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The meeting was called to order by President Smith at 10:00 A.M.
Directors in attendance in person: Kessler, Moeller, Pendleton, Romero, Simmons, Smith
Directors in attendance by telephone: Krueger
Directors absent: McCaghren, Shook
Staff in attendance: Brown, Connor, Porche, Wyatt
Audience: 14 in attendance
Notification for the Minutes: On September 1, 2017, the RMS Board received by electronic communication, a letter of resignation from the Board of Directors from Sharon Foster. A notice of receipt was sent by the President.
Appointment of a Board Member to Fill Vacated Seat: Carol Krueger was recommended to fill the vacated seat. Upon motion made by Simmons and seconded by Pendleton, Carol Krueger was approved by a vote of 6 – yes and 0 – no.
Minutes: Upon motion made by Moeller and seconded by Simmons, the Minutes of August 18, 2017 were approved by a vote of 7 – yes and 0 – no.
Finance: Louise Wyatt
Wyatt reported there was no change in the balance sheet. Wyatt also reported home collections for both roads and security are the same as they were this time last year. Lot collections are less than they were this time last year. The amount billed vs. amount collected for homes are at 95.8% and are 84.5% for lots.
Operating expense for road maintenance is 55.63% of the budget and for security the operating expense is 61.14% of the budget. Administrative expense for road maintenance is 71.37% of the budget and for security the administrative expense is 53.57% of the budget.
There is nothing out of the ordinary with August 2017 year-to-date balance sheet compared to August 2016 year-to-date balance sheet.
Roads: Jason Brown (written report read into the minutes)
“This report was written on 9-11-17 and may not capture any of the weather, road, or equipment issues that may take place from the remnants of hurricane Irma. If any issues do occur they will be covered at the meeting and this report will be edited and marked in” “
Since Last Report:
Wolf Laurel has received 5.36 inches of rain including, a severe storm on 8-31-17 receiving 1.02 inches of rain with minimal damage and few trees blown down.
Another severe thunder storms on 9-5 & 9-17 receiving 2.05 inches of rain with moderate damage and numerous trees blown down. A brush with hurricane Irma on 9-11 & 9-12-17 resulting in “Severe tree damage over 100 trees were removed from the RROW’s and cleanup is still ongoing and will continue for at least the next week. Along with the cleanup some preventative maintenance is being done to damaged and potentially hazardous trees along the RROW’s which would fall under the daylighting project. “
Due to severe weather all roads have been regraded and rolled and will continue to be regraded until drainage is corrected. All culverts have also been cleaned where needed. Regraded, re-sloped, reseeded, and re-graveled the intersection of Trillium Ln. and Big Bald Rd. along with the upper ditch line for proper drainage.Stripped property adjoining the ski lodge of trees, brush, and top soil to get to dirt that will be stockpiled for future projects. Regraded and sloped the upper ditch line at the intersection of Puncheon Ln. and Town Mountain Rd. for proper drainage. Weedeated all intersections where needed. Mowed all road edges and ditches where needed on all RROW’s. All stockpiled brush at the WLRM shed has been consolidated and burnt. Regraded, and sloped the ditches on English Ridge and Garden side for proper drainage.
Changed final drive hydraulic hoses on the CAT 305 excavator.
Repaired Ferri offset boom mower and replaced two bad bearings.
The Ford L-9000 dump truck has been towed back to CAT for fuel supply issues it ended up being a fuel shut off relay. On the way back to Wolf Laurel, we think an injector went out on the truck. It is now being look at by a mechanic in Marshall.
The black GMC 3500 has received damage to the passenger side bed side panel due to an on the job accident no injuries “except for pride” were reported the repairs should be done by the beginning of next month.
A replacement for the 2006 Dodge Ram is scheduled for this fall in the 2017 Capital Equipment Schedule along with a snow plow, by the October board meeting I will present a replacement cost for board approval.
Security: Ken Porche – Interim DOS (written report edited to condense)
Security received a call from 513 Sarvis concerning a noise complaint coming from 189 Sarvis Lane. Security responded and explained to the renters the noise ordinance, asked that they stop yelling and bongo playing outside.
Security received a call at 5:50am about a power glitch at the gate. Security responded and got the scanner, identifier and 3 of the 4 cameras up and color back to them.
On the day of eclipse, Security stopped a car approaching the full parking lot at Big Bald and told him to turn around because he had no pass, decal or barcode. The driver identified himself as the kitchen manager of WLCC, but was told he could not park in the lot. He then parked at a house on Big Bald Rd. He was untruthful, deceiving and disrespectful to security staff.
Also on the day of the eclipse, there were numerous people turned away from the parking lot. Many went other places to park and were advised that was illegal also. Some left their vehicles and were given “No Parking” violations.
In the afternoon following the eclipse Ken Porche and Ronnie Rice patrolled Big Bald to check on the cleanliness of the mountain and road conditions. Returning they observed a young man walking down Big Bald Road, who was armed with a large machete and appeared to be carrying another weapon. The young man did not respond to questions or commands, and Security persisted in engaging him until he identified a property owner on Upper Haw as his family. Later Security was stopped by the same young man’s family and his mother explained to us that he had ADHD.
On August 23, Security received a report of a person lying beside Hampton Gap Road. Security responded and found a property owner unresponsive without a pulse. Security secured the scene and called appropriate county responders. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department arrived and took over the scene and began their investigation. Please note that any unattended death is required to be investigated by county authorities. Security staff cooperated with Madison County Sheriff’s Department. Based on the amount of concern expressed by the community, the interim director of security posted a brief message of the events to the community disclosing the limited amount of information appropriate to release. Madison County Sheriff’s Department concluded its investigation concluding the death was from natural causes.
Roving Patrol found a motorist broken down on WL Road, stopped and turned lights on for traffic control. Patrol helped the individual change a tire but finding the spare almost flat, Patrol suggested that the driver should go back home, and followed the driver for safety. Once the driver arrived at residence without a problem, Patrol departed.
Roving Patrol was called to assist a homeowner whose battery was dead. Roving took jump box and started homeowner’s car at 130 Unakite and then departed.
Gate called and advised Roving of a “piggyback” vehicle going through the barcode lane and that the driver did not register at the gate. Roving found vehicle and warned driver of “piggybacking” and speeding.
Gate received a call reporting a possible house fire from McKinney Gap. The person who reported the fire investigated further and found that there was no house fire, people were cooking and the flames she observed were coming from the grill.
Several tickets were given out for illegal parking, etc., over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Someone checked out the Big Bald gate key under false pretenses or improper use. Wolf Laurel Security revoked the property owner’s and his/her guest’s Big Bald access for the remainder of the season.
Security gate received a call from homeowners’ son at 467 Grouse Thicket reporting that the alarm was going off. The gate guard called roving security and roving proceeded to location and started search. Yancey County Sheriff Dept. arrived and both security and Sheriff Dept. searched and found no signs of break-in or attempted break-in. Both cleared the scene.
Security gate received a call from a homeowner that a young man had come to her house on Birch Springs and asked her if she had water. The owner was concerned that the contact seemed strange, and called the security gate. Roving was dispatched and after searching, roving found out that the young man worked for the water company and was checking on problems on Curtis lane which fed water to the reporting owner’s house.
Standing Committees Recommended Appointments:
Communications and Community Relations:
Chairperson: Larry Smith
Members: Jim Simmons, Carol Krueger, Cynthia Kessler
Co-Chairpersons: Dick Moeller and David Pendleton
Members: Willie Romero, Jim Simmons, Carol Krueger
Co-Chairpersons: Brent McCaghren and Cynthia Kessler
Chairperson: Carol Krueger
Members: Becky McKnight, Lewis Daniels, Eddie Shook
Chairperson: Jim Simmons (Approved-August 18,2017 Board Meeting)
Members: Eddie Shook, Mike Kaney, Steve Rutherford, Jason Brown,
Ron Coppenbarger, Bob Walker
Co-Chairpersons: Dick Moeller and Jim Simmons
Chairperson: Steve McKnight
Members: Jim Deloatch, Michael Whitt, Jeffrey Barker
Long Range Planning:
Co-Chairpersons: Larry Smith and Cynthia Kessler
Members: Eddie Shook, Jim Simmons
WLPOA Liaison: Larry Smith
Kessler moved to accept the Standing Committee recommendations in one vote. Moeller seconded.
Kessler asked if there were any other names that needed to be added to the minutes so they would be covered by the HOA’s insurance. No names were added at this time. Motion carried 7 – yes, 0 – no.
Communications & Community Relations: Larry Smith
Smith reported that an attempt was made to send an email out to the community after Irma came through the area to alert residents of down trees and debris in the road, but email capabilities were affected due to weather. Staff believes the issue has been resolved. An alert was posted to the website.
Romero wanted to know the nature of the complaints concerning the Hampton Gap email. Smith responded saying that concerned residents wanted more information than could be provided during the investigation by Madison County. Initially Smith and Porche decided not to send out an email, but the security gate and Smith were receiving so many phone calls from residents wanting to know what had happened, that the brief message was circulated.
Insurance / Finance Committee:
Road Maintenance & Equipment: Jim Simmons
Simmons complemented the road crew and their operations, commenting that even though he had served on the Roads Committee last year, he has been amazed and impressed about the work and the scope of duties he witnessed during the last couple of weeks serving as the chairman of the committee. He said it is phenomenal what the roads crew does with the little amount they have to work with. The crew saves us thousands of dollars by working on and building the equipment we have. Simmons said that maintaining adequate staffing with qualified, trained, operators is a critical priority that the board needs to address, including addressing competitive compensation. Simmons concluded by thanking Jason.
Romero commented that the finance committee was looking at compensation and tying salaries to standards to ensure appropriate competitive compensation.
Security: Carol Krueger given by Becky McKnight (written report edited to condense)
On August 30 the Security Committee received Ronnie Rice’s resignation as Interim Assistant Director of Security. Security will continue to operate during the interim period with Ken Porche as Interim Director of Security. Ronnie will continue working as gate guard and roving patrol.
Because of several incidents of speeding vehicles on Wolf Laurel roads, Security purchased a radar gun so that we can inform drivers of speeding vehicles how fast they are actually traveling.
It was announced by the Treasurer at the last Board meeting and at the Town Hall Meeting August 12 that the down payment for the new vehicle for Security was paid out of the reserve equipment account funds. The down payment and tag, tax, and title were paid for out of the reserve account by mistake; it should have been paid out of the regular Security funds. That amount has now been put back into the reserve account.
A property owner sent an email to the Board regarding not allowing vehicular access to the Big Bald summit during the month of September when school groups would be visiting Little Bald and Big Bald, which was forwarded to Security Committee. The Committee determined that as only two cars can have access at one time for a maximum of 4 hours and the vehicles have to travel at a slow speed, the Committee did not think there would be a problem with the vehicles on the road at the same time as the students, especially as the students will be accompanied by chaperones and they are informed to be careful if there are cars present. Also, the students can use the Appalachian Trail up to the Summit of the Bald and not have to be on the road the whole time.
As an extra level of caution, the Security guard will present to anyone requesting permission to drive to the Bald a colorful handout warning that school children may be walking on the road to the Summit and back to the parking lot. When they are given a key, Security will remind drivers to pay particular attention to these children.
During the 90-day period of the interim Director of Security, I have been meeting with Ken on a weekly basis, and on September 5 the Security Committee met with him to evaluate his performance as well as the orderly conducting of security responsibilities. The Committee determined that Ken is performing satisfactorily and that the security operations were running smoothly.
Romero wanted to clarify that the payments for the vehicle were mistakenly paid from the wrong account due to an unintended error. McKnight confirmed that the error was corrected by a fund transfer from the proper account to restore the funds to the reserve account.
Using as an example a couple of calls reported in the Security report, Romero questioned whether these examples were appropriate use of our security personnel or whether these calls were instead in response to unreasonable expectations of property owners. Romero cited concern that hourly employees be used consistent with their job descriptions / budget constraints, and not for calls outside the responsibilities of the security team or outside of our liability coverage. McKnight commented that Security staff fulfills a number of functions beyond traditional security and that a part of the staff’s duties include assisting community members. Smith stated if our security staff is in a position to help a community member who is in need of assistance they are expected to stop and help. Krueger added that the security committee will review and monitor reported calls. She also said that we are community and will not drive by if we see someone in need of help. She added that our security staff does go above and beyond but that is the wonderful part of being in Wolf Laurel.
Property and Facilities: Dick Moeller
Moeller reported that he met with a representative of Walker -Ferguson LRM Company yesterday. Six or seven perk holes were dug by Jason (the land perked) and by his best estimation, the rep says the Village septic system will go above the pond and the septic system for the two houses will be located in the woods above the parking lot where perk holes were dug last year. LRM gave a rough estimate of $20,000 a piece for the two septic systems. Moeller says in the long run, this will save money.
ARB: Steve McKnight (written report read into the minutes)
The Architectural Review Board or ARB was established to ensure compliance with RMS community building standards and, in so far as possible, to limit the impact of construction on the natural beauty of Wolf Laurel. The RMS board last year decided that it was time for a thorough review of ARB operations, and in September 2016 directed the new ARB committee to conduct a thorough reevaluation of its Architectural Guidelines or AG, its fee structures, and to assess its operational effectiveness. In carrying out this review we work closely with staff, who are directly involved in administering ARB operations and we based our review on case studies of the last four years of ARB applications to determine what aspects of these operations were working well and what needed improvement
The Architectural Guidelines is a 25-page document that spells out building standards for new construction or for post-construction renovation. As we worked through this document, we found a good deal of redundancy and some contradictions, but for the most part we found that what was needed most was careful restatement, clarification or minor adjustment to the provisions in the AG. The most significant change we made was to implement a sliding scale of fees rather than a fixed fee, because after reviewing four years of applications, we determined that this sliding scale was fairer to the property owners.
The ARB provided its recommendations to the RMS board in December 2016 and all recommendations were approved, incorporated into the AG, and implemented in January 2017.
For the benefit of the five new board members, I have prepared four documents to augment this brief report. The first document provides a fuller explanation of the steps we took in revising the Architectural Guidelines and the fee structures. The second is the application cover sheet for new home construction; the third is the application cover sheet for major renovations. The ARB realized that it was important to provide concise, easy to understand explanations for owners to refer to and these are two examples. The fourth document provides examples of fees for various types of construction or renovation. There are enough copies for any returning board member who might wish to have them.
Once the revised guidelines were approved by the board, we sent an email alert to property owners and for the convenience of owners, we posted the new AG on the RMS website, along with application cover sheets and application forms. We feel that our efforts to inform owners have been successful. The number of applications has increased substantially over numbers from the previous four years. There is still room for improvement, but we are much better off than we were a year ago.
The ARB administrator, Bob Super, has also made a valuable contribution over the past year. I don’t think we could find a person, who is more knowledgeable than Bob, who has over 40 years of experience in road construction and in commercial building construction. When he reviews applications with builders or subcontractors and explains our requirements, his expertise in addressing these issues is immediately obvious. He also has the right personality for the job. He has a quiet, friendly manner, and he takes care to explain to the property owner the need to follow the Architectural Guidelines and the basis of the fees being charged. I don’t think the ARB has ever had a better relation with builders and property owners, and I attribute this to Bob.
Now, let me conclude by reporting the activities over the past month. Bob Super had 32 contacts with owners or contractors. He approved 5 tree removal permits, 8 minor exterior renovations and 3 major exterior renovations.
Long Range Planning: Larry Smith
Smith reported that as the committee is beginning its work this year, in the September work session the board received a report of the long range planning committee from 2016 together with a 2017 assessment of the progress in each of the areas of concern raised in the initial report. In lieu of reading the report, Smith requested that the 14 areas of concern listed report and the assessment of progress made so far on each item be noted in the minutes. (The reports have been edited to condense.)
The meeting was held on June 2, 2016 at the Wolf Laurel Country Club. Participants were present from the following organizations: WLRMS, WLPOA, WLCC, Blue Mountain, the Preserve and the Ridges. The concerns discussed appear as headings, their status follows:
- The need to relocate the WLRMS maintenance site. The WLRMS board desires to remain at the current site under the existing arrangement for present time/ until change is needed and continues to monitor needs.
- The need to /cost of replacing the Waste Water Treatment Plant. WLPOA and WLRMS have agreed to share the cost of perk testing and engineering a new septic system to replace the plant. Once a site is selected and the system(s) designed, the cost of the construction of the system will be shared among WLPOA, WLRMS and two home owners currently using the plant.
- WLCC raised the issue of it and others marketing memberships. WLCC continues its marketing program, and with WLPOA and the Preserve continue to actively market their programs to new and existing owners.
- Covenant inconsistencies between various HOAs. This continues to be a minor issue, with signage being the most relevant issue at this time. (Blue Mountain allows for sale signs.)
- How to share cost of maintain the road from gate to gate. Blue Mountain, the Preserve and WLRMS agreed to share costs on a specific paving project within each entity’s obligations proportionate to its share of the road being repaved. WLRMS’ share was $8,000. Blue Mountain and the Preserve would like to see Wolf Laurel Road resurfaced for appearance sake, but their contribution to the $200,000 cost of the resurfacing project has not been agreed upon.
- How organizations can plan funding to avoid crisis management. WLRMS created a segregated reserve account for financial management of long term obligations. The account requires a super majority of the board to spend funds on the designated expense. WLRMS also incorporated cost estimates in a three year rolling road maintenance plan. Continuing focus on careful budgeting of short term and mid-range expenses is moving away from crisis management.
- Fire Safety in the Community. So far WLRMS has implemented a fire safety program involving improving access for emergency vehicles by “daylighting” roads, stressing the need for residents to register telephone numbers on WENS, included fire safety advocacy Top of Bald, and held a town hall devoted to the topic.
- Identification of a medivac helicopter landing site. WLRMS is working with the local hospital, WLCC and our director of roads to prepare a suitable site.
- Problems of aging infrastructure. The road committee continues to upgrade permanent infrastructure as funds permit, and has completed the replacement of 21 culverts on Wolf Laurel Road, among addressing drainage issues throughout the mountain. It is anticipated that at the current rate with existing funding pattern it will take 10 to 12 years to complete full rehabilitation of our permanent infrastructure.
- The Ridges wanted access to WLPOA amenities. The contractual barrier has been eliminated.
- Is there a desire to consolidate to a single community? This issue has generated the most controversy and discussion within the community. It was one topic of focus of the WLRMS long range planning committee’s work in 2017. The issue of physically combining the various groups within Wolf Laurel presents complex issues fundamental to each organization, requiring significant concessions and adjustments made by every participant and their respective memberships. We have observed that while the concept of unification is appealing, there is not a strong enough commitment to the concept at present for the various organizations to undertake the serious concessions required by unification for their respective memberships. The various entities within the gated community continue to discuss opportunities to work collaboratively in ways that do not require compromises imposing additional cost upon or concessions of their membership.
- Can WLPOA membership include the Ridges & the Preserve? The contractual barrier has been eliminated.
- Can we charge a fee on large trucks causing damage to the roads? WLRMS considered a blanket commercial vehicle fee. This was rejected, due to community concerns. Instead, the ARB revamped the fee structure of construction deposits and usage fees to specifically target issues of the most concern.
- Can we cooperate on control of the gates front and back? A working arrangement is in place. WL residents are granted access through the back gate by an attendant or by a number code, remote clicker, or by calling the front gate if no attendant is on duty. Preserve and guests are granted admission at all hours through the front gate.
POA Liaison: Larry Smith
No Report-POA Meeting was re-scheduled.
Sam Stebbins of the Resident Board Representative of the Preserve presented to the board the redesign of directional signs to be located along Wolf Laurel Road replacing older signs in poor condition. Discussion followed about the location and design of the signs, whether Wolf Laurel logo should be incorporated, and noting that the sign indicating the location of the Village (which was not proposed) and indicating the location of the nature trail were POA concerns not WLRMS. Smith moved to permit three directional signs in the locations identified as W-1, W-2, and W-4 on the map presented to the board, to be made and installed at the sole expense of the Preserve, subject to POA approval on matters of concern to the POA, subject to adjustment in font size to use identical font size on all listings displayed on the signs. Moeller seconded, motion passed 5-1. The board referred Mr. Stebbins to the POA on the two signs regarding its concerns (W-3 and the directional sign for the Village).
Smith reported that the board recommended a standing schedule of board meetings on the third Friday of each month, with a work session to occur on the Wednesday of the preceding week, with both meetings open to the public other than as needed for specific issues to be taken up in executive session. Simmons moved to accept the recommendation, Pendleton seconded and the matter passed 6-0.
The board addressed the request of a property owner (Wagner) wishing to donate his lot to WLRMS as greenspace. Seeing that each requirement of the greenspace donation policy had been observed, Smith moved to accept the lot, Simmons seconded, and the motion passed 6-0.
The board considered the request of an owner who owned 3 combined lots and 1 separate lot who wished to reconfigure the combination into 2 combined lots and 2 combined lots without picking up the rollback liability for the reduction in assessments since the lots were combined. The board discussed the policy implication of waiving the rollback assessments to other prior and pending requests. Simmons moved to disapprove the request, Moeller seconded and the motion disapproving the request passed 6-0
The board considered the request of a prospective property owner (Walker) who wished to release his property from restrictions established for the Mountainside development and subject his property to Wolf Laurel covenants. Kessler moved that the Board approve the release from prior restrictions, accept the property as subject to the 2015 covenants, as amended from time to time, directed the legal committee to confirm that all other necessary parties to release the restrictions consented, that the ARB approved the access to the property, no roads were being accepted, and all paperwork reflected all of the forgoing, and further moved that upon confirmation of all of the foregoing the President be authorized and directed to sign all appropriate documents needed for closing. Pendleton seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Steve Mcknight commented that WLRMS is a service oriented business which requires qualified staff and suggested that the board earmark 10% of its budget for compensation realignment, so that after researching the compensation market, sufficient funds would be set aside for necessary adjustments.
John Beneke asked who the prospective purchaser was on the final item of New Business.
John Beneke approached the board with a complaint about a construction site adjoining his property that was proceeding too slowly and was unsightly. The board discussed that the time limit for construction completion had not been exceeded, but that the ARB was aware of the unsightly condition and would address the property owner.
John Ames approached the board with a complaint about his neighbors on Unakite failing to adequately maintain their property, and raised the concern that there were homes in the community that had taken on the appearance of being abandoned thereby negatively affecting the property values in the community.
The meeting was adjourned by President Smith.
Next RMS HOA Board meeting is scheduled October20, 2017, at 10:00 A.M.
Respectfully submitted, Cynthia Kessler, Secretary