The question of whether non-members should be allowed to serve on committees of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] continues to spark debate among members of the community and the Board of Directors.
President Chuck Leach made a motion during the Association's Thursday, May 28 Open meeting to "establish an administrative resolution to allow tenants in good standing to participate on the following four Board committees in an advisory, non-voting capacity: Facility and Grounds, Recreation, Security, and Lakes & Dams."
Joy Smith seconded the motion; but, after considerable debate, Leach tabled it pending further discussion in the Board's Thursday, June 11 Work Session.
Leach said he felt it was inherently wrong for a renter to "sit on the Finance Committee and vote for a dues increase, when that renter does not pay one penny in dues." He said he had similar objections to renters serving on the Judicial, Community Standards, and Architectural Review [ARB] Committees.
"It is true that these committees are advisory," Leach said. "But, in most cases, this Board does follow the recommendations of our committees."
The Board had been advised earlier in the day, via email, by its attorney, Roger Knight, that nonmembers can serve on "committees that are advisory only or as ex officio (non voting) members of committees."
"What the Board should refrain from doing is allowing non-members to vote on matters that effect the ownership rights of members," Knight added.
Racine: No action needed
Director Bob Racine, a retired attorney himself, objected that Knight's advice to the Board on the subject had made reference to none of the Association's legal documents.
Racine said the rules and regulations specify that those serving on the Judicial Committee must be members of the Association, and may require the same of ARB members.
"Section 3, article 10 of the bylaws gives the Board the authority to appoint special committees, standing or special," Racine said. "This provision does not set forth any criteria as to qualifications of committee members. Without any such criteria for qualifications, it is entirely up to the discretion of the Board as to these matters."
Racine said he couldn't justify having the Association spend any more money seeking legal advice on the matter.
"The present wording has allowed all residents of Seven Lakes North and South to have input on all committees except Judicial," he said. "let's all get back to the advancement of the Seven Lakes Community, leave all our documents as is, and ensure the residents and renters of Seven Lakes that their opinions do matter."
"We don't have to do a damn thing with our rules and regulations. We don't have to pass anything here tonight. It is all spelled out, if we would just follow them," Racine concluded.
Racine also questioned the term "Administrative Resolution" in Leach's motion, arguing that the language proposed in Leach's motion more properly belonged in the rules and regulations.
"Nonmembers" not "renters"
Several citizens made comments on the issue during the public comment segment earlier in the meeting.
George Temple, himself a long-term nonmember tenant, suggested that the Board needed to clarify whether it was talking about renters or nonmembers. He said he estimated there were 200 renters in the community, but more than 1,000 nonmembers.
His wife, Deb Temple, said she, though a nonmember tenant, had been invited to serve on the now disbanded Beautification Committee, and George hand been invited to serve on the Lakes & Dams and Finance Committees. During his service on Finance, she said, George Temple discovered an error that saved the Association $10,000.
In 2012, George Temple was named SLLA Citizen of the Year for his contributions to the Community.
"This feels really personal, and I wonder when did we become so undesirable, and when," Deb Temple said. "Seven Lakers don't act like that. It's always been a community of people helping out — helping each other and helping the Association prosper. Whatever skills a person had were welcomed with open arms. Now residents seemed to be measured for their liability potential."
"I am hoping that you directors have just gotten carried away, and are not really thinking of the big picture of Seven Lakes — what it has been and should continue to be."
State law leaves it up to the Board
Greg Hankins, speaking as an Association member, reiterated to the Board that the advice from their attorney had given a green light to having nonmembers serve as full members of advisory committees.
He noted that the key legal documents that constrain actions by the Board — the NC non-Profit Corporations Act, the NC Planned Community Act, and the covenants for the various Seven Lakes North and South neighborhoods — are almost entirely silent on who may or may not serve on advisory committees.
The lone exception is the Judiciary Committee, which, under the provisions of the Planned Community Act, may be staffed by members only.
With the exception of Judicial, ARB, and Community Standards, Hankins said, all SLLA Committees are strictly advisory committees that take no action on their own authority. He urged the Board to allow nonmembers to serve as full voting members on those committees.
Pool water expense approved
On a motion from Treasurer Mark Gyure, the Board retroactively approved the expenditure of $6,317 for water to fill the newly repaired swimming pool in a five to one vote, with Joy Smith opposed.
During member comments, Bob Miller questioned the use of purchased water, rather than lake water, to fill the pool.
President Leach explained that a plaster pool must be filled immediately upon completion to allow the coating to cure properly.
"We were under the assumption that we could use lake water, as we always have," Community Manager Ray Sohl said. But the contractor indicated that the manufacturer would have to be contacted in order to make sure that would comply with the warranty.
"So we were in a bind, but we did go through due process," Sohl said. "We did get three bids, and we notified the chairman of the Finance Committee and the Board President."
"We had no choice but to move forward," Leach said.
Sohl added that, despite the water purchase, the pool project overall is still under budget. Treasurer Mark Gyure said the next time a similar emergency expenditure arises, all Board members would be contacted.
Sohl said the Maintenance Department is busy replacing culverts under the areas of road that will be repaved this Summer. Bids on the repaving project are due on June 30.
In addition to the completion of the pool projects, minor repairs have be completed at Echo and Little Juniper Dams.
Sohl said two arrests have been made in recent larcenies of unsecured guns from vehicles on the North Side.
Noting that vandalism continues to be a problem, he encouraged residents to be vigilant and to call 9-1-1 to report any suspicious activity.
Treasurer. Mark Gyure reported that the Finance Committee is taking a look at the Association's investment policy to ensure that invested funds are available for upcoming projects and can be withdrawn without incurring penalties.
ARB. The ARB Committee is working with the Army Corps of Engineers in evaluating work that had begun without the committee's approval. A cease and desist order has been issued to the landowner. The Committee considered a number of new projects, including two new homes, a new dock, new roofs, and improvements to a porch and a deck. A fence application was denied, and a floating dock ordered removed.
Facilities. In addition to planning for the upcoming road repaving project, the Facilities Committee scaled back a project at the Landowners office entrance to include just the steps and landing, rather than also including the sidewalk immediately in front of the entrance.
Judicial. The Judicial Committee has prepared a recommended procedure for handling Annual Meeting elections, which was distributed to the Board during the Open Meeting.
Lakes & Dams. In addition to the repairs at Little Juniper and Echo dams, as well as upcoming work at Ramapo, the Lakes & Dams Committee will be marking the locations of the piezometer wells used to track water levels inside the dams.
Security. Greg Lishawa said a key goal for the Security Committee is to help residents understand that SLLA Security is not a police force. He encouraged residents to lock their homes and their vehicles. The Committee is discussing a number of options for increasing resident involvement, including Neighborhood Watch, a Crime Stoppers program, or a "ride along with boat patrol" program. He encouraged interested individuals to call the Landowners Office.
In other business during the Thursday, May 28 SLLA Open Meeting:
• The Board approved appointments to the ARB Committee, including Jane Leach, Donna Stephan, Bob Racine, and Mike Conway.
• A table laying out the annual assessments that apply when a member owns more than one lot was tabled pending further discussion at the June 11 Work Session.
• The Board voted unanimously to add three lots that had previously been Moore County Public Utilities well sites to the Association's common area.
• The Board approved the resignation of Eric Ritchie from the Judicial Committee, made alternate Judy Allen a full member, and named Lawton Baker as an alternate.
• After some confusion, the Board tabled consideration of a Recreation Committee recommendation that pool passes no longer be made specific to a single individual.