It was a sincere but brief farewell that outgoing President Bob Darr gave concluding his last Seven Lakes Landowners Association Open Meeting on Wednesday, February 27.

“It’s been a real ride with this group in front,” Darr said, referring to his fellow Directors. “What I have accomplished I did because of these gentleman sitting here at this table.”

Resident Bob Stephan did not let Darr fade quietly into the sunset, but stood up and said, “I think we owe a great deal of thanks to Bob Darr for a hell of a job that he has done — and to this board.”

Full Pond for Lakes Longleaf and Sequoia

Mother Nature is finally cooperating with ample rainfall and helping to refill Lake Echo. The SLLA Board discussed ways to take advantage of the steady rainfall and reduce the expense of pumping water from Lake Sequoia into Lake Echo.

Community Manager Ray Sohl proposed “as an alternate plan” the following: The first phase of pumping from Sequoia to Echo will begin the week of March 3 and last for seven days. After seven days, the Board will access the levels and decide then whether to continue pumping. If the rain continues and Lake Echo reaches a reasonable level, the pumping may then be discontinued, realizing a savings of about forty percent of the nearly $10,000 projected cost of the pumping project.

“I think it is important to get on with this as soon as possible,” Director Conrad Meter said. “Longleaf is above full pond and overflowing into Sequoia. Sequoia is over full-level by two inches. If we can immediately pump from Sequoia to Echo, we could take advantage of that water going over the dam.”

A resident in the audience brought to the Board attention smaller lakes Ramapo and Timber. “You are still not addressing the problem of the other two lakes that are also below level,” she said.

“If we were to raise Lake Echo ten inches and see what kind of rain we will get, we would then have the opportunity to attend Ramapo and Timber,” said Director Don Fentzlaff. “We haven’t forgotten you.”

Resident George Temple also urged the Board to begin pumping as soon as possible. “The important thing is to do it. Go ahead and approve the whole works. Look at the first stage and if we have to go forward then we can go forward.”

A motion was made by Racine to begin pumping and reassess after the first week. The Board would then decide whether to continue pumping. The total cost would not exceed $10,500.

[In fact, pumping from Lake Sequoia to Lake Echo began on Tuesday, March 5. — GH.]

In other lake level news, Director Fentzlaff told the Board: “I want to let everybody know that Little Juniper Lake is probably seeing a milestone here. For the first time in its history, it is less than 2 inches below full. When it is full, we will shut off that pump. It has done a yeoman’s job and didn’t break down once.”

Read more: Pumping from Sequoia to Echo Approved

Moore County LogoResidents on Edgewood Terrace and Stanly Street in West End are a step closer to having their water supplied by Moore County Public Utilities.

The County has been awarded a $41,000 grant by the NC Rural Economic Development Center, Interim County Manager Wayne Vest reported during the Tuesday, March 5 meeting of the Moore County Board of Commissioners.

The grant will cover half the expected $82,000 cost of laying water mains to bring County water to the small West End neighborhood, which has been plagued by failing wells.

It will not cover the cost of tap-on fees or regular water bills, both of which will be the responsibility of individual homeowners. The tap fee for a standard three-quarter inch meter is $1,950.

If the project moves forward, it will be the first application of a new policy the Commissioners approved in January, which allows Public Utilities to extend water to unserved areas within the current footprint of the County water system, based on a return-on-investment calculation.

Public Works Director Randy Gould told The Times that the cost of a system extension is laid against the expected revenue that will be generated by new customers in the target area, including income from tap-on fees and ten years worth of water bills at the base rate. If the projected revenue exceeds the expected cost, the project can move forward.

Read more: County Gets Grant for Edgewood Terrace Water

Moore County LogoA proposal to add solar farms to the Moore County Zoning Ordinance was on the Thursday, March 7 agenda of the Moore County Planning Board, and it came just in the nick of time.

Three industrial-scale solar energy production facilities are in the works for Moore County -- two near the Montgomery County line and another on NC Highway 24/27 near Robbins. These solar farms use row-upon-row of photovoltaic cells stretched across dozens of acres of pastureland, capturing sunlight to make electricity, which is passed through an inverter and sold to power companies like Progress Energy or Randolph Electric Membership Corporation.

But, as Planner Jeremy Sparrow pointed out in introducing a proposed text amendment, the County's Zoning Ordinance doesn't currently provide for the development of solar collector facilities.

Three Solar Farms planned

Much as a new hospital in North Carolina must have the blessing of a state agency before expanding to add more beds, industrial scale energy producers must secure a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the NC Utilities Commission [NCUC] before getting into the power generation business.

Three companies planning solar farms in Moore County have filed the necessary paperwork with the Commission:

Samarcand Solar Farm, LLC is planning a 4.65 megawatt [MW] collection facility on a portion of a 200-acre tract on Samarcand Road, north of NC Highway 211. A filing with the NCUC indicates the project will cost $13.25 million and will have a design life of at least 25 years. The electricity will be sold to Progress Energy.

Spicewood Solar Farm, LLC is planning a similar facility nearby, on two tracts of land the lie between NC Highway 211 and the Perdue chicken feed plant, currently being used to grow turf grass. Spicewood's NCUC filing indicates that the 4.65 MW solar farm will occupy approximately 36 acres of the 47 acre parcel. Both the Samarcand and Spicewood facilities are working with solar provider Argand Energy Solutions of Charlotte.

Carthage Farm, LLC, working with Strata Solar of Chapel Hill, is planning a 7.0 MW solar farm on a 99 acre tract near the intersection of NC Highway 24/27 and Mount Carmel Road, Southeast of Robbins. They plan to sell power to the NC Electric Membership Corporations.

Sparrow told Planning Board members that the increased interest in solar power generating facilities is due in part to a law that the NC General Assembly adopted in 2007, requiring that electric public utilities increase their use of renewable energy from 3 percent of the power sold at retail to 12.5 percent by 2021. By 2018, 0.2% of power sold to retail customers must come from solar sources.

There are also attractive federal and state subsidies for the producers of solar and other renewable energy.

Read more: Planning Board Looks at Solar Farms

SLWLA LogoThe long-awaited, new Seven Lakes West mailhouse is scheduled to begin operation on Monday, March 11, Community Manager Jeanette Mendence announced during the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association’s [SLWLA] Board Meeting on Tuesday, February 26.

The last day to receive mail at the old mailhouse is on Saturday, March 9. Mendence asked that residents leave their mail box key in their old mail box after collecting mail on that day. On March 18, US Postal Service employees will go through the boxes in the old mailhouse and return any uncollected mail to the senders.

Residents will be issued two keys for their new mailbox by CAS staff in the landowners office, beginning Wednesday, February 27. Additional keys will be available upon request.

Posting items on the walls of the new mailhouse will be prohibited, but two cork boards have been installed on which items may be posted for up to two weeks.

An electronic message board in the new mailhouse will be used to announce community activities, post weather alerts, and highlight other Association information.

Mendence thanked the volunteers who helped with the mailhouse project, including John Hoffmann, who served as manager for the $350,000 project. 

Read more: New Westside Mailhouse Opens March 11

Moore County LogoIn a three-to-one vote, the Veteran’s Memorial Design Subcommittee approved a second concept for an expansion of the the Moore County Veteran’s Memorial in Carthage. Casting the dissenting vote, during the Subcommittee’s Monday, February 25 meeting, was Ruby Hendricks, a member of the original Veteran's Memorial Committee.

The Design Subcommittee had earlier approved a design prepared by Southern Pines-based landscape architect Vince Zucchino. Both that design and the newly-approved design will be presented to the Veteran's Memorial Advisory Committee, a group created by the Moore County Board of Commissioners in the wake of controversy surrounding an offer by Bojangles' Restaurants to purchase an acre of County-owned land near the Memorial.

The second approved design was presented by County Planner Jeremy Rust and includes a number of features that were present in the Zucchino design, including restrooms, a kitchen, a dry goods storage area, a platform for presentations, amphitheater type seating, and a walking path around a “lawn of reflection.”

“We attempted to add as many of the elements from the [first] design in this footprint as possible,” said Rust.

Second Design for Veterans' Memorial

A key difference in the two designs is size. Zucchino's design occupies the entire 3.5 acre county-owned parcel that lies between the Memorial and an existing Hardee's restaurant at the corner of NC Highway 24-27 and NC Highway 15-501. Rust's design has a much smaller footprint, leaving 2.5 acres available for potential commercial development.

Read more: Second Concept for Veterans' Memorial Approved by Design Subcommittee

SLLA LogoThe Seven Lakes Landowners Association (SLLA) Board called a Special Open Meeting for Friday, February 22 to discuss the completed budget and wrap up some loose ends for the year.

During a Town Hall meeting held the previous evening, resident Bill Hirsch volunteered to serve on the board, which is currently short one member, and will have additional seats open in March, with only three candidates running to fill those seats.

“Last night, we had someone come forward said they would agree to be on the board,' said President Bob Darr. "Current Board Member Conrad Meyer has also agreed to fill the Buckingham opening for one year. My feeling is it is something we need to fill very quickly to help with continuity of the Board.”

Meyer recused himself from further discussion concerning the Buckingham position.

“I do not believe it should happen before the Annual Meeting," Director Bob Racine said. "We can get the continuity that Bob (Darr) is referring to at the end of Annual Meeting and meet with all regulations and rules.”

“I agree with Bob [Racine],” said Director Steve Ritter. “I don’t think the present board can do anything under the purview of the future board. We should wait until that meeting is held and wait for new board.”

“First of all, I think the present board has authority to fill the Buckingham position if we want to do so,” Darr argued.

“Since this vacancy happened on your turf aren’t you the ones that are suppose to fill it?” asked resident Donna Fentzlaff.

“We have waited so many months that, if we were going to fill it, then we should have filled it months ago,” said Racine.

Laying out a suggested procedure for the new Board's organizational meeting, he said: “No names go in until the Board is up to full strength. Once the President is chosen he makes motion to fill the two openings before other officers are elected,” Racine said. “We are not hand tying the future board’s actions. It is made immediately after the President has been elected. The two vacancies are filled and then the board is elected.”

To bring clarity over who should act as chairman at the organizational meeting, Meyer interjected himself briefly into the discussion, “It’s my understanding that we changed one thing during last year’s Annual Meeting. The person who chairs the meeting would be the person who heads the election committee,” said Meyer. “In this case, it would be Steve Ritter.”

“It would make sense it follows that order and be a logical progression,” said Community Manager Sohl. “So we will write that in the agenda.”

“I am very comfortable with that,” said Darr.

Read more: Board Will Wait 'til After Annual Meeting to Fill Vacant Seat

Moore County LogoA communication problem may delay implementation of Moore County’s new VIPER-based emergency communications system. Forced to abandon its current VHF-based radio system by federal mandate, the County elected to join the State Highway Patrol’s VIPER narrowband system.

During the Moore County Board of Commissioners’ Tuesday, February 19 meeting, VIPER representative Mike Hunch told the Commissioners that he had misunderstood the time frame to implement the system in the County.

With the Rick Rhyne Public Safety Building scheduled to be occupied this Spring, including the new 911 Communications Center, there is an urgent need to get the VIPER system up and running.

Currently, the County needs 1050 identification codes in order to implement the VIPER system, but not all of these can be given at once, Hunch explained.

But Moore County Public Safety Director Bryan Phillips told the Commissioners that all of those IDs must be available in order to transition to the new 911 Center — which is currently scheduled for March.

“My frustration is you are just finding this out tonight; that this is our issue,” said Chairman Nick Picerno to Hunch. “Someone dropped the ball somewhere.”

Read more: County's Move to VIPER System May Be Delayed

Foxfire LogoOld neighbors met for the first time during the Public Comment portion of the Foxfire Village February Meeting. Several residents of Foxtail Circle finally had a chance to meet and speak directly to Foxtail developer and home owners association president Ron Jackson.

Unaware that Jackson was sitting directly behind her, Foxfire Village resident and local realtor Beckie Pahner spoke on behalf of her neighbors, several of whom were in attendance.

“I am here tonight to express concern regarding Foxtail Circle, a huge cul-de-sac that has fifteen to seventeen homes there," Pahner said. "It was originally a planned community presented by Ron Jackson. He built it in stages, and did not finish several lots. He is the home owners association of origin -- presently and always will be president of that community -- and that will never change.”

Addressing the unfinished foundations and unkempt grounds, Pahner said: “A group of local residents have formed their own way to take care of common grounds, separate from the home owners association. They have the goal of maintaining their grounds to preserve their property values.”

Pahner said that it was her understanding that Jackson has been protected from the consequences of failing to finish the development by a state moratorium -- and it was her understanding that the moratorium as ended.

“He should have finished by 2005, going into 2006,” said Pahner. "The moratorium protected many builders in North Carolina. The state didn’t want to see these builders go under. So they didn't have to finish these homes that they started.” 

Read more: Foxtail Circle Residents Protest Unfinished Homes

Foxfire LogoThe water system that serves Foxfire Village will be absorbed into the countywide system operated by Moore County Public Utilities [MCPU], if the Village Council approves a recommendation made by the Long Range Planning [LRP] Committee. But any such approval is likely to come only after a substantial period of public discussion.

After almost two years of research and study, the Committee presented its recommendation during the Council's Tuesday, February 12 regular meeting.

LRP's water infrastructure sub-committee conducted a needs assessment of the Village’s current water sources and also analyzed the Village's current and future ability to operate and maintain its water department.

Four Options Considered

The committee examined the long-term viability of four options, considering factors including catastrophic events; supply and demand; and operational and maintenance expenses.

The four options were:

• Foxfire Village continuing to own and operate its own water system;

• The Village would continue to own the water system but contract out the day-to-day operations and management of the system;

• Foxfire would sell its water system to a private utility company; or

• Foxfire would interconnect with Moore County water system and purchase its water directly from Moore County.

Councilman Mick McCue presented the the Long Range Planning Committee's recommendation that the Village consider an interconnection with Moore County.

“Moore County was interested in hooking us up to their water system," McCue said. "They would pay for it and construct a water main from Linden Road. The county would absorb the current debt owed and take ownership of our elevated tank and our water delivery system. They are not interested in our wells or well sites.”

Read more: Committee Recommends Sale of Foxfire Water System to Moore County

SLLA LogoIf $5 is too much for a swim, maybe $3 is a bargain.

After recently rejecting a proposed $5 per day fee for guest use of the Northside swimming pool, the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board of Directors agreed during their Monday, February 11 Work Session to put a $3 per day fee to a vote.

In previous years, SLLA members have been able to purchase four guest passes for a $25 annual fee that allowed their guests access to any of the Association's amenities. Over the past year, a number of Board members have expressed concerns about a large number of guests using the stables and the pool.

A $5 per day guest fee was proposed but rejected during the Wednesday, January 30 SLLA Open Meeting. That vote left guest use of the pool in limbo, Treasurer Conrad Meyer explained: “There is no charge for the pool right now. Stables are covered, and the guest pass covers everything but the pool. Come May, there will no pool charge for members or non-members.”

In addition, some other proposed restrictions on guest use of the pool were left hanging. Recreation Director Bob Racine said, “Two things that we didn’t include: A resident sponsor must be present for non-residents to use the pool, and passes can only be purchased by resident.”

As the Board discussed what might be an agreeable price for guest use of the pool, resident George Temple offered a suggestion: “The $20 you approve for trail rides is approximately half of what the association spends for that trail ride. If half is a good number, then might I just recommend you charge $3 for pool use, and that’s half the number.”

“I was one of the ones that voted against the $5 per guest number," Meyer said. "It seemed too high to me. In January we talked about a number between $2 and $3 per visit.”

Racine agreed that residents could purchase guests passes at $3 each -- or a package of ten passes for $25. The board voted three-to-two, with President Bob Darr and Director Chuck Leach in opposition, to take up that proposal at the Wednesday, February 27 Open Meeting.

Read more: SLLA Board Will Try Again to Raise Guest Fee at Pool

In Memory Of

  • Jane Scales Facey

     of Foxfire Village died on Tuesday, April 19 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. A private...

  • Nancy P. Neilson

    formerly of Seven Lakes, died on Monday,  April 18. Nancy and her husband, Roger, retired from...

  • John E. Letter

    95, of Seven Lakes, died Monday, March 21, at his home, surrounded by family and friends. A...

  • Marilyn Rose Kemble Bearden

     84, formerly of Seven Lakes, died on March 8 in Greenville, SC. The family will receive friends on...

  • Vonadora Baker Stackhouse

    96, died on Wednesday, March 2, her wedding anniversary, at her home in Seven Lakes West. Services were...

  • James R. Nichols

    (Jim) of Seven Lakes died at his home on Monday, February 22.  A Celebration of his life will be...

  • Timothy William Bouchelle

    49, of West End died on Friday, February 19, 2016 at his residence.  A visitation will be held from...

  • John P. Carpenter

    75, of Seven Lakes North died Saturday, February 13 at FirstHealth Hospice House in Pinehurst. A...

  • Michael Jerome Loney

    87 of Seven Lakes West died Tuesday, February 9 at First Health Moore Regional Hospital in...

  • Glenda Mae (Marks) Tucker

    64 of Seven Lakes passed on Sunday February 7 at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro.  A...

  • Dr. William Harrell Johnson

    92 years old, of Seven Lakes West, died on Tuesday, February 2, at home.  A memorial service was...