Virginia State Bar

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Real Property

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Meeting Minutes - June 13, 2014

Virginia State Bar
Real Property Section
Minutes of the Joint Annual Meeting of the Real Property Section and the Board of Governors and Area Representatives

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Pursuant to due notice, the joint annual meeting of the Virginia State Bar ("VSB") Real Property Section and its Board of Governors and Area Representatives convened at 11 :40 a.m., Friday, June 13, 2014, in Gannett Room B, Oceanaire Resort Hotel, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Section Chair, William L. Nusbaum, presided, and Secretary/Treasurer, Susan Walker, recorded the minutes. Also present in person were Vice Chair Cooper Youell, Steve Gregory, Paul Melnick, Mark Williamson, John Hawthorne, Susan Pesner, Mark Graybeal, Harry Purkey, Ed Waugaman, Christina Meier, Ron Wiley, Jr., Chuck Lollar, Randy Howard, Barbara Goshorn, Ann Gourdine, Naveed Kalantar, Kathryn Byler, Philip Hart, Lewis Biggs, Page Williams, Michael Barney, and Eric Adamson.

I. Welcome. The Chair called the meeting to order, welcomed everyone, and asked each participant to introduce him/herself. A quorum was present.

II. Approval of Minutes. The Chair presented the minutes of the Spring Meeting of the Section held on March 7, 2014, and asked for any corrections, modifications or comments. Mr. Gregory moved for the minutes to be adopted as drafted, and Mr. Waugaman seconded the motion. The minutes were unanimously approved, and copies of the approved minutes are filed in the Minute Book.

III. Financial Report.

A. The Chair presented the Section's April, 2014 financial report, a copy of which is attached to these Minutes. The Chair explained that, as is always the case, two-thirds of the Section's budget remains unspent going into the last 60 days of the fiscal year. Summer meeting-related expenses, including the luncheon, dinner, and travel and hotel for out of town attendees, constitute a substantial portion of the budgeted expenses. The Chair explained that, in order to be reimbursed section meeting travel ($.56/mile) and hotel expenses (one night), one must complete the reimbursement form found on the Virginia State Bar's website and submit it before the end of the fiscal year. Ordinarily, reimbursement requests must be approved by the Chair prior to submission to the Virginia State Bar (VSB); however, this time of year, they should be submitted directly to our VSB liaison, Dolly Shaffner. Next, the Chair introduced Ms. Shaffner and asked her to describe her role to the Section. Ms. Shaffner indicated that she is the behind-the-scenes person who sets up conference calls for the meetings, processes travel vouchers, sends e-mail blasts about real estate seminars and section meetings, and the like.

IV. New Area Representatives. The Chair recognized Mr. Hart, who presented Lori Schweller of the Charlottesville Office of LeClair Ryan. In her practice Ms. Schweller has represented national golf course operators, done extensive condominium work, and negotiated conservation easements, amongst other things. The Chair noted that Ms. Schweller served on the Section's nominating committee this year, as well. Mr. Hart moved that Ms. Schweller be elected as an area representative. Mr. Barney seconded the motion. Next, the Chair recognized Ms. Pesner, who presented John Hawthorne, noting that he would be the first legacy area representative, following his father who served as an area representative from Lunenberg County during the early years of the Section. Mr. Hawthorne spoke that his practice has focused on real estate since he graduated from law school, and he would enthusiastically accept the appointment. Ms. Pesner's motion to elect Mr. Hawthorne as an area representative was seconded by Mr. Wiley. Finally, the Chair invited Ann Gourdine to join as an area representative, which invitation Ms. Gourdine accepted. The elections of Lori Schweller, John Hawthorne, and Ann Gourdine as area representatives were unanimously approved.

V. The Fee Simple.

a. Procedure for submitting article topics/electronic vs. hard copy distribution: The Chair encouraged anyone who has an idea for a Fee Simple article to run the idea by the editor before committing the Section to publish the article. Taking this step will avoid embarrassment in the event the editor does not accept the proposed article idea. While a large responsibility of committee chairs is to solicit articles, they should likewise submit the topic to the editor before finalizing plans for the article. The Chair then recognized Mr. Gregory, who stated that the Spring issue, which will contain the legislative and case law updates, should be ready for publication bye-blast on the following Monday. Mr. Gregory raised the issue of whether Section members should have the option to receive The Fee Simple in hard copy rather than electronically. Currently, print copies are only sent to Section members with no e-mail address, to the authors, and to the Virginia law schools. The rest of the Section members receive it only bye-blast, and it is also posted on the Section website. Ms. Meier recalled that there has been an unadvertised policy that a Section member who desires to receive The Fee Simple in hard copy could request it. Mr. Gregory recalled that the policy to send electronic copies to all and hard copies only to those who make request was enacted three years ago when Paul Bellegarde was Chair. The purpose was to save money on printing and mailing. After much discussion, it was decided by consensus that the next edition of The Fee Simple will announce the heretofore unadvertised option to receive the publication in hard copy.

b. Student Editorial Assistant - Mr. Gregory lauded the skill and dedication of student editorial assistant, Caitlin Cater. Even though she has now graduated, after she completes a two-year internship in Washington, DC, and takes the Bar exam, she plans to return to Virginia to practice. Mr. Gregory requested to keep her on as the editorial assistant and continue to pay her at the same student rate. Ms. Meier, joined by Mr. Melnick and seconded Mr. Wiley, moved that she be kept on as paid editorial assistant for one year, and then the matter be revisited. In the ensuing discussion, Ms. Byler questioned whether, after Caitlin passes the Virginia Bar, she would join the Section. If so, is there any provision permitting or prohibiting the Section from compensating a Section member for services to the Section. Mr. Lollar then proposed amending the motion to add a caveat that Caitlin be retained as a paid editorial assistant, so long as the Section Bylaws permit it. The motion as amended passed unanimously.

c. Dedication of current issue to Court Traver - Mr. Gregory announced that the Spring issue of The Fee Simple is devoted to Court Traver. A copy signed by all contributors will be presented to his widow, Geri Traver. Mr. Gregory further asked that Geri be invited each year to the dinner at the Advance Seminar to present the Traver Award. The Chair wondered whether doing so would set a precedent for inclusion of other widows and widowers, though the distinguishing factor is that the award is named for this widow's husband. At Mr. Wiley's suggestion, the matter was tabled for future discussion.

d. Articles for Fall Issue - Mr. Gregory reported that, due to the size of the Spring issue of The Fee Simple, two articles will be carried over for publication in the Fall issue. Even so, more articles are needed for the Fall issue. The deadline for article submission is October 11,2014.

VI. CLE Programs. The Chair note that all three of the Section's programs have been completed for the year, and he solicited feedback about the programs. The Secretary noted that while the jointly sponsored Annual Meeting Showcase Seminar on "P3 's" was generally well attended, she wondered whether participation from the Section was greater or less than in past years. Ms. Pesner noted fewer Section members in attendance at the program than usuaL Mr. Wiley observed that making the 9:30 a.m. seminar time was difficult coming from Charlottesville, unless one came the night before. Further, he observed that while the topic was interesting from a civic perspective, it contained little real property practice-related content. The Chair stated that the earlier program time enabled us to add lunch to the business meeting. Mr. Gregory commented favorably on the two hour format of the program. Next, the Chair inquired whether there were any hot topics for upcoming seminars. Mr. Williamson mentioned "crowd funding", where someone goes on the internet and invests in a real estate deal. Mr. Barney asked whether there has been a tightening of privacy rules that affected real estate transactions.

VII. Unfinished Business.

a. Budget Surplus. The Chair stated he was awaiting final numbers from Nancy Kern at Virginia CLE to determine how much was used of the funds allocated to subsidize Section members' tuition at the real estate seminars. The Chair expressed that he hopes the Section can reenact a similar policy in the next fiscal year. Ms. Pesner moved that the Board be authorized to allocate whatever surplus remains to fund CLE tuition subsidies. Ms. Gourdine seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. The Chair cautioned that, based on past experience, we may have to contend with State Bar Council to be allowed to keep the surplus for CLE tuition credit.

b. Items from the Floor. - None.

VIII. New Business.

a. Committee Reports.

i. Standing Committees.

A. Fee Simple. The newsletter committee's written report was submitted by Mr. Gregory and circulated prior to the meeting

B. Membership. The Membership Committee's written report was submitted by Mr. Hart and circulated prior to the meeting.

C. Technology. Committee Chair Mark Graybeal stated that the committee would convene by conference call prior to the next meeting. The committee will be looking into pdf search capabilities.

ii. Substantive Committees.

A. Commercial Real Estate. No report.

B. Common Interest Communities. No report.

C. Creditors' Rights and Bankruptcy. Committee Chair Lewis Biggs intends to search out suitable topics for a Fee Simple article. Ms. Pesner suggested that an article could be written to address what activities we, as real estate practitioners, engage in that constitute debt collection. For example, does writing a letter notifying a party to a real estate contract that he is in breach of the contract constitute debt collection? Mr. Biggs indicated he would look for someone to address this topic in an article.

D. Eminent Domain. The Eminent Domain Committee's report was submitted and circulated prior to the meeting. Committee Chair Chuck Lollar indicated that two potential Fee Simple articles have been volunteered by members of the committee. He further spoke of several issues of current interest to the Committee. First is the question of whether proffers and dedications which a municipality requires as a condition to rezoning constitute a taking. Second is whether changes/reduction in visibility/resulting from a governmental project constitute a taking. Third is the question of whether there is a basis for the government to condemn "underwater" properties. Finally, he noted that a legislative study group is looking into making procedural changes to Title 25 of the Virginia Code. Such changes would include, for example, a requirement to send a property owner a copy of the recoded certificate of take and accompanying plat within a reasonable time after the condemnation. Finally, he noted that Title 33.1 is being recodified as Title 33.2 effective October 1, 2014. The eminent domain committee has around 40 members.

E. Ethics. The Committee's report of its June 11,2014 teleconference meeting submitted by Chair Paul Melnick and circulated at the meeting. With regard to an article regarding maintaining client confidentiality when, for example, a computer technician is working on a computer containing client information or when files are stored in the cloud. Mr. Biggs pointed out that the VSB's technology seminar may have addressed this topic already. Mr. Gregory suggested the possibility of reprinting the materials, with Virginia CLE's permission.

F. Law School Liaison. No report.

G. Land Use and Environmental. No report.

H. Residential Real Estate. No report.

I. Title Insurance. No report.

b. Items from the Floor. - None.

IX. Chair's Comments. The Chair expressed thanks for the honor of leading the Section. Unlike any other organization, he said, leading this Section comes with the terrifying knowledge that those you are leading know more than you do. The experience of leading the Section has been intellectually stimulating as well as pleasurable, due to the strong collegiality of the members. He commented on the special care and affection that exists amongst us, which exists because of the effort made to socialize with one another.

X. Elections.

a. Report of Nominating Committee and Election of Members to the Board of Governors. The Chair explained that under the Section's bylaws, the nominating committee consists of the immediate past chair, current chair, vice chair, and two Section members who are not eligible for election. Those two members were Lori Schweller and Larry McElwain. There are six openings on the Board of Governors, resulting from three members' current terms expiring, two having served the maximum number of terms, and one opting not to serve a third term. Before announcing the nominating committee's slate, the Chair asked whether there were any additional nominations from the floor. Hearing none, the slate of six nominees to serve a three year board term beginning July 1, 2014, is as follows: F. Lewis Biggs, Kathryn Byler, Ken Dickenson, Mark W. Graybeal, Susan S. Walker, and Ron D. Wiley, Jr. Mr. Lollar moved that the nominations for the Board of Governors be closed, and Mr. Williams seconded the motion. The Chair called for a vote, and the foregoing nominees were elected by unanimous consent.

b. Election of Officers. The nominees for officers to serve a one year term beginning July 1,2014, are as follows: Cooper Youell as Chair; Susan Walker as vice chair; and F. Lewis Biggs and secretary/treasurer. Mr. Gregory moved that the nominations for officers be closed, and Mr. Williams seconded the motion. The Chair called for a vote, and the forgoing slate of officers was elected by unanimous consent.

XI. Next Meeting. The Chair announced that the next meeting will be held on Friday, September 12, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. at Virginia CLE in Charlottesville. Conference calling will be available for the meeting.

XII. Adjournment. There being no further business, the Chair adjourned the meeting at approximately 1:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan S. Walker

Meeting Minutes (.pdf) - June 13, 2014