Amid pandemic, Buckner Farm homeowners question HOA fee hike aimed at fixing retention ponds

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — There’s a big fight between a homeowner’s association and the homeowners in Virginia Beach. The HOA fees are going up, and in the face of COVID-19 challenges, homeowners say it’s too much.

10 On Your Side received a number of messages from people living in the Buckner Farm section of the city. 

The development is flanked by parks and man-made retention ponds. 

But those ponds need costly upgrades, and the HOA says it needs to more than double the fees to get it done. 

The Buckner Farm Community Association is a homeowners association for nearly 800 homeowners. Some of them are claiming the HOA is ignoring them.

“They said they were listening to us, but they weren’t really listening to us and what we had to say,” said homeowner Brandon Jesse. 

Some of the homeowners acknowledge there are issues with concrete aprons surrounding five retention ponds in the Buckner Farm community, but they question whether the repairs need to be immediate. The concrete has cracks and large gaps missing in some areas.

“But work needs to be done, certainly, but does this level of work need to happen, now? It doesn’t need to happen right now. It doesn’t need to happen in the middle of a global pandemic,” said homeowner Phil Maliniak.

Maliniak also had a City of Virginia Beach inspector report from 2019, which noted the issues but said a full replacement of the concrete apron is not necessary. 

On Monday night, the HOA board raised quarterly homeowners fees by $105, from $86 to $191. That’s a 122% increase from the existing rate. Some residents there say it’s not the right time to do that during a pandemic.

Alicia Cooper was told the HOA wasn’t repairing her fence due to COVID-19. 

“Would not fix it. Now, these days they aren’t able to address it, so my thing is, if we can’t fix my fence due to COVID … then why are we spending all the money to fix the concrete … during COVID-19?” 

Marie Ramos has complained to the board about the concrete aprons for 10 years. She once fell in a large crack — an incident that left her bloodied.

“[I’ve mowed] this lawn for 20 years, and I backed up on the apron to get all the grass cut and I stepped in a hole and fell, and the mower [rolled] over me,” Ramos said. 

Ramos says it’s been 10 years, and now — during a pandemic — they choose to do something about it.  

10 On Your Side attempted to reach out to the Buckner Farm Community Association for comment. We called the president five times, visited her home, and the home of the vice president and the treasurer to ask about the quarterly hike in fees. We did not get a comment back. 

The homeowners say they are not surprised by that response.

10 On Your Side is staying on this story to see if there is any way to delay the implementation of this rate hike for at least six months. 

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