top of page
History Document


 

The Future of Southern Walk at Broadlands Homeowners’ Association
 

Dear Homeowner:
 

The Southern Walk Homeowners’ Association (SWHOA or Southern Walk) is at a pivotal point regarding the future.  At its inception in 2001, the SWHOA’s primary purpose was to ensure and manage telecommunication services delivery to the SWHOA, according to an exclusive Telecommunications Services Agreement (TSA) with OpenBand at Broadlands. In 2015 the TSA was amended to allow the SWHOA to pay an Exclusivity Option Price and remove “exclusivity” from the telecommunications easements, and subsequently allow third-party access.
 

In 2018 the SWHOA Board of Directors contracted with Verizon for Internet services only on a Bulk Billing basis. The initial three-year term of the Verizon Bulk Billing arrangement renewed in June 2022, Verizon having met its service level goals. This current term will end in June 2025, unless extended by mutual agreement. 

Some homeowners have raised concerns whether the SWHOA should continue to exist as a homeowners’ association due to the administrative burdens, potential association liabilities, the fact and number of residents in non-payment status for the Internet services, and general apathy of participation by the members of running the business of the association.  To address the question, “What is the future of the Southern Walk as a homeowners’ association?” the Board of Directors in 2021 formed the Future of Southern Walk HOA Committee to examine potential options. 

In late 2021, the Southern Walk Board of Directors commissioned the Future of the SWHOA Committee to solicit and review input from the community and to provide recommendations about the next steps for the association.  The Committee, made up of residents of the SWHOA, identified several options for the community and Board of Directors to consider. The Committee is preparing a survey for Homeowners to express their views about the best course of action for the SWHOA. Once the survey is completed, the Committee will examine the results and make recommendations to the Southern Walk Board of Directors for a final decision.

The Committee compiled a list of pros and cons for each of the options and has taken into consideration multiple aspects for each option.  In addition to the Committee’s work, the Southern Walk Board obtained two separate legal opinions to assess the SWHOA’s legal options, determine if other options exist, and to identify potential pitfalls of the options. The official survey will be conducted in the early part of 2023. All residents will be notified of the survey and how to access it electronically. 

Below are the two options, with the important benefits and anticipated challenges of each, that the Committee asks the Southern Walk homeowners to consider. 
 

Option 1: SWHOA would continue to exist as an association and to contract for Internet services under Bulk Billing arrangement(s).

 The SWHOA would: 

   i. remain a sub association of the Broadlands Association; 

   ii.continue to contract for Internet (or other                              telecommunications services) on a Bulk Billing or similar basis for Southern Walk residents; and

   iii.take steps to maintain Bulk Billing and administrative costs at current levels with consideration for inflation and other relevant factors.  


As of January 2023, the association fee collected by the SWHOA from residents is $75 per month per household. The fee includes household service for Gigabyte FIOS Internet service and administrative costs related to collecting association fees, processing resale packages, and obtaining insurance for the association.  

 Pros:

  • No substantial changes to the association or Board of Directors are needed.

  • The same level of resident participation in Board and community involvement is expected.

  • The HOA would continue to leverage its community size to bargain for the best value for services in future bulk arrangements within the limits of the Board’s legal ability.

Cons:

  • Bulk billing agreements require the association to be responsible for those who fail to pay HOA fees. 

  • The association must retain legal counsel and pay collection costs for delinquent accounts, which is an administrative burden on the entire community. 

  • Any increase to the normal expenses and fees to manage, insure, and cover the delinquent accounts is a cost that will need to be passed on to residents. 

  • More diverse resident involvement is needed to maintain the Board and committees. 

 
Option 2: Dissolution of the SWHOA by the end of the current Bulk Billing arrangement with a transition to retail telecommunications services delivery.


 Considering this option means dissolving the SWHOA and transitioning to direct retail services with the current or new future providers. The Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs), Articles of Incorporation, and the Bylaws for the SWHOA will need to be amended or terminated to protect homeowner interests. The expense to accomplish Option 2 involves legal research, fees and costs to communicate with all stakeholders, i.e., homeowners, legal counsel, Broadlands Association, Loudoun County, and court costs.  Most expenses can be funded with current reserve funds maintained by the SWHOA; however, an increase in dues payable by the homeowners is possible. Further, there is no guarantee this option will entice other broadband providers to offer services in the Southern Walk. Both Verizon and Comcast, the two Loudoun  County franchisees have met density requirements for eastern Loudoun County and have no obligations to expand their networks. The timeline for this endeavor is expected to be 12 to 24 months.

 CCR § 3.6 requires the SWHOA to continue in existence until a successor association, like the Broadlands Association, is “established with the same duties and responsibilities” as the SWHOA.

 
Pros:

  • Dissolution would eliminate the second homeowners’ association fee collected by SWHOA for telecommunications services and administration, leaving residents with only one association fee payable to the Broadlands Association. 

  • The association may dispense with board meetings, management and administrative costs associated with collecting association fees for telecommunications services, communicating with homeowners, and legal costs pertaining to delinquent accounts and collections. 

  • All telecommunications services will be available on a retail basis to all community residents. The telecommunications service providers will deal directly with residents on all account issues.

  • The successor association would address non-telecommunications issues that are protected by the CCRs.

  • Amending the CCRs will ensure that important covenants, conditions, and restrictions remain enforceable for the protection of the individual homeowners, while unnecessary or irrelevant terms can be eliminated. 

 Cons:

  • Dissolution of the SWHOA requires a sixty-seven percent (67%) super-majority approval vote of the homeowners. 

  • Amending the CCRs requires a seventy-five percent (75%) super-majority approval vote of the homeowners, while terminating the CCRs requires an eighty percent (80%) super-majority approval vote of the homeowners. 

  • Any change to the CCRs will likely require sustained outreach and coordination.

  • Unless a successor association will negotiate Bulk Billing telecommunications services agreement for the homeowners in the Southern Walk community, transition to a retail service option for Internet services reduces or eliminates any leverage for lower prices usually paid by communities with Bulk Billing contracts.

  • The Broadlands Association may not agree to assume telecommunications duties under amended CCRs.


 
bottom of page