By Lee Shlafer
August 17, 2021
This marks the first meeting being held in person while at the same time offering residents the option of phoning in to listen to this session. I’d like to acknowledge Ed and Nan Genga who requested that this change be adopted.
It does seem that we have been talking about and dealing with the same issues for many, many months, Covid and the country club. These have been and continue to be challenging matters because we have little to no control over either.
As we began the summer, it was very clear that residents were chomping at the bit to attend events, which have been largely sold-out, interact face-to-face in meetings and simply get our mojo back. We are confronting threats to this lifestyle we have resumed and are taking steps to be careful while trying to continue to provide opportunities for residents to stay active, both indoors and outdoors.
There has been a tremendous efforts made by many members of the groups that have put on events to be sure they are done properly. It takes extra work and time to do this and it has been given generously. To all who have contributed, thank you for the enjoyment you are providing. As I believe most residents are aware, at this time there is not a mask mandate, meaning masks are recommended but not required for vaccinated individuals. This is the policy that is being followed and we will adhere to any revisions should they by issued by either the state or the town.
The news on the country club is that there is no news. At this time we are not aware that the club owner, CBIGG, has finalized a sale with a potential purchaser. This does not mean that it could not still happen. We have encountered some stumbling blocks. Demands for revisions to covenants that have been in place for many years, demands for time frames to be met that were not remotely possible. There is a possibility that the course will be closed in September.
Should that occur, what takes place after that is not clear. I believe there is a need for a plan to be developed in the near future to address the different possible scenarios that might arise. I believe a committee, to include legal counsel as advisors working with Fred, should be formed to identify the steps that would need to be taken for these various scenarios with the goal of sharing that information with residents. It is understood that no action, as opposed to a plan, can actually be executed until there is a definitive move by OCC.
This review would also include a thorough understanding of what, if any, options exist to modify the covenants with the country club that I addressed at the OVCA meeting last month. These covenants are very strong legal documents written with the intent of being extremely difficult to change for the protection and well-being of Oronoque Village. I hope that by the time of the Annual Meeting in September, there will be more specific information to share with the community. Having made these comments, I remain hopeful that a buyer will emerge.
The annual audit is being conducted by our audit firm, Nanavaty, Nanavaty and Davenport. They expect to conclude their work by mid-September and their report will follow shortly thereafter.
I am going to steal a bit of the Communications Committee report and talk a little about the subject of surveys. As you will hear shortly, one is about to be released and more are planned. We hope to use the portal to do surveys, but with or without that tool, we anticipate asking more questions and soliciting more feedback on topics believed to be of interest and importance to residents. For surveys to be really effective, they need responses, so I am asking now and will ask again, when you get the survey please fill it out and return it. The information will be compiled and shared. It will be interesting and informative and transparent. The data may lead to changes or decisions that will benefit our community. Please participate.
Finally, as mentioned before, district elections will be taking place soon, before the next regular OVCA Board meeting in October. Please give consideration to being a candidate and please take the time to attend your district election meeting and vote. We need residents to be involved for our system of governance to succeed. Please give serious thought to being an involved Villager.
Fred Rodriguez, executive director, provided an explanation of the activity that has been taking place between Oronoque Country Club and Oronoque Village over the last several months. He explained that, in late winter, the club ownership approached OV stating that they planned to close in the spring and asking if OV had an interest in purchasing the club. Our response was “yes” because it was felt that was a way to protect our interests in the land that surrounds us.
OV signed a nondisclosure agreement with OCC and engaged, through the Tax District, a golf consultant. The plan was for the Tax District to make the acquisition which would be tax-free and then either find a company that would run the club or would purchase it from the Tax District. Various potential buyers were found but decided not to pursue a purchase after becoming familiar with the condition of the clubhouse and course.
Despite having signed a letter of intent with OCC, OV received no further communication from the club’s ownership. The club continued to operate into the summer and the club’s owners continued to be noncommunicative. Recently, buyers came forward who seemed to have a genuine interest, however, upon learning of the restrictive covenants that exist, for the protection of Oronoque Village, between OV and OCC and the difficulty of changing them, they decided not to pursue a purchase. The club ownership is now announcing to its members that the club will close at the end of September unless a buyer comes forward.
At this time we are aware of one potential purchaser who is familiar with the covenants and has an interest in acquiring the club. We remain hopeful, but uncertain, about the outcome of this potential sale. One final note: We have recently learned from legal counsel that should OV have title to OCC at any point, we would be, along with all other parties who have had or do have title to the club, liable for any environmental issues that arise at the club. Such issues are not unusual at golf facilities, therefore we have been strongly advised against having any acquisition interest in the club.
Under new business, the Board dealt with three motions. The Architectural Committee recommended a revision to the standard for windows. The revision involved the issue of windows in bedrooms meeting the requirement for egress, windows needing to be installed by a licensed contractor and the responsibility for painting the window. The motion passed unanimously.
A second issue involving the Architectural Committee was the appeal of the committee’s decision to not allow a unit owner’s request for a sheetrocked, rather than dropped ceiling in their lower level. The Board voted to deny the appeal by a vote of 4 in favor and 9 opposed to allowing the sheetrocked ceiling.
The third motion brought to the Board was to rescind the motion passed by the Board at the July meeting to allow an election guide with paid advertisements by candidates.The motion passed by a vote of 12 in favor of rescinding and 1 abstention.
On the subject of the guide, it was suggested that the community will be surveyed to determine if they have an interest in having information about the candidates running in a municipal election made available to them in some manner.
The final piece of new business was a discussion of the policy for allowing guests in the clubhouses if they are vaccinated. The Board asked that this issue be referred to the House Standing Committee for a recommendation and be put on the agenda for the October OVCA meeting.
600 North Trail Stratford, CT 06614