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The meeting was called to order by Larry Smith, President at 10:00 A.M.
Directors in Attendance in person: McKnight and Freeman
Directors in Attendance by telephone: Beneke, Ames, Faliero, Foster, and Potts.
Staff in attendance: Brown, Gwozdo, and Wyatt.
Upon motion made by Beneke and seconded by Freeman, minutes of January 20, 2016, were approved.
Board received the January 31, 2016, financial report from Louise Wyatt.
- The assessment payments continue to exceed that of 2015. Expenses are in line with January 2015, including administrative costs.
- The Reserve budget of 2015 will be transferred to the Reserve account at the end of February and will be reflected in the February financials.
- Most of two days were spent with the auditor, who braved the snow to complete her on site work. The goal is to have final report by March meeting but due to her work load may be delayed till our April meeting.
- The 2016 Yancey County re-evaluation of property has resulted in the doubling of tax assessment of some property in Wolf Laurel including a few lots owned by RMS.
- Wyatt had taken maps and comparable property sales to the tax office in an attempt to show that Wolf Laurel is not part of the Preserve. Wyatt explained that the last assessment in 2008 compared property in the Preserve with property in Wolf Laurel causing a significant increase in property taxes. She strongly suggests that Yancey County property owners contact the tax office.
Beneke ask if the RMS building is tax exempt and on learning that it was not promised to contact Madison County tax office.
Freeman inquired to the ski slopes account and was informed by Beneke that $7,000 was submitted leaving a balance of just under $7000.
Roads: Jason Brown
- We have had a pretty rough couple of weeks. Since the last Board meeting we have had 36” – 54” of snow depending on elevation, high winds, heavy rain and periods of thawing. This weird weather along with delivery and construction trucks has contributed to significant damage to our roads. For some periods there was nothing we could do as the roads were so soft that we would only add to the damage with our equipment. As the roads hardened we have attempted to smooth out the ruts.
- Equipment: We totaled a 2011 plow which has been welded numerous times. A new plow has been ordered at the cost of $4800 and should arrive by end of month.
- The 2003 plow on the yellow truck is used as a spare. To repair would cost $3800. Brown recommended that it be replaced due to age at a cost of $5800. As these two items combined exceeds his spending limit. Brown asked the Board’s permission to make the purchase.
- The 2003 grey pickup has 230,000 miles and a 1 to 2 year life expectancy. The transfer case went out, it is still usable in 4 wheel high and it can’t backup in 4 wheel drive. A transfer case replacement would cost $3800. Brown is looking for a used one, saving $1500.
- Brown, having heard some complaints regarding the time required to plow the roads by full time residents, made clear that for the safety of all residents, property owners and emergency responders all roads are plowed. We never know when a property owner will come up for a weekend or when renters will arrive and there are full time residents on practically every road in Wolf Laurel. It take 12 to 24 hours depending on the amount of snow to clear every road in Wolf Laurel. The roads are plowed to 4-wheel drive standard or for vehicles equipped with snow chains.
- Brown cited the portion of the Covenants that require the road right of way be clear of vehicles. This is especially important during a snow event. It is difficult, sometimes impossible, to navigate a 14’ plow past a vehicle on the road or in the right of way. He suggested that an email be sent to property owners explaining this issue.
Smith asked Ames to prepare the email.
Beneke asked if Brown had taken possession of the dump truck. Brown said that it is tagged and insured and he had driven it and was waiting for the signage to be completed.
Smith asked for a vote via email (attached) to approve Browns request to exceed his $5000. purchase limit to purchase the snow plow. The Roads Committee approved the purchased and the Board voted in favor of the request.
Security: Sandy Gwozdo
- The Gate was called by a property owner to assist in locating a guest who had left the residence in an angry and inebriated state. Patrol called Yancey and Madison County Sheriff and DOS. Patrol set up point of origin with family at Buck House Rd. and Flame Azalea Lane while DOS, Tim Barr and Daniel Porche began a coordinated search between Buck House Rd. and Ridgeway Rd. Two Yancey County Deputies arrived and around midnight called off the search. DOS checked the Preserve Gate cameras and on return found the guest on Ridgeway and Chestnut Lane, very wet, tired and embarrassed. Guest was driven home.
- Patrol notified one property owner of water leak, two of downed trees on property and confirmed the completion of tree work for another property owner.
- Patrol found young couple with a ski passes at Big Bald parking lot. The young lady claimed she was allowed to be at the Bald because she is a WLCC employee. They were escorted off the mountain. Later the same day they returned with another couple and after threats to call the Sheriff, Patrol once again escorted them to the gate.
- Brown called Porche to assist in stopping a man in a pickup who was tearing up gravel roads and traveling at high speed. They stopped the man, an employee of the ski slopes who was on break. Another ski slope employee was escorted from the Bald to the ski slopes. Porche talked with the supervisor of both employees.
- President’s weekend was busy, most of the rental homes were booked and the traffic began on Thursday. The snow arrived and many guests did not heed the advice to park their 2 wheel drive vehicles in the Village. Patrol was very active arranging for tows, transportation to rentals, assisting with chains and clearing vehicles from roads and neighboring driveways.
- A property owner called gate to report a strange pickup parked on Wolf Laurel Rd. Minutes later the property owner called threatening to shoot a man on his property. Patrol and DOS responded to find a workman gathering golf balls and trash on edges of golf course. The man lost his entry permit, warned and escorted out the gate.
Smith said he had been notified by Brown that the ski slopes had cleared snow from the motel parking lot probably in anticipation of using the area to park ski traffic rather than bus to and from parking areas outside the Gate. Smith asked the Board if there was any concern in allowing the ski slopes to use the lot in the future.
Ames said he had concerns until the ski slopes were in compliance in payment.
Smith explained that the agreement with the ski slopes calls for payment by December 31st each year with a 12% penalty on payment after that date. The slopes have paid in the past in two payments and have paid the 12% penalty.
Smith pointed out that during the summer the ski slopes allow Wolf Laurel residents to park vehicles in the ski slope parking lot and also allows parking for attendees of the July 4th activities in the Village.
Beneke stated that he parks in the ski slopes lot but feels that is a personal matter and should not have any bearing on the collection of monies owed to RMS.
Freeman asked if there would be any liability in allowing ski traffic to park at motel.
Foster suggested that this issue required additional thought and investigation.
It was decided to defer any further discussion.
Communications & Community Relations: John Ames
- Motel property purchase follow-up email – an update email was drafted and approved. Distribution to all property owners with emails on file was distributed January 8, 2016. The content provided the current status in the purchase process, the names of all property owners who had pledged donations to support the purchase and an overview of next steps.
- Delinquent Payments email – this topic was dropped due to Board concerns.
- Home Fires email – this email, written by Mel Poole of the C&CR committee was distributed to all property owners with emails on file January 22, 2016. This article was also sent to the TOB for inclusion in the next issue.
- Winter Security email – this email was drafted and approved. Distribution to all property owners with emails on file was completed on January 29, 2016. It was also posted on the WLRMS website.
- Poaching Incident email – this email was drafted and approved. Distribution to all property owners was completed on February 12, 2016. It will also be posted on the WLRMS website.
- Drones Policy email – at the request of Becky McKnight a draft of an email announcing the adoption of a Drone Policy has been developed and approved for distribution. It will also be posted on the WLRMS website.
- WLRMS Website – there will be a meeting on Saturday, Feb 20 with David Biddix with the C&CR committee to review his proposal for the WLRMS redesign and maintenance. Property owner Maria Gomez has volunteered to help in this effort as well. The C&CR committee will consider her offer in conjunction with the Biddix proposal. A recommendation will be made to the Board in March for review and approval. We hope to have a new website up and operating by May 1, 2016.
- Forest Service Project Communication – the C&CR Committee has established contact with Steven Rutherford of the Roads Committee for coordination of the community communications. Awaiting input to move forward.
- Community Survey proposal – the C&CR Committee has proposed that the Board conduct semi-annual surveys among all property owners with email addresses on file to get input on topics of interest and concern. Have had 3 positive responses to the proposal, but no input on topics. Will request further feedback during the February Board meeting.
- Standing Committee Quarterly Report proposal – the C&CR Committee has proposed that each Standing Committee prepare a Quarterly Report to be sent via email to the property owners to ensure those who do not read Board minutes on the website. Have had 3 positive responses to the proposal, but no specifics on scheduling or next steps volunteered. Will request further feedback during the February Board meeting.Ames requested Board Members to respond via email with suggestions and comments regarding the survey and Standing Committee reports.
Finance Committee – John Beneke
Beneke reported that the donations to purchase the motel totaled $40,400.00.
Road Impact – John Beneke
The committee met on February 3, 2016 via telephone. Those present were John Beneke, Lisa Baldwin, Cassandra Bradham, Becky McKnight and Sandy Gwozdo.
- We discussed the fee structure and considered exemptions. In addition, we decided that we would add a Weekly Rate. This would provide for contractors who had a job expected to take longer than a day or two. It was felt that it would help reduce the workload on the gate staff.
- There was a good exchange of emails, etc. concerning whether some entities should/should not be exempted. There will be more discussion by the committee on this issue.
- After the meeting, Sandy raised an issue, which is important. Some time ago, she attempted to deny access to a contractor. The individual contacted several property owners, one of whom contacted the sheriff. The deputy who responded informed Sandy that it was against NC Law to deny access to a property owner or his guests/vendors. I have tried to contact Sheriff Harwood, but with no success so far. Sandy also raised several additional issues regarding procedural matters.
- I have asked Sharon for an opinion on whether or not we can enforce the fees. If we can’t, then there is no reason to move ahead, even if we are authorized by the covenants. I have read the Covenants several times to see if there is any reference to Mr. Martin’s concerns and I can find none. If however, there is an issue of law, we might open ourselves to the potential of legal action.
- At this point, we have put the issue of Impact Fees on hold while awaiting legal opinion on our ability to enforce.
Legal Committee: Sharon Foster
Matters Under Review:
- Maintenance Shed Property
I have no new information.
- Julia Monroe’s offer to surrender her lot for public use.
Monroe’s attorney has presented his proposal for our review today.
- Collection Matters
Etheridge is moving to enforce our judgment.
- Development of Policies and Procedures
I am working on a document that will contain our policies and procedures implemented pursuant to the Covenants.
- Repurchase of 125 Valley View Circle
We own the property at a cost of $34,000 with closing fees of $760.00 and attorney’s fees of $7550.00
- Covenant Review
I have begun my review of the issue of enforcement of the covenants to particular deeds. I should have a memo to the Board sometime before the next Board meeting.
- Drone Policy
The amendment to the Covenants and Restrictions is ready for approval at this meeting.
- Usage Fees
I have been reviewing the law regarding usage fees (impact fees are defined as fees to defray the cost of new development). North Carolina law grants planned communities the right to impose such fees. Although we are not a planned community under NC law, I believe that we would be considered to come under it by analogy.
Smith thanked Foster and her legal team for all their work in the motel purchase.
Beneke expressed a big thank you to all the contributors, without whom the purchase could not have been made.
Foster reminded the Board that they had previously adopted the drone policy and asked for a motion to amend the Covenants to include the drone policy under 6.10 Public Safety.
Freeman made the motion seconded by Beneke and the motion passed unanimously.
Beneke reminded the Board that they had approved a change of date for the Board election and method of electing Directors and that the By Laws should be amended.
Foster agreed and will prepare the amendment.
Insurance – Warren Johnson
- The insurance committee (Johnson, Eller, Parker, and Romero) met via phone conference on February 3. Items discussed were the damage to the RMS building and any issues that might arise regarding purchase of the waste water treatment plant. On RMS, the engineering firm was here and we are awaiting his report any day. We discussed withdrawing the claim but decided to go ahead with the process.
- The WWTP was discussed and a friend of LLoyd Parker told him that he didn’t think there would be much exposure. The committee was split on this issue and we will investigate further.
Road Maintenance & Equipment – Charlie Potts
The Road Committee plans to make an assessment of all equipment this summer in order to better assist Brown and the Board anticipate and budget for replacement equipment.
Smith, referencing a letter from the POA asked Brown if he had the equipment to dig the soil tests for a septic tank and Brown replied the he did.
Smith also asked if Brown could clear and remove trees from the wooded area parallel to the basketball courts for a drainage field. Brown said he would probably need to rent equipment.
Security – Rebecca McKnight
No report beyond that of Gwozdo.
ARB: Chuck Freeman
Two approved tree applications. One continuing construction project.
Long Range Planning – Larry Smith
Smith asked for suggestions from the Board for the names of people to serve on the committee. He suggested someone from WLCC, Blue Mountain and the POA. A May meeting is planned.
Disposition of Motel Property
Beneke explained that this was on the agenda at the suggestion of Ames in an attempt to stimulate discussion and possibly solicit input by the community.
Smith voiced his concern that suggestions by the community could only be made with full understanding of the two missions with which RMS purchased the property.
- To gain control of the sewage waste plant in order to close it down.
- To gain some control of the usage of the property in order to eliminate security issues.
Smith suggested that the building could be used as storage or rental storage.
Beneke said the renovation of the building would be cost prohibitive and he could not imagine a use for the building that would not create additional liability to RMS or be of benefit to the community. He suggested the fire department could have a controlled practice burn and the building torn down.
Smith stated that the core of the building is concrete and would not be easily burned or torn down. He said there had been a positive reaction from the fire department for placing a truck at the location and he had asked Brown about the possibility of relocating the maintenance equipment to the site. Perhaps the best next move is to form a committee.
Anthony Martin: Made the Board aware that the 4wheel drive standard that Brown had mentioned does not address the Covenants which call for road maintenance as to allow an ordinary passenger vehicle at all times.
He added that the commercial usage fee would violate the Covenants. Martin cited sections of various Covenants that defined “lot Owner.”
McKnight countered by citing Article lll section 3.1 which allows the Board to impose impact fees.
Smith reminded Martin that the possible commercial impact fee continues to be discussed and the final proposal has not been presented.
Next meeting scheduled for March 18, 2016, at 10:00 A.M.
The meeting was adjourned.