The Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board appears ready to undo a change to the guest card policy that was implemented just a few months ago.
Community Manager Ray Sohl, during the Board’s Monday, May 13 Work Session, said the new policy, which requires that guest cards be assigned to a particular individual, had resulted in “some very serious complaints about the new fees.” The office had been “inundated” with complaints, he added.
The longstanding SLLA guest card policy had allowed Association members to pay $25 for four guest cards that entitled guests to the use of any of the community amenities.
Motivated by a concern that overuse by guests was increasing Association expenses, the previous Board of Directors took the stables and the Northside pool out of the guest card system, implementing a separate fee schedule for use of each of those amenities.
Continuing in the same vein, they tightened up use of the guest card to access the remaining amenities, requiring that guest cards be purchased for specific individuals, rather than being transferrable from, for example, one group of grandchildren visiting on Memorial Day and a separate group visiting on July 4th.
Sohl said the complaints about this last change were “the most serious complaints since I have been here,” and focused on the fact that the new passes are person-specific and unenforceable.
Noting that the roving security patrol short starts in the late afternoon, Sohl said the Associaiton lacks the staff to check guest cards at the playground, tennis courts, and lakes. “Having rules on the books that are unenforceble just breeds contempt for the rules,” he said.
He also noted that the passes have generated only $75 in revenue so far this year, “. . . and the amount of ill will this is creating for the association. . . .”
The Manager’s recommendation was simply to drop the fees for the guest cards, but that recommendation produced an hour of debate among Directors and landowners in attendance.
Director Bill Hirsch questioned whether the guest cards provide any additional level of control over what could be obtained by simply having security ask non-members they encounter to provide the name of their member-host.
George Temple reminded the Board of a situation a few years ago, when Sequoia Point was seriously overcrowded on the weekends due to unauthorized entry by non-residents. “Someone got roving patrol to start carding people, and 75 to 100 had to leave,” Temple said, adding that a few weekends of carding resolved the overcrowding problem permanently.
Hirsch noted that requiring payment for guest cards “has the purpose of preventing folks coming in and getting a whole fistful of guest cards.”
Ultimately, Hirsch moved the matter to the Open Meeting in the form of two separate motions, both of which receive unanimous support from the Board. The first motion would remove the fee for the first four guest cards, and charge $25 for four additional cards. The second motion would eliminate the requirement that guest cards be assigned to a specific individual.
Boat slip deposits
The Directors moved to the Open Meeting a recommendation from Manager Sohl to eliminate the $50 deposit required when a member’s name is added to the waiting list for a boat slip at the Sequoia Point marina. Sohl noted that keeping track of the deposits involved unnecessary bookkeeping for the staff. He suggested that, instead, the member at the top of the waiting list, when a slip comes up, be given 30 days to pay the $400 slip rental fee or forfeit the right to the slip.
But Director Bob Racine noted that the slip waiting list was quite long — prompting calls for adding more slips to the marina — until the deposit requirement was added.
“We were told we needed to build more docks,” Racine said. “But, once we did the deposit, those folks vanished.”
Lake Pumping Policy
A policy proposal that would move responsibility for administering the Association’s lake pumping program from the Lakes and Dam’s Committee to Association staff returned to the May 13 Work Session after concerns were raised during the April 24 Open Meeting that moving nutrient-rich water from Seven Lakes Country CLub’s Lake Windermere had, over time, fouled Little Juniper Lake with algae and aquatic growth.
Manager Sohl provided the Board with water quality tests that he said showed “reflect acceptable ranges for all lakes. There is no evidence to suggest that water quality issues are causing aquatic life growth in Little J.”
The Board moved the matter to the May Open Session, with a request from Director Conrad Meyer that Sohl provide the Board with data on nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the lakes prior to that meeting. Meyer noted that these readings were missing from the Directors’ packet, and had a greater bearing on aquatic growth than did the bateria level readings that were included.
Lake Management Proposal
Also moving to the May Open Meeting is a proposal to spend not more than $13,500 to hire a consultant from May 30 to October 31 to study and help manage the community’s lakes.
An initial proposal was provided by Foster Lake & Pond Management, which Sohl identified as “the premiere company in the state.” Company President Johnny Foster had inspected the lakes and met with the Lakes & Dams Committee during a visit to Seven Lakes.
While noting that it may be difficult to identify other companies offering the same service, the Board asked Sohl to seek out some competitive bids prior to a vote at the May Open Meeting.
Director Meyer asked Sohl to make sure that Foster’s work would include “some opinions on pumping from Windermere. Instead of having folks drawing conclusions based on personal observations, we will have some actual data.”
Dock Extension Denial Appealed
Lake Sequoia resident Greg Lishawa appeared before the Board to appeal a decision by the Architectural Review Board to deny his request to extend his dock thirty feet into the Lake. SLLA rules set the maximum length at twenty feet.
Lishawa noted that his property, situated on the south side of the east end of the lake, is subject to considerable wave action and related sand deposits. In order to protect his boat, he has installed a boat lift, but the lift requires at least two feet of depth, which is difficult to maintain at the current sixteen foot dock length.
ARB Director Hirsch said the committee felt it lacked the authority to grant this variance. He also noted that there are options other than a boat lift that Lishawa could use to raise his boat from the water, without requiring two feet of depth at the dock. He also noted that the ARB and the Board had recently denied a similar appeal from a resident who wanted to put a boat lift on the end of their dock.
The Board voted to move the appeal to the Open Session.
Offsite Horse Shows
Board members recently approved the one-time use of Association horses to attend a horse show, at the request of Stables Manager Kate Pennington. However, when that approval was given, the Directors did not realize that Pennington’s young students, not the manager herself, would be involved in the exhibiting.
“I’m not sue if this is what we had in mind with an amenity — which was about trail rides and pony rides for residents and their guests,” President Steve Ritter said. “Kate seems to be making it an on-going enterprise.”
Sohl indicated that students would not, of course, be covered by the Association’s worker’s compensation insurance during such activities, and said he was unsure whether they would be covered by the liability policy.
Director Racine said he was against using the horses for offsite horse shows, and noted it had not been vetted by the Recreation Committee.
While praising Pennington’s work effort and ambition, Sohl noted that expanding the stables program in that direction might not be sustainable should she eventually move on to another position elsewhere.
More Security Needed?
Director Rich Faraci told his fellow Board members that he feels the single shift of roving security patrol that the Association currently contracts with the Budd Group is inadequate.
He related an incident in which he fielded a resident’s complaint about inappropriate activity on one oef the lakes at 11:00 am one day, and was unable to effectively respond, because roving patrol had not come on shift. Ritter followed up with a similar story about being unable to send a security staffer to check out a report from someone who said they smelled smoke at the North Club House.
After some discussion, the Board agreed that Ritter and Sohl will obtain from the Budd Group a quote on the cost of expanding roving patrol.
In other business during the SLLA Board’s May 13 Work Session, the Directors
• Moved to the Open Meeting a proposed rule amendment that would allow the Architectural Review Board to skip one meeting a month if there is no business to conduct. The rules currently require the panel to meet twice a month.
• Heard an appeal on past due assessments from a lot owner whose account was apparently lost in the former management company’s records, so that, despite repeated requests from the owner, they were never billed for their dues assessments. The appeal was moved to the Open Meeting.
• Will decide in the Open Meeting whether to purchase additional insurance coverage for sexual harassment claims at a cost of $950. The Association’s broker suggested the addition, given the number of lifeguards employed in the Summer months, and Director Meyer asked Sohl to determine whether Directors and committee member would also be covered.
• Considered a bylaws change recommended by Sohl that would have increased the opportunity for the Board to use electronic voting, eliminating language that restricts such votes to emergency situations. Board members expressed a preference for retaining language that would restrict email voting to urgent matters and asked Sohl to communicate that preference to the attorney currently rewriting the Association’s bylaws.
• Referred to the Open Meeting a proposal to replace all windows and doors in the Landowners Office building, at a cost not to exceed $15,000. Sohl noted that the current windows and doors are not energy efficient and are, in some cases, failing. He will secure additional competitive bids prior to the vote.
• Moved to the Open Meeting a proposal to replace the fascia, soffits, and ceiling of the Sequoia Point Pavilion at a cost not to exceed $22,850. Director Hirsch cautioned that the proposed aluminum ceiling might represent an invitation to vandalism and suggested using Durarock® instead. Sohl will secure additional bids incorporating that recommendation prior to a vote.
• The Board reviewed procedures that Sohl developed for the gate guards and boat patrol, offering suggestions for improving both. Because the documents deal with internal procedures, they will not move to the Open Meeting for a formal vote.
• Ritter reported that he had recently attended a meeting of the Greater Seven Lakes Community Council, which brings together the presidents of the landowners associations serving McLendon Hills, Seven Lakes West, and the SLLA, as well as the Seven Lakes Business Guild. Ritter said the group had named westside President Jack Stevens its President, and was planning to invite the Moore County Board of Commissioners to a public meeting in Seven Lakes in the Fall.
Director Chuck Leach was absent from the meeting.