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Concerned Shadowood Owners Want New Board Control

by Karen Goff February 17, 2016 at 10:00 am 64 Comments

Shadowood CondosA group of Shadowood Condominium owners say they are fed up with mismanagement at the 450-unit development and are mobilizing for new directors to run for the condo board in March.

Shadowood has had a history of issues over the last several years, including a case in 2012 about the limits of the board to impose fines and rules on owners. That case went all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court.

There was also a political battle in 2012, when condo owner Brian Olivia headed the board and ran “Shadowood in a manner that caused Shadowood to to sue him last year to recover damages for harm down to Shadowood,” current board chair Tom Summakie said in an email to owners.

More than half the units are occupied by renters, so most owners live off-site. Nearly two dozen units are owned by Fairfax County, which offers them as Section 8 housing.

A group that calls themselves “Concerned Co-Owners at Shadowood” has sent a list to other owners of 30 complaints about the neighborhood and its board.

“Are you fed up with or even know that these things may be occurring?” the email reads. It points out that the community website has not been updates in more than a year, that the board dos not communicate with residents, that rules are not enforced and that common areas and properties are dilapidated, among other complaints.

From the “Concerned Co-Owners of Shadowood”:

Absolutely NO communications from the board over the past year? No newsletter? No email notices? No rule enforcement?

Outdated Shadowood website that is little more than a [Board officer] Daniel Chambers fan club? With his family and buddies featured but little useful information posted?

No current minutes? No current audits? No budgets? Thousands of our condo fees used to create and “maintain” this fan club website?

Where is the transparency the current board long ago promised?

When are the board meetings? Are they held in secret? Is proper notice given for each board meeting as the law requires?

Dilapidated property. Is there graffiti in your stairwell? Litter all over the property? Dangerous playgrounds with trash, condoms, needles and damaged and dangerous play equipment?

Trash dumpsters infested with rodents and looking like the county dump?

Chemicals left out for our children to see and get poisoned?

Dead trees and overgrown vegetation on the property? “Flowers” planted? Where?

Where are the promised FHA and VA financing certifications?

Daniel Chambers is getting paid by Shadowood, thousands of your condo fee dollars, as a self serving “consultant”?

The wife of one of the board members is an SCA staff member?

The board are getting their telephone service and computers paid for by Shadowood? Using our condo fees?

Increasing condo fees (but terrible maintenance) without any warning or notice? Doesn’t the law require open discussion about condo fees and require advance notice?

Board meetings on Christmas Eve?

The staff getting paid big bonuses for giving out the parking decals? Parking decals that were not issued on time by the board’s own rules and regulations?

Elimination of the $38 Comcast cable and internet bargain we previously enjoyed? Are you now paying $125 or more for less service? Do you have to pay for all of your Comcast boxes now?

Unenforced rules? Packs of unsupervised kids running around the property at all hours of the day and night? Damaging your cars and other property? Stealing? Smoking and drinking? Isn’t Shadowood a smoke free property as the website boast?

A murder at Shadowood this summer! See: http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/reston/2015/05/17/suspect-dead-after-home-invasion-in-reston/27502285/ (Editor’s note: There was a shooting death but it was later determined to have been from a fight among acquaintances and not a home invasion).

Stairwell tiles that are faded and pulling up? Rusty stairwell members? Are they even safe? Broken notice boards and mailboxes?

Special parking privileges for the board and their families?

Board meeting minutes not released for over a year?

Raising the condo fee and bundling all the utilities together? Our condo fees are outrageous at nearly $500 a month while property values decline.

The board of directors suing a former board member and defunct management company and dropping that lawsuit? After spending tens (or hundreds) of thousands of our condo fees on that lawsuit?

The board of directors settling a lawsuit against a former board member and paying the board member $12,000 of our condo fees?

Is the board of directors improperly spending our condo fees to endorse the current president and treasurer?

Is the current board president misusing association resources to solicit proxies and sending defamatory messages on association letterhead?

Has Fairfax County Housing, owner of more Shadowood units than anyone else, delivered on its promises to assist the association and provide counsel and guidance?

Are your property values dropping, while your condo fee skyrockets? Did a recent unit sell for $180K or less when the board is boasting that units are “market valued” at $200k and more?

Does our community have a nickname of “Shadowslum”? “Shadodump”?

Does our community have a drug problem?

Has the current board worked with the police to address crime, drugs and the out-of-control thugs?

These are just a few of our concerns. If you have others, please reply to this email with your concerns. We will take them to the board and the Common Interest Community Ombudsman and Reston Association for action if appropriate or we will assist you in doing them.

Summakie said in an email that he shares some of the concerns of the residents, but there are also many factual errors on the list. But there are also lots of exaggerations and errors — no bonuses have been paid to the staff, no board meetings have been held on Christmas Eve, all board meetings have been publicly noticed, the management sent to the owners many communications during 2015, he said.

Summakie pointed out in a letter to owners that in the two years since Olivia was replaced on the board, the board has significantly reduced expenses and bank debt and has lowered owners’ assessment fees. Shadowood will also have a security camera system installed soon, he said.

Summakie is also concerned about Chambers, who served on the board from 2007 to 2014. Chambers is running for re-election to the board, and Summakie called him “deceitful and dangerous when in a position of authority,” in the letter to owners.

Chambers, who served as a paid consultant to the board in 2015, says he cares about Shadowood. He says assessments have risen 15 percent and that there is a lack of transparency, among other complaints about the board.

“There are issues,” he said of Reston’s largest condo complex. “But these are good people. My philosophy is we need to be a board and deal with the higher level issues and not be a maintenance management board.  The major problem right now is very simple. We have a board that is overwhelmed, and when you are overwhelmed you do what you can to keep treadmill going before you fall off.”

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Gotta love it when the HoAs air their dirty laundry.

    Just out of curiosity, how’s that Section 8 thing working out for you?

    • SouthRestonResident

      Diversity is great! Or so says anyone that doesn’t have to live with it

    • Mike M

      Agreed about the dirty laundry. I was an HoA President in a nice development and I can say I never had a less rewarding nor more thankless task. I very reluctantly got the job by showing up at meetings, even though I worked in Europe for weeks at a time. Then my predecessor abandoned his mortgage and fled the state. He and the Treasurer had set up payments for their “services.” It was never clear to me that the issue was put to a vote. The absolute worst violation offenders were the absentee landlords, two of whom were out of the country – one with the State Department, one was unknown. They both received County subsidy payments. Another absentee landlord sent her daughters to THE most exclusive girls school in the state but was continuously behind in her payments due to “cash flow problems” or something we had not done. People showed up at my door with hostile demands, left ugly misspelled notes on their neighbors door singed “The Board,” and the RA was universally recognized as our enemy. We had a petty crime problem, and the police were no help. We had a 20-something son dealing drugs out of mama’s house (subsidized), and the Police told us we should not be concerned since they “had it under investigation and couldn’t say anything more about it. We had a guy who had someone living in a tent behind his house for a short while. A visitor to his house knifed someone. (We also had a notable) retired pro football player living there for years. I moved. Some really good families moved in and straightened things out. But the long and the short – people act like they are kids and the governing institutions are their mom and dad.

    • DoTheMath

      Chuck exactly how is this a Sec 8 thing? Please explain– 438 of the 450 Shadowood units are PRIVATELY owned. Some by off-site investor/owners some by resident owners. How is this problem anything but gross mismanagement of the Board which is elected by the OWNERS!

    • Alan Krishnan

      Section 8 is never the problem. It is the tenant who is the problem. “Entitlement” never works.

  • Guest

    Reston residents are well aware of the continuing problems that exist within the Shadowood community , and the poor image that Shadowood has due to allegations of mismanagement and the apparent neglect of the physical condition of that neighborhood as a whole. And the relatively large number of subsidized housing units does not help matters, neither do the disputes and controversies among the named persons here does not help. Until a new board is in place there may be little hope for that neighborhood, Buyers beware!

    • Greg

      Is there ever good news from Shadowood? Why would anyone want to live there let alone invest $180k?

      Look at the property values and how they have declined:

      http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/ffxcare/search/commonsearch.aspx?mode=address

      08/31/2005 $301,000 DOGAN HIDIR HOORAZAR NILOUFAR

      From $301k down to $182K! Talk about a race to the bottom.

      The current board of directors pay themselves as consultants? That’s just wrong. In addition to the harm they have done to property values, what other harm have they done?

      What a bunch of incompetent hacks those directors are.

  • Sec8

    Are section 8 dwellers living in shadowood required to pay the annual $600 RA membership fee?

    • JohnGaltMasterPlanner

      Nope – and really not helping with the lack of funding for teachers either. When they driving property values down, sucking up ESL lessons and getting free lunch it’s no wonder the schools suffer

      • Greg

        It always makes us wonder what’s more important to the BoS — getting more subsidized housing / residents / voters or more school funding (which it does not need). I guess the answer is obvious, so please pardon my rhetorical question.

      • Sec8

        Oh that seems fair. Leave it to the homeowners to cover the RA funds while the section 8 dwellers bring down the property values. Win/Win!!

    • Don’tBeAHater

      Again people- do the math. There are 12 County owned units– 12 out of 400. It’s hardly enough to plague the entire community.

      • Karen Goff

        Actually there are about 21. “Nearly two dozen.”

        • Greg

          Why does the county own any units? It alleges it needs money, so sell them, invest the cash from the sales and then spend the annual property tax stream as needed.

          • SouthRestonResident

            21 properties at a going rate of $185k to live in the development. Price to sell it at $175k and either invest or put into a rainy day fund

          • Greg

            And the county get $40,000 a year in property tax on the sold units. The condo and RA will get dues from those 21 units. That’s a win for all.

          • Guest

            You expect $5K in property tax for a $180K condo??? That doesn’t even add up under the new proposed tax rates.
            And the units already pay RA assessment fees.
            Get real!

          • Greg

            As real as it gets, guest, but I left $7323.92 on the table.

            Actual Fairfax County property tax on each Shadowood unit last year was $2253.52. 21 units = $47,323,92. We don’t imagine the county pays itself, so those taxes are never collected and left to be covered by the rest of us who do pay.

            After 40+ years and across the “more than 3500 units” that the county claims it owns, it starts to become real money.

            As you noted, those uncollected taxes are sure to go up this year.

      • ShadoHood

        Clearly it is enough to plague the entire community. Have you ever seen Shadohood?

        • Greg

          I’ve only driven by, quickly. Between the Tobacco Road parking mess along Soapstone adjacent to Shadowood and that nasty shopping center across the street no reason to see more. Look at the weed-infested picture used for this story. I wonder if those the “flowers” the condo pants. No wonder those owners are fed up.

          • SouthRestonResident

            Keep it that way. Don’t go over to that Safeway at night. It’s not safe

      • Mike M

        County-owned. I don’t think that is the only form of subsidy.There is all kinds of subsidy going on. It doesn’t take that many!

      • Why do you bother?

        The county owning units has nothing to do with Sec. 8. Any individual can be receiving Sec 8 assistance.

        • Greg

          I wonder if any of these 1 percenters on the dole live in the Fairfax County-owned units:

          Fairfax is underwriting rents for families making well into six figures: One household getting help makes more than $216,000 a year; another, $184,000. Dozens of others — making $60,000, $70,000, $90,000 — exceed eligibility caps. And they do so with the tacit approval of county housing administrators, who do little to encourage occupants to move on when their fortunes improve.

          And the county always, and especially Hudgins, says there is never, ever anything that can be cut from its bloated budgets.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/29/AR2007092901614.html

    • John Higgins

      Every residential unit in Reston pays the assessment. The owner pays the bill. In theory, like all operating costs, it is passed along to the tenant as part of the rent.

      • Greg

        Does Fairfax County pay the RA and condo assessments? And pass those costs along to its tenants?

    • Why do you bother?

      None of the renters (HALF of the people who live there) pay the RA fee…

      • Guest

        WRONG!

        • Why do you bother?

          Fine, I’ll rephrase: Renters don’t pay DIRECTLY.

  • TheRealODB

    Viva la revolución!

  • Nancy

    As a resident that lives within close proximity to Shadowwood, I hope they oust their board and start anew so their bullcrap can stop messing with nearby property values.

  • Sec8

    Just bulldoze the whole disaster down.

  • SouthRestonResident

    Looks like that section-8 thing has done wonders for property values. I guess Garza was right when she said if you want to live in Reston you really have to pay for it. In this case, paying for it is living with trash and needles and yutes breaking into cars

    • Guest

      Actually, Hudgins made the stupid remark about paying to live in Reston, not Garza. Garza has made a number of other stupid remarks, however.

      • SouthRestonResident

        Thank you for the clarification, it’s hard to remember which one said the more outrageous statement(s)

    • DoTheMath

      The subsidized housing is less than 3% of the total– 12 units out of 400+ how can you blame that on Sec 8? That makes no sense, it would seem that a large part of this, no, all of this is the responsibility of the owners, including the inventor owners who should be more concerned about who they accept as tenants.

      • SouthRestonResident

        2 dozen bad neighbors in a development is 2 dozen bad neighbors too many. Of course, if you think that Sec-8 is not the problem, you could always subsidize and offer to let some live next to you

        It’s broken window theory in real life. The Sec-8 thuggery brings down the property value so others that are looking for places to rent/purchase avoid it, thus lowering the cost until the only people living in Shadowood are those that really shouldn’t be living there.

        The investor owners don’t care, as they are still getting paid. The renters don’t care because they are getting a “steal” of a deal. And the Sec-8 tennants don’t care because they get to live in Reston.

        Everyone that should win loses and everyone that should lose wins.

  • Greg

    “There are [zoning] issues…” including one concerning rats (assuming the rodent kind). There appear to be at least 48 others:

    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fido/complaints/comp_display.aspx?type=addr&addrkey=1521610&cnt=1&stno=&stname=stoneview

    Community Complaint Inquiry

    Complaint # 104256

    Street Address 11629 Stoneview Sq

    Magisterial District Hunter Mill

    Complaint Description Rats

    Agency Health Department

    Status Closed

    Opened Date 05/01/2014

    Closed Date 06/24/2014

    Disposition Substantially Compliant

    Inspector Assigned Rick Kurtz, 703-246-2444

    Notice of Violation

    and/or

    Corrective Work Order No

    Litigation No

    • meh

      if the crazy cat lady in the one unit would let a few of those ferals on the prowel the rat problem would go away.

      • cosmo

        You mean this lady?

  • Greg

    And look at Shadowood’s litigation history: 9 PAGES with nearly 180 lawsuits including Mr. Chambers suing Shadowood. What kind of board sues itself? Doomed.

    https://eapps.courts.state.va.us/gdcourts/nameSearch.do

    GV12017873-00 PETERS, JAMES SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION 09/07/2012 09:30 AM Transfer/Change of Venue Warrant In Debt

    GV12021242-00 PETERS, JAMES SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION 01/07/2013 09:30 AM Non-suit Warrant In Debt

    GV12025236-00 CHAMBERS, DANIEL F SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION 04/23/2013 09:30 AM Case Dismissed Warrant In Debt

    GV12002538-00 CHAMBERS, DANIEL SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION 03/22/2012 09:30 AM Non-suit Warrant In Debt

    GV12018463-00 CHAMBERS, DANIEL F SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION (SCA) 09/27/2012 09:30 AM Not Found/Unserved Warrant In Debt

    GV12016684-00 MOSELEY, GERARD M SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOC 06/10/2013 09:30 AM Non-suit Warrant In Debt

    GV12016685-00 MOSELEY, GERARD M SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOC 06/10/2013 09:30 AM Non-suit Warrant In Debt

    GV12018920-00 MOSELEY, GERARD M SHADOWOOD CONDOMINIUM ASSOC 06/10/2013 09:30 AM Non-suit Warrant In Debt

    • Alan Krishnan

      You said it Greg – now the battle between two of these individuals – James Peters and Daniel Chambers. Where are we headed?

      • Greg

        I hope the owners come to their senses and vote them out!

        • Alan Krishnan

          Greg, sadly only one seat is up for election now and owners are faced difficult choice as both contenders have been on the Board and it is a matter of debate who has done greater damage to the community through law suits, ill-advised changes in infrastructure etc. Unfortunately the current Board of good persons focused more on finding fault with the previous Board and undoing what they had put in place, for NO reason and this has cost the community hundreds of thousands of dollars. No different from National Politics where ACA has been challenged so many times at hundreds of millions of dollars cost to poor tax payers like us!! For better or worse, ACA is here to stay and will not be canceled until the President changes, so why waste time and our money beating your head against the wall? Our smart Congressmen and Senators still waste our money on a battle that should never be fought. Why do you and I expect any better sense with significantly less capable members of the SCA Board ? Unrealistic expectations, will you agree?

  • meh

    The nickname is ShadoHood, and when half the units are “renters” who don’t care about the property value you know its going to go down hill.

    • JohnGaltMasterPlanner

      Inglewood Shadowood up to no good. – Tupac

    • Guest

      Why should they care about property value when their landlords and HOA Board are robbing them blind?

  • Scott H

    I used to live in a nice townhouse cluster about a 5 min walk via trails from SW. Had a lot of foot traffic from SW youths, packages stolen from porches, items stolen from cars. Moved 2 miles away last year and it’s night and day.
    Don’t miss it at all.
    To the person that said the section 8 housing isn’t enough to make a difference, I politely disagree. Sec8 families tend to be single parent households with poor supervision of kids/teens. Plop 12 problem residences in, let’s be honest, a borderline neighborhood, and it starts a slow burn of slowly decreaing values, increased rentals, and an overall decline. It’s a shame. Just another unintended consequence of government.

  • Greg
  • Terry Maynard

    I’m trying to understand why people here think their comments about affordable housing in Shadowood has any bearing on the apparently poor leadership the HOA has had from its Board and the exploitative behavior of some absentee landlords.

    Nothing I see in this article implies, much less says, that the Board problem is caused by Section 8 housing residents. In fact, it seems quite the contrary–absentee property owners not meeting their obligations, a few Board people exploiting their leadership positions for personal enrichment, the Board generally failing to carry out its responsibilities judiciously, etc.

    Please stop your mindless bashing of the less fortunate people who actually have to live with this crap forced on them by irresponsible owners and an ineffective, maybe corrupt, Board.

    • Guest

      Completely agree Mr. Maynard, absolutely absurd to think that 20 subsidized units out of a total 450 have somehow destroyed a community!

    • Sec8

      “And, FWIW, I suspect that all or nearly all the misbehaving people described in this article are Caucasian.”
      Yeah…. I doubt that Terry.

  • Eve Thompson

    I find this commentary so disheartening. Terry is correct that the issues at Shadowood have nothing to do with 21 affordable housing units and everything to do with a failure by the owners to manage their property. These management issues at Shadowood are long standing as documented by Sam Jackman in the links in Karen’s article.

    Condominium living requires a lot of self-governance, if owners advocate their responsibilities then it is going to create serious problems. To lay this at the feet of the 21 occupants who may only be guilty of not earning enough money to live in Reston is really ugly.

    • Greg

      There appear to be a few errors here. For one, the county apparently owns 16 units at Shadowood, not 21. (see LOB review PDF below).

      Further, the county line of business review states the Shadowood units are HUD-funded and reserved for those with “extremely low income.” That’s very different from the so-called “affordable” and “workforce” housing programs that seem to be the current rage.

      “While the program allows new lease-ups for households earning up to 80 percent of the AMI, the FCRHA’s policy is to serve mainly households earning 30 percent of the AMI and below, which meets the federal definition of “extremely low-income.” Tenants generally pay 35 percent of their income for rent. The average income served in the FCRHA’s Public Housing portfolio in FY 2015 was $21,363, or 22 percent of the AMI for a family of three.”

      It would be hard to live anywhere in the USA on that income. it’s nearly impossible in Reston, even at Shadowood, which is not near much (food, education, employment) but other housing units. The Shadowood complex appears to have few resident amenities; what little is there appears to be dilapidated, dangerous and undesirable.

      It appears from the concerned owners that Fairfax County promised something, but failed to deliver?

      “Has Fairfax County Housing, owner of more Shadowood units than anyone else, delivered on its promises to assist the association and provide counsel and guidance?”

      What promises the it make and fail to deliver?

      As an RA insider, what does or has RA done for Shadowood? That’s a lot of revenue to the RA from those 450 Shadowood condos — nearly $300,000 a year.

      In any event, it’s certainly appears clear that the board of directors have failed and its actions, which appear to be criminal, are harming the owners and tenants of all income ranges.

      http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/lob/2016/lob_324.pdf

  • Greg

    Shadowood property values are going down. Currently $157k, not $180k or $200k. Those owners are going to be even more fed up.

    Even worse, a $500 monthly condo fee for a $157k property is very high and very undesirable.

    http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/ffxcare/datalets/datalet.aspx?mode=valuesall&sIndex=3&idx=1&LMparent=138

    • SouthRestonResident

      Some basic napkin math tells me that if you bought that home under the minimum guidelines of an FHA loan 30 year fixed of 200k you’re looking at about $1400 a month for your mortgage with PMI factored in. It’s pure applesauce to believe that an addition $500 is being added on for a condo fee.

      No wonder so many are up in arms

  • There appears to be two groups fighting to control the condo corporation. Hard to tell if either group is interested in the community or just self-gain.

    Maybe time for the courts to replace the board with an appointed administrator.

    • Greg

      Someone would have to initiate a court action, no? The courts won’t step in and throw out the current board, will it?

      In any case, the current board has certainly done little good for anyone but themselves. Maybe the police need to be called?

      • I am not familiar with the Florida Condominium legislation. In Ontario, any owner, group of owners or mortgagee can go to Superior Court and apply for a court-appointed administrator. The administrator replaces the board for a given time. See http://bit.ly/1syus40

        Unless there is clear evidence of fraud, this is not a police matter. This is a private matter involving the owners of a privately-owned corporation. Just like companies on the stock market, some are well run and are good investments and others are disasters.

        Condos are a very risky form of home ownership. I wrote about that here: http://bit.ly/1VElrBP

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