Statements: President Harvey explained why she wanted to set up Town Hall’s periodically in order to establish a dialog with residents. Though this meeting was not set up to be a full Board meeting several Board members had critical personal emergencies come up. She stressed the importance of improving our infrastructure and technology. Director Holder talked about a community parks cleanup he will be organizing in the Spring. Ms. Egan spoke about school safety and shared that Ms. Decatur extended her apologies for being unable to attend. Supervisor Cavalier spoke of his 30 residency in the Harbour and his commitment to this community and Supervisor Shelton explained that she is new to her roll but anxious to answer any questions she is able.
A 31 year resident spoke about the 2nd incoming lane which he felt was unnecessary and wanted those funds used elsewhere, felt the Town Center was an eyesore that the recent dues increase will lead to future dues increases, that there should be an incentive when full dues are paid upfront, concern about the surcharge and dredging.
Response: We are obligated by agreement with the County to spend the money we got from the sale of the fire department lot on the 2nd lane, Mosaic has recently started cleaning up areas of the ATC and more is expected. They are also working on a “screening plan” with the GM to erect a fence and greenery between the ATC and Washington Dr. regardless of the status of ATC construction. It was also stressed that Mosaic only benefits from tax incentives if they are successful in development and that the ATC is private property so the County has no authority to tell them how to develop it or what to build there. The County has the power to do two things – set zoning and approve tax incentives to encourage development. The surcharge applied to those who do not pay their dues in full will be re-evaluated once we see how many residents participant in online account management. Regarding dredging, filter socks are being researched to slow silt deposits and the GM is working with VMRC and has notified the County of our intent to request a monetary annual partnership regarding dredging.
A new resident expressed confusion about the purpose of the front gate.
Response: Understandable, especially right now when we are in RFID limbo. AH has 5 “public access” amenities to offset the cost to members – and always has. The Marina, CC Restaurant, Pre-School, Golf Course and Stables. As such, this is not a “locked down” community though it has a much higher security profile than the rest of Stafford County. Nothing has changed in this regard. The Gate is and always has been more of a psychological barrier than a physical one. You ARE safer in Aquia Harbour than you are outside of it. Much safer. One public way in and out and the GATE do deter criminal activity and those who do not have a legitimate reason to be here. You have a full time guards to answer your calls 24/7 and gate cameras recording every incoming vehicle and tag. If someone shows up at your door unwanted or unannounced, you have a full time police department to show them the way out. We will get back to protocol once we get the 2nd lane in because that’s what residents want but until then, we have more security measures in place than we have ever had. It’s okay to feel safe her because you are safe here. We need residents to get their decals on their vehicle (about 1/3 have not) in order to calibrate this system. The RFID system at the back gate is working great. The back gate is open 24/7. (GPS inside the Harbour 3242 Titanic Dr., outside 800 Decatur Rd.)
A resident expressed concern over the new Northstar Club Software, to include online account management, security, website and personal information and whether or not it had been independently evaluated, wanted to know where she could get financial information, concerned about the curb appeal of the community and if people were being flagged and assessed, lost property values, wanted to know if the Board was contemplating getting rid of the golf course.
Response: The Northstar system and its security have been evaluated by an independent IT consultant and is run through our own proprietary server. On the recommendation of this resident we will host training seminars for those who need help getting set up when we come online next month. Monthly financial balance sheets are available through the business office upon request and will be posted on the new website. There is a CVO checklist that guides our CVO who usually begins his encounters with a friendly email and if the problem is not corrected it becomes a more formal process and the case gets forwarded to the Legal Compliance Committee for action including assessments and followed by liens and garnishments. Residents were reminded we are an almost 50 year old community, that property rights are highly regarded and protected and that the diversity of our lots is what makes Aquia Harbour both unique and charming. The cost of our golf course has been a source of concern and conversation for many years but is very much a part of our community and tied to our property values. The GM and Board are obligated to listen to resident concerns about its costs but has no plans at this time to initiate closing this amenity which could not happen without a vote from the membership to change our bylaws and a vote from the County to vacate our plat. As for property values, you can see from your recent County assessment that property values have increased up to 20% and our local real estate agents are reporting that bidding wars are resurfacing for AH homes.
A resident expressed tremendous confidence in the impact of the Gate on security with an example of when the very presence of the Gate impacted a vehicle that tried to follow her into the Harbour.
A resident of 20 years expressed her love for the Harbour, felt that the recent dues increase was fair and said she is impressed by all that is accomplished with the dues that are paid. She would like to see the diamond lanes alongside the road expanded when we pave and would like to see more paths. She is also concerned about the $1200 renter fee as it seems a hardship for military owners.
Response: The diamond lanes are not ideal because they “invite” people use our roads to walk and bike which is not deemed safe given that there is no barrier between the pedestrians and the vehicles on our windy and low lit roads. Rather, the Board is trying to expand walking trails and plan to connect Government Island to the golf course cart path by trails to encourage residents NOT to walk/bike on roadways. The renter fee is a one-time fee per renter and cannot be applied more than once every 12 months.
Welcome to the Aquia Harbour Property Owner's Association website. After you register, you may want to spend a bit of time reviewing the "tutorials" forum.
Oct. 20 - Annual meeting and election of Board members. 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Country Club.
Oct. 24 - Regular board meeting at 7 p.m. at the Country Club
Oct. 28 - Trunk or Treat at Lions Park from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Oct. 31 - Community trick or treating from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.