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Lori Schweller and Will Sleeth to Speak at Upcoming CA Day in Richmond

LeClairRyan attorneys Lori Schweller and Will Sleeth will be speaking once again at this year's Community Association Day trade event sponsored by the Central Virginia Chapter of CAI, which will take place this Tuesday the 18th. The two will be giving a presentation titled "Common Area, Common Problems -- Parking, Drinking, and Other Liability Issues".

For more information about this year's CA Day, including information about how to register, please click here.

 

Drones and HOAs: How Homeowners Associations and Condominium Associations Can Be Prepared to Deal with the New Technology

  Amazon.com’s recent announcement – that in the future it may utilize unmanned drones to deliver packages to individual residences – has created a host of novel legal issues that all homeowners associations should consider and plan for. Although commentators believe that the commercial use of delivery drones may be a few years off, associations should begin planning now for whether they should regulate the use of drones within the association; how they should regulate the use of drones; and how they can minimize potential liability arising from the use of drones.

While the public has so far only been provided with bits and pieces of information about the make-up and capabilities of unmanned delivery drones, some general information is available: a drone will carry a package and will fly from a warehouse to an owner’s house, with the goal of attempting to deliver the package in a very short amount of time right after it has been ordered. The drone is designed to land, helicopter style, on an owner’s lawn and drop off the package. The drone will then use its helicopter-style propellers to vertically ascend from the owner’s lawn and return to the warehouse.

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LeClairRyan's Community Association Team Handles Acquisition of Golf Course for Large-Scale HOA

Editor's Note: LeClairRyan's Community Association Team handles sophisticated legal matters for a wide array of large-scale master-planned communities throughout Virginia and the nation. The following press release highlights the Team's recent work in assisting a large master-planned homeowner's association in Newport News and York County, Virginia purchase the golf course and country club that is located within the community.

KILN CREEK HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION TO PURCHASE GOLF COURSE, COUNTRY CLUB & 290 ACRES OF PROTECTED GREEN SPACE

 

Newport News, Virginia—December 23, 2013

The Villages of Kiln Creek Owners Association (KCOA) board of directors today completed its purchase of the Kiln Creek Golf Course & Resort from Dick Ashe. The $3.5 million purchase price includes 290 acres of protected green space with an 18-hole golf course, a former nine-hole golf course, a clubhouse, a 15-room hotel, two restaurants, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a fitness center and office space.

 

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Parking Rights and Common Area / Common Element: Can the Association (or Declarant) Do That?!

You serve on your condominium or property owners’ association’s board of directors and have been receiving complaints about unauthorized cars and space shortages in the community’s parking lot. The Board would like to designate specific parking spaces for use by designated units so that each unit has a certain number of parking spaces available to it at all times. May it do so? The answer depends on (a) how parking spaces are classified in your declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions, and (b) the association’s authority to control common area / common element pursuant to the Virginia Condominium Act or Property Owners’ Association Act and the specific terms of the association’s governing documents.

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HOAs and Pool Lifts: Compliance Deadline Extended

LeClairRyan Community Association Team member Brian Muse recently blogged about the time extension under the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) for compliance with pool lift requirements, something that every HOA with a pool should be aware of. Check out Brian's post over at his new blog ADA Musings. While you're there, you'll find that his blog contains many other helpful articles that HOA community managers, board members, and developers should be aware of.

 

How Intrusive Can You Be with HOA Owners?

With pool season quickly approaching for many parts of the United States, some boards are taking the opportunity to review the rules and regulations for their communities.  Rules like "no alcoholic beverages in the pool area" often present sensitive issues when it comes to enforcement.  Can or should your association conduct bag checks when residents enter the pool?  What about entering resident's units to conduct compliance checks?  LeClairRyan's Community Association practice leader, Elizabeth White, shared her thoughts and analysis on these issues and more in the article, "How Intrusive Can You Be with HOA Owners?", published in the national online news magazine HOAleader.com.

To read the article, click here.

Community Associations and Stormwater Detention Pond Maintenance ("BMP") Responsibilities

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Steve Blaine, a LeClairRyan attorney practicing out of the firm's Charlottesville office, and focusing his practice on land use, zoning, and community association law, has contributed the following post.

 BMPs: How to avoid an amenity from becoming a headache.

We frequently counsel clients, community associations, developers and builders, on various issues involving that ubiquitous ‘amenity’ known as the stormwater detention pond, or “BMP” (short for “Best Management Practices”). This article will briefly discuss how to avoid some of the more common pitfalls facing homeowners whose community’s common areas/elements include these useful, even if at times burdensome, features. At the end of the article is a “glossary of key terms” related to BMPs.

Why do we have BMPs anyway?

BMPs are used to improve the quality of water runoff from roads, parking lots, developed land, including residential neighborhoods, and to reduce peak stormwater runoff flow by providing temporary storage during larger storm events. If the BMP in your subdivision was constructed early in the development process, it was probably used to trap sediment from construction activities in the tributary drainage area, which also can be a very effective way to collect and remove pollutants. Hopefully, the BMP in your neighborhood happens to provide other benefits such as passive recreation and open space in addition to reducing peak runoff rates and improving water quality.

It is essential for those responsible for maintaining these BMPs to understand their important role and what to do to assure their continued proper function.
 

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Can Your HOA Restrict Pets From The Common Area?

Are associations allowed to prohibit pets in the common area? Liz White was recently interviewed by HOAleader.com on this topic. In the interview, Liz discusses which restrictions may be permissible, and which ones may not be permissible. Check out the full article here.

How Should Your HOA Board Respond to an Accident?

How should your board respond to an accident? Who should you call first? Liz White was recently interviewed by HOAleader.com on this topic. In the interview, Liz explains how associations should always first contact their legal counsel. Check out the full article here.

LeClairRyan's Community Association Team at the firm's Habitat for Humanity Build

LeClairRyan's Community Association Team doesn't just represent developers in the legal creation of associations; rather, it also physically creates them too! The Team is a strong supporter of Habitat for Humanity, and pictured below are several LeClairRyan attorneys with friends from Capital One, outside a current Habitat for Humanity build in Richmond.

 

The Importance of a Good Emergency Plan

The wind was howling. The rain was pelting the windows. Twigs and sticks struck the rooftop. My cell phone rang and the caller i.d. showed it was a client who lived 200 miles to the north and maintained a second home in Virginia Beach. Odd time to call, I thought, in the middle of the hurricane/no’easter now known as Nor'Ida, the storm that dumped significant rain on our fair city, brought severe winds, and caused the governor to declare a state of emergency for our state.

“Pam, the beach condo is leaking like a sieve! And it is not only mine! What do we do?” asked my client, also a member of his condo board, which board I represent. “Half the owners are there, and the other half are not. Absentee owners’ units are leaking onto some who are there. Can we go in? I can’t reach the manager, but the handyman is around.”

This phone call probably was repeated many times over that day, pointing out that many associations do not have and may have never thought about a formal “Disaster” Plan.

After all, some “disasters” are not natural disasters. For example, here are some questions to consider:

  • What about a gunman on the loose? -- Which happened in a nearby neighborhood to my own last fall.  Yes, we have a City police force, but some communities I represent have their own police forces.
    • What are the best ways for an association to proceed?
    • What if there is no plan?
    • Is there liability on the part of the board for the failure to HAVE a plan?

And what happens AFTER the immediate disaster passes?

  • Who interfaces with the insurance companies?
  • Who coordinates the insurance claim process as between the Condominium’s policy issuer and the individual owners’ policy issuers so that the facts are presented consistently?

Every association, whether condominium or property owners, should have an Emergency Plan. Consideration must be given to a host of factors such as defining an “emergency,” utilization of technologies and available resources, post-disaster safety and preservation, among others. If your association does not have such a plan in place, it should contact its legal counsel to assist it in formulating and drafting one that is both technically proficient and legally sound.