Landscaping and Nutrient Bank

The following FAQs are taken from the Official HOA Fact Sheet. They are broken out here by topic for homeowner convenience. They have been updated with links and line-throughs to show the current status of work completed. (All links open in a new tab.) You can see the FULL OFFICIAL FAQs here to verify that all information is accurate to the official version. This page is provided only for ease of reading and convenience in referencing additional information.

For a thorough discussion of all items relating to the nutrient bank, please view the official, unedited video of the November 6, 2019 informational meeting presented by the HOA attorney and the Nutrient Bank Sponsors, Conservation Plus. Please note: There have been claims made by a homeowner that the cart path upkeep will increase HOA fees beyond the verified $720 number provided by the HOA Board and based on data provided by a general contractor and verified by an independent Certified Public Accountant and a 30 year maintenance reserve study completed by a Certified Professional Engineer from the same firm that performed the most recent reserve study on our current HOA facilities. This is categorically incorrect. Please refer to Official FAQ# 28 below. The cart path concrete is not required to be kept up by the HOA. The cart path is not a sidewalk. It will be treated as a nature trail.

  1. What will it cost to insure the golf course land and clubhouse?
     
    Farmer’s Insurance quoted a price for insurance that is already included within the provisional annual fee increase that is being refined by the Board. This price has now been updated to include all property and liability for the acquisition plus current property. Current property coverage has also been significantly increased to allow for full replacement cost. The final price is approximately $5,000 more than is currently paid by the HOA for existing coverage and Virginia Oaks facilities. Farmers walked the entire golf course property and determined that the land will fall under Virginia’s recreation laws. The former cart path will be treated as a “paved trail,” so while the HOA will do its best to keep it clear of weeds and brush, anyone who uses it will do so at their own risk-not the HOAs.
  1. What maintenance needs to be done to the land and paths after the HOA acquires it?
     
    The areas around the clubhouse and along the street frontages need to be cleaned up and cleared of weeds. Approximately 7 acres of golf course property abuts our street frontage and will need to be maintained, as well as approximately 4 acres surrounding the clubhouse. Some plants and visible trees that have died may need to be replanted. There are trees that have fallen across the cart path, bushes and limbs that have grown over it, and weeds that have grown up around that. The HOA will want to clean that up and keep it clear. The irrigation system around the clubhouse needs to be repaired. The HOA has included within its repair estimates a line item for initial landscaping work to bring the golf course property in line with current HOA common area. The HOA will want to mow on either side of the path and control weeds that grow in the cracks between the concrete sections. The HOA will need to cut brush around the stormwater ponds and water features and do some basic repairs. Then the HOA will need to hire a company to treat for algae and duckweed occasionally. The HOA will also want to remove the netting on the former driving range and will look into having the posts removed as well.
     
    Funds have been included within the provisional proposed final $720 annual fee increase to account for all these costs completely.
  1. What golf course property will be maintained after the HOA purchase?
     
    All golf course street front property and about 4 acres around the clubhouse will be maintained to the same Class A standard as HOA property is currently maintained. The immediate (one mower width) area on either side of the cart path will be mowed every other week and the path will be kept clear and free of weeds. The ponds will be cared for, although dredging the ponds is County responsibility. Individual homeowners will have the option to submit an application to trim or otherwise maintain areas behind their homes or between and around the newly planted trees in the Nutrient Bank, as long as that maintenance doesn’t violate the Nutrient Bank restrictions. Once such approval is received, this maintenance can be performed by individual homeowners or by a contractor hired by the homeowner.
  1. What if we want to add additional amenities later, like a dog park or additional parking for the townhomes?
     
    Having the extra acreage would allow the HOA flexibility to add additional facilities in future. Such amenities are not currently being budgeted, but may be considered if additional savings can be found within the renovation budget.
  1. What is a Nutrient Bank and how does it involve Virginia Oaks?
     
    To reduce environmental impacts, developers have to consider how their projects will impact the environment. Under Virginia law, instead of taking environmental measures directly on their projects-which sometimes isn’t possible-they can instead trade credits generated by environmental savings elsewhere in the region so that the overall environmental impact balances out. They pay for this credit, so there is incentive for someone elsewhere in the region to use land in a more environmentally beneficial way to generate “credit” that can be sold or traded. This is a one-time credit-but the change in the way the land is used is lasting. The environmental credits created by a single property form a Nutrient Bank.
     
    In Virginia Oaks, the golf course owners planted trees on much of the golf course to reduce the amount of certain elements such as nitrogen and/or phosphorous that were involved in how the property was previously used. This created a one-time credit that they could exchange through a brokerage. Now that the Virginia Oaks Nutrient Bank has been established, the land must remain planted with trees and certain restrictions will apply to how it is used.
  1. Many of the trees planted in the Nutrient Bank have died. Would the HOA be required to replace those tree?
     
    No. First, the trees were planted at a higher density to account for some anticipated problems. Second, some of the trees may come back-transplant shock can make a tree go dormant for a period before it comes back. Finally, maintaining the trees is the responsibility of the Nutrient Bank “Sponsor,” which is Conservation Plus, not the responsibility of the “Landowner,” which would be the HOA. The HOA is required not to cut down the trees and to abide by the terms of the restrictive covenants which prohibit activities that would negatively impact the ability of the property to maintain its environmentally friendly status.
    III. Monitoring, Maintenance & Reporting
     
    B. Maintenance Criteria – The landowner will maintain the land conversion areas as needed to ensure that conversion activities are providing the nutrient reductions as detailed in this plan. If the Sponsor identifies any areas during the periodic site inspections that require remediation, the Sponsor will undertake activities necessary to bring these areas into compliance
     
    Source: Virginia Oaks Nutrient Bank Nutrient Reduction Implementation Plan, pg 5, 5/17/2019
  1. Who owns the Nutrient Bank?
     
    The Virginia Oaks Nutrient Bank has already been established on parts of the property by the former golf course owners. They planted the trees and put Conservation Plus in place as the Nutrient Bank “Sponsor.” Conservation Plus acts as the Broker for trading the nutrient credits, and they will be responsible for ensuring that a specific density of trees is maintained on the property in compliance with the restrictions and covenants that were put in place as part of the Virginia Oaks Nutrient Bank. The HOA, as the new Landowner, would not be responsible for any of that. The HOA will have to comply with the restrictions of the easement. For example, the HOA and homeowners cannot cut down the newly planted trees nor introduce nonĀ­native plants. There are restrictions on types/quantities of herbicides and pesticides used on the newly planted areas of property.
    V. Other Criteria
     
    F. Duty of Property Owner- Property Owner, its successors and assigns, will be bound by and be compelled not to violate the Restrictive Covenant, which is designed to sustain the nutrient reductions achieved at the Bank in perpetuity.

     
    Source: Virginia Oaks Nutrient Bank Application, VA DEQ Nonpoint Source Trading Coordinator 5/17/2019
  1. Do the Nutrient Bank restrictions apply everywhere on the property we are purchasing?
     
    No. Within the Nutrient Bank, there are land “conversion” areas and “nonĀ­conversion” areas. Areas that have been recently planted with trees (converted) generated “credits” which result in a one-time payout for reductions in specific elements that have a negative environmental impact (nitrogen and/or phosphorus). The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) imposes restrictions on those conversion areas to ensure that the environmental impact reductions continue. Any other areas that did not generate credits (non-conversion areas) do not have restrictions. The HOA can cut existing/mature trees in non-conversion areas to build a pavilion or parking lot, for example, or trade an existing non-conversion area of mature trees or brush for a conversion area acre-for-acre. In other words, the HOA would have a lot of flexibility.
    • 1. Non-conversion areas, property covered by existing woods or brush at the time the Nutrient Bank was created (July 2019) could be built on with no impact to the Nutrient Bank.
    • 2. Conversion areas of the Nutrient Bank, those planted with trees in spring of 2019, could be used with DEQ approval if a corresponding acreage of HOA property was planted in exchange.
    • 3. Conversion areas could be removed from the Nutrient Bank by purchasing credits from a different Nutrient Bank at market rates.
    Source VA DEQ Nonpoint Source Trading Coordinator Derick Winn 5/17/2019
  1. Can we improve the appearance of Nutrient Bank areas that now look bad or hurt our views?
     
    The Nutrient Bank restrictions and covenants spell out what can and can’t be done to conversion areas of the Nutrient Bank. Specifically, the HOA can’t cut down trees. If the HOA owns the land on which the nutrient bank sits, an application process will be provided to allow homeowners or the HOA to clean up grass and underbrush and perform some maintenance that would make the area look better. Non-toxic pest control can be used and native shrubs and plants can be established at the edges of conversion areas to keep weeds from encroaching into yards. The HOA is unlikely to undertake this as an Association in areas behind homes, but individual homeowners can decide whether to do that on their own. Again, an application process will be provided for this.
     
    Landscaping costs projected currently as part of operating expenses for the acquisition will cover golf course areas that front the street, approximately 4 acres of the clubhouse area, mowing along both sides of the cart path, and pond care. The HOA would secure professional guidance and work with the Nutrient Bank Sponsor to help the community understand the rules and to find ways to work within those rules to give the HOA and homeowner’s guidelines, assistance, and flexibility to improve the appearance of areas behind homes and throughout the community.
    III. Implementation Description
     
    Probable Species: The Sponsor will be installing coniferous and deciduous species. Volunteer forest species will likely include cedar, red maple, sweet gum, and other successional species depending upon the location within the Project Limits of the land conversion area.
     
    Trees/acres: The Sponsor is targeting the initial establishment of a minimum of 400 stems per acre to include both installed and volunteer species. Installation rates will average between 500 to 600 stems per acre. Supplemental plantings may be implemented if necessary, to maintain a minimum of 400 stems per acre. Fertilizers/herbicides: The landowner and project Sponsor will not use any fertilizers in the land conversion areas to assist in forest establishment or at any time while nutrient credits are being generated and transferred for permitted activities. The Sponsor may use Oust or similar product to assist the installed species with survival and growth during the stages of development in former urban pervious areas. Areas undergoing urban pervious to fallow conditions may utilize the use of herbicides for vegetation control in conjunction with mowing or brush hogging which is considered routine maintenance for access or use of the Project Limits by Landowner and easement holder.
     
    Source: Virginia Oaks Nutrient Bank p.2 Virginia Oaks Nutrient Bank LAND CONVERSION AREA MANAGEMENT PLAN August 1, 2019