Virginia City Highlands Property Owners Association

Minutes – Annual Meeting, Saturday July 14, 2007

Virginia City Highlands Fire Station Training Room – 10:00 a.m.


Present:  Bill Lewis,  Mary Tallent-Stewart, Mike Lupo, Rita Lumos, Debra Gravenstein


I.    Call to order, declaration of a quorum and approval of meeting agenda

President Rita Lumos called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m., declared a quorum             present.


II.  Introduction of Board and Architectural Committee Members

      Rita introduced the members of the VCHPOA Board and the Architectural

      Committee, Bob Moore, Walter Fox and Andy Beiderman.  Bill Lewis will not

      remain as a member but will be an advisor.


Rita advised that the Agenda will be reviewed and conducted out of order at this meeting.  There were items added including item D, a report from the Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association.  There were no objections to the Agenda being conducted out of the printed format.  


III.  Presentation of Invited Guests and Reports (Discussion)

A.    Storey County Commissioners

Commissioner Kershaw discussed two 3,000 acre potential developments owned by Dolan Properties.  They would like to build 2,700 homes northwest of the VC Highlands.  The research done on the ownership of Lousetown Road points to ownership by Storey County.  It has also been discovered that the forty acre association has been disbanded.  We have the right to say no to access from outside development but Maggie Lowder will due further research on this subject.  The Planning Board may vote on CordeVista next week.  The TRI Business park is definitely growing.  An association member asked if the County could take over all our roads here in the Highlands.  It was explained there would be considerable cost involved in that endeavor and as the Association has control the County would not want to step in.  Al Drake mentioned that it would be a good idea to upgrade the roads for ambulance and emergency vehicles. Jim Watson interjected that if the County took control of all roads in our area we would not be able to stop CordeVista from becoming a reality.  Commissioner Kershaw said he was in favor of SLOW growth.  Commissioner Hess also discussed controlled growth, for which he is also in favor.  On July 19, there will be a planning committee meeting at the Courthouse at 6:00 p.m. regarding CordeVista.  He stated that the County is still on the “fair share” program regarding taxes which are ad valorum.  Ad valorum tax is paid on buildings and power line miles within the County, we don’t receive much tax from power plants and nothing on coal or gas.  The Department of Taxation is monitoring the TRI impact more closely.  Population of Storey County is 4,500.  Commissioner Kershaw stated that funds for the park are available.  Rita Lumos has spoken with Mike Nevin and provided him with a copy of the plans for improvements.  Commissioner Kershaw also stated that the County is hiring an experienced planner to assess water, roads, power and growth.  Buildable acreage in Virginia City and the Highlands needs to be identified.  Approximately 30% is already built out.  Water is an important issue as is fire and defensible space.


Battalion Chief Curtis from the Storey County Fire Department addressed the group regarding Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings.  The Highlands has been upgraded from a 9 to a 3 which will save homeowners money on their policy premiums.  We need to check though to make sure that ISO is used by the carrier.  The change in the rating is good for fifteen years and is based in good part on water shuttle credits and where water storage tanks are located in relation to the fire house.  The rating however, does not apply to TRI.  An association member expressed concern about construction sites in the Highlands and the high heat and dryness experienced this year where a spark could start a fire.  Chief Curtis said there are currently no restrictions regarding construction and fire conditions.  He also stated that throwing cigarettes from vehicles is illegal and anyone seeing this should report it immediately.  Three batallion chiefs positions have been added to the fire department as well as two division chiefs and he feels that the County is well covered for fire protection.


Harry Stanley from the Firesafe Highlands spoke to the group.  There are funds left from the $40m grant.  Additional grants have been applied for and he is anticipating the same amount for next year.  As homeowners, our contribution form performing defensible space clearing is credited on a one to one basis against the grant funds.  Harry encouraged property owners to fill out the forms and turn them in for credit.  He also introduced Phyllis Blake and Cecelia Lak as committee members for the Firesafe Highlands.  Prior to June 2007 $18m was spent on fuel reductions.  The slash pile was not burned but ground up and hauled out instead at a cost of $5,000.  This is planned for each fall and spring.  Sazarac Road was chosen by Chief Gary Hames as an escape artery for the Highlands.  The shaded fuel break has been done on that road but of 55 letters sent out to property owners to participate only 22 responded and 6 of those did not want the fuels reduction.  A 30% response is not very favorable considering the benefit to the owner and the community and Harry is concerned at the lack of participation.  He and Gary Hames will colaborate on the next project and work with the fire department to see if we can get more participation and involvement by property owners.  Harry also explained that the Firesafe Highlands is an elected board and all the members have been on it for quite some time.  They meet on the second Wednesday of the month and will meet again in September.  There is a trailer at the fire house for use in hauling slash and anyone wanting to use it should contact the Fire Department.  Property owners can also contact the Fire Department to find out how to have a property fuels reduction assessment performed.


Jean Gribben, the new President of the Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association introduced herself and the other members of VRWPA, Tom Gribben and Bill Henderson.  They need volunteers as this is an all new board and all property owners are considered members.  They are currently evaluating the water situation in the vicinity including springs and water tanks.  They have watering tanks they can provide to homeowners to assist in watering of wildlife and horses.  VRWPA meets the last Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the fire house.  In case of wild animal/horse injury or other issue residents are to call the Sheriff’s dispatch.


Rita Lumos has contacted the Association attorney regarding Blake Smith’s use of “Virginia Highlands LLC” for the 1800 acres he owns in Storey County.  His website states the same name.  She has asked the attorney to write a letter advising Mr. Smith that his use of this title violates the common man understanding rule and that it cannot be used.


IV.  Financial Report (Discussion/Action)

            President Lumos presented the financial reports to the attendees.  She used

            slides to make it easier for all to see.  There is $15,645 in checking, $91,950 in

            savings.   Assets total $109,000.  Historically funds held in reserve have been

            kept in savings and operating funds have been kept in checking.  Reserve is

            actually $45,000-50,000.  With the new software, reserve and operating will be

            separated.  The Association also has $81,000 value in equipment for a total asset

            value of $209,488.  Revenue comprised $60,000 in association dues and

            $121,000 in special assessment funds.  Architectural and transfer fees are down

            due to the building slow-down.  $210,750 was the total revenue, costs for

            administrative expense were $17,135, road expense including vehicle

            maintenance was $119,948, other expense $58,171 for a total expense of

            $195,254.  $15,501 was the net income leaving a balance of $107,595 cash. 


            Rita presented the Road Plan LARRRI to the group.  Fall 2006 and spring 2007

            projects were completed at a total of $107,600.  Budgeted amount was $97,250. 

            Rita presented, again using slides, the cost for road plan work, additional work

            on Calavaras and Pinenut added $3,500.  Petitions were received last year from

            homeowners concerned that road work would not be continued past Phase 1 and

            that their roads would not be done in accordance with the plan.  A motion was

            passed by the Board at that time to continue ALL the road work until each road

            was completed.  Debra Gravenstein stated that there was a discrepancy regarding

            the petitions.  She spoke with the Ombudsman and stated she was shut down by

            the Board, of which she was a member, each time she attempted to voice her

            concerns.  It was noted that Ms. Gravenstein had missed 7 of the last 11

            meetings.  She also feels that the road plan will not be completed properly and

            timely unless a company that does this type of work comes in and handles it.

            Another association member states that the internet ballots and mailed ballots

            regarding the road plan voting was very confusing.  Rita Lumos explained the

            road plan as written to the group.  The website was not updated with the correct

            Plan until Debra Gravenstein noticed it.  Keith Judson explained the Nevada

            Revised Statutes regarding Association Board meeting attendance and the fact

            that Ms. Gravenstein was informed.


            3.38 miles of road are scheduled for work the rest of 2007 and 2008.  Calaveras,

            Dortort, Delta, Crestview and Bonanza are all schedule to receive attention.  Rita

            discussed the cost breakdown and projection for the next phase.


            The reserve study was discussed.  State of Nevada law required a qualified

            individual perform this study.  There is now a qualified person licensed to do the

            study and we need to contact them.  Association members indicated that they

            would like this information to be included on the website.


            The budget for the fiscal year ending 6/30/2008 was sent out in the newsletter

            prior to the annual meeting.  Payroll costs were noted but after reviewing costs

            to have individual contractors considered for performing the work it was decided

            that the costs involved would be much higher.  The Board voted last fall to make

            the people working for the association temporary employees with no benefits due

            to liability issues.


            Ray McPartlin questioned the expenditures for the road maintenance, the cost as

            opposed to the information discussed with Kelly Rogers at the informational

            meeting held in May at the firehouse.  Mr. McPartlin feels that the property

            owners are not getting their money’s worth from the quality of work that has

            been completed and wants to make sure that proper repairs are made and Phase

            II addressed in a different manner.  His concerns were duly noted.


            The Architectural Committee has a new chair, Walter Fox who is taking over for

            Bill Lewis although Bill will continue in an advisory only role.  Construction has

            slowed down due to the market conditions.  An association member asked a

            question regarding setbacks.  It was noted that the fire department recommends

            fuel clearance at least 30 feet from your home.  Stucco is now allowed due to

            fire resistance.  The subject of lawns was brought up as there are a few in the

            Highlands.  Of course, water is a main issue and with more building in the last

            few years wells have had to be redrilled or new ones put in.  Common sense is

            the key.


            Keith Judson has reviewed the C C & R’s and made recommendations to the

            Board.  To change these, 585 property owner votes are needed.  The most votes

            received for any issue has been 400 to date.  The focus will be on the dues

            charged by the Association which are now $50 per lot since 1972.  A

            questionnaire was mailed in December and 60% of those responding was in favor

            having dues set by the Board in line with the annual budget.  Of those ballots sent

            out in april, 285 yes votes were tallied and 108 voted no.  300 votes are needed

            for approval and the election will stay open until November 10, 2007.  There will

            be a follow-up in August.  If you have lost your ballot, contact bookkeeper, Lydia

            Hammack.  A question was raised that if the dues were set by the Board based on

            the budget, could a special assessment still be levied.  The answer is yes.  A new

            budget is presented each year so all property owners will know what their dues

            would be for the coming year.


            Road Manager Bob Moore was next on the agenda.  To recap the past year he

            began by giving the group some of his personal background as it relates to

            volunteering for the road manager position.  Last winter was not bad in

            comparison to the two prior.  Bob explained his experience and the situation with

            utilizing incorrect material in several areas on Phase 1 of the road plan project

            and his commitment to finish the projects and address the areas on the roads that

            have caused concern in the community.  A couple of test strips will be completed

            on the worst areas using a scarifier to determine if that will help our roads to hold

            up better in certain conditions.  It was noted that Kelly Rogers is not employed

            by the Association and not the new road manager.  Kelly has assisted Bob as a

            friend and because he has expertise in this area and can share several techniques

            to make the job easier and more effective.  All the equipment has been repaired

            including the water truck.  There was a suggestion to change sprayers on it but

            no commitment will be made to water roads every day in the Highlands.  It is not

            cost effective.  Shelly Hanson talked about renting a water truck, prices for

            material and trial and error.  Roads would be graded and repaired on a

            maintenance basis with a reciprocal agreement with the 10 acre association road

            crew to assist.  An association member voiced budget concerns regarding Phase

            II and reworking Phase I.  That is the goal of the Association.  Karlyn McPartlin

            asked President Lumos if the Board intended to follow the road plan as written.

            President Lumos stated that is what the Board intends to do.  Keith Judson made

            a motion to approve the annual budget with a second by Dave Thomas.  All

in favor, motion carries.  The special assessment will go out in November.


Annually in August or September our roads are closed at the Cartwright entrance

for prescriptive rights.  Volunteers are needed.  Highlands H stickers can be

obtained at the fire station.


V:        Adjourn

            There being no further business, the annual meeting was adjourned at 12:34 p.m.


Respectfully submitted:


Mary Tallent-Stewart, Secretary