Traditions of America at Sewickley Ridge Homeowners Advocacy Website

DISCLAIMER

THIS WEBSITE IS IN NO WAY AFFILIATED WITH TRADITIONS OF AMERICA AT SEWICKLEY RIDGE HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION, TRADITIONS OF AMERICA AT SUMMER SEAT OR TRADITIONS OF AMERICA, L.P. AND/OR ITS AFFILIATE OR SUBSIDIARIES AND IS MERELY INFORMATIVE AND THE OPINIONS OF THE AUTHORS OF THIS WEBSITE.  

(Complete disclaimer is located at the bottom of this page.)

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Rules & Regulations

Common Sense and Compassion

Both are at play when a community recognizes that not every policy works for every resident in every situation. Leave room for personal judgment when appropriate; allow for leniency when warranted.


The Board underestimates the intelligence and common sense of homeowners by assuming they can’t figure out for themselves what is reasonable or unreasonable.

The Community Documents Committee reviews and “refreshes” the Rules & Regulations each November. *

Hopefully, homeowners will have an opportunity to review the latest November 2019 “refresh” version

*Source: Community Documents Committee Meeting Minutes, September 27, 2019

Wouldn't it be great if residents could see the "revised" rules and regulations before they are finalized and become the "laws" of the community?


Through outreach and discussion with homeowners, rules should be added, eliminated or modified to better accommodate residents.


 Let’s make sure that rules balance the protection of property values with our residents’ freedom to enjoy and secure their homes.

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Inspections & Preventive Maintenance? 3 Years of Neglect

STRATEGIZE ALL YOU WANT, YOU WILL NEVER SEE ANY RESULTS UNLESS YOU ACTUALLY START DOING THINGS.


(March 2019) Board Response to Residents' Requests for Inspection and Maintenance Records and Reports:

"The Board has appointment (sic) an Asset Management Project Team (AMPT) who currently is working to develop a strategy and process for inspection of the areas of individual units for which the HOA has maintenance responsibilities.  Once this strategy and process is finalized and approved by the Board, an implementation plan which will include the time frame, the companies and/or individuals performing the services and the costs of the inspection services will be shared with all residents." 


"ASSET MANAGEMENT PROJECT TEAM" -- NINE (9) MONTHS AND STILL STUCK IN "ANALYSIS PARALYSIS."

The "Project Team" was appointed 3/26/2019.  August 20, 2019 and the "Team" posts three new documents on the HOA website. We have lots of documentation and impressive busy work -- but still no actual inspections or preventive maintenance performed. 


Spreadsheets are nice.  How about actually doing something? 


Wouldn't time and effort have been better spent on actual constructive, tangible activities and improvements?  Like maybe, having roofs and siding inspected?  Or start performing proactive, preventive, and restorative maintenance?


The HOA Board can (and should) be held accountable by HOA members for failure to conduct preventive maintenance or repairs.  Planning to act in a reactionary way, instead of a proactive way, is risky and irresponsible


(August 25, 2019)  Here's a suggestion for the "Asset Management Project Team":

  

Establish a Preventive Maintenance Schedule 

Once you’ve determined which items are reserve components, it’s time to establish a preventive maintenance schedule. Associations should always establish a preventive maintenance schedule. 


If associations do not maintain the components on the reserve schedule, they will not attain their full useful life. Consequently, the components will need to be replaced earlier and the replacement cost will need to be collected over a shorter period of time. This could result in possible special assessments.




Learn More:

The Board is unable to provide any reports and documentation on proper inspections and proactive, preventive maintenance of our units' roofs and siding performed in the last three years.  Which leads us to believe such activity was never initiated or completed.


The Board is required by Article 3.3 in the Declaration to conduct timely inspections and preventive maintenance for each unit's roof and siding.  There may be a fiduciary breach of the "duty of care" if there is neglect in the enforcement of governing documents and/or neglecting to maintain the HOA property.


Thousands of dollars have already been spent repairing roofs and siding.  These roofing problems could have been addressed and evaluated as Construction Defect-Related Transition Issues. A professional transition inspection would have assessed whether any construction defects existed through poor workmanship or defective materials. 

  

Based on the above facts there could be a breach of fiduciary duty due to the failure of the association to sue the developer, declarant or general contractor for construction defects where the unit roofs and siding were improperly constructed.

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Neglect of another common element

The longer the delay, the more it will cost...

DECEMBER 2019:  Retention pond still not repaired. 


April, 2019:  Retention pond stops functioning.


June 2019:  Vendor contract indicates a "documented  8' X 8' sinkhole."*

HOA paid $4,850.  


September 13, 2019:  Grounds & Safety Committee meeting minutes--  

"The crack in the small pond ended up being 20 feet long ... it appears that the crack may be extended beyond what was capped, so the pond is still leaking water."


November 9, 2019:  When asked about the retention pond at the Budget meeting the Board announced it will be waiting until, at least, January 2020 to "look at the problem with the new management company."***


Really?  The retention pond hasn't  been functioning for NINE MONTHS!  It is an important component of our storm water management system and the HOA's responsibility.


If this problem cannot be resolved, the cost to completely rebuild the pond could cost $30,000 - $50,000.**


*Source:  Vendor contract, June, 2019:  "Excavation of 8' X 8' documented sinkhole."

**Source:  October 10, 2019 Board Meeting, Treasurer's Report

***November 9, 2018 Budget Meeting

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Denying the truth doesn't change the facts.

Another cowardly act...

The Board can't attack the messages so they attack the messenger:  


At the October 10, 2019 Board meeting, the President waited until the very end of the meeting to present a statement from the Board maligning this website, its administrator and content.


He read the statement and then immediately adjourned the meeting -- scurrying away and not allowing for any response.  A strong indication they are frightened (bullies always are) and unable to defend their statement or prove their allegations. 

False accusations and unjustified implications were made. This is what people who lack valid arguments resort to.


 **UPDATE:  We requested a copy of the statement to share with all homeowners.  The Board's reply: "The Board Statement delivered by [the president] at the end of the meeting was for residents in attendance at the meeting.  We are not required to nor plan on releasing the statement."

      

So much for the transparency we have been promised.  It appears the Board cannot stand behind their statement.


Homeowners deserve the truth, not the self-serving, whiny nonsense the Board presented.


If you wish to see the actual statement, with the Advocacy response, click on the button below to request a copy. 

[Note:  Copies will only be provided to homeowners with an email address registered to the Sewickley Ridge HOA.]

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Why are some common element areas neglected?

Homeowner concern: Brush Hogging and Clearing of Hillsides

Questions and comments from the recent Budget meeting (November 9, 2019):

 

"When it (brush hogging) will be done?" 


"The overgrowth is taller than me."

 

"Can we have an explanation indicating  what amount of area that will be brush hogged/cleared?"


"The hillsides within the community “don’t look so good.” 


"Will information be shared with residents listing what areas will receive the brush hogging/clearing service?"


"There should be an explanation from the Board as to why only some areas will be designated for service and others will not."


The Board responded to all comments saying the landscaping contract was being negotiated but there would be brush hogging (for some areas) performed next summer (2020). The treasurer indicated certain areas have been “delineated” but he did not share where or why.

Questions: Brush Hogging, Hillside Clearing, and Maintenance of Common Elements

  If you have an area that needs landscaping attention or would like more information about how the Board chooses to administer landscaping and ground maintenance, please click on the button below to share or request information. We will keep you informed.


IMPORTANT: (November 2019)  The Board will be finalizing the 2020 Landscaping Contract very soon .  Make sure you're landscaping concerns are not overlooked or ignored.  

$51,000+ cost to the HOA in legal fees*

SUMMARY OF MAJOR ISSUE:**


The HOA brings legal action against residents because their patio exceeded size requirements set forth in ARC Committee Rules.

  • The Rules were not published until eighteen (18) months after the patio construction was completed.
     

At the time the patio was built (2014) there was no Architectural Review Committee. 

  • TOA allowed work to proceed without a variance.
  • Yet, in 2017, the new, resident-controlled HOA Board initiates a legal dispute against the residents with a two-year old patio for not obtaining a variance in 2014 from a committee that did not exist yet.


BACKGROUND:**


January 2016:  the Board (still TOA-controlled) initiated the formation of an Architectural Review Committee (ARC).

  • Minutes from the Board meeting in January 2016 document that there was a review of violations as part of an Architectural Review Update: the review revealed that there were no current outstanding violations.
  •  TWO YEARS after the patio was constructed: the residents from a neighboring unit file a formal complaint regarding the size of the patio. [These are the same residents for whom TOA built a retaining wall beneath the patio in 2014.]


At least 11 other patios in the community exceed the 16-foot limitation.*** 

  • Some have variances; some do not. 
  • Construction began on some additions without a variance only to be approved later.
  • Some residents received approval from the Board to construct patios that exceed the limitations documented in the Rules & Regulations.

Other residents whose additions were part of their contracts with TOA did not need ARC/Board approval and were permitted to install larger patios and other improvements that were not in compliance with the community’s governing documents.


*Source:      Monthly Financial Statements

                      Board Meeting, October 10, 2019

**Source:     Arbitration Documents

***Source:   ARC Meeting Minutes, 2017-2019

                      ARC Variances/Requests for Modification, 2017-2019


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Advocacy Opinion (OpEd)

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Was it really worth it?

2017: The Board claimed it was carrying out a fiduciary duty to the Association by engaging in a legal dispute with fellow homeowners based on information provided by TOA. 

  • Or were they being played and unduly influenced by, what appears to be, one jealous neighbor and the questionable decision-making of the Internal Dispute Resolution Committee (IDRC)?


Why did the Board spend over $51,000 of our HOA money in a legal dispute against one resident?

  • Did the patio present a health or safety hazard to any homeowners? NO.
  • Did the patio adversely affect property values? NO.
  • Were there multiple complaints? NO.
  •  Did this legal dispute maintain and enhance resident quality of life and sense of community? NO.


The fiduciary duty the Board claimed to be carrying out should pertain to the protection of all homeowners. Enforcement should be applied equally and fairly throughout our community. 

  • Why single out one resident? 
  • Especially, a homeowner with the misfortune of having an unreasonable and toxic neighbor. The complaining neighbor, coincidentally, has a friend on the IDRC.
  • This friend, by not following recusal guidelines, and still  participating in the IDRC hearing, was in violation of item “J.6. Internal Resolution Dispute Committee” in the Rules and Regulations community document.  Yet the Board ignored this rule violation.
  • The enforcement of rules must be uniformly applied by the HOA Board. Selective enforcement of the governing documents; now that is an actual violation of fiduciary duty.


Fellow homeowners, decide for yourselves: 


Was the cost to our HOA worth it?


How did the Board’s decision to pursue biased and expensive legal action against a fellow resident benefit and protect the homeowners of Sewickley Ridge?


How did this legal dispute serve the best interest of the Association?   Was it really necessary? 


Or did arrogance, ego, and resentment overpower common sense and good judgment?


The Arbitration documents are available for review on the HOA Website at https://www.sewickleyridgehoa.com.

  

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of TOA or the Sewickley Ridge HOA.  I do not intend to be offensive towards anyone who reads this opinion, if anything written can be perceived as hurtful to any community or person, I apologize, that was not the purpose of my writing it.

HOA Board - Breach of Fiduciary Duty

THE BOARD IS IN VIOLATION OF FOUR (4) REQUIREMENTS IN THE DECLARATION.** While the Board is busy pursuing minor violations of the Rules & Regulation against homeowners, the Board fails to adhere to the requirements of our most important and binding governing document, the Declaration.

Fiduciary Duty to Act

This requires the Board to perform the duties it is obligated to carry out.

HOA Board members must obey applicable laws and their Governing Documents.

A breach of fiduciary duty involves a willful violation of the duty imposed by law. 


No inspections, no proactive or restorative maintenance performed, no inspection reports and no insurance notices sent to homeowners.

Why are homeowners fined for not "following the rules?"  When the list of Board violations keeps getting longer...

**Declaration: ARTICLE 3.3 MAINTENANCE RESPONSIBILITIES

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(a) Except as expressly otherwise provided herein, the Association shall be responsible for Maintenance of the Common Elements and the costs of such Maintenance shall be borne by all Unit Owners.   

(c) The roofs and exterior walls of Homes shall be Maintained by the Association.

(e) the Association shall, through a qualified independent contractor, inspect all Common Elements and Limited Common Elements on a regular basis as reasonably necessary, for the purpose of determining the condition of the Common Elements and Limited Common Elements and need for Maintenance work. 

 Reasonably detailed written reports of such inspections shall be prepared by the independent contractor and submitted to the Association, and copies shall be made available to all Unit Owners. 

**Declaration: ARTICLE 15 INSURANCE 15.1 General Provisions.

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 The Board shall promptly furnish to each Unit Owner written notice of the procurement of, subsequent changes in, or termination of, insurance coverages obtained on behalf of the Association, in compliance with the Act.

If you have to follow the rules, the HOA board does, too.

The Board is ignoring requirements of the Declaration.

TO:  Sewickley Ridge HOA Executive Board of Directors

July 29, 2019


As part of the purchase agreement for all units within the Sewickley Ridge community, purchasers are provided with information relative to the governing Community Documents and agree to abide by the provisions of these documents. The Executive Board of Directors are homeowners elected by homeowners to represent the Association.  Transfer from Declarant control to the homeowner-controlled HOA Board occurred January 2017.


Article III Units; Boundaries; Homes; Certain Maintenance Responsibilities of the Declaration requires that the Association, after transfer of Declarant control to the Association shall, through a qualified independent contractor, inspect all Common Elements and Limited Common Elements on a regular basis as reasonably necessary, for the purpose of determining the condition of the Common Elements and Limited Common Elements and need for Maintenance work. Reasonably detailed written reports of such inspections shall be prepared by the independent contractor and submitted to the Association, and copies shall be made available to all Unit Owners.


The Board has failed to follow the required procedures. Furthermore, the Board has acknowledged their awareness of the Article III contents. Yet the inspection, maintenance and reporting requirements continue to be ignored. The Board’s ongoing lack of compliance results in the neglect of both Common Elements and Limited Common Elements. 


The Board has ignored its responsibilities under Article III for 2.5 years. As a consequence of their failure to adhere to the requirements of the governing Community Documents, the Board should be assessed a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00). Said fine is payable to the Sewickley Ridge HOA. 


Failure to comply with Article III may result in the imposition of additional fines and legal action under the processes outlined in the Community Documents.  


Sincerely,

Concerned Homeowners

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We stay informed and current on HOA issues and law.

"Know the Law"

A Homeowners Association Informational Seminar, sponsored by Valerie Gaydos 


We attended this informative seminar on October 3, 2019.  There was great information shared and interesting questions asked.  We will be incorporating our new knowledge of HOA law topics into our website content.


Nearly one quarter of Pennsylvania residents live in self-governing communities formed under Title 68. Last year, House Bill 595 became law (Act  17 of 2018), allowing for complaints of certain violations of portions of Title 68 including meetings, quorums, voting/proxies and other association records.

The panel included Senior Deputy Attorney General Amy Schulman and Agent Supervisor Kathryn Passarelli from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office; former State Representative and experienced attorney of real estate transactions Thomas Stevenson; attorney Bradley Dornish.

The panel updated residents on the new law and answered questions on Act 17, Title 68, and other topics.

More ideas for the board (posted 4/25/2019)

1. Regular Property Inspections, Preventive Maintenance, and Timely Reports

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Create and implement a much-needed and overdue comprehensive, proactive and preventive inspection and maintenance plan to protect our homes, property values, and community property infrastructure.


 The board must have a plan to honor their responsibilities to the homeowners and follow a schedule for performing various repair and maintenance tasks in an orderly and comprehensive manner.

2. Better Oversight of Our Finances

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Establish a “Checks & Balances” approach to improve oversight of the HOA’s finances:


Please start to closely examine the monthly financial statements provided by the management company to ensure accuracy of numbers, proper accounting and prudent funds management.


Produce accurate, detailed and complete monthly financial statements for homeowner review. Statements should be promptly posted on the HOA website by the 15th of the month.


Please conduct monthly reviews of expenses, accounting ledgers and bank statements and perform bank reconciliations independent of what the management company reports.


3. Open Board Meetings and Accurate Meeting Minutes

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Conduct all regular board meetings as open meetings.


Ensure that meeting minutes are accurate, complete and distributed in a timely fashion.

4. Give Homeowners a Voice and Provide Equal Treatment for All Homeowners.

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Invite, acknowledge and thoughtfully consider homeowner suggestions and
comments in the development of the community’s “Rules & Regulations.”


Provide opportunities for residents to interact with the board through informal homeowner forums.


 Discontinue selective enforcement of the Rules & Regulations and other community documents 

5. More Effective Contract Negotiation and Vendor Compliance

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Improve contract negotiations and perform detailed review and analysis of contracts BEFORE they are signed.

  

Monitor and supervise the performance of the management company and require their contract compliance.


Monitor the performance of all vendors to ensure contract compliance. We want to make sure we are getting what we’re paying for.



6. Better Organization and Management of the HOA's Documents

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Establish a secure electronic document management system.  Improve physical security of paper documents.


Organize. consolidate, and manage HOA documents to increase security and improve accessibility for homeowners. 

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The Board denies responsibility for cleaning your siding.*

Monday, August 12, 2019:  ANOTHER  EXTERIOR MAINTENANCE ITEM ELIMINATED.  

Here is an email message response (8/12/2019) from the management company to a homeowner inquiry:

"I checked on your siding issue and am following up. The board has determined that artillery fungus spores will not be covered by the HOA. The HOA will cover removal of mold from siding, not fungus spores. There is no proven way to rid siding of mold spores." *


HOW DOES THIS DECISION PROTECT PROPERTY VALUES AND SERVE THE BEST INTEREST OF HOMEOWNERS?

The Board claims they will not clean "fungus" only "mold."

How clever and convenient for the Board. They get points for creative use of semantics to avoid addressing an important homeowner concern.  By the way, the "fungus" problem is created by inferior and infested mulch applied by the landscaping companies (service contractors) hired by the Board. 


Can anyone say "accountability?"

HOA Board to homeowners: "Clean your own gutters."

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THE BOARD HAS ARBITRARILY DECIDED THAT GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS ARE NOT A PART OF YOUR ROOF.*

*  January 12, 2019 Board Meeting

THE BOARD ALSO SAYS THE REMOVAL OF ICE (AND ICE DAMS) FROM UNIT GUTTERS WILL BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE HOMEOWNER.


Homeowners are losing another "amenity" (exterior maintenance) they were promised when purchasing their homes.**

**Maintenance Matrix


However, some "lucky" homeowners received special consideration: There are ten months of Board-approved Property Reports that have recorded inspection, maintenance, and repair of gutters for "select" homeowners (at no charge).  Why not provide the same maintenance and service to all homeowners


$36 per year to have the HOA provide gutter/downspout maintenance. The Board Treasurer stated that $3 would need to be added to your monthly assessment fee if the HOA provides preventive maintenance of your gutters. This additional charge is unnecessary and a result of poor budget planning.


[The Board has decided to spend $4,000 to add a new sidewalk at the left side of the Clubhouse that a large number of residents do not think is necessary.  Few homeowners will use the sidewalk; all homeowners have gutters that require maintenance.]

$50-$75 (minimum) cost to homeowner for one yearly gutter inspection. $36 if the HOA does it.

....Or you can climb a ladder to inspect and clean the gutters yourself.

The Board is ignoring the Declaration and the HOA's documented maintenance responsibilities.

 [Remember:  You are paying for exterior maintenance that should be provided by the HOA.]

Maintenance is 70% of the community's 2019 expenses. Is that money being spent wisely or are homeowners' needs and welfare being ignored? 

Disclaimer

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