St. Alban’s Square Neighborhood Association
2011 Membership & Budget Ratification Meeting
September 27, 2011

According to Association bylaws, the Association Membership Meeting must be held in the third quarter. The purpose of the meeting is to elect new members to the Council of Stewards and to present committee reports of the past year’s activities. Ratification of the next year’s budget is covered in the same meeting. Issues and questions are also discussed and actions taken or referred to the Council of Stewards (COS).

Sam Coleman, Association President, called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. A quorum of members was verified. Homeowner notification of the meeting was verified. Minutes from 2010 were approved.

This year’s ballot of candidates for Council of Stewards positions included two names submitted by a neighborhood Nominating Committee (Bob Cameron and Dana Sonnenberg) and two persons who requested that their names be submitted for consideration (Celeste Colcord and Bernie Witter). Brief biographical write-ups on each candidate were included in the September newsletter. No further nominations were received from the floor. Bob Cameron and Celeste Colcord, present at the meeting, introduced themselves and made a few comments. Candidates were being voted on to fill three vacant positions for the coming year: two three-year expired terms held by Sam Coleman and Nancy Lingle and the remaining two years of a three-year term held by Charlie Huffine. After voting was completed and ballots counted, it was announced that the three new members to the Council of Stewards for the next term will be Bob Cameron, Dana Sonnenberg, and Celeste Colcord. These terms start immediately.

At the request of the Council of Stewards following repeated questions and concerns from residents, Sgt. Scott Misenheimer of the Davidson Police Department was introduced and asked to comment on several issues of concern in New Neighborhood: control of pets, parking, and speeding.

Problems with attacks by aggressive dogs (on other pets and on residents) have become a major concern among not only pet owners, but all residents. Questions were asked about procedures and reporting of incidents involving pets and dogs in particular. [See newsletter article on page 4 regarding the specific items discussed in Sgt. Misenheimer’s presentation.]

Several questions were raised regarding parking restrictions and problems in the neighborhood. Streets and byways are both under the jurisdiction of the Davidson Police Department and posted speeds, parking restrictions, and traffic controls (i.e.: STOP signs) will be enforced. In addition, the Homeowner Association can add parking requirements and restrictions in Covenants and Canons of Conduct. These restrictions are enforceable by the Association and fines may be assessed for violations. In addition, the DPD can tow vehicles in violation of posted NO PARKING zones and in cases where traffic flow or emergency access is obstructed. There is a town ordinance prohibiting on-street “storage” of vehicles. Suspicious vehicles or vehicles parked for long periods on the street should be reported to the DPD and can be towed after 48 hours if the owner cannot be located.

On a more serious note, residents continue to express concerns regarding STOP sign violations and speeding, especially on Fairview Lane. Although police have added surveillance to these areas, residents have requested an even greater police presence to help eliminate the problem.

A summary of the committee reports is submitted below. For questions, please call the committee chairperson or Council representative.

Finance Committee

Tom Fischer, Treasurer, reported that the current budget is experiencing increased expenses for townhome maintenance. Although budget shortfalls in 2011 for maintenance and repair will be offset by under-budget costs in other areas, the 2012 budget will need increased revenue to cover these added expenses. The Council of Stewards approved the 2012 budget in the August meeting with an increase of $15.00 per month for Peer Group (townhome) operating expenses. No increase in assessments for the Common budget was proposed. Following recommendations from a Reserve Study completed in 2009, an increase of $6.00 per month was proposed for Townhome (Peer Group) Reserve Funds for each of three years beginning in 2011. Following this recommendation from the 2010 meeting, an increase of $6.00 per month for Reserve Funds will be added in 2012. This is part of an annual increase that is required to increase the percent funded in the Reserves and to begin planning for large expenditures around 2022 for roof replacement. Another Reserve Study will be completed in 2014 or 2015 to validate the current plan. Several budget questions were taken from the floor:

  • Concern was expressed about no funds being specifically earmarked for snow/ice removal. [As this is an unpredictable expense year-to-year, such funding is taken from “Contingency” funding when needed. By agreement, the landscaping contractor will respond to such needs upon request by the Association.]
  • There was concern expressed about the high percentage (40%) of total assessments earmarked for Reserve Funds. [The current Reserve Fund does not meet recommended guidelines for total percent funding for Homeowner Associations based on projected future needs. It has always been the policy of New Neighborhood to maintain Reserve Funds at levels that will prevent large one-time assessments. To this end, these funds are being increased over a period of years to meet projected large expenses in the future.]
  • Landscaping costs continue to increase and questions were raised regarding potential cost saving measures in this area. [The Landscaping & Grounds Committee continues to review these costs on a monthly basis. Mulch is a high cost item and changes in type of mulch and/or frequency of application are being investigated for the future.]

Architectural Review Committee

This committee meets monthly to consider requests to make architectural or landscape changes and to establish neighborhood standards as needed. Dave Stout, COS representative to the committee, reported that the majority of requests in 2011 were approved, although some were deferred until additional information could be obtained. Requests to alter paint color are on the increase as the result of aging homes and the needs for repainting. These requests present a special problem to the committee as the desire to maintain neighborhood appearance is an utmost concern. The committee will work with homeowners in any way possible to accommodate changes. Any architectural or landscaping change not originally part of a unit requires approval by this committee. Please allow 30 days to get submissions approved, particularly if major changes are requested.

Covenant Committee

This committee’s responsibility is to review reported or observed covenant violations with the intent of maintaining and preserving community standards. Shannon McLean-Stout, chairperson, reported that parking and trash bin violations continue to head the list of issues. Included in the advance mailing for the Membership Meeting was a committee recommendation for a change to the Canons of Conduct governing trash & recycle pick-up. This wording change now more closely reflects the Town of Davidson ordinance. There was also a proposed change to the wording of fines that can be assessed for violation of this canon. [A copy of the changes will be included in the neighborhood website.] Parking violations will continue to be a key focus of the committee and strict enforcement should be expected. Although periodic inspections are conducted, violations can be reported by any resident or owner to Shannon or a committee member.

Landscape & Grounds Committee

This committee is responsible for maintaining landscaping appearance throughout the neighborhood, including removal of dead trees, replacement of dead shrubs and bushes in townhomes, and replacement of shrubs/trees where needed. Judy McLean, chairperson, outlined the work covered by her committee. Requests for landscaping changes not involving architectural revisions must also be reviewed and approved by this committee. This committee is responsible for the Yard-of-the-Month award and the Holiday Decoration Contest. It is also responsible for the holiday decorations at both neighborhood entrances. Oversight of the two water features, maintained by Norwood Creek Water Gardens, is a committee responsibility. A major focus this year has been on development of a plan to cover Town of Davidson budget shortfalls in park maintenance funds. Through the efforts of Shirley Fischer, workable solutions have been reviewed with the town and major improvements are already underway. The project to upgrade all landscaping will continue in 2012, with Harper Lee Street proposed for 2012/2013 and O. Henry Avenue proposed in 2014. This work includes a change in the irrigation system to the drip-type around shrubs. A future issue involves maintenance of the fast growing elaeagnus shrubs in byways. These shrubs are too large and create visibility issues for many residents. Extensive pruning (i.e.: size reduction) of these shrubs is planned for the spring of 2012. Residents are reminded that tree removal in Davidson requires a town permit. Please contact Judy with any landscape issues or concerns. Do not make requests of workers while they are doing their job. This leads to inconsistencies in approach and potential added cost. Two concerns were raised from the floor:

  • A resident on Fairview complained of “sink holes” around storm water piping and outfalls in backyards. This creates a potential hazard for children playing in yards. [This is not a Homeowner Association responsibility, but it was suggested that the owner contact Charlotte-Mecklenburg utilities (storm water control) for an investigation.]
  • A resident expressed additional specific concerns regarding upkeep of Town of Davidson parks and walking trails. [One particular issue behind Forest Park has already been addressed in the last several weeks.]

Townhome & Workplace Building Maintenance Committee

Gary Simmons, chairperson since early in 2010, reviewed the committee’s responsibilities which include the exterior maintenance of townhomes and the review and processing of repair orders in a timely fashion. The focus project for 2011 has been the creation of an Operations & Maintenance plan for storm water drainage from roofs and patios. The first phase of this work is complete and work orders are underway to remediate problems that were found. Efforts continue to focus on becoming more cost effective through completion of some proactive maintenance items. Roof repairs continue to be a large expense item. Future issues will include resolution of the problem of crushed storm water outlet piping in byways due to vehicle traffic and the inspection and repair of deteriorating roof vent boots that lead to leaks. Included in the advance mailing for the Membership Meeting was a Resolution of the Council of Stewards outlining “Standard Operating Procedure for Maintenance Requests from Townhome Owners.” This document provides a much more definitive procedure for reporting and resolving maintenance issues than any previous attempt at such a process. [This document will also be included in the neighborhood website.] There are still 38 townhome owners (including Work Units) that have not completed the 2011 termite inspection. [See newsletter article on page.6.] Several questions were taken from the floor:

  • It was pointed out by one resident that most patio storm water grates are difficult or impossible to remove in order to clean leaves and other debris from the system. [The committee has discussed and is investigating replacing these grates with a more accessible design. This is likely to occur after work that will be completed in 2011.]
  • A resident on Caldwell Lane had reported the presence of water in the garage over a year ago, but resolution of the issue is still outstanding. [The committee will reinvestigate and Abbott was requested to follow-up on status.]

Newsletter & Website Committee

Dave Smith, newsletter editor, reported that costs have increased for printing by 20% and newsletter delivery in 2012 will go from nine issues to six (every other month). Steve Lee, webmaster, requested that neighbors correct data in the directory. Input and articles from residents are needed and “human interest” stories of neighbors are encouraged. Residents and owners were requested to take advantage of e-mail delivery. Sign-up sheets were distributed. E-mail delivery is only used by about 30% of residents at this time.

Property Transition Committee

The original purpose of this committee was to help new resident transition by providing information regarding covenants, the website, committees, and the maintenance fee payment process. Nancy Lingle is handling work for this committee, and the housing market has been slow throughout 2011. Emphasis continues on getting a P.O. Box number to Abbott during closing transactions.

Following committee reports, the floor was opened to new business and comments:

  • Julie Robinson, chairperson of the ad hoc Safety Committee, expressed concern that the Council of Stewards has twice tabled a request to provide a neighborhood-wide mailing with a survey to investigate interest in installation of traffic calming devices on several busy neighborhood streets. [Ms. Robinson was requested to attend the October meeting to further discuss this issue and to better understand the concerns and actions of the COS.]
  • Concern was expressed regarding the use of closed sessions (Executive Sessions) at COS meetings and the legal basis for such meetings. [Vera Victorino, Association Manager with Abbott, researched this concern and found the following information to apply. The resident was most likely referencing the NC Open Meeting Law – NC Gen. Stat. 143-318.10 – applicable to public meetings. The HOA is not a public entity, but rather a private non-profit organization. The NC Non-profit Corporation Act (Chapter 55A) and the NC Planned Community Act (Chapter 47F) are applicable to the HOA. Vera has gone on record stating that the Association has always followed North Carolina and federal laws governing Homeowner Associations and is in full compliance with these laws. The issue will be discussed further at the October meeting.]

Drawings for the $100 and $50 cash prizes were held. John & Sarah Isaacs (South Faulkner Way) won the $50 prize and Mike & Nancy Kota (Caldwell Lane) received $100.

Appreciation for the hard work and service of Sam Coleman and Nancy Lingle, outgoing COS members, was expressed from all attendees.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 P.M.

Following the Membership Meeting, a special session of the Council of Stewards was held to select officers for 2011-2012:

Dave Stout, President
Bob Cameron, Vice-President
Jill Stierli, Secretary
Tom Fischer, Treasurer

Representatives for the neighborhood committees will be announced in the November newsletter.


NOTE: The Council of Stewards meets regularly on the fourth Wednesday of every other month in St. Alban’s Church classroom (lower level) at 7:00 p.m. Special meetings are called as needed. Meetings are open to residents.The next regular COS meeting has been rescheduled for November 2, 2011.

If an owner or resident wishes to address the COS at a regular meeting, please call a COS member about 5 days in advance of the meeting and the issue will be added to the “Homeowner Concerns” part of the agenda near the beginning of the meeting.


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