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Traditions of America at Sewickley Ridge Homeowners Advocacy Website

Traditions of America at Sewickley Ridge Homeowners Advocacy Website

Traditions of America at Sewickley Ridge Homeowners Advocacy Website Traditions of America at Sewickley Ridge Homeowners Advocacy Website 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.)

Opinion

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Forced Harmony and Irrational Conformity

Let’s stop with the forced harmony and irrational conformity. This desire for group consensus overrides people's common-sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion. Choosing group cohesion over independent thought effectively drives out good decision-making and problem solving. A diversity of opinions would facilitate better Board decisions. Good disagreements can strengthen the community when we demonstrate that we respect each other and take each other seriously. A Board should not treat residents with dismissive arrogance and mendacity. 

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Accountability

The HOA Board is elected to make decisions that affect the lives and finances of each member of the community. HOA Boards are given great power to care for the well-being of the community. Yet an HOA has no system of checks and balances.  There is no personal consequence to Board members who deliberately violate their fiduciary obligations or refuse to follow governing documents (1).

  

(1) Homeowner Associations: Problems and Solutions, Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy, Volume 5, Issue 4


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Rules & Regulations

It is common for boards to create unnecessary, unwanted and often undesirable rules to dominate their neighbors--especially those homeowners who dare to ask questions or otherwise disturb an untrained (and unrestrained) board’s sense that it rules by divine right. If the association documents allow the board to fine owners—then fines should be imposed individually on culpable board members who refuse to correct their behavior or who are found culpable of having knowingly committed wrongful acts. (1)


(1) Homeowner Associations: Problems and Solutions, Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy, Volume 5, Issue 4


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Apathy

Unfortunately, for various reasons, too many homeowners show little concern for board violations of governing documents and less for board discrimination against a few of their neighbors. Sadly, they do not accept that one day they may be the recipients of the board’s wrath.

It has been observed that homeowners are not naturally or inherently apathetic. Rather, they are browbeaten, penalized, erroneously charged and invoiced, ignored and silenced into apathy. Homeowners want to participate in how their association is run but they are effectively and very calculatingly prevented from that participation.

(1)(2)(3)


(1) Homeowner Associations: Problems and Solutions, Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy, Volume 5, Issue 4

(2) Committees, https://advocatesforsr.com/

(3) 2019 "Election", https://advocatesforsr.com/ 

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Elections

The few owners who are both paying attention to and understanding what is happening can attempt to educate their fellow owners and organize an opposition to vote the board out. But as anyone who has ever tried to unseat what is essentially a dictatorship can attest, it is extremely difficult and usually unsuccessful if the board is determined to remain in power. (1)(3).


(1) Homeowner Associations: Problems and Solutions, Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy, Volume 5, Issue 4

(3) 2019 "Election", https://advocatesforsr.com/


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Conclusion

 Board powers must be limited to those necessary to manage common property and protect owners’ interests. The simple fact of sharing property should not be the basis for lessening homeowners’ rights, preventing them the enjoyment of their homes, and forcing rules and regulations upon them without consensus. (1)


(1) Homeowner Associations: Problems and Solutions, Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy, Volume 5, Issue 4


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Election of Board Members

Annual Meeting of the HOA & Election

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 


More information available on the HOA website calendar for the month of April, 2020.

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So much money wasted....

$58,620 for "snow removal" so far this winter (2019-2020)!

Nov., Dec. 2019 and Jan. 2020:  We have paid over $58,000 for what?

That is money gone from our operating fund.  What service did we receive for $58,620?


And...we are obligated to pay an additional $39,080. Snow or no snow.


Source:  Nov.-Dec. 2019 Transaction by Vendor Report

Source:   2019-2021 Snow Removal Contract

Some things to think about...

April 2020 Board Elections

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Suggested changes to the 2020 Board elections procedure were sent to the Board of Directors in December 2019. 


If we hear anything from the Board, we will post the response here.


If you would like to review the suggestions sent to the Board, click on the button below or click on the "Board Election 2020" page in the menu at the top of this page.

Homeowners must respect the HOA Board's authority.

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However, the HOA Board must respect a homeowner's individual freedoms. 

  

Homeowners should expect a certain quality of treatment from their association and Board. These expectations are based on rights established in the law, or on basic standards of decency and respect.


Homeowners who assertively pursue their rights through reasonable and proper channels can change their HOA, while boards who wrongly or purposefully deny rights of homeowners who are behaving reasonably will only hinder the HOA’s purpose. And when both parties work together towards one common goal, it’s amazing the community they can build.


https://www.echo-ca.org/article/ethics-code-hoa-board-members


Who thought this was in the best interest of homeowners?

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According to the management company contract "negotiated" by our Board:


Residents must travel to the management company’s office (near the Pittsburgh airport) and PAY $50 PER HOUR to  review how their money is being spent and invested.

  

The information will not be provided in any other way.  Unless you're on the Board or a "select" committee--then the documents and information will be provided to you, either copies or by electronic access.


ALL OTHER HOMEOWNERS MUST PAY TO SEE HOW THEIR MONEY IS BEING SPENT AND MANAGED.

 

Declaration Article 6.1 (h)(ii), page 10

,,, all such Storm Water Management System shall be kept in good working order and repair at all times.  The Association is perpetually responsible for maintenance of the Storm Water Management System. This obligation shall run with the Property and be binding on the Association."


  Fahringer, McCarty, Grey Inc.

Recommendation Plan, January 2018

"Wet ponds, also called retention basins, are stormwater basins that include a substantial permanent

pool for water quality treatment...Wet ponds must be maintained...any problems must be corrected as

soon as possible."


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"The costs of getting ponds back to working order are usually much greater than staying ahead of any potential problems with regular, preventive maintenance." 

https://www.epa.gov/


"Failure to correct minor problems may lead to larger and more expensive repairs or even to pond failure."

 Source:  Storm Water Technology Fact Sheet Wet Detention Ponds

https://nepis.epa.gov


 "Failure to properly address concerns can result in heavy fines from the local permitted community or the US EPA." 

https://www.clemson.edu/extension/water/stormwater-ponds/resources/final_binder_pond_maintenance.pdf



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11 MONTHS --The longer the delay, the more it will cost...

JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2020

No action.

Retention pond still not repaired and not functioning.

DECEMBER 2019

No action.

Retention pond still not repaired and not functioning.

NOVEMBER 2019

No action taken, pond not functioning.  

When asked about the retention pond at the Budget meeting the Board announced it will be waiting to "look at the problem with the new management company."

Source:  November 9, 2019 Budget Meeting

SEPTEMBER 2019

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."

JUNE 2019

Vendor contract indicates a "documented  8' X 8' sinkhole."  HOA paid $4,850.  

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

APRIL 2019

Retention pond stops functioning; we have a large, dry hole at our main entrance.

We still do not have a comprehensive, proactive, preventive maintenance plan for the community.

  We have been asking for the development of a maintenance plan for three (3) years. Not conducting regular inspections of common and limited elements, including roofs and siding, is a violation of the Declaration.* The HOA is responsible for [preventive] maintenance of roofs and siding.**


*Source:  Declaration - Article 3.3 (e),  page 6

**Source:  Declaration - Article 3.3 (c), page 6

**Source:  Declaration - Definitions, page 4


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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" -- ELEVEN (11)  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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Incorrect Information in January, 2020 Board Brief

Residents' Association Claim--What Really Happened

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IN THE LATEST "BOARD BRIEF" IS INCORRECT AND MISLEADING:


"The Board has reached a successful settlement with the unit owners who filed a claim relative to clear cutting the bank behind their units. The HOA had been negotiating all of the secondary cuttings with [the landscaping company] to assure consistency throughout the community and the area referenced in the claim was part of the negotiation"


Here are the facts:

  • The  Board's response was to deny the entire claim.
    • The denial decision contained flawed reasoning, and unsupported, alleged "facts."
    •  The Board indicated that they can choose to neglect common areas  because maintenance of the community  "evolves."  In other words they can decide to not maintain the common areas behind homes.
    • If the Board was truly negotiating with the landscaping company, why deny the claim?  There was no indication in the Board's response that the area in question was part of any ongoing negotiation.  In fact, the common area in question had already been omitted from the 2019 landscaping contract and was completely neglected the entire growing season of 2019.


  • Homeowners refused to accept the Board's denial of the claim and the questionable reasoning  presented in the Board's reply.


  • Only when confronted with accurate information and evidence did the Board agree to the residents' demand for proper maintenance of the common elements and the claim was then settled. 



If you are a Sewickley Ridge homeowner and would like to see the documentation pertaining to the homeowner's Association Claim, click on the button below to request the information.

Residents' Association Claim

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Issue: Failure to adequately maintain common ground*

October 2019:  Claim was submitted by three residents because of neglected common element with 5-foot weeds, overgrowth, tick infestation, and allergen producing plants.

No clearing or maintenance was performed during the entire 2019 growing season. 

Claim denied by the Board.

Homeowners did not give up!

They produced facts, governing documents, anecdotal evidence, and photos in answer to the Board’s denial of the claim.

The Board finally agreed the area should be maintained.

Resolution:

January 2020:  The overgrown sloped area identified in the claim will be clear cut three times during the 2020 and subsequent growing seasons.

*Reference:

Definition from the Declaration (page 4):  “Maintenance” means maintenance, preventive maintenance, repair and replacement and “Maintain” means maintain, repair and replace. 


Article 3.3, Maintenance Responsibilities, in the Declaration (page 6) states “the Association shall be responsible for Maintenance of the Common Elements.”


Statement of Claim Settlement

HOA Board - Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Non-Compliance: Boards have a duty to enforce their governing documents. THE BOARD IS IN VIOLATION OF FIVE (5) REQUIREMENTS IN THE DECLARATION. While the Board is busy pursuing minor violations of the Rules & Regulations against homeowners, the Board fails to adhere to the requirements of our most important and binding community document, the Declaration.

Fiduciary Duty to Act

Fiduciary Duty of Care

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, no insurance notices sent to homeowners, and a failure to act to repair a storm water retention pond (that has not functioned for over 10 months).

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

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**Declaration: ARTICLE 3.3 MAINTENANCE RESPONSIBILITIES

"(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." 

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**Declaration: ARTICLE 15 INSURANCE 15.1 General Provisions.

"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."


Note:  No written notices were sent to homeowners for three years, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Declaration Article 6.1 (h)(ii)

 "... all such Storm Water Management System shall be kept in good working order and repair at all times.  The Association is perpetually responsible for maintenance of the Storm Water Management System. This obligation shall run with the Property and be binding on the Association."  

Disclaimer

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