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The meeting was called to order by President Beneke at 10:00 A.M.
Directors in attendance in person: Ames, Beneke, Foster, McCaghren, McKnight, Moeller, Romero, Smith
Directors in attendance by telephone: Potts
Staff in attendance: Connor, Porche, Rice, Wyatt
Staff in attendance by phone: Brown
Audience: 19 in attendance
Upon motion made by Ames and seconded by Smith, the Minutes of June 16, 2017 were approved.
Finance: Louise Wyatt
Wyatt reported there was no change in the balance sheet. Wyatt also reported home collections were the same as they were this time last year. Lot collections were less than they were this time last year. The amount billed vs. amount collected for homes are at 95.5% and are 82.5% for lots.
Operating expense for road maintenance is 43% of the budget and for security the operating expense is 44% of the budget. Administrative expense for road maintenance is 59% of the budget and for security the administrative expense is 48% of the budget.
Roads: Jason Brown (given by John Beneke)
I will not be in attendance in this board meeting as I will be on vacation out of town from 7/16 until 7/23 I can call in for the board meeting if need be but cell service may be spotty. I will also be on vacation from 7/30 until 8/6 but will be in town and available for any calls or meetings.
Items listed in “ “ will not be brought up in the public meeting unless asked for.
Since last report: Wolf Laurel has received 3.64 inches of rain and no severe weather has been reported “as of 7-14-17 when this report was written”
- Mowed all road banks on the upper and lower sides of the RROW’s that could be mowed with the tractor mower.
- Sprayed the woody plants and underbrush on the RROW’s that could not be reached with the tractor mower. “The application of the Crossbow herbicide that was used was to kill off the locust trees and woody underbrush that were beginning to grow into and over the RROW’s”. “The reasoning for using a Herbicide compared to more conventional options e.g. contracting out a long arm boom mower, or a RROW clearing crew, or buying/renting a piece of equipment to have this done in house is cost the cost savings for the herbicide application was anywhere between $23,860 up to $38,860”
“The cost to spray the RROW’s was $1,140.00 including material, labor, and equipment”. “The closest quote for contracting out mowing the RROW’s with a long arm boom mower was in the $30,000.00 range and he is not taking on any more work this year. The closest quote for contracting out a ROW clearing crew was in the $40,000 range and he wanted to come clear a mile first and then give us a firm quote. The cost to buy a long arm boom mower is $25,000 and it would tie up an operator and dedicate a tractor for nothing else except bank mowing. The cost to rent a machine is unknown at this time as I have not found one available.”
- Sprayed obstructions along the RROW’s e.g. power poles, signs, culverts, columns, rocks, etc.” “The application of Eraser weed and grass herbicide was used to kill the grass around these obstructions.” “The reasoning for using a Herbicide compared to more conventional methods is the same as above COST” “The cost to treat the obstructions was $570.00 including material, labor, and equipment that should last all season a cost savings of $4,000 to $8,000 per mow.”
- Re-graded, sloped, seeded, and matted the ditches and banks on Bee Tree Ln. where needed due to erosion issues.
- Replaced culverts on Town Mt. Road, Hamlin Ln., Sugar Tree Ln. “and will continue replacing or adding culverts where possible weather and budget permitting.”
- Dug out and stockpiled 60 loads of fill dirt at the staging location on Buck House Rd. above Bee Tree and Flame Azalea roads. “This material is to be used in future drainage and road projects. After all of the fill dirt and rock that can be used from this area is used this entire area will be sloped, seeded, and matted for erosion control.”
- The Ferri offset tractor mower is out of service at this time due to a bent housing and will be repaired as soon as possible.
- The Ford L-9000 dump truck has had 2 rear tires replaced along with a clutch brake spacer installed the truck is now back in on road service. “The dump truck was put out of service by the NCDOT on the way back from the CAT shop for an injector pump replacement due to some compliance issues. All compliance issues have been addressed and it is back on the road”
- The CAT 305 excavator has had a new track adjuster piston installed.
- Side boards have been installed on the beds of the yellow and green Chevy trucks.
- The Road Maintenance committee and I have been in constant contact and have been working on revising the 3 year work schedule and hope to have it done by the next board meeting.
- The Southeastern Land Trust has contacted me and would like to set up a meeting to negotiate terms on the Old Stables on Buck House rd. if we are interested.
Romero recommended that the Roads Committee and Communication Committee work together to send out an informative email explaining the herbicide spraying.
Security: Sandy Gwozdo (given by Becky McKnight Chair of the Security Committee)
- July 4th Patrol stopped 33 vehicles exceeding the speed limit and 24 crossovers to the opposite lane. A record number of speeding and near misses on Wolf Laurel Rd. were reported to Gate by property owners and guests.
- Patrol shut down fireworks party on Wonderly Lane.
- 2 Two sightings of a rabid raccoon were reported. Patrol searched and found raccoon deceased. This is a natural occurrence but should serve as a reminder to keep dogs leashed.
- A dead deer was reported by property owner on McDaris Loop and removed by Roads.
- Patrol received a report from gate: man was going to shoot bear on deck that was destroying bird feeder. Patrol arrived, took stick and ran off bear.
- Lost dog reported to Gate and found by Patrol.
- A fire alarm was reported on Puncheon. House unoccupied. Patrol arrived, searched perimeter and found no evidence of fire, searched perimeter. Looked in bottom door of the house which provided view of fire alarm. Low battery lights. Left message for home owner. Neighbor reported fire alarm again the next day regarding alarm. Called caretaker, and he replaced battery.
- The chain on Big Bald Gate was found cut. Patrol with help from Ronnie Rice, Heath, and Mitchell searched for the trespasser(s). Heath and Mitchell replaced chain with heavy grade chain (it required a cutting torch). Tent and camp site found on summit of the Bald but could not locate the camper. Spoke to Ranger McFee who offered to remove the tent.
- Homeowner called from English Ridge claiming a 4-wheeler, not owned by a property owner, driving very fast. It is the believed the 4-wheeler came in from Streets Gap. Security will work with property owners on the end of Gardenside to block entry.
- A Class A motor home was found parked on Hampton Gap. Patrol had owner move it to the ski lodge.
- Property owners’ written complaint of two encounters with a renter and that renter’s driving; speed, aggressive driving and passing on WL roads. This renter’s barcode has been deactivated and they have been counseled on how to drive on WL roads by Ken Porche. Roving Security. Mr. Porche also shared with them that he would be on the lookout for them and if catches them in another driving violation he would fine them.
It was recommended by Foster that the Security Committee draft a policy on how to handle driving violations.
Communications & Community Relations: John Ames
- Long Range Planning Town Hall Meeting announcement – an email summarizing the Long Range Planning Town Hall meeting was distributed on June 10 to all property owners with an email address at the WLRMS offices. The announcement was also posted on the WLRMS website.
- 2017 Board Election Process announcement – an email announcing the 2017 WLRMS Board Election Process and nominating committee was distributed on June 21 to all property owners. The announcement was also posted on the WLRMS website.
- Community Covenant Adherence Reinforcement – an email to announce the enforcement of the 2015 approved covenants was distributed on June 30 to all property owners. This email referenced that the WLRMS had sent letters to property owners with reported covenant violations requesting the violations be rectified as soon as possible. The text of the letter was included in the email even though the names of recipients were not included. The email and the violation letter text were also posted to the WLRMS website.
- Town Hall meeting time change email – an email to announce the change of all remaining Town Hall meetings from 9:00am to 10:00am was distributed on July 7 and also posted to the website.
- Meet the Candidate Town Hall meeting date change email – an email to announce the change of the Meet the Candidate Town Hall meeting from July 15 to July 22nd was distributed on July 7 to all property owners and posted to the WLRMS website.
- TOB article – assisted in preparing an article from WLRMS President John Beneke for the next issue of the TOB to be distributed in August highlighting projects and activities that the WLRMS Board has been focused on over the last year. The text was submitted to TOB editor on July 7.
Insurance / Finance Committee: Willie Romero
Romero reported that they will start preparing for the 2018 budget and insurance coverage, which is coming up for renewal.
Legal: Sharon Foster
Collections: Brent McCaghren
McCaghren reported there was a bad debt collection of $3000 for roads and $1000 for security from a judgment that was obtained and domesticated in Virginia by a property owner. The board is being vigilant in recovering delinquent accounts.
Road Maintenance & Equipment: Charlie Potts
Security: Becky McKnight
McKnight read the following resignation letter from Sandy Gwozdo, Director of Security.
19 July, 2017
Dear Directors of the Wolf Laurel RMS Board,
Please accept this letter as my resignation from my position as Director of Security effective as of August 1, 2017. I am currently experiencing medical issues that prevent me from continuing in this position.
While I regret leaving the dedicated security team at RMS, I have decided that it is in my best interest to focus fully on my health at this time. I will make recommendations to the Security Committee regarding my replacement and outline how I am willing to support this team during the transition.
I have truly enjoyed working for the past 11 years for the property owners of Wolf Laurel. Working as Director of Security for 8 of these years has been particularly challenging and rewarding. I want to thank the Security Committee for their support during my tenure. Their insights and recommendations have proven extremely valuable. We worked together to increase patrol, install the camera systems, update and expand the entry system, and implement other processes to increase safety and security for the betterment of the Wolf Laurel community.
I hope the current Board and future Boards will continue to explore innovative security solutions and support the security team at RMS.
McKnight stated: I am very saddened to have to read this letter. Sandy has been a reliable, dedicated employee of RMS, and I will miss her greatly. I know the community will miss her. She has performed her duties over and beyond what was required of her. She was on duty 24 hours a day 7 days week. Many nights she was awakened at 3 a.m. with a property owner complaint. She would get out of bed, into her car, and check it out. WLRMS and the community have been so fortunate to have her as our Director of Security.
After McKnight read the resignation letter, several former Board members and several property owners expressed their appreciation for the years of service and commitment Sandy has given to this community and the RMS board. It was stated that her service has been extraordinary and she has been a tremendously loyal, responsible employee and that she has been a necessary person on the mountain. They also expressed concern that Sandy is treated fairly and that they hoped there was some way to accommodate her situation—either delay her resignation or allow her a leave of absence, etc.
An audience member stated, “My concern is that since I don’t know exactly why she is resigning, I just want to make sure that she’s treated fairly. If there’s something that underlies this that is squeezing her to resign, I would be, as a former board member, very disappointed. I’d be very ashamed in some ways if that, in fact, was the truth and I don’t know whether it is or not. But I also know there is probably all kinds of innuendos floating around. Anyway, you are the ones that have to decide. You have the facts as to whether or not to accept her letter of resignation. Perhaps you don’t accept it, perhaps you do, but you know the facts as to what they are. Sandy was very important, probably still is very important and probably still could do a good job.”
The Board directed the Security Committee to consult with Sandy to determine her recommendations regarding her desire to work beyond her stated resignation date (August 1, 2017) and to establish procedures to ensure that RMS Security will continue to carry out its responsibility.
Property and Facilities: Larry Smith & Dick Moeller
Romero addressed the inquiry about the $40K grant from the US Forest Service in the last meeting. Romero reached out by phone and email but has not received a response yet from the Forest Service.
Moeller will be getting a proposal from Suburban Propane for next year’s price on propane.
Moeller also received another quote of $3800 on labor and $1200 on material for painting the RMS office building. He is looking to get one more quote and will present it to the board at the next meeting.
ARB: Tom Wrenn
Since our June Report
New Applications Approved:
Minor – 6
Major – 2
Tree – 11
Tree – 1
Minor – 1
Major – 1
Minor – 1
Bob Super since our June report has had 37 contacts with property owners and contractors plus has responded to 10 gate/site alerts.
107 Gardenside Tree Info Meeting
1265 McKinney Gap Site Visit
333 Glenaire Site Visit
86 Bee Tree Minor Approval
17 Fox Den Major Approval (Drive & Trees)
324 Zebulon Tree Approval
115 Puncheon Lane Site Visit Review
436 Puncheon Lane Interior Remodel Approval
1262 McKinney Gap Tree Approval
20 Gardenside Minor Approval
Respond to 7 Gate/Site Alerts
271 El Miner Review Garage Layout
146 El Miner Tree Approval
1209 McKinney Gap Review patio/porch Layout
3205 El Miner Tree Approval
294 Trillium Site Visit
874 Buckeye Site Visit
61 Greer Way Review Trees & Driveway
302 Upper Lookout Site Visit
El Miner – Uncompleted Site Review (Owner & Contractor of record)
302 Upper Lookout Site Review Completed Work
409 Upper Haw Major Approval
Respond to 3 Gate/Site Alerts
107 Gardenside Tree Info Meeting
112 McKinney Gap Tree Approval
80 Painted Ridge Tree Approval
593 El Miner House Painting Approval
206 McDaris Loop Tree Approval
63 Fox Den Tree Approval
Lot 55 May Apple New Construction Possible
904 Eagle Nest Info Visit (Tree Cutting Off Site Disapproved)
63 Fox Den Tree Info Meeting
107 Gardenside Tree Info Meeting
232 Wonderly Lane Tree Approval
212 Unakite Tree Approval
294 Trillium Site Visit
3094 El Miner Minor Approval
Lot 55 May Apple Review New House Application
163 Spring Brook Minor Approval (Perk Test)
Long Range Planning: John Beneke
Beneke reported he met with the presidents/representatives of Blue Mountain, The Preserve, Ridges, and WLPOA (Mountainside Townhomes was not available and Deer Run did not respond). They will meet again in August and will hopefully form the committee that will move Wolf Laurel 2020 forward.
POA Liaison: John Beneke
Beneke reported that he, Earlene Shofi, Jim Landry and Dick Moeller had come to an agreement on the septic system and will be looking for another piece of property for the drain field.
WWTP (Waste Water Treatment Plant)
Foster reported that the board agreed to share equally, with WLPOA, in the cost of the soil evaluation test to find a suitable piece of property to put the WWTP. The board also agreed to share equally, with the WLPOA, the cost of the design of the replacement system. The draft of the agreement was discussed, negotiated and finalized with Earlene Shofi, President of the POA. The RMS board discussed that agreement at the work session held July 12 and is ready for a vote.
Beneke reported the WLPOA Board has approved the agreement and is ready to sign. He said all that is needed now from this board is to move forward with an approval and work can be started. Beneke said in addition to this agreement, there is another agreement with Land Resource Management that the WLPOA and the WLRMS will cosign. Foster has reviewed that agreement and has made a few modifications.
An audience member voiced their objection to splitting the cost of the WWTP equally-50/50 and using RMS money to purchase a WWTP.
A motion was made by Foster to approve the agreement regarding the replacement of the WWTP between the WLPOA and the WLRMS and was seconded by Moeller.
McKnight wanted to go on record with the following statement:
I favor the joint agreement that is currently in place and that was voted on and approved by the POA and RMS. It apportions the costs of the septic conversion on a pro rata usage basis. Obviously, the requirements for POA operations are much greater than those of RMS. While RMS has an obligation to cover its operational costs, it has a fiduciary obligation to only spend funds that directly apply to road and security operations. I will, therefore, vote against the proposed agreement that increases the RMS portion of costs from 20% to 50%.
McCaghren moved to amend paragraph two of the agreement and strike everything in paragraph two except for the first sentence so paragraph two would read ‘The parties agree to share equally in the cost of the soil evaluation test”. McKnight seconded. A vote was taken: Yes-3, No-6. The amendment failed.
McCaghren moved to amend paragraph four to strike “and construction of it and future costs”. Smith seconded. A vote was taken: Yes-8, Not-1. The amendment passed.
Beneke called for a vote on the agreement as amended. A vote was taken: Yes-7, No-2. The motion passed.
The Nominating Committee, composed of Romero, Chair, Carol Kruger, Gail Barr and Ed Waller, announced the candidates for the 2017 Election. The candidates are William (Bill) Grace, Cynthia Kessler, David W. Pendleton, Charlie F. Potts, Eddie Shook and Jim Simmons. Nominees in attendance were Cynthia Kessler and Jim Simmons. Meet the Candidates Town Hall Meeting will be held Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 10am in the Pavilion.
Policies and Proposed Bylaws Amendment
Foster move that the Policies and proposed bylaws amendments be adopted. Ames seconded.
McCaghren moved to postpone the approval of the policies and proposed bylaw amendments so they would be taken up by the new board in the October work session. Smith seconded. Beneke called for a vote: Yes-5, No-4. The motion was approved.
Audience Member #1 -1)Who was ultimately responsible for making the decision to spray herbicide?
Beneke said the Roads Committee and the Director of Roads make those decisions.
2) Why did the board choose not to notify the community in advance about the spraying so rare plants could be marked not to be sprayed? Board members responded that the board was not aware of the spraying. Audience member felt the Roads Committee should have informed the board of the spraying.
3) The Director of Roads should receive formal training on pesticide application. Beneke said that the board would take this into consideration.
4) Spraying instead of mowing is not a good choice for this unique natural area.
Audience Member #2 – How many people are counting the ballots and who will be supervising the count?
Beneke responded that Jim Hill will be supervising the count and typically there are 6 – 8 people that count. Anyone can observe the ballot counting.
Motion for adjournment was made by Romero.
The meeting was adjourned.
Next RMS HOA Board meeting is scheduled August 18, 2017, at 10:00 A.M.