By Connie Lorenz / Published February 2024
As a board member and a property manager, all the planning that takes place just to complete something in a community is a tremendous feat. Trying to make everyone happy isn’t going to happen no matter what you do.
If you are lucky enough to have scheduled your upcoming milling and paving project, or for that matter, any roadway project, I hope you are prepared for the resistance you will receive from your neighbors. I am not talking about simple items like someone not moving their vehicles or a guest that wasn’t included in the
correspondence….no, I am talking about the resident that come hell or high water is not letting your project happen without a hitch.
My last project was in a community that I have worked with multiple times over the years, not only applying my rejuvenation product but also as a consultant during their paving project. Because we were familiar with the community and very familiar with the residents and their sense of entitlement, the board added extra programs like sanding the residents’ driveways and providing transportation during the project to help ease the pain—including a little bag of some amazing cookies for their inconvenience!
I was asked to come on site for day one of the project as the residents were freaking out over the weekend prior to the start of the project. Mind you, we had four board meetings over a five-month period, asking the residents if they had any questions or wanted to attend a “What to Expect” meeting. In all the communication with the community, we received one question out of 750 homes….one!
The board had every right to think that because we had completed this process two other times that maybe the residents remembered the ease of the process, the beautiful end results of the rejuvenation application, and the wonderful opportunity to meet up with your neighbors as you admire my team’s hard work! Alas, that was not to be…
Day one started with a resident refusing to move her vehicle as she stated we were “doing it wrong” and parked her car in the middle of the roadway and told my team she wasn’t moving it until she was ready! She said she was calling the police and her attorney, who within minutes showed up….or should I say that a neighbor who happened to be an attorney showed up. He went chest to chest with a board member threatening that if the roadways were shut down and any material was applied, he would have every government agency on site and was going to sue the board for ADA compliance, holding them hostage, causing bunions, and whatever else he wanted…after all, he was an attorney.
My crew, who is quite used to this type of behavior (unfortunately), politely smiled and packed up their equipment and moved to the next roadway as we were shooting five areas that day. Once I arrived on property, I was directed to the welcome center where there were three board members and a property manager in full-on panic mode as the president was waiting for code enforcement. The treasurer was face to face with the attorney who, as chance may have it, wasn’t a licensed attorney in Florida but was known as the community bully; and the woman who abandoned her car was immediately acknowledged by name even though we hadn’t even described her to the board yet. One of the many calls they made was to the postmaster as it was illegal to stop the mail. I was advised that this and many other threats hadn’t stopped since the Saturday evening before we arrived!
I immediately reminded the board that they had held multiple board meetings and had provided numerous opportunities for the residents to insert their opinions and stress their concerns. In other words, they did everything right! I then told them that similar things occurred during the first two applications as well as during the paving project, and that we would all get through this together. I reminded them they had two contracts with me as I was working as a consultant in another part of the community and had ensured that the communication for the rejuvenation program was above and beyond the call of what was required by law.
I met up with my team and began assessing the situation and going around to the neighbors, who were of course supervising the project, and asked what they had witnessed. Once I got the good gossip—I mean information—I was blessed to meet up with a former board member who was for some reason excluded from being a part of the project even though she and I had some of the best communication ever. The residents didn’t cooperate any better, but we had everything in writing and were using the same forms this time as well!
As I was talking with the former board member, code enforcement arrived with lights flashing and raced past me like it was the last day of the month and someone got in trouble for not meeting their quota! I approached the vehicle ready for battle, only to see the same officer from the paving project hop out of the vehicle smiling! After some quick pleasantries and acknowledgement to the new board that this happened with every project in the past, he opened the roadways and drove through the project and signed off that everything was perfect, no code violations were occurring, and no one was being harmed other than the penalty for the delay of project that was going to be tacked on to the invoice.
We discovered that the woman who abandoned the vehicle had misread the map and was mortified by her actions, so she packed her bags and went to a hotel for a couple of days. We pointed out that we did not stop the mail carrier from delivering the mail but stopped the vehicle the mail carrier was in from driving on the newly treated roadways. If the mail carrier didn’t want to walk, we couldn’t make them. As it turns out, the attorney was mad because his roadway wasn’t being treated, but he was being affected by the process of the main roadway closing, which prevented him from having access to his home, and he paid the same HOA fees as everyone else. The ADA person who was supposedly in upheaval was used as a pawn in hopes of stopping the project. However, he was on dialysis and after discovering that one of my guys’ father was on dialysis for five years before passing away, the resident informed him that he didn’t have a problem at all; rather, it was his neighbor using him as an excuse. Lastly, the code enforcement agent said he was called out to this property so much that he no longer took the residents seriously; and oh, by the way, the person who called in with a complaint golfs with one of the local politicians, perhaps pulling a couple of strings! Seriously!
So, as a paving consultant in addition to specializing in asphalt rejuvenation, I want to pass on a few tips before you start your paving project.
When investing in one of the largest expenses on property, remember that property managers are jacks of all trades but masters of none. Their time is spent better managing your meetings and books rather than being accosted by your residents and visitors.
Owner, Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems Inc. (AR Tech)
Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems Inc. (AR Tech) is led by Connie Lorenz, also known as the “Asphaltchick,” and provides education and consultation services on proper asphalt maintenance. As a multi-year recipient of the Florida Readers’ Choice Award and Pulse of the City Awards and one of the Top 50 Asphalt Contractors in the country four years and running through Pavement Maintenance and Reconstruction Magazine, we are the team to turn to! We provide a no-cost, detailed evaluation, property specific, with our proposals and offer board presentations to explain the different options available for pavement maintenance today. For more information on Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems, call 800-254-4732 or visit www.asphaltnews.com.