A History of the Chesapeake Shores HOA
The Chesapeake Shores HOA had its genesis in a public meeting on July 10, 2010, at the Beulah Methodist Church on Route 14. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss erosion of our beach and possible efforts to protect the beach. At that meeting, Scott Hardaway of VIMS presented an analysis of the erosion that showed that while the northern portions of the beach were generally in good shape, the southern portions had suffered significant erosion and were in danger of suffering more. He also discussed a proposed plan to build offshore breakwaters to protect the beach from further erosion.
Details about that meeting and the other meetings discussed herein can be found on the HOA website at this page:
In discussions during and immediately following that meeting, several things became clear:
1. There was a great risk that erosion would cause serious damage both to the southern end of our beach and to the houses that stood there.
2. There was a plan on the table that could protect the beach from the forces of erosion, a plan that involved building offshore breakwaters.
3. There was government money available to help enact the breakwater plan.
4. One of the issues getting in the way of the plan was that there was no owner of the strip of beach closest to the water across much of the beach, including the southernmost Chesapeake Shores houses that are in the most danger of erosion. This land was originally owned by the Chesapeake Shores Corporation that developed our subdivision, but that corporation is now defunct. The lack of an owner greatly complicated the permitting process required to build breakwaters.
5. On a related note, our neighbors in the Bavon Beach subdivision discovered that the corresponding strip of beach near their property is now owned by the Nature Conservancy, which acquired the land at some time in the 90's. Given that the Nature Conservancy's mandate is to preserve land without allowing any development, their involvement has complicated projects such as the proposed breakwaters and the outtake pipe that currently exists on the southern end of the beach. There was general agreement that we did not want the Nature Conservancy or a similar organization to acquire ownership of the beach near our properties.
In the course of the open meeting with Scott Hardaway, eight volunteers agreed to form a committee to further investigate issues regarding the breakwaters. These were Peyton Carr, Jack Caldwell, Joe Dzikiewicz, Sonny Fauver, Billie Millner, Drew Mulhare, Dave Norris, and Hal Rose. This group eventually decided that it was necessary to have a homeowners association, both to serve as a body that could take ownership of the unowned strip of beach and other properties formerly owned by the Chesapeake Shores corporation, but also to arrange for basic community services such as the maintenance of common roads and the grassy strips adjoining the roads, services that had previously been done on an ad hoc basis by some of the homeowners, notably Peyton Carr and Chuck Neff. The volunteers became the original board of the Chesapeake Shores HOA and soon voted Peyton Carr as president, Drew Mulhare as vice president, Dave Norris as treasurer, and Joe Dzikiewicz as secretary.
The HOA itself was legally constituted with the pro bono legal assistance of Billie Millner. All incorporation documents for the HOA can be found on the HOA website.
Following this, the following events took place.
1. From discussions with property owners, it became clear that there was no general consensus as to whether building breakwaters along the entire beach was a good idea.
2. The Bavon Beach homeowners, seeing that erosion was endangering their homes, pursued having breakwaters built off the shore of their property. They got buy-in from the Nature Conservancy to participate in this effort and planning proceeded for phase 1 of the breakwater project covering only the southernmost portions of the beach.
3. For personal reasons, Hal Rose, Drew Mulhare, and Billie Millner resigned from the board.
4. The board appointed Joe Sties as a replacement member, but Sties subsequently resigned after disagreements with Billie Millner, who was still serving as pro bono council to the board. An email exchange between Sties and Millner related to this conflict can be found here. Sties subsequently also withdrew from any association with the HOA, including membership.
5. After some fruitless efforts at finding replacement members, the board decided that five members was sufficient and so continued with Carr, Caldwell, Dzikiewicz, Fauver, and Norris. Sonny Fauver was voted VP as replacement to Drew Mulhare.
6. The four southernmost homeowners in the Chesapeake Shores community, the Brickers, Martins, Millners, and Mulhares, known as the +4 homeowners, seeing that their homes were also endangered by erosion, asked to join phase 1 of the breakwater project. However, this was complicated by the fact that the strip of beach between their properties and the water was owned by the defunct Chesapeake Shores Corporation. Because the corporation no longer exists, there was nobody who could apply for the permits.
7. In order to remove this impediment, the +4 homeowners filed suit to take ownership of the strip of beach adjoining their properties. Although they were generally supportive of the efforts of the HOA, they felt that taking ownership themselves would provide the quickest solution to the permitting impasse. In taking this action, they expressed their intent to preserve all access rights by all property owners as had existed in the status quo ante. Their hope was to get the process underway in time to start construction of the breakwaters in late 2011/early 2012, before the 2012 hurricane season.
8. In August, 2011, Hurricane Irene provided a vivid reminder of how fragile our shore is. It caused some damage along the southern portions of the beach, but in general we dodged a bullet.
9. Joe Sties became a defendant against the suit of the +4 homeowners out of concern that their taking ownership of the strip of beach near their homes would lead to reduced access to that beach by the Chesapeake Shores homeowners. His actions delayed the resolution of the property issue which in turn delayed the permitting process so that it was not possible to build the breakwaters over the winter of 2011/2012.
10. In the face of the delays in building the breakwaters, several of the homeowners of Bavon Beach properties, as well as some of the +4 homeowners, built revetments (for which they had previous permits) to protect their homes from possible storm damage. (In a meeting on May 28, 2011, representatives of the Fish and Wildlife service said that in their opinion such revetments would eventually lead to the erosion of the beach unless breakwaters were built. However, the southern homeowners believed they had no choice but to build revetments in the face of delays in the breakwater project as the alternative would be the destruction of their homes.)
11. In December of 2011, Joe Sties wrote a letter to the Virginia Marines Resources Commission in which, in his later words, he "expressed [his] opposition to the original application submitted for the [breakwaters] project."
12. Tylan Dean of the US Fish and Wildlife service reached out to Joe Sties to see if a resolution to the impasse was possible. This led to a meeting at Joe Sties's house on February 18, 2012, in which Sties invited Tylan Dean, Bill Powell of the Bavon Beach HOA, and Peyton Carr and Joe Dzikiewicz of the Chesapeake Shores HOA. At that meeting, all parties agreed that the best resolution would be for the Chesapeake Shores HOA to take ownership of those properties formerly owned by the Chesapeake Shores Corporation, including the common beach areas. The understood intent of all parties was that that this would facilitate the building of the breakwaters off the southern end of the beach, by the Bavon Beach homes and the +4 homes. At this meeting, Tylan Dean stated that Fish and Wildlife would not require additional restrictions to use of the beach for their support of the breakwater projects, though they were opposed to having motor vehicles on the beach (something that is already prohibited by existing law). In addition, at that meeting Joe Sties stated that he had never opposed building of the breakwaters but instead had only opposed having the +4 homeowners take ownership of the strip of beach near their properties. An email exchange between Sties and Joe Dzikiewicz discussing the genesis of this meeting can be found here. A memorandum describing this meeting and approved by all attendees can be found here.
13. Soon after this meeting, Joe Sties sent out two documents to the participants: a proposed set of steps to resolve the dispute (which can be found here) and a proposed set of conditions to be included in the deed giving the land to the Chesapeake Shores HOA (which can be found here). He also indicated that he was opposed to having the HOA join the +4 suit as a way of resolving the legal issues, preferring that the HOA file a new suit. However, he did not give a reason why he preferred a new suit.
14. The HOA retained legal council to help with this matter, Mr Richard Foard.
15. At the court hearing in Newport News at which the HOA first became involved with the Plus Four suit, Joe Sties asked the judge to deny our request to combine the HOA’s previously filed suit for ownership of the roads with the Plus Four suit for ownership of the beach property. The judge denied the request. Sties then sought to delay the process by asking for a continuance, which the judge denied. Sties’s next request was that he be relieved of the usual requirement that all parties to the suit share in the cost of a court appointed receiver. The judge took no action on that request. Sties’s next request was that the suit be transferred to Mathews since that was the location of the properties in question. (The suit was originally filed in Newport News since that was the address of the defunct corporation.) The judge stated that such a transfer was a reasonable change and ordered the transfer. This, of course, introduced a delay into the proceedings.
16. At the initial hearing of the combined case in the Mathews court, Joe Sties offered up several objections to the details of the suit. Sties also said that he did not object to the HOA taking ownership of the common properties as long as his conditions were met. The judge did not accept Sties' objections, but he did ask the parties to try to come to an accommodation on the conditions before he acted in the matter.
17. Mr Foard, with agreement of the HOA board, sent a response to Joe Sties's conditions that, basically, found that all conditions either were met as a matter of course, or were not possible. That response is here. (Note that this is a redline of a final version of Sties's conditions. As such, it contains the draft of a letter that Sties asked the HOA to send to all members as part of the agreement. The HOA did not agree to send this letter, and its inclusion here does not indicate that the HOA endorses its contents.)
18. In subsequent negotiations and court actions, Joe Sties asked that he be relieved of the responsibility to pay any share of the cost of a receiver to handle the transfer of the common properties. This had been ordered by the Newport News court when the case had been heard there.
19. As part of an overall settlement, the HOA and the +4 homeowners agreed that Sties be relieved of the need to pay any part of the receiver's fee in exchange for his withdrawal of all opposition to the suit giving the HOA ownership. This decision was reached after counsel advised that this would likely be less expensive than to have Sties continue to oppose the transfer. This became the basis of the agreement finally reached, and the judge in the case appointed a receiver and directed that receiver to give the common properties to the Chesapeake Shores HOA.
20. The HOA board decided that, on receiving the common properties, it will support the efforts of the Bavon Beach HOA and the +4 homeowners to get permits to build the breakwaters along the southern end of the beach.
21. Cindy Garrett contacted Chris Ingram of the Wetlands Board expressing her opposition to the breakwater project. A summary of that contact written by Chris Ingram can be found here.
22. Joe Sties also contacted Chris Ingram expressing his opposition to the breakwater permits. His letter can be seen here.
23. In late July, 2012, the receiver completed his task and issued the necessary deed to the Chesapeake Shores HOA to grant them ownership of the common beach properties formerly owned by the defunct Chesapeake Shores Corporation.
24. Because of the various delays described here, it was not considered possible to apply for the breakwater permits until the September, 2012, meeting of the Mathews Wetlands Board.
25. At the September, 2012, meeting of the Mathews Wetlands Board, the Wetlands Board granted permits to build the breakwaters.
26. Joe Sties refused a request by the Virginia Marine Resources Council to withdraw his objections to having the VMRC issue a permit for construction of the breakwaters. This protest was on the grounds that no legal owner of the Chesapeake Shores beach property involved in the project was an applicant. That issue has been resolved, but Sties still refused to withdraw his protest.
27. In November, 2012, the VMRC issued the necessary permit to proceed with the breakwater project. As of this time, all necessary permits for the breakwater project have been granted.
28. Representatives from Luck Stone informed Mike Drummond of the Fish and Wildlife Service that, due to delays in the issuance of permits for the breakwater project, available funds for 2012 and 2013 had already been committed and Luck Stone would not be in a position to make any donations towards the breakwater project until the end of 2014 at the earliest. Luck Stone indicated that they might be able to provide stone at reduced cost, but could not donate materials or provide transportation. This will have a major impact on the cost of the project.
29. Mike Drummond indicated that he will seek out other sources of support for the project.
In all of these matters, the board has been guided by the following considerations:
1. We believe based on information provided by the experts at the Fish and Wildlife service and VIMS that the southern portion of our beach, that portion in front of the Bavon Beach and +4 houses, is in danger of eroding away completely.
2. Also based on that information, we believe that the best solution to preserving the beach is to build breakwaters.
3. We believe that the beach near our homes should be owned by us and not by an organization such as the Nature Conservancy that may have its own agenda that conflicts with that of the homeowners.
4. We want to preserve all rights of access to the beach currently enjoyed by the homeowners in our community.
5. We do not have an official opinion on whether breakwaters should be built along the northern and central parts of the beach. Individual members have their own opinions on this question, but not all agree. No member believes that the board should impose its will on the community in this matter.
6. We support the efforts of the Bavon Beach and +4 homeowners to preserve their property from erosion.