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Millennials in Brandermill urge others to research HOA before buying in

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- No matter your age, everyone knows everyone within the Brandermill Community in Midlothian.

"We have great neighbors," Justin Riegler said.

Named the best planned community in America back in 1977 by Better Homes and Gardens and the National Association of Homebuilders, Brandermill was the first planned community in Chesterfield County.

Today, 13,000 people live there, including Justin Riegler and his wife, Liz.

The Rieglers

"It just seemed like a really family friendly place to live," Liz Riegler said.

They bought their house nearly four years ago after finding the community online before moving to Brandermill from California.

"It gives you a sense of community at first," Justin said.

Justin said he likes the community itself, but he has issues with its Board of Directors and community amenities.

"We literally would not stay in Brandermill for another year if it wasn't for our neighbors," he said.

The Rieglers, and all other homeowners in Brandermill, pay $121 four times a year to Brandermill's Homeowner's Association (HOA).

The money goes toward the upkeep of the community.

The community's Board of Directors, made up of elected volunteers, is responsible for all operations of the HOA.

"We just don't feel like we have a voice," Liz Riegler said.

"It's a bit of the good old boys philosophy," Justin Riegler added.

Board of Directors

Nobody on the Brandermill Board is a millennial and Justin Riegler claims the board often overlooks the concerns of younger residents, like maintenance of walking paths in Brandermill and the landscaping.

"This is the glorious entrance to our subdivision masked very intelligently by a large shrub... You look across the street at Brandermill Woods and for whatever reason or from whatever source, they're getting the funding to keep the entrance to their community looking nice," Justin Riegler said.

The Rieglers also have serious concerns about the upkeep of the community's pools, which the Rieglers opted not to join.

"To me this looks like a very poorly maintained public pool at best it doesn't look like a pool I would be considering to be a private community pool by any means," Justin Riegler said.

The board recently tried to address the pool issue by having residents vote on a proposal to solve the problem, but Brandermill requires 75 percent of voters to vote "yes" for something to pass and that did not happen.

"To put a 75 percent majority necessity on passing a bill is next to impossible," Justin Riegler said.

As millennials, the Rieglers are part of a new generation of homeowners who want more amenities from their community.

In the nearby Hallsley Community, which is more expensive, residents have access to the Hallsley Hopper, a limousine van that chauffeurs residents wherever they want to go.

At Magnolia Green, an eight-lane junior Olympic competition pool will open this summer.

The couple said HOA fees at Brandermill have not kept up with inflation.

In fact, folks with leadership ties in Brandermill told us off the record they are among the cheapest in the region.

The Rieglers said they would be willing to pay more if it meant the community would improve.

But, at this point, they just want to warn others to do their homework before buying into an HOA.

"Don't be overpowered by the beauty of pictures on a very sort of picture friendly website. Do the digging and figure out what you're getting yourself into," Justin Riegler said.

CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit talked to a number of people who are leaders in the Brandermill Community.

None of them wanted to go on camera or be identified, but they did tell her they want more young people to help on the committees that are set up to help transform Brandermill, but they rarely come forward.

The Rieglers

A Board Member told Hipolit the President of the Board, Charlie Davis, is the only person who is allowed to speak to the media.

Hipolit talked to him on the phone, but he told her he did not wish to engage at this moment.

The General Manager of Brandermill, Cynthia Wright, did send Hipolit the following statement:

"Brandermill is proud to be one of the oldest planned communities in the Richmond area. We have watched Midlothian flourish and grow in concert with Brandermill over the years. Being that kind of fixture in the community for a 43 plus year time span means that we do have amenities that are older than the newer communities in the area. The BCA works very hard with our residents, Finance Committee and Board of Directors to ensure a plan to update and replace amenities over the coming years.

BCA will continue to work with residents and volunteers on an ongoing basis to identify areas of improvement both in the changing needs of the community and our continued growth as a premier community on the Swift Creek Reservoir.​"

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