Concern about the community’s lakes and dams and a proposal to construct a new dock at Sequoia Point drew an interested crowd to an otherwise routine general meeting of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board of Directors on Wednesday, June 30.
Northsider JoAn Moses pressed hard during public comment with a series of questions seeking information on who is responsible and what is being done to proactively maintain the lakes and dams in top form.
“Do we have a Lakes & Dams Committee? And, if not, why not?" Moses asked. "This is our most important asset.”
SLLA President Randy Zielsdorf responded that the committee was disbanded in favor of moving control and responsibility of the lakes and dams to management. Taking on a more confrontational tone, Zielsdorf stated the decision was also partly based on the committee’s membership of mostly lakefront property owners who “sometimes acted like the lakes were there for their own use.”
Continuing her line of questioning, Moses asked whether the written schedule for lakes and dam maintenance, developed by the former committee, was being used by management. That schedule, she said, details specific maintenance tasks to be completed at various times throughout the year.
Community Manager Alina Cochran responded that she had not received the schedule and, thus, it was not presently being used. Current routine maintenance includes periodic spraying with herbicides, she explained, as well as water quality testing, performed every six months. In addition, she reported, the Board is considering whether to continue the more frequent water testing schedule employed last year.
Moving on to boating concerns, Moses asked whether boats are being checked for current stickers, citing recent instances of boats being operated on Lake Sequoia without proper identification.
Security Director Chuck Mims said that the Boat Patrol is on-duty each weekend, Friday through Sunday, for ten-hour shifts. He recommended that residents immediately report any boats being operated without a current sticker.
Another location for new docks?
Speaking on behalf of sixty-one homeowners, Northsider Joan DeBruin said she opposed a plan, currently under Board consideration, to construct a new eighteen-slip dock on the northern side of Sequoia Point.
“Sequoia Point is one of most picturesque parts of Seven Lakes and attracts people to swimming, boating, and picnicking. It should not be turned into a boat marina,” said DeBruin. “We do not wish to mar the view with more boats nor see property values decrease because there is a marina in what we [lakefront property owners] view as our front yards. Is this the best use of this valuable resource?”
Noting that there are three shallow coves at the north end of Sequoia, DeBruin said increased boat traffic could also further undermine bulkheads since so many ignore the ‘no wake’ area regulations.
DeBruin offered two suggestions: raise the slip fee to test actual demand for new dock space, or to reconsider the location of the proposed new dock. Instead of constructing new docks on the northern side, she recommended relocating the swimming area to that location and improving or expanding the existing dock area on the southern side -- which mainly fronts the dam rather than nearby homes.
“That would put the beach closer to the restrooms and the playground," DeBruin said. "It would be safer for children, because it’s further away from the road; boater access would be improved; and lakefront landowners north of the point would not be adversely affected,” she added.
She implored the Board not to make a hasty or wrong decision: “Let’s work together to develop a sane and reasonable plan for the long-term use of this key amenity.”
Zielsdorf stated that he had been in previous contact with DeBruin and supported her recommendation. “Unless there is a good reason not to do it, I believe this is a very good idea,” he said.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Northsider Donna Fentzlaff told the Board that, despite repeated complaints, Sequoia Point and its beach continue to be filthy and full of cigarette butts. She recommended a smoking and alcohol ban at the park to address the problem.
Fentzlaff also railed against the "no shelter" sign installed at the beach. “That is ridiculous: there are bigger concerns going on there!”
Solution for reciprocal gates access in the works?
After several weeks of confusion and delays for Westsiders attempting to enter the North and South gates without the benefit of window stickers, plus numerous complaints all around, Mims reported that a meeting on Tuesday, June 29, between directors of SLLA and the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] was fruitful. Mims said he anticipated a reasonable solution to identifying vehicles at the gates would soon be approved and “bring everything back to normal.”
Mims also reported that the Boat Patrol has been deployed for just over a month and that officers had completed a boating safety course as well as instruction on North Carolina laws applying to boat operation while intoxicated. A Standard Operating Procedures [SOP] manual was distributed to all security officers.
A proposal to install wireless cameras at several common area locations has been delayed due to the contractor’s health. Mims postponed further discussion until the August Work Session.
During public comment, Northsider Dennis Mueller reported the emergency access back gate, located on Firetree Lane and adjoining Holly Grove School Road, poses an ongoing security breach of the gates.
“Last year, people took down the fence rails and were coming in and out on the Fourth of July. I’ve seen people walk through, drive motorbikes through, kids on bicycles come in and go to a neighbors dock and then leave. A pickup truck with seven people in the bed stopped, the group hopped the fence and started walking toward Sequoia while the pickup continued on his way. Children were being exchanged with them exiting one car and entering another on the opposite side of the fence. I’m very concerned about it,” said Mueller.
SLLA still collecting interest on dues payments
Addressing an item that he said “struck deep,” Treasurer Denny Galford stated that a recent Letter to the Editor published in The Times was incorrect and the headline misleading that policy has changed regarding interest on Association dues.
Former Treasurer Steve Hudson authored the letter, which complained of a cumbersome process for arranging to pay dues monthly, noted that the Association was no longer requiring promissory notes of those landowners who choose to pay their dues monthly, and implied that the Association was no longer receiving interest on those payments.
“We may be following a different procedure, but the policy is being followed and interest is being charged, just like always,” Galford said.
Continuing, Galford said he appreciated that the majority of residents remember the opinions of the letter’s author and noted that is reflected at the ballot box. Hudson and Galford both ran for seats on the Board in 2009. Hudson finished sixth of six candidates, with 226 votes; Galford finished fourth, with 290 votes.
“That is why we have the Board we have now,” Galford said.
Fourth of July festivities
The annual Boat Parade will be delayed an extra hour this year, casting off at Noon, since the Fourth of July holiday falls on a Sunday.
Later in the day, fireworks will be lit at dusk at Sequoia Point. Some areas of the park -- including the restrooms -- will be cordoned off from 10:00 am until the fireworks' conclusion, for safety reasons. Sequoia Dam will be closed to vehicle traffic during the evening; however, it will remain open for pedestrians.
All boats must be removed from the Sequoia Point dock; and, during the fireworks display, all boats must maintain a 500’ distance from Sequoia Point, reported Cochran, noting that these safety policies are driven by a tightening of state regulations.
Reduced fees for Summer Camp
Though the SLLA Summer Day Camp has been up and running for two weeks now, attendance has been lower than usual, prompting a decision to reduce fees, reported Community Manager Cochran.
The new drop-in rates for SLLA members and non-residents is now $10 per day. Summer Camp is held Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at the North Clubhouse - Community Activity Center [CAC]. Daily activities include swimming, games, and crafts. Children aged five to fourteen are welcome to participate.
If interest and enrollment numbers increase, Summer Camp is anticipated to continue until August 20 -- with the exception of Monday, July 5, when camp will close for the Federal holiday.
Pool hours extended; camp out planned
Weekend pool hours have been extended; pool hours are Noon to 6:00 pm, Monday through Thursday, and Noon to 8:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Water aerobics are held weekday mornings; for more information call the SLLA office.
Under action items, the Board approved a newly-drafted liability waiver and parental consent form for use at the Stables. No minor children will be allowed to ride without prior approval, and forms will be kept on file at the Stables.
A Family Camp Out event at Sequoia Point will be held Friday, August 13. Sponsored by the Recreation Committee, this kid-friendly evening will feature a campfire, songs, and s’mores. Families are invited to come out for an hour or to spend the night. S’more fixin's and fun will be provided, but campers should bring their own tents, sleeping bags, and flashlights. [Rain date is Friday, August 20.]
During public comment, Northsider Beverly Sommers expressed disappointment in the lack of scheduled recreation trips this year.
“I find it lackluster here. What has happened to the trips, and what will be planned in the future?” she asked.
Cochran responded that there has been little interest or response to the recreation programs so far this year; but that the Recreation Committee was open to program suggestions and trips of interest to the community.
SLLA Beautification Work Day
All interested residents are invited to participate in a Beautification Work Day on Saturday, July 10, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. Volunteers are needed to help clean and beautify common areas. Please meet at 9:00 am at the SLLA offices and bring work gloves and garden tools. Trailers and pick-up trucks are also needed.
“This is a busy time for maintenance and we just want to supplement some of the things they are doing,” explained Director Kent Droppers.
Continuing his report, Droppers said the Community Standards Committee is very busy and thanked residents for their quick response to concerns. He said the committee has worked through a backlog of complaints and that no issues have required a Judicial Committee hearing.
Finance Committee working on accounting system problems
Reporting for the Finance Committee, Galford said the transition from cash basis to accrual basis using the Talis accounting system had generated more problems than anticipated, including improvements needed on the statements, slow processing of payments, and some incorrect billing penalties.
To address these concerns, Galford said a meeting has been scheduled at Talis’ main office in Raleigh on July 9 to discuss issues “item by item.”
In addition, Galford said a monthly financial statement had not been distributed as usual, prior to the meeting, because he felt what was available was not very revealing.
“Income would have been over and expenses under on the statement. I feel the system can be modified to meet our needs and we will be taking care of those issues on July 9,” Galford said.
In other business on Wednesday, June 30, the SLLA Board of Directors:
• Heard from Community Manager Cochran that North Carolina deemed the necessary road repair work near Echo Dam as "non-jurisdictional," so bidding may commence with only a few stated requirements. “That is a good thing -- this means we don’t get our own state bureaucratic babysitter for the project,” said President Zielsdorf.
• Approved landowner requests to recombine lots 45 and 46, and lots 25, 39 and 40. Zielsdorf noted that such requests are approved through Moore County, and that the Board has no control over such action.
• Heard from Director Melinda Scott that the Architectural Review Board [ARB] is reviewing requests as quickly as possible and have also been more diligently following up and inspecting approved projects.
Directors Bud Shaver and Bruce Keyser, Jr. were unable to attend the meeting.