By Sarah Temple
The majority of residents in attendance were keen to hear what update the board had on the service agreement with the USDA in regard to the disbursement and removal of vultures roosting in the Stonebridge area. For reasons that were not clear, the USDA had changed its mind since January’s meeting and had agreed to extend its existing contract from February 15 through April. They would then take a hiatus during the nesting season and the board would have to agree to extend the contract further through September 2024. The agency will continue to use the least disruptive measures necessary but Chairman Matt Lewis, who was joining the meeting via phone, requested that if the agency felt the physical removal of the birds was necessary, the CDD should be contacted before any action is taken. Supervisor Greg Chesney who was chairing this month’s meeting then invited audience members for their comments. One resident expressed his concerns over the impact the vultures had on residents and asked Supervisor Chris Barrett to elaborate on his comments from the previous meeting when he suggested the CDD be cautious of continued spending. Barrett explained that he did not think the current policy was going to work but reassured residents that he did want to help them. He would like to explore a more comprehensive, long-term approach involving the county and local deterrents. He finished by committing to vote for the USDA’s continued involvement but asked the residents to contact their HOA to try and create a multi-pronged solution to the problem. WCA President Shawn Yesner was also in attendance and reassured residents that it was the association’s formal position to support the homeowners with this issue and that the CDD had the full support of the WCA board. The board approved the motion to extend the agreement with the USDA. Mr. Meade of Stonebridge expressed his thanks to the board.
Patrick Neylan spoke on behalf of a Stonebridge resident who continued to have concerns over the cracks in his driveway and the unique situation of a manhole cover situated on the apron. Engineer Robert Dvorak explained that the original designers had to consider various underground utilities and while it would be preferable not to have the cover on the driveway, it would be virtually impossible to move it. He agreed it would be worth checking the pipe joints to ensure they are not causing the cracks in the driveway. Chesney requested that Dvorak coordinate with Field Manager Doug Mays to inspect the driveway.
Following Brian Ross’ resignation from the board last month, the district received a number of applications to fill the role. The board was pleased to welcome Reggie Gillis, Keith Heinemann and Forrest Baumhover to the meeting and invited each of them to make a short introduction. Having also read their resumes prior to the meeting, Lewis made a motion to vote Gillis in, which was seconded by Supervisor Jim Wimsatt. The motion was unanimously approved with supervisor Barrett summarizing how he was, “motivated by having new voices on the board” and was very much voting “for” Gillis and not “against” the other applicants. Gillis swiftly took the oath of office and joined the board for the remainder of the meeting.
Barrett had been charged with updating the Montague Street Green Usage Guidelines with an aim to attract more residents and businesses to use the space. The new guidelines clarify that the CDD views the green as an area of community participation for use by nonprofit organizers or for-profit events that provide significant service or entertainment to residents. Usage would be limited to two major events per month (with the exception of October) with any additional requests to be considered by the CDD. The new guidelines were approved by the board.
In his report, Mays confirmed he had received his first request for a tree permit from the Modifications Committee. The request was to remove and replace a live oak that was causing excessive root damage. Barrett confirmed he had seen the tree and it was half dead. The board had no problems approving the permit. They then went on to agree that the office should look into purchasing new picnic benches for Glencliff Park. Lastly, Mays informed the board that Irish 31 had requested to hold their St. Patrick’s Day event on March 11 after a three-year break due to Covid.
Chesney turned the meeting back to the audience. Shires resident Barry Anderson had a question and a comment regarding the new Cell Tower. After the board confirmed that Virtex will begin work on June 23 with four months to complete the project, he went on to say that residents of the Shires felt blindsided by the approval of the cell tower. He asked going forward if the board has an anticipated use of land, they talk through the process ahead of time with those residents who may be affected.
Patrick Neylan wanted to alert the board to the construction site at the bottom of Montague Street, which was in a state of disrepair with broken fences and soil obstructing the storm drain. Mays confirmed he had visited the area with a county representative. He felt they were not doing a good job and he will check again and contact the county if necessary.
After receiving a lot of requests, the board approved the purchase of new road signage for the Harbor Links neighborhood. Depending on the cost of proposals, installation could begin as soon as six weeks.
Finally, Barrett raised a concern that he had received from a couple of residents regarding cars in the Village Green that had not moved for over six months. Various suggestions were made such as time limits, written warnings and towing. Lewis was interested in pursuing the issue but requested more background on the legalities. Lewis ended the meeting by welcoming Supervisor Gillis saying he was, “looking forward to your ideas.”