A motion to exclude renters from service on committees of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] is on the agenda for the Association's Thursday, May 28 Open Meeting.

President Chuck Leach, introducing the motion, said the question of whether tenants can serve on committee arose during the last Board's term.

Leach said the Association has benefitted from the "advice knowledge, and expertise of some of our long-term renters." 

He added that he personally believes long term renters in good standing should be able to serve on any committee, though they should serve in a non-voting capacity only on the Finance, Judicial, and Architectural Review Committees.

Leach said a question had also arisen about the eligibility of a spouse to serve on an SLLA committee when they are not listed on the deed of the property.

To clear up that question, SLLA attorney Roger Knight was consulted.

Knight, who provided his answer in an email to Community Manager Ray Sohl, said if property was acquired by a married couple but only one was listed on the deed, the unlisted spouse was nonetheless a co-owner under North Carolina law, and therefore a member of the Association, and able to serve on Committees. 

If the property was acquired by one spouse before the marriage, however, the deed must be altered to include the unlisted spouse in order for him or her to be a member of the Association.

Where tenants are concerned, Knight said the Association could create a tenants' committee or create non-voting tenants' seats on other committees.

However, he wrote, "Tenants are not owners and are therefor not by definition members of the Association and cannot vote in elections or serve on committees."

Knight provided no further explanation of that opinion referencing state law or SLLA legal documents.

According to Leach, Knight said that some Association decisions had been overturned in court because tenants had voted on them.

"I just don't understand giving up talent because someone is not a homeowner," resident Bob Miller said.

"I think it is a shame that the expertise is not accepted," Director Joy Smith said. "I would like the expertise."

"I don't think it matters what any of us think," Leach said. "Now we have a ruling from an attorney."

Although Knight had suggested the options of establishing a non-voting seat for tenants on any committee, Leach made a motion to forward to the Open Meeting a policy to exclude renters from all SLLA Committees, "based on the legal opinion provided."

Director Sandy Sackmann seconded the motion, which passed four-to-three with Smith and Director Mary Farley opposed and Director Mark Gyure abstaining.


Policy on bidding major projects

Also during the May 14 Work Session, President Leach presented a proposed policy on bidding major projects that he said aimed to both get the procedure in writing and to improve communication among committees during the process.

The policy suggests that a major repair or improvement could originate with the Board, a committee, staff, or Association members, and places responsibility for vetting those recommendations with the Community Manager and relevant committee. Other committees would be informed that the project is being developed and asked to weigh in with recommendations. The Community Manager would then develop a scope of work and solicits bids, which would be reviewed by the appropriate committees, and then forwarded to the Board with those recommendations.

Director Racine argued that the existing process -- which relies on the Board rather than the Community Manager to determine which projects merit further study and has the Board refer projects to the appropriate committees -- is not broken.

"I think our system is working now," he said.

In the proposed system, "by the time it gets to the Board, it has gone out for bids and we haven't even discussed it yet," Racine continued. "Open it up to the Board first, so that we call review it and see what we want."

Community Manager Sohl countered that the Board should have an RFP in hand before reviewing any project, "because a key issue is the associated cost."

Racine said that, several weeks ago, he had mentioned the bare outlines of a Boy Scout volunteer project for the commnunity and found it rejected by the manager and four member sof the community.

"We didn't even know the scope of it," he said. "This is what I am afraid will happen."

Resident George Temple reminded the Board that all projects need review by the Finance Committee and recommended that review be added to the proposed policy.

Director Mark Gyure suggested that the Board borrow an idea from the US Air Force and create a "Facility Board" that includes one member from every committee -- "a committee that does nothing other than discuss projects."

"It negates the bouncing around," he said. "It's all done under one umbrella."

"This is such a critical document that you may need a special meeting," resident Jim Allen suggested. "The intent is wonderful, but I question whether enough thought has been put into it."

Ultimately, the proposal was tabled pending further discussion, on a motion from Bob Racine.


Other business

In other business during the regular Thursday, May 14 Work Session of the SLLA Board:

Stables staffing. Director Farley asked Board approval to use $3,600 designated for Fourth of July fireworks to instead pay for part time help at the stables during the busy Summer Season. She explained that someone had donated funds specifically to cover the cost of the fireworks. After an extensive discussion of stable staffing and the use of volunteers, the Board voted unanimously to move the request to May 28 Open Meeting, pending review by the Finance Committee.

Guest passes. Farley informed the Board that, after considering some alternatives, the Recreation Committee recommended leaving the existing guest pass policy undisturbed, with one exception — removing the name of the guest from the guest pass. A one-day pool pass is $3; a 10-day pass is $25. Residents may obtain four free guests passes that allow their guests access to all amenities other than the pool.

ARB Appointments. Director Sackmann announced the proposed slate for her Architectural Review Board: Jane Leach, Donna Stephan, Mike Conway, Ron Zwart, and Bob Racine. The appointments were moved on to the Open Meeting.

Table of assessments. Also moved to the Open Meeting, subject to Finance Committee review, was a table that indicated the varying dues levels paid by owners of multiple lots. The table did not change the existing dues structure but was simply intended to make it easier to understand.

Well parcels. Moore County has returned to the Association three well sites no longer need by the Public Works department, "thanks to the hard work of Conrad Meyer," Manager Sohl told the Board. One parcel lies to the left of the front gate, another to the right, and a third in the middle of Sequoia Point. The Board referred to the Open Meeting a motion to classify the three sites as common area.

Employee Handbook. Sohl is working with payroll vendor ADP to revise its handbook for those SLLA employes who are paid through ADP. Sohl said he would bring a draft to the Board in June.


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