VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side has a follow-up in a battle between a homeowners’ association and the neighbors it represents.
Last November, we reported on Buckner Farm Homeowners Association’s plan to increase quarterly dues to pay for cracks in concrete aprons surrounding seven retention ponds.
Neighbors are fighting back to keep fees down, and to pause construction of the apron repairs.
If you remember, during the height of COVID-19 the Buckner Farm Homeowners Association — called The Buckner Farm Community Association Inc. — wanted to raise the quarterly fees to do the work.
“I don’t think the board gets it,” said homeowner Robert Chamberlain, who has led the fight against the association.
Chamberlain and his neighbors know some of the concrete aprons around the retention ponds need to be replaced. There is no doubt about it.
The aprons are designed to help prevent erosion, but now the aprons are eroding.
In November, the board raised quarterly fees to pay for the $4-million replacement project. The increase was from $86 to $190 dollars in the middle of the pandemic. After 10 On Your Side reported on the hike, the board lowered the quarterly fee to $120.
“Hey, we want to put the dues back to $86 where they were before all of this began, and pause the project,” Chamberlain said.
So, on May 18, Chamberlain said residents voted to lower fees again and pause the repair project.
“But we need new leadership to come in here and clean this up and make sure they are listening to the homeowners,” he said.
During that meeting, they also voted to oust some of the board members.
“Unfortunately, because of the way our bylaws are written, it ‘s not enough, but it was a damning vote of no confidence against the board’s behavior and how they have done everything.”
The main target of that vote to remove was Board President Anna Shumate. She was not at her home, did not return a message to call us, and did not return a message to call us when we went to where she works at The Select Group.
The Select Group is the property manager for the Buckner Farm Community.
Neighbor Betty Chitty thinks that is a conflict of interest for Shumate.
“There is a conflict of interest for somebody being employed by The Select Group … and then sitting on the board … I don’t think she should be on the board anymore,” Chitty said.
During the May 18 meeting, Chamberlain told the membership the methods homeowners have had to use to get the fees reduced shouldn’t be the ultimate method to force change.
“We chopped down the quarterly dues from $191 to $120. I am not OK with that, because it took WAVY-TV to get that to happen and that should never have happened,” he said.
Chamberlain told us Tuesday that 10 On Your Side was the driving factor.
“WAVY 10 has been the forcing factor. The board only responds to WAVY 10, they don’t respond to residents when we show up and complain. They just kind of brush us off and ignore us,” he said.
Chamberlain is also concerned about what Shumate said at the meeting.
“Our [board] president on May 18 said she was going to find a way to overturn our vote, so we are in watch and listen mode to see what they do next,” he said.
During the May 18th meeting Chamberlain said he hopes to remove the board, not out of a sense of animosity, but out of a sense of positivity to move forward do better things for the neighborhood.
That statement was met with loud applause from Chamberlain’s neighbors.
The board meets again June 21, and the homeowners will be at the meeting to make sure the board does not overturn the votes the homeowners made at the last meeting, and making sure the Buckner Farm community remains in the hands and control of the residents.