SLWLA LogoConstruction of new homes is picking up in Seven Lakes West, Director Dan Blue reported, during the Tuesday, May 6 meeting of the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Board of Directors.

Blue, who has responsibility for the Architectural Review Committee [ARC] said nine projects are currently underway and several more either await approval or almost ready to be submitted.

"Within thirty to sixty days," Blue said, "we will have fifteen or sixteen new homes going up."

Blue said that number includes both custom homes and developer projects, but all are prestigious designs in keeping with the architectural standards of the community, "not cookie cutter."

McDermott Resigns, Goodman Appointed Secretary

President Bruce Keyser reported that newly-appointed SLWLA Secretary Jim McDermott had resigned from the Board effective April 17, due to an unexpected significant increase in the time required by his consulting business.

Director Mandy Goodman will take over McDermott's post as Secretary and Communications Director, leaving a vacancy for a Lake & Dam Director. The board is seeking volunteers interested in filling that slot and serving out the two years left in McDermott's unexpired term of office. Interested members should contact the Nominating Committee.

Read more: Pace of Construction Picks Up in Seven Lakes West

Moore County LogoCommissioner Otis Ritter appears to have successfully fought off a challenge from Seven Lakes West resident Louis Gregory in the District 3 County Commissioner race, according to unofficial election night tallies posted by the State Board of Elections.

With all twenty-six of the County's precincts reporting, Ritter captured 51.9 percent of ballots cast, pulling in 220 more votes than Gregory, a former police chief for Whispering Pines.

There was considerably more daylight between the contenders in the District 1 Commissioners race, where Carthage Town Commissioner and former Clerk of Court Catherine Graham captured 74 percent of the ballots cast and nearly 4,100 more votes than Oscar Romine of Cameron.

A similar gap separated incumbent Clerk of Court Susan Hicks, who won over challenger Doyle Markham with just under 70 percent of the vote.

Sheriff Neil Godfrey bested challenger Steve Leader Adams by nearly 5,100 votes, capturing nearly 79 percent.

Turnout for the primary was low, at just under twenty percent, which is typical of primaries in midterm elections.

All these results are unofficial and preliminary until the official county canvass on Tuesday, May 13.

Moore County LogoThe Moore County Board of Education is seeking an addition $2.3 million in funding from the county for Fiscal Year 2015. School Board Chair Kathy Farren, along with Moore County Schools [MCS] Superintendent Aaron Spence and Chief Finance Officer Mike Griffin, presented the budget request during the Monday, May 5 meeting of the Moore County Board of Commissioners.

"Thank you for working with us," Farren said. "You work hard to keep us where we need to be."

Farren and Griffin have been working behind the scenes with Commissioners Nick Picerno and Randy Saunders, as well as the county budget team, to develop a funding formula that would add predictability to local school funding by allocating a fixed percentage of county tax revenues to the schools each year.

"That way, as the county grows and our tax revenues grow, they will benefit," Saunders told The Times after the meeting.

But remaining questions about state funding will likely delay the implementation of that formula until FY2016, Saunders said.

It is not clear whether MCS is receiving the full amount of funding the system is due from the state, he explained. MCS and the commissioners are working with state legislators and school officials to answer that question. But, until it is answered, it is impossible to determine the exact percentage of county tax revenues that should be allocated to the schools.

Recently, Saunders discovered that Cumberland County uses a similar funding formula for its schools.

The funding formula would also allocate a fixed percentage of the county's capital reserve fund to school facilities.

Saunders told The Times that the commissioners have already reached an agreement in principle with Sandhills Community College [SCC] that, when ratified in the county budget, will allocate five percent of tax revenue to funding the college — and a similar percentage of the county's capital reserve fund to the SCC's capital needs.

Read more: School Board Seeks Local Funding Increase

Moore County LogoThe deal to bring more Harnett County water to Moore County is still on, even though Moore County was not selected earlier this year to receive a zero-interest state loan to fund the project.

During their Monday, May 5 regular meeting, members of the Moore County Board Commissioners were anxious to correct what they felt was incorrect information being circulated during the current election campaign about the County's agreement to purchase additional water from Harnett County.

Moore County, which already purchases water from Harnett County has agreed to purchase a stake in Harnett County's expansion of its water treatment facility. The deal guarantees Moore County access to more water, at a lower price.

The County was seeking an $11 million zero-interest loan from the state in a competitive process that included scores of other water and wastewater projects across the state. Moore County's project did not prevail in the process, but the agreement with Harnett County is signed and will move forward, Commissioner Nick Picerno said.

"We got turned down for our loan request," Picerno said. "We still have a contract; we just need to find a different way to finance it."

"The loan we were turned down for had nothing to do with the financial stability of the county," Commissioner Randy Saunders added, noting that Moore County has a AA rating.

In addition, the financial projections the county used to evaluate the feasibility of the project were based on a four percent interest rate — not the zero percent loan, Chairman Larry Caddell said.

"Even if we had to go on the street and borrow this money, we could get that," he added.

"The board has signed a contract with Harnett County, and there is no turning back," Caddell said. "The only question is how we are going to pay for it. We have an ethical obligation to get that done as cheaply as possible."

Read more: 'No Turning Back' on Harnett Water Deal

The times they are a-changing for the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA], as a growing number of younger families moving in to the community push up against rules developed when the community was marketed primarily to retirees.

That friction was in evidence during the Association's Open Meeting on Wednesday, April 30, when a number of young parents came to speak up against a rule that prohibits basketball goals at the end of driveways or on Association common areas at the end of streets.

One parent said a formal complaint was made against her when she forgot to roll back her son's goal in the evening after work.

“I live at the end of a quiet street with little traffic," she said. "The goal is structurally sound, weighted, and is on rollers. During the day, I would roll it out for my son to play. One night in December, I forgot to roll it back in when I got home from work, and it was reported by a neighbor.”

One resident said she was sent a certified letter citing the rules violation. Due to her work schedule, it was several weeks before she could make it to the post office. By that time, she had accrued daily fines, which she is in the process of appealing.

Another family was also reported for having a basketball goal.

“I am probably the one who got this whole thing started," the father said. "A neighbor called security when my kids and I were playing basketball at the end of our driveway."

The resident was told by SLLA management that he must move the goal five feet from the edge of the payment. He said he then received another letter saying the goal must be thirty feet from the easement.

“I ended up moving it in the side yard," he said, adding that the Association basketball courts are too far from his home for his children to walk by themselves. "Especially when they can go right outside and play where we can watch them. This is a young community. I think the ordinance should be readdressed and made more family-friendly."

In all, four different parents said their children are not old enough to go unattended to use the basketball courts at Northside Park. One mother said her son and his friend were bullied by teenagers at the park.

Read more: Basketball goals in driveways -- Is Seven Lakes family-friendly?

SLLA LogoThe rare heavy snowfalls this winter sent families to the nearest slopes to sled — including the face of Sequoia Dam. One resident teenager's back was broken when she sledded into one of the toe drains at the bottom of the dam.

In an attempt to prevent similar accidents in the future, The Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board of Directors voted, in a four-to-one decision during the Wednesday, April 30 open meeting, to prohibit residential access to the dam. No trespassing signs would be erected to reinforce the new rule. The proposed ban would not only apply to sledding but also to foot, ATV, and vehicular traffic.

Manager Ray Sohl reported that the new measures were recommended by the Lakes and Dam Committee.

“The reason is: the slope is not designed for sledding,” Sohl said. “We have to maintain the grass. There are bald areas that will need to be addressed this year. Traffic can contribute to erosion. It’s difficult to reestablish the grade, once erosion has started.”

Many residents have fond memories of sledding on the dam, including resident Audrey Baker, who said, “I have been here for thirty-six years, and this is the first accident. I have sledded down them in the past. I don’t see why we keep restricting the kids.”

Read more: SLLA Bans Sledding on Sequoia Dam

MCS LogoAn early morning fire has damaged two classrooms in an eleven unit modular classroom building located at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines.

Moore County Schools Advisor for Community Relations Tim Lussier reports that the fire was discovered at about 6:15 am, well before the normal 8:45 am start time.

No injuries were reported. The modular unit is detached from other campus buildings. Though the fire apparently damaged only two classrooms, the entire structure, which is used primarily for freshman classes, will be taken out of service; and classes will be relocated to other parts of the campus.

Fire department officials are investigating the cause of the fire.

Foxfire Logo"Green Acres is the place to be" for a growing number of families who want a few acres in the country, so they can raise their own vegetables and keep chickens or a couple of milk goats.

The new "Rural Estate" zoning district under consideration by the Foxfire Village Council aims to provide just such an option — within the Village limits. Rural Estate would offer a six-acre minimum lot size with fewer restrictions concerning outdoor structures, large gardens, and farm animals, providing a transition from the suburban-style density of the core Village to the open countryside that surrounds it.

Working with the Property Owner

The proposal for a "Rural Estate" district was first presented to the Foxfire Village Council during their February Work Session. Mary Gilroy, who chairs the Village’s Planning and Zoning [P&Z] Committee, introduced it as alternative zoning for a 380-acre tract located east of the Village center on Foxfire Road that was annexed but never zoned.

Gilroy worked with the owner of the property, developer Robert Edwards, to discuss crafting an alternative to the more restrictive Equestrian zoning already in the Village ordinances.

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, March 11 Council members called two public hearings for the Tuesday, April 8 Council meeting to evaluate the new district. One hearing would focus on approval of the new Rural Estate district, a second would allow input concerning the zoning of Edwards' land.

The Planning and Zoning Committee has also recommended changes to the Village's ordinances to allow additional small animal husbandry in the Rural Estate district, but those changes are under review by Village Attorney Michael Brough and will likely be the subject of a public hearing in later in the Spring.

Read more: Foxfire Council Debates New Zoning District

MCS LogoMoore County Schools will seek a $2.3 million increase in County funding for the coming fiscal year, if the Board of Education approves the budget proposed by Superintendent Aaron Spence. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on Monday, March 24, at 6:00 pm.

"I have heard it said too often that more money can't solve your problems," Spence told the Board during its regular Monday, March 10 meeting. "We cannot move the needle without continued support. We have to have a commitment from our community if we are going to transform our schools."

The County is providing the schools with $26.6 million this year; that number includes $24.5 million in funding for operations, as well as $712,000 in capital expenses and $750,000 for the district's digital learning initiative. Also included is $680,000 that is passed through to the County's charter schools.

Not included in that total is debt service — the payments the County makes on borrowing to finance school construction. Those payments are made directly by the County, not funneled through the MCS budget and will amount to $5.6 million this year.

The amount of money the County provides to MCS has been relatively flat, at $26.3 million, since 2011. This year, the Commissioners provided an additional $375,000 to help fund the drive to put laptops or tablet computers in the hands of every student.

MCS leaders and the County's finance team have held a series of meetings in recent weeks, working toward a more coordinated approach to budgeting for the schools.

MCS Chief Finance Office Mike Griffin praised that process during the budget presentation.

"The County has shown a tremendous interest in understanding our problems," Griffin said. "We want to work with them to address a funding formula that would address a variety of issues." That includes creating a dependable formula for county operational and capital funding.

Griffin said he hoped the negotiations would bear fruit in time for the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget cycle but, if not, was confident they would by the following year.

Read more: Superintendent Seeks Increase in County Funding for Schools

SLLA LogoLot combinations will be a thing of the past in Seven Lakes North and South if the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board approves a policy change proposed during their Monday, March 10 Work Session.

Community Manager Ray Sohl told Directors that Association Attorney Roger Knight had recommended the change, because none of the Association's legal documents give the Board the Authority to permanently waive assessments. And allowing lots to be combined has the effect of permanently reducing the dues paid on the combined parcel.

Treasurer Conrad Meyer noted that combining lots had been allowed since the beginning of the Association, perhaps, in part, because the original development plan was focused on creating lots for small, weekend cottages.

When marketing of the development switched to targeting retirees building full-sized homes, some of the original lots were too small to comfortably accommodate the larger structures.

"We have done this since day one," Meyer, who supports doing away with combinations, said. "The attorney is giving us some advice that we should stop doing it."

The issue of lot combinations — and reversing them — was raised for the Board when one landowner recently wanted to subdivide two previously combined lots. SLLA policy has been to allow previously combined lots to be split, but only if the landowner backs up and pays the dues that would have been owed had the lots remained separate. The landowner in question asked to have the policy waived — a request that the Board turned down.

Read more: SLLA May End Lot Combinations

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...