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Town Hall Notes Part I

Discussion in 'Business Office' started by Patricia Harman, Mar 11, 2018.

  • by Patricia Harman, Mar 11, 2018 at 2:06 PM
  • Patricia Harman

    Patricia Harman General Manager

    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.

    March 10th
    Town Hall
    GM Notes

    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.

    Patricia Harman
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  • Categories: Uncategorized


Discussion in 'Business Office' started by Patricia Harman, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Patricia Harman
    Town Hall Part II

    A resident felt the POA Act was part of our restrictive covenants and should be followed, wanted to know when the Board intended to act of the Finance Committee’s recommendations from the budget process and wanted the Board to encourage more volunteerism.

    Response: The POA Act is not part of our covenants as it came into existence after our covenants were filed and the Va. Supreme Court, DPOR and our attorney indicate that we are not compelled under this Act though we do exercise a lot of its requirements as good business practices. The FY19 Budget process has been finalized and the Finance Committee was thanked for its work. Approximately 366 of their 376 line item recommendations were adopted. Volunteerism is alive and well in Aquia Harbour but there is always room for more and residents are encouraged to contact the Business Office if they would like to make a contribution of their time and talent to the community, even a small contribution makes a difference. Contact AHPOA@aquiaharbour.org

    When is the RFID going to be working properly?

    Response: It is already is working properly at the back gate. At the front gate we are using the time we have waiting for the 2nd lane to remove one variable at a time to get from 80/90% reads to 100%. Right now we are continuing with the green light drill to try to identify which decals are not working and why (reasons include position, high metal content windshields, curvature of windshields and no decal at all). Please support this effort by getting your decal on your vehicles.

    A longtime resident and former Board member explained about accounts receivable and said that those dues which are over 180 days are long term accumulative numbers and that our actual non-compliance numbers are much lower and have more to do with late payments than non-payments. He praised staff for their efforts in collections which have increased over the last year and a half. He clarified that in his estimation dredging and its cost of $100,000 a year was more about flood control than boating. He encouraged the Board and staff to share as much information as they could and offered that even if we are not compelled by the POA Act that the Board should consider following it because it is the right thing to do, adding that the HOA should be kind to its membership.

    A resident praised the Board and staff for the response during the recent storm, particularly relating to communications and tree removal.

    A member criticized the Board for their Open 30 policy and asked that the rules be clarified and fairly enforced.

    Response: The President will discuss this with the full Board.

    A resident asked about an increased physical security presence at our schools and mental health classes and intervention noting that classes are already offered regarding self-esteem, coping skills and stress but that they are not enough to address the problem.

    Response: Those conversations are happening as well as freeing up staff to provide more observation and services in the schools and it will be on the radar for the County budget process that is just starting.

    A resident recommended regular community seminars on opioid/heroin addiction, mental health issues, gangs and suicide prevention.

    Response: Great idea. We are already working to set up an emergency planning seminar featuring Dominion Energy and on this suggestion we are going to schedule quarterly training for residents and families on a variety of topics. Are you an expert who can make a contribution for these seminars? Nutrition, estate planning, diabetes, surviving the death of a spouse? Let us hear from you. AHPOA@aquiaharbour.org

    Why weren’t more HOA Board members in attendance?

    Response: The President again explained, that this was not intended to be a full Board event and that two of the members who were slated to attend had out of area unexpected funerals they had to attend. Board members attend 20 regular Board meetings and work sessions per year in addition to special meetings and the many committee meeting meetings to which they are assigned. They are volunteers and neighbors and do the best they can to be present at as many events as they can throughout their 3-year terms. The notes and follow up list will be shared with those Board members not in attendance.

    Another resident expressed gratitude about how staff responded to the historical wind storm and asked that the school board look into a problem with a bus in a turn-around area.

    Response: Emergency planning handouts were available in the back of the room and Ms. Egan will look into the bus issue.

    Thank you again to all who came out. New friends were made, we all learned a lot, had some coffee and had quite a few laughs over the historical table which had old articles and newsletters from the 90’s – great stuff!

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