Wolf Laurel Road Maintenance & Security Homeowners Association
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Directors
November 18, 2016
The meeting was called to order by President Beneke at 10:00 A.M. Treasurer/Secretary Romero presided.
Directors in attendance in person: Romero, McKnight, McCaghren, Moeller
Directors in attendance by telephone: Beneke, Ames, Smith, Potts, Foster
Directors absent: None
Staff in attendance: Brown, Gwozdo, Wyatt
Minutes: Upon motion by Beneke and seconded by McKnight the minutes of October 21, 2016 were approved.
Finance: Louise Wyatt
For October we experienced normal operating cost for Roads and Security.
Upon motion by McKnight and seconded by Beneke the report was accepted.
Romero commented that projected year-end expenses will be very close to the budget. Road expenses are projected to be less than 1% above estimate, which is pretty good considering the size of the operation and unforeseen events. Upon motion by McKnight and seconded by Beneke the report was accepted.
Roads: Jason Brown
No weather events have been reported. The community has however been experiencing drought conditions which have led to very dusty conditions and a wildfire. The fire risk on the mountain is extremely dangerous and everyone should be on high alert.
Due to drought conditions road grading has not been effective
The process of de -leafing all roads, ditches, culverts, banks and RROW’s has begun and will take up to another two weeks to complete.
Dead trees have been cut and disposed of along Buckhouse, Glenaire, and El Miner.
The first 25 tons of salt have been delivered and stored in the salt shed.
RM crew has cut, split, and stacked the winter wood for the maintenance shed.
The creek bank stabilization project along the back deck of the office has been completed by the RM crew. The end result is the creek bed is 4 to 6 ft. wider than before.
Equipment: Studded snow tires have been installed on the 2005 green Chevy 2500 HD, the 2006 white dodge 2500, and the 2016 black GMC 3500. The tires on the 2002 yellow 2500 should last another month or so but will have to be changed.
The water tank on the blue international truck has been grinded down, sanded, primed and painted inside and out.
All snow plow equipment has been mobilized.
All equipment is either scheduled or has been serviced for winter operations and is in good running order.
Fire Prevention Program:
I have met with all organizations involved in the wildfire last week and we are coming up with a plan.
First on the list are water sources:
I have found 8 locations that could be used as dedicated water sources for emergency services. These 8 locations will have to be prepared and signs installed. Before this work can be done there is some more research that will have to be done. I will keep everyone updated on the progress.
Second on the list is proper signage:
The recommendation is to install metal posts with DOT approved reflective signage I have not completed the survey of all signs yet but it is looking like we will need 152 posts. The signs should be supplied by the county but upon questioning Madison EOC I was told they could not afford to supply them all at one time. I am waiting on a call back from Yancey EOC. It was also recommended that we have on hand multiple detour signs, road closed signs, barricades, and cones to keep local traffic out of impacted areas.
Third on the list are the roads themselves:
The day lighting project was brought up. I spoke to the district ranger about this project. His response was the NCFS has been extremely busy and had until 2018 to get this project done and will have a full report to present to WLRMS soon. Also emergency traffic was brought up and inquiry was made that a turn out or passing point be established on all roads where emergency vehicles had a place to pass each other on the roadways coming and going to the scene.
Fourth on the list would be prescribed burning:
Fight fire with fire. The local fire officials would like to see a prescribed burn program set in place on some of the bigger non populated areas in Wolf Laurel. This would be a long term goal toward fire prevention.
After inquiring about an evacuation plan if in fact there was an incident that we needed to evacuate, I was told to leave it to the professionals. There is a long list of highly qualified well paid personnel on standby at all times within the area that already have a plan in place that will be implemented. Once the Emergency management officials arrive on scene, any plan we would have in place would be overridden by them.
Upon motion by McKnight and seconded by Beneke the report was accepted.
Security: Sandy Gwozdo
- Patrol responded to a report of an injured deer on Phacelia. The deer appeared to have been grazed on shoulder by an arrow. When patrol arrived the deer ran off.
- Vehicle was stopped and a rifle was spotted across front seat.
- Patrol escorted a lost guest to the back gate.
- Security escorted two vehicles that had entered through the Preserve gate and had not checked in.
- Security received a number of reports about a moving light shining through their window. Patrol investigated and found the homeowner had installed a motion light in backyard to allow dogs to go out and take care of their business.
- Gate at Big Bald has been closed for the season and will not reopen until spring. The lock was changed and the key is held at front gate in case of emergency.
- Patrol continues to stop vehicles for speeding or no decals. One incident occurred where driver jumped out and confronted Ken. Ken handled professionally without incident.
- Security received a call from property owner about a sounding alarm at their residence. Property owner also reported to Yancey County Sheriff. Ken responded and checked windows and doors and then called property owner. He then waited for the sheriff, who collaborated there were no signs of break-in. The issue was caused by a faulty alarm.
- Property owner reported that a neighboring property owner had entered his home without permission using a hidden key. The intruder was found by a realtor who was inspecting the house. The intruder claimed he had permission. He had made coffee and used the washing machine. The property owner had also reported to the sheriff. Sandy followed-up with realtor and property owner. She also provided all information she had to the sheriff.
- A worker at Weaver Lane was asked to extinguish a fire. He was also warned that there was a ban in effect by the forest service and that he could be fined. This occurred the same day as the fire on Siler.
- Property owner Tommy Green reported a brush fire on Siler. At about 2:30 – 2:45 Mr. Green was leaving his home when he spotted the fire about 30 feet from his house. Mr. Green immediately called the front gate and the guard called 911. Sandy investigated. Ken had also heard it on his scanner and responded immediately. Sandy contacted director of roads who was off but had already called to members of his team to respond. The Chief of the Ebbs Fire Department arrived within 10 minutes with the first small tanker. The brush fire started when a blaze from what appear to be some sort of pit got out of control. Ken and road crew assisted by pulling weeds away from the house. Soon NC and US Fire Service responded, Sandy commented on the organization and professionalism of the responders and R&S staff. We were extremely lucky due to low wind conditions, area was relatively free of brush and there was a water source. Sandy further commented about concerns expressed by a resident of the Preserve regarding locked gates at Town Mountain Road and Siler and Weaver Lane The locked gates in no way hampered the response. Jason had asked the fire fighters if they wanted the gates open and they absolutely did not want the gates open because they did not want curious observers on the site.
- In response to the high fire alert, gate personnel has been handing out flyers explaining there is to be no open grilling, burning or open fire pits.
- Sandy reported on her call to the Madison County 911 Director about fire alerts and the 911 system. All of Wolf Laurel is covered by Madison County’s 911 alert system. The wireless emergency notification system (WENS) is a reverse 911 system that is used for warnings and evacuations. Residents can register their land and or cell numbers. Residents can register on line at www.madisoncountync.org
Beneke complimented RM&S and fire responders for the quick and professional response. McKnight echoed his comments and requested the minutes reflect the importance of property owners calling 911 first and then calling the gate.
Foster asked if there was a plan to get WENS information in hands of property owners. Beneke suggested that in addition to an email alert, a flyer could be sent with the annual billing notice. McKnight commented that due to the urgency and current wildfire situation an email alert would work best. She also suggested sharing with presidents of other homeowner associations. Romero commented that Mel Poole (Communications Committee) was in the audience taking notes and that he would be writing a message to send out to all property owners at the beginning of the week. Romero also suggested the flyer being distributed at the gate could be amended to include the WENS information. McKnight suggested realtors who rent properties in Wolf Laurel should be provided the information. Smith asked how Yancey County residents would receive WENS alerts. Romero, Gwozdo, and Brown responded that Madison County was the responding organization for all of Wolf Laurel and registered Yancey County property owners would be notified through the Madison WENS system.
Upon motion by Moeller and seconded by Beneke the Security report was accepted.
Communications & Community Relations: John Ames
- Long Range Planning Survey Alert – A community-wide email announcing the LRP Survey was written and distributed Nov. 9 to all emails on record at WLRMS offices.
- Long Range Planning Survey – under the direction and supervision of the LRP Committee, the LRP Survey was developed, presented to the Board for approval and then launched Fri, Nov 11. The survey was distributed to all property owners of record at WLRMS offices including Blue Mountain, Ridges, etc. The survey is open until Nov 20 at 5:00pm. The survey is brief (only 6 questions) and easy to take. We believe it will be insightful and informative for the WLRMS Board’s efforts in planning for our community’s future.
Insurance / Finance Committee: Willie Romero
- Policy Changes have been made. Deductibles have been increased and physical damage coverage from older vehicles was removed.
- 2017 insurance premiums were paid annually resulting in a savings of approximately $1,000
- The General Liability policy is subject to an annual audit. The company has completed the
2016 audit and we are waiting their report. We do not anticipate a premium increase.
Upon motion by Beneke and seconded by McKnight the report was accepted
Legal: Sharon Foster
MATTERS UNDER REVIEW
- Covenant Enforcement
The “Notice to New Property Owners” has been provided to Security for distribution with new bar codes.
- Trademark Issue
No responses yet. Local attorney will follow up.
- Election Procedures Bylaw Amendments
On hold for now.
- Policies With Respect to Standing Committees
All committees having submitted their summary of responsibilities and authority, the committee will work to standardize and develop final versions for discussion and vote prior to including them in the Handbook. Of particular importance will be the scope of authority vis a vis making decisions without a Board vote.
- Alleged Lot Encroachment by WLRMS on Upper Lookout
We replied to the property owner denying any legally significant encroachment. No response.
- Pate Litigation
David Etheridge is proceeding to summary judgment.
- Property Owner Request to Maintain Utilities Easement Behind Sarvis Lane
We replied to the prospective property owner that we are unable to take responsibility for a utilities easement. He purchased anyway.
- Tony Martin Collection Effort
Order to depose Mr. Martin about his assets has issued. Order attached.
- Covenant Booklet Printing
I have secured a bid of $1.12 per copy for printing 1000 copies of our Covenant booklet for distribution to property owners. That would be $1120.00 for 1000. The Covenants require that we provide every Lot Owner with a copy if requested and I urge we do this.
McKnight asked if the board could be notified when the deposition would take place and whether it was possible to attend. Foster responded absolutely.
McKnight expressed concern with the expense for printing covenants and asked how they would be distributed. Foster acknowledged the concern and explained property owners would be given the option to pick-up a copy thereby reducing postage cost. McKnight suggested we consider printing 10 to 20 copies first to establish if there is a demand for copies. Foster reiterated her belief that the board needs to make an effort to create greater awareness and encourage property owners to read covenants, otherwise we will continue to be accused of selective enforcement and only applying when we want to. McKnight stated covenants are already available on the website and copies are already provided at request. Currently only 1-2 request are received annually. Ames suggested the proposal was worth consideration. He also suggested copies could be mailed with the annual billing. Beneke commented covenants are already available but agreed an effort should be made to make them more available. Beneke asked if attorneys handling closing were distributing the covenants. Wyatt commented deed documents make buyers aware of their existence. After further discussion Foster commented this item was on the agenda for discussion and she was not asking for approval to proceed. Foster requested board members to give this further consideration and provide her feedback. She stated this is an opportunity for a fresh start and demonstrates the board’s commitment to covenant enforcement. McCaghren expressed his support for McKnight’s recommendation to print a few copies and make them available. He also recommended the President’s Annual Letter include a statement about their availability for pick-up and availability on the website. Beneke agreed and stated he would incorporate into the letter.
McCaghren commented that there were no collection matters to report in addition to what had been reported by Wyatt in her Financial Report
Upon motion by Romero and seconded by McKnight the report was accepted.
Road Maintenance & Equipment: Potts
Nothing to report. The three-year Road Plan and Capital Equipment recommendations will be covered under new business
Security: Rebecca McKnight:
Helped prepare a notice to be sent out to property owners alerting them to the road closures for the large tractor trailers carrying the modules for the house on El Miner Drive.
Granted Sam Stebbins, who is representing the Preserve, permission to take a small group to access Big Bald for 2-3 hours Monday, October 24, to take photos and videos to help promote all the communities on the mountain. Mr. Stebbins stated that he would accompany the group.
Prepared an email to the Board re emergency procedures in light of recent wild fires in other areas of WNC.
Prepared an email to the Board and Staff re contributions that standing committees might consider in addressing fire safety concerns.
McCaghren recognized many volunteers who assisted with traffic control.
Upon motion by Moeller and seconded by McCaghren the report was accepted
Property and Facilities: Larry Smith & Dick Moeller
Moeller reported the change in propane supplier has been completed. The change from Blossman to Suburban will results in a $1,500 -$2,000 savings between November 2017 and December 2017. Moeller also reported repairs to the back wall were completed by the contractor. McKnight asked if repairs had been completed at no cost to RM&S. Moeller responded there was no expense to RM&S.
ARB: John DiPetta
DiPetta reported 18 permits issued since last report. The ARB continues to review the architectural guidelines. Four years of permits have been reviewed to identify issues. Most issues occur when a minor project expands and becomes a major project. DiPetta commented on the positive response from builders that have contacted the ARB to check on required permits. DiPetta complimented Steve McKnight and Tom Wrenn for the extensive work they have done to review the guidelines and identify opportunities for improvement.
Upon motion by McKnight seconded by Moeller the report was accepted.
Long Range Planning: John Beneke
Beneke commented Long Range Planning activities were addressed in John Ames communication report. The survey will provide the board with the tools to prepare a long range plan. Ames reported 118 people have responded. Responses from RM&S and Blue Mountain property owners have been received. No other associations have responded as of this date. Another reminder is being sent.
Upon motion by McCaghren and seconded by McKnight the report was accepted.
POA Liaison: John Beneke
Beneke reported he was unable to attend the last meeting however he had been in communication with Earlene Shofi and she had informed him the POA had voted to discontinue sponsorship of Ray’s weather website. He commented RM&S has been paying one-third of the $1,000 cost and recommended the board should consider taking over the full sponsorship. Brown commented that there are other weather services with stations at Wolf Laurel at no cost. He reported that he does not rely on Ray’s weather and he receives daily reports from NOAA. Audience participant Jim Landry commented he was exploring other sponsorships and there was no need for immediate action.
Upon motion by Romero and seconded by Moeller the report was accepted.
Potts and Romero provided a recap of the three-year road plan and 2017 Capital Equipment Schedule (see attachments). The three-year road plan outlines primary and secondary projects to be completed each quarter and their associated cost. Primary projects will be completed within the budget. Secondary projects will be completed if funding is available. The 2017 Capital Equipment Schedule is a continuation of the plan to replace old equipment. Half of the projected expense is to replace a vehicle. Some expenses will be paid out of the equipment reserve.
Romero – The Finance and Insurance Committee worked with staff to develop the budget that was distributed to the board prior to the meeting. Unfortunately due to critical needs, it will be necessary to increase the annual assessment by 5% as permitted under the bylaws. The 2017 budget projects a 2.2% increase in revenue and an 8% increase in expenses. Salary increase for additional patrol hours; part-time office assistance; ARB administrator; and equipment/vehicle replacements (replacement of Road truck and new Security/Patrol vehicle), are the primary factors impacting the budget. Some of the expense increase will be offset by changes in insurance coverage and the change in heating propane supplier. The budget includes the recommendation to place $20,000 into reserves (1.9% of projected revenue). Not included in the budget is the 2017 Capital Equipment expense. Part of this expense will be paid out of the equipment reserve. We will be working with the accountant to see how to reflect this expense in the budget. Potts reminded the board the equipment replacement may not all take place in 2017.
Beneke made a motion seconded by Foster to approve the 5% annual assessment increase. The motion carried with all nine directors voting in favor.
Beneke moved to approve the 2017 budget as presented. The motion was seconded by Foster. Motion carried with all nine directors voting in favor.
Beneke moved to approve the three-year road plan and 2017 capital equipment schedule. The motion was seconded by Romero. Motion carried with all nine directors voting in favor.
Beneke and Romero provided a recap on ongoing board discussion on the need to review RM&S emergency preparedness planning. A committee including representation from all board committees will be established. Beneke has sent an email to the POA, country club president and all other homeowner association presidents, inviting them to participate and seeking committee representatives. The goal of the committee is to review current plans and develop recommendations. Roads Director Brown and Security Director Gwozdo have already spoken with fire department and forest service officials to confirm their plans and seek their recommendations (see comments under Roads and Security reports). Beneke will appoint a chair to lead this effort. Brown spoke about the urgent need to establish water points; potential sites he has identified; rental equipment needed to dredge a pond; and required funding. Upon motion by Potts and seconded by Beneke and supported by all directors the board approved $10,000 for this preliminary work.
Mel Poole commented that he would work on the communication to be sent to property owners with information on how to register with the county’s wireless emergency notification system. The communication will be sent on Monday.
Property owner McMillan commented that she had heard a rumor that RMS had a policy on the use of sirens by first responders. McKnight and Gwozdo replied there was no such policy. Property owner Barr commented that her son is a volunteer firefighter at Ebbs. He has told her that some callers make a request that no sirens be used. She further stated Ebbs will override the request when they feel there is a need.
*Due to some technical difficulties with the recorder portions of the meeting including audience comments were not recorded.
Next RMS HOA Board meeting is scheduled for December 16, 2016, at 10:00 A.M.
The meeting was adjourned.