Wolf Laurel Road Maintenance & Security Homeowners Association Minutes
of the Meeting of the Board of Directors
December 16, 2016
The meeting was called to order by President Beneke at 10:00 A.M. Treasurer/Secretary Romero presiding.
Directors in attendance in person: Romero, McKnight, McCaghren, Moeller
Directors in attendance by telephone: Beneke, Smith, Potts, Foster Directors
Staff in attendance: Brown, Gwozdo, Wyatt
Upon motion made by Beneke and seconded by McKnight the minutes of November 18, 2016 were approved.
Revenue for both Roads and Security is greater than it was at this time one year ago. Collections have increased. Expenses are in line and there is nothing out of the ordinary. Romero added the liability insurer has completed their annual audit and has informed us there is a $190 premium increase. The auditor reviews both payroll and job duties. The additional premium has been paid.
Hearing no questions, the report was accepted.
Wolf Laurel has finally received some much needed rain 4.78 inches accompanied by a little snow .10 inches and some severe wind up to 65 mph gusts. The rain has caused some minor washouts, ruts, clogged culverts that have been addressed. The snow was not plow-able but did require two loads of salt mix to remove from the roadways. The wind, however, did produce at least 50 downed trees and branches along with power outages and one long sleepless night.
Road grading has resumed and has been effective. All roads have been graded and rolled at least once since last report.
De-leafing of all ditches and RROW’s has been ongoing, and all roads have been blown at least twice and will probably need it one more time when weather permits.
Cleaning of the culverts has been ongoing and will continue until all are clear.
A water point on Chestnut lane has been established and a small pond has been dug out; but there is a location above this pond that would be better suited for a larger pond with a gravity flow hydrant.
The water point pond on Town Mt. Road has been dug out deeper.
I have also met with Lee Peterson, the contractor doing the work on Ridge Way extension. He informed me that our part of the road and the intersection has been fixed, and the cost will be right around $4,000.00. I told Mr. Peterson to send me a bill.
The wall on the deck side of the building has been addressed and will be repaired by the contractor
While rolling the roads, the draw bar that connects to the frame of the John Deer tractor broke off and broke apart from the frame housing along with the right rear tire. The tire has been replaced and another one is on order. The frame housing cannot be repaired, but the tractor is still operational for other uses.
While grading the roads, a rock got caught in the rim of the Mahindra tractor and broke it. The rim was dismantled and welded back together. Another rim is on order in case the repair does not hold.
The fuel system on the 2005 Green Chevrolet 2500 has had new lines installed and will possibly need an injector pump.
The battery and some wiring has been replaced on the 2006 White Dodge 2500.
The salt spreader on the 2003 Yellow Chevrolet 2500 has had some issues, and a hydraulic pump and some bearings will be replaced.
While the rain has helped with the fire risk, the risk is still there. Even after all the rain in the last few weeks, last Sunday at 4:44 am there was a wildfire on El Miner Dr. caused by what the NCFS suspects were fireplace ashes dumped out two days before. Due to the quick response of our local fire department, it only burnt a half acre and was extinguished quickly without incident.
The cause of the last 2 fires in Wolf Laurel just this year, whether it has been proven or not, is human caused and education on the risk of fire danger should be first priority. A town hall meeting should be scheduled with the local officials as soon as everyone gets back on the mountain. The main goal should be education and pushing the FIRE WISE program.
I have met with the local officials regarding the EPP, with the holidays and scheduling conflicts, I have nothing to report at this time. We have, however, established multiple water points; and when weather permits we’ll proceed with making them viable for emergency services.
Ebbs Chapel FD would like to see a large central water point somewhere around the club house. As soon as I can meet with Scott or Bobby, we will start looking into our options.
I have also met with Utilities Inc., and they are installing what they are calling a blow off valve (we are calling it a stand pipe) at the maintenance shed and also at the intersection of El Miner and Wolf Laurel roads. These stand pipes will be able to be used by ECFD to tap into the water system for fire suppression.
Smith asked if there would be a problem in the winter time if the ponds iced over and water could not be accessed. Brown responded we can cut through the ice. Water comes from running creeks and if they ice over they can be cut with chainsaws.
Potts stated that operating in the mountain is very difficult and equipment breaks down. He complimented Brown and his staff for fixing equipment with very little down time. Brown passed on thanks from his staff for the Christmas bonuses. Hearing no other questions or comments, the report was accepted.
- Patrol responded to Trillium Lane for a house check as security cameras were reported as inoperable by property owner. Patrol found house secure and electric on and reported same to property owner. Patrol notified the owner of a house on Finney Lane of an open window.
- Patrol was busy responding to reports of gunshots and men in camo gear riding an ATV. Patrol staked out a number of areas and sent a few would be hunters out the gate. Gun shots on ski slope property and at Wolf Ridge were very prevalent this season. The 2016 season has ended.
- Patrol spoke to two contractors whose employees were blocking the road with their vehicles at two job sites. This practice creates delays for emergency vehicles.
- DOS responded to possible break in on Glenaire. Neighbor reported hearing banging noise. A very noisy dehumidifier on the deck appeared to be the cause of the noise. All doors and windows were secure.
- The Gate has been handing out fire ban information and Wolf Mountain has included the warning in their rental package. But Patrol discovered a renter roasting chickens over a fire pit in the yard and proceeded to ruin the family dinner by having the fire extinguished. Patrol responded to the brush fire on El Miner at 04:45 on Sunday. A property owner next to the fire scene called the gate to ask if she should evacuate her home. She was told no, as the fire was under control. Since that fire, security staff has responded to a report of smoke, which upon investigation, proved to be amiss.
- Security received over a dozen calls of smoke in the past month. The Gatlinburg fire made national headlines and increased concern within our community. On separate occasions two property owners called 911 and not the gate reporting a fire/smoke on ridge miles from their homes. Ebbs Chapel Fire Department responded to the homes of the callers in order to get an idea of the location of the reported fire. Both calls were unfounded as what the property owner saw was the smoke from fires burning miles to our south and east. The same was true of the calls received by the gate when staff investigated. Mist and smoke from outside our community can be very deceiving and property owners should call the Gate when concerned but have no actual location. 911 should be called if flames/smoke is actually seen and a location is known. After calling 911 the gate should be called as staff will respond.
The last two fires were caused by poor decisions by people in our community. Education and the promotion of the Fire Wise program should be a priority of the RMS Board.
Foster reported she heard from a property owner that information was disseminated about the El Miner brush fire that may have not been accurate about the source of the fire. Gwozdo responded that it was difficult to stop the rumor mill. Foster inquired if we had put out any information about the fire and Gwozdo responded we had not. Foster asked if the gate had given out any information. Gwozdo responded that other than letting the fire department in and receiving a call from the lady about whether they should evacuate, the gate had made no other calls. Beneke commented that information was put out by the rumor mill and may had been posted on the Wolf Laurel Community website which is not an official website for RMS. Foster remarked that she was asking because she needed to know if RMS had put out information that later turned out to be false. Gwozdo spoke about a getting a call asking about a fire on McKinney Gap where the people had gotten out but the pets had not. Gwozdo stated there was no such fire, and it is difficult for security to stop crazy rumors.
Romero asked if the gate was still handing out information about how to register for WENS (Wireless Emergency Notification System). Gwozdo responded the gate has not handed information about WENS but about the fire risk. Romero commented on very dry conditions, and asked if we should consider putting information out of fire hazard and the need to exercise extreme caution when putting out ashes, even though DFS had lifted the burning ban. Information could be distributed to realtors and people coming in. Moeller commented the main problem is going to be renters and homeowners putting out ashes from fire places in the woods and starting a fire because they don’t realize the danger. Foster commented that in her opinion we would be entitled under the covenants to place a ban on all outdoor burning of any source in the interest of community safety within Wolf Laurel. Foster further commented it was already a requirement to obtain a permit from RMS, and we are authorized under the covenants to take all measures for safety of the community. Gwozdo added that permits are issued by EBBS Chapel, US Forest Service, or can be obtained online. Foster responded that while that is correct, under the covenants people are required to obtain a permit from us. Brown commented that if someone was to burn, EBBS Chapel would not fine them and it would be for us to enforce and fine. Foster responded in the affirmative. McCaghren read covenants section 6.10 dealing with public safety. Beneke agreed and recommended we impose a ban until such time as the fire danger is reduced. Beneke requested a notice be drafted and distributed to anyone coming through the gate, put on the website and send out an alert. Beneke further stated to err on the side of caution is the appropriate thing to do. Foster further stated there could be some question from potential liability if we do not take all measures to protect the community from threat of fire, which is very high regardless of the lifting of the burn ban by the local governmental authorities. Romero asked if there was anyone in the board that had a different opinion and asked if this required a vote. McCaghren stated that if we are going to impose a ban we should vote. Beneke moved to impose a temporary ban on all outdoor burning until such time as we determine the fire danger is abated. The motion seconded by Foster. Gwozdo recommended the notice include a statement that we will not accept a burn permit from the authorities. Brown commented he can post a sign at the entrance. All directors voted in favor. Motion carried.
With no further discussion or question the report was accepted.
Communications & Community Relations
Emergency Alert System – am email urging all Wolf Laurel property owners to register for the Emergency Alert System was prepared and distributed on November 18 to all emails registered at WLRMS office.
Beneke commented information on WENS was included in the letter going out to all property owners with the annual billing.
Report was accepted.
Insurance / Finance Committee
Louise and Romero will be setting up a meeting with the accountant to schedule the annual audit. Members of the Finance Committee and the board will be invited to participate.
Report was accepted.
Matters under review:
- Pate Litigation
David Etheridge has amended the complaint and will file for summary judgment as soon as possible
- Tony Martin Collection Effort
The deposition in aid of execution is Friday.
- Requested committee chairs send her a copy of the document outlining committee
McCaghren reported collections are progressing nicely.
Report was accepted.
Road Maintenance & Equipment
Nothing additional to report other than Roads Committee will be meeting at the beginning of the year.
Committee has been preparing a document on emergency preparedness. These are the steps security takes from the time they hear of an emergency until it is turned over to officials.
Nothing further to report. The report was accepted.
Property and Facilities
Larry Smith & Dick Moeller
Moeller has talked with POA about property they have above the pond that is larger than property above parking lot at the village. Survey to determine if this is a feasible location for drainage system will cost about $600. Cost will be split 80/20 with POA paying 80%.
McKnight asked if this could be done now with weather conditions. Moeller responded work can be done in the spring but engineering needs to be scheduled now because engineer is out about six weeks before they can complete the survey. Beneke made a motion to approve the funds for the survey. Motion seconded by McKnight. All directors voted in favor. Motion carried.
Moeller reported Suburban has completed the installation of the tanks. A 1000 gallon tank was installed at the office; a 350 gallon tank at gate; and a 500 gallon tank at maintenance facility. Moeller reported office heating takes about 100 gallons per week. Facilities committee will look into it in the near future. Moeller also reported POA will not pay for Rays Weather in the future but Wolf Mountain Realty will be picking the expense up. McCaghren recommended a thank you letter be sent.
Upon no further questions or discussion the report was accepted.
Very little activity other than a couple of permits for minor repairs. He has been contact with contractor for the Etheredge house and he has indicated he will be back at the mountain this week.
Upon no questions or discussion the report was accepted.
Long Range Planning
The long range planning survey has closed. The committee is looking at the data to put in useful format. Complimented Joyce and Mel Poole for their work. Survey was subjective. The committee is consolidating the information to present to the board.
Upon no questions or discussion the report is accepted.
The Rays weather site is located at his home and at some point it will be moved. There has been discussion about moving to the country club. Only concern is that at times the system needs to be reset which could be a problem in the winter.
Upon no question or further discussion the report is accepted.
- Emergency Preparedness
Beneke thanked Becky and Sandy for putting together the document outlining steps that security takes in an emergency. Jason is obtaining documents that Madison County, forest service and Ebbs Chapel have available that we can incorporate into our emergency preparedness document. Leaders of other HOA’s have been contacted asking for volunteers to work on the committee. He is concerned that people may not read the document so it will need to be short. Jason has obtained cost of replacing street signs with metal posts. Estimate is $20,000 – $25,000 which includes all communities. Lots of work to be done. Romero added, the document will include steps that could be taken before emergencies. Romero requested Brown to comment on the work he is doing to establish water sources. Refer to Roads Report/ Emergency Preparedness Report for details. Beneke asked Brown to comment on progress of installing a tank at the country club parking lot. Brown responded he is waiting on the club to sign off. Romero will follow up. Brown commented some engineering work needs to be done ahead of any installation. It will be a 30,000 gallon tank.
- New Security Vehicle – Becky McKnight & Willie Romero
McKnight – reported that at the November meeting the board approved the purchase of new security vehicle. She and Steve McKnight researched consumer reports and obtained price. Quotes were also obtained from different dealers, looking for vehicle that could withstand our roads and weather. A 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sport with 1,400 miles has been found at Buchannan in Burnsville. It has been used as a courtesy vehicle and will be available for sale on December 30. The car has 14,000 miles and can be purchased for $26,800. Romero reported he has contacted four lenders. The best rate was provided Asheville Savings Bank at 4.1%. The recommendation is to finance for 48 months. We will take $6,800, plus the cost for tax, title, and tag from the equipment reserve account and finance the $20,000 balance.
Beneke moved to accept the financing through Asheville Savings and McCaghren seconded.
The motion carried unanimously.
- ARB Architectural Guidelines – John Di Petta & Steve McKnight
The RMS board charged the new ARB committee with two tasks: (1) to review the ARB’s Architectural Guidelines (AG) to bring them into compliance with the 2015 Covenants, and (2) to review and make recommendations regarding the fee structures in the AG.
After a careful review, we found no significant compliance issues between the AG and the Covenants. Only a few minor changes to the AG were necessary.
In examining the fee amounts for new construction and for post-construction renovations in the current version of the AG, we determined that they were adopted at the August, 2005, meeting of the RMS board. You have been provided with a copy of the pertinent section of these minutes. The minutes indicate that an increase in the nonrefundable fee was approved; there was no increase proposed for the damage deposit, which could be returned if there was no excessive road damage directly attributable to the construction project. These minutes indicate that the major portion the non-refundable fee went to “Roads & Security” and the remainder went to the ARB. The “ARB” portion was paid to the ARB administrator for processing applications and ensuring compliance. The R&S portion went into the roads portion of the general operating budget and was intended to offset the maintenance costs due to heavy construction equipment and material loads on Wolf Laurel roads.
The ARB has determined that two kinds of clarification and adjustment of the “ARB” and “R&S” components of the non-refundable fee are needed.
First, we propose that the “ARB portion” be listed in the ARB documents as an “Application/Inspection Fee.” We recommend that the fee not be set as a fixed amount but be based on a sliding scale and determined by the number of staff hours needed to administer the application and make site visits to ensure compliance with the Architectural Guidelines. Our interim report provided you with a list of the factors that would go into the calculation of an application/inspection fee, and provided examples of the range of fees for new construction and for post-construction renovations.
Second, we propose that fee the 2005 RMS minutes designate as the “R&S fee,” be designated as a construction impact fee and be determined based upon the number of heavy equipment vehicles and heavy material loads necessary for each individual project. Our interim report provided you with a range of fees for new construction and post construction projects based on our analysis of the past four years of ARB permits.
Our last proposal involves the reintroduction of an element of what the August, 2005, RMS minutes designate as the “damage deposit” from which fees may be deducted for excessive road damage directly attributable to the project. In reviewing application forms we found that as early as 2006 the forms were modified to designate this deposit as a “compliance/damage deposit.” Designated this way, the ARB may also deduct fees for failure to comply with the rules and regulations set out in the AG.
We have provided you with copies of the cover sheets that would be attached to the application form for new construction or various types of post construction renovation. These documents offer a clear, concise explanation of fees and of ARB construction requirements.
We are convinced that the clarification and delineation of fees we are proposing are more reasonable and equitable and are easier to explain and justify to property owners and their contractors than the current fixed-fee structure.
We request that the board approve our report and recommendations.
Potts moved to accept the ARB recommendations. Motion was seconded by McCaghren. Romero asked for discussion. Foster stated her support and complimented the committee on their work. Beneke echo Foster’s comments and stated his strong support for the committee’s recommendation. Romero stated that in the spirit of transparency, his question is how this makes the community more or less competitive. He asked for clarification of recommended fees. Romero stated his understanding is the current fee includes cost of application review; inspections; and normal wear and tear on the roads. This is in addition to the deposit for excessive road damage. He commented that in part he sees this as a duplication in fees for normal wear and tear. Steve McKnight explained the proposed fee structure. Romero stated that at first blush the proposed fees could be interpreted as another attempt to pass a commercial road usage fee. DiPetta commented all fees were charged to property owners. He also commented on his conversations with Barry Vaughn and Sam Stebbins, and some contractors. Potts commented he does not see this a substitution for road usage fee. It is a fair assessment for use of our roads. Beneke reiterated this is a clarification of fees and making permits fees more equitable, and not a substitute for the road usage proposal. McCaghren stated his read is this is a better clarification and allocation of fees, and strongly supports. Foster commented questions were fair and asked Romero if the responses addressed his questions. Romero stated he was satisfied with responses but felt it was necessary to have the discussion for absolute transparency.
Romero asked if there was any further discussion and moved for a vote. All directors voted in favor. Motion carried.
McCaghren asked about effective date. Steve McKnight responded with approval the fee will apply with new applications, and staff is prepared to administer. Changes will be incorporated into ARB guidelines. Romero asked about communications. Steve McKnight stated owners that are making applications will receive the information. Beneke suggested Steve or DiPetta draft a communication. Romero thanked the committee for their work.
Other New Business
Brown reported the manager of the ski lodge is interested in leasing the motel for large groups of ski renters. Beneke requested a written proposal.
Lewis Daniels discouraged the board from doing anything with the motel property. Covenants restrict the use of property for commercial purposes.
Michaelene Sanders asked if RMS received a report from the Fire Marshall about the fire on her property. Brown responded no report was received. He further commented that since we don’t own the property, this is a matter between the property owner and the Fire Marshall. Sanders commented she was asking about communications because she did not receive anything from the Fire Marshall. She was asking because she believes it would be important for Wolf Laurel security to know.
Sanders also asked if there had been a test of emergency alarm system. McKnight responded the confirmation received by the person registering with WENS confirms the system is working.
Steve McKnight commented that covenants require property owners maintain their property. There are many absentee property owners that do not maintain their property. He reminded the board, they have the authority to insist properties maintain their property and suggested the board may want to take action to notify property owners that they need to maintain their property to protect their neighbors and community. Beneke agrees this is something to consider. Potts suggested town hall meeting discussion would be very helpful in that regard. Foster asked if there was a list of properties that had been abandoned. Romero commented this is something the emergency preparedness committee could look into. DiPetta recognized Brown and Gwozdo for their assistance with ARB recommendations.
Next RMS HOA Board meeting is scheduled January 20, 2017, at 10:00 A.M.
The meeting was adjourned.