Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder.
In the case of the pasture fence in Seven Lakes North, the factor that separates the Architectural Review Board [ARB] from the Recreation Committee is beauty — beauty, and its constant companion, money.
Members of both those Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] committees, along with representatives of the Security and the Facilities Committees, as well as a smattering of interested residents, met on Friday afternoon, November 7, to review options for replacing the existing pasture fence. SLLA President Bob Racine called the special meeting after discussion of the matter was postponed at the October 29 Open Meeting.
Jane Leach presented the ARB committee's recommendations; George Temple spoke for the Recreation Committee.
They key issue that separates those proposals is a wood fence along Seven Lakes Drive: ARB wants wood; Recreation can live without it.
No one apparently sees much value in retaining the existing split rail fence. Community Manager Ray Sohl said many of the fence posts are loose and moving, causing rails to fall.
"I don't see a reason to keep it, because it will constantly require maintenance," Sohl said.
The ARB Proposal
Presenting for ARB, Leach offered not so much a firm proposal as a range of options that members of her committee consider acceptable.
Chief among them is preserving a wood fence along the 2180 foot stretch of pasture that fronts on Seven Lakes Drive.
Leach said the committee could support using either a post and rail fence that is taller than the present fence, or a traditional paddock-style horse fence, with flat boards affixed to the posts.
For the remaining 3,320 of the pasture fence, including the portion that fronts onto East Shenandoah Road, ARB recommended either retaining the existing fence and augmenting it with a taller electric fence, or simply eliminating the existing post and rail structure, using a three strand electric wire fence everywhere other than along Seven Lakes Drive.
In all cases, the fence would be elevated to a height of 4.5 to 5 feet in order to better contain the horses.
Leach said the ARB was proposing wooden fencing along Seven Lakes Drive, because that is what is currently in place.
"This is the entrance to our community," she said.
But she added that ARB is concerned about overall costs, and therefore were not recommending new wooden fencing for the entire pasture.
The wide range of options that the ARB considered acceptable presented a challenge for producing cost estimates. However, Manager Sohl had gathered some preliminary numbers.
Sohl said the 2,180 feet of wooden paddock fence required along Seven Lakes Drive would cost $9,000 for materials and $1.40 per linear foot for labor.
The overall project cost for installing a paddock fence along Seven Lakes Drive and using ElectroBraid rope fencing attached to metal posts along the other portions of the fence, he estimated at $27,000.
The Recreation Proposal
Stable Manager Amanda Duggan recommended that the Recreation Committee consider using ElectroBraid rope fence for the entire pasture. George Temple was asked to produce cost estimates, which he said were based on information published on the ElectroBraid website.
Temple explained that the product is 1/4 inch braided polyester rope --- like that commonly used to tie up boats -- embedded with two strands of copper wire.
Four strands of the Electrobraid would be mounted on wooden posts spaced 40 feet apart, with wooden H-post structures at the corners strong enough to allow the rope to be tensioned to 200 pounds. The highest strand would be 57 inches from the ground; the lowest, 12 inches.
ElectroBraid would also be used to replace the existing interior fence that separates areas of the pasture.
Temple said he believed the installation could be handled by the SLLA maintenance department, with the exception of a day's worth of electrical work.
Using the 40-foot post spacing and outsourced labor, Manager Sohl provided a rough cost estimate of $12,500 for the Recreation Committee proposal.
Sohl cautioned that a large fence supplier, Ramm Fencing, recommended fifteen-foot rather than forty-foot spacing, though the ElectroBraid specifications call for thirty to fifty foot spacing. He noted that the post spacing is a major factor impacting the cost of the project.
Stable Manager's Perspective
Stable Manager Duggan said she supported the proposal developed by Temple.
"I want to make sure it is effective, but that it doesn't cost a ridiculous amount of money," she said. "You have a pool to maintain, you have lakes and dams, and I don't think this is a project we should be sinking a ton of money into."
"Wooden fence is beautiful," Duggan said, "but it is high cost and high maintenance." After the meeting, Duggan told The Times that a paddock-style fence painted white or coated black could need quarterly repainting, while natural-colored fence would likely need touching up semi-annually.
Wood vs. Electric
Leach said she spoke with staff members at both the NC Agricultural Extension office in Carthage and the NC State University Equine Center in Southern Pines.
The Ag Center representative recommended a very high tensile strength wire mesh fence, and suggested that an electric fence is not necessary if the fence is high enough. The Equine Center representative expressed an aversion to using metal posts in a horse fence.
"I disagree with having a wooden fence without electric," Duggan said. She said a couple of the current herd members are "cribbers," meaning they like to chew on wood fences and stalls. So an unprotected wooden fence would soon acquire holes and rough patches, reducing its attractiveness.
Because horses are naturally curious, Duggan said, they will often spot a nice patch of grass outside the fence, and lean on the fence to try to get to the succulent blades.
"If you have a 1200 or 1300 pound animal leaning on a wood fence, it's going to break," Duggan said, adding that the Seven Lakes Drive area is the most dangerous place for a fence break and escaped horse.
Electric fence safety
Several members of the various committees in attendance questioned the safety of electric fencing, particularly because one problem has been children entering the pasture after hours.
Duggan said she had first been stung by an electric fence at age three, and repeated that lesson several times as a teenager, to no ill effect.
"I would rather a child touch the fence," Duggan said, "and learn that that was not acceptable, than get in that fence and be trampled by a 1500 pound horse."
Horses are also not likely to easily forget being zapped by the fence, Duggan said, so they will continue to stay away from it during a power outage.
More on Monday
The pasture fence proposals are up for discussion at the SLLA Board's Monday, November 10 Work Session, scheduled for 9:00 am in the Game Room.