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Larry Smith, President at 10:00 A.M, called the meeting to order.
Directors in Attendance in person: McKnight, Beneke, Ames, Faliero, Foster, Freeman Johnson, and Potts.
Staff in attendance: Brown, Gwozdo, and Wyatt.
Upon motion made by Freeman and seconded by McKnight, minutes of May 20, 2016, were approved.
Board received the May, 2016, financial report from Louise Wyatt. Wyatt noted that the balance sheet reflects normal operations. The collection of assessments (income) is even with this time last year. Some items on the road budget are lower than last year other higher but overall the budget is lower than the same time last year. Security shows normal operations within budget. Administration shows some variables from those of last year.
Freeman moved to accept the financial report. Beneke seconded the motion. Motion passed.
Since last report:
- One minor thunderstorm has been reported resulting in 5 trees blocking the roadways.
- Seven more culverts have been installed: 4 along Buckhouse Rd.,1 on Fox Den Rd., 2 on Glenaire Rd. and,1 on McKinney Gap Rd.
- RROW (road way right of way) mowing has resumed but is very slow going due to many minor and major mower failures we hope to have all RROW’s mowed and weedeated by the 4th.
- Brush and trees along Glenaire Rd. are being cut back to daylight that section of road near the golf maintenance shed. The brush and trees along Buckhouse and other roads are still scheduled to be burned by ECFD (Ebbs Chapel Fire Department) just waiting on safe weather to do so.
- Grading and graveling of the roads has not been efficient due to the dry conditions and grading will resume once we have some substantial precipitation I know that some roads are rough but any grading in dry conditions will just make them worse.
- Pavement repairs have been made to Wolf Laurel, McKinney Gap, El Minor, Puncheon, and English Ridge roads and the road commission will get together to find the best places to allocate the rest of the paving budget.
- The Vermeer 5040 tractor mower that was used to mow the RROW’s has gone down and needs to be replaced and as the replacement mower is over my spending limit I am asking for board approval to purchase a Ferri offset flail mower for $13,000.00 there is a possibility to trade in or sell the old mower but I’m waiting of confirmation from the dealer. RMS has also purchased a used Husqvarna riding mower at auction last weekend for $1,059.00 to get caught up with all the green spaces while the other mowers are being repaired.
- The Ford L-9000 dump truck had some brake issues and as a result had to be repaired we also had to replace 3 rims and 4 tires as a result of the brake failure it was repaired at a cost of $2,500.00
- The CAT 416 backhoe has had its annual 1000 hour service by an ASE certified diesel mechanic as of yesterday and is in good running order except for the right outrigger cylinder that will be fixed next week.
- The Cat 277 skid steer is having some hydraulic issues in the travel operation and CAT will be here next week to troubleshoot the issue.
- The Mahindra tractor has been scheduled for its routine service next week
- The John Deer tractor will need tires in the upcoming month or so.
- Install culverts where needed most in coordination with the utility contractors
- Finish retention pond along Wolf Laurel road
- Finish hauling out the overburden material from Town Mt. Rd to Zebulon to shore up the slide
- Clean up around the bridge and have it painted
- Slope ditch lines where needed
- Mow all RROW’s, intersections, obstructions, and ditches
- Clear and dispose of all brush and trees along RROW’s
- Widen turnaround at the end of Wolfs Head Ct.
- Widen turnaround at the end of Upper Lookout.
- Improve the road and turnaround at the end of Gardenside.
- Paint and carpet the RMS office.
Beneke asked the cost of painting the RMS office. Brown responded that he had only received one estimate and he considered it high. He is waiting for other responses.
Potts moved that Brown be authorized to purchase the mower. McKnight seconded the motion. Motion passes unanimously.
Freeman commented that he believed the roads are better for this time of year than in a long time.
It has been relatively calm on the mountain the past 4 weeks.
- Patrol continues to caution speeders.
- Response to report of downed trees, remove 2 from roadway. Called French Broad EMC to remove one that fell into lines causing power outage.
- Patrol stopped a vehicle on foot just above the Gate. Vehicle had entered through the exit. Driver was directed to turn and enter through appropriate lane for check in. The guest was accustomed to driving on the left.
- Patrol responded to an alarm on Goldenleaf Dr. reported by Yancey County Sheriff’s office. All doors and windows were secure. Patrol noticed that work was being done on water pipes and a load of dirt had been delivered that morning as confirmed by gate log. The vibration of the truck was the most likely cause for the alarm to be set off. Reported same to monitoring company. Property owners with alarm systems should realize that the majority of companies that install the systems only monitor the system. When an alarm is set off the monitoring company calls the sheriff’s department, who in turn calls Wolf Laurel Security. A less expensive camera system that can be monitored by the property owner is equally effective and actually seems more accurate.
- The DOS responded to calls a few time the past month and was surprised by the number of homes without numbers posted on the road. The Wolf Laurel map was used to verify the correct house. Should the property owner require medical attention this lack of house number will definitely slow the response time of EMS. I urge property owners to post their “911” house number.
- Patrol noticed that a gate at the end of property owner’s drive was open. Knowing the property owner was not in residence he drove in to investigate. While checking windows and doors he noticed numerous holes in the ground along the foundation of the house. The house has been vacant for some time and communities of ground hogs have taken up residency. Patrol located and reported same to the property agent.
- Patrol responded to tree cutting report on Birch Springs. The trees cut required no permit.
- Patrol responded to a call reporting a woman lying in the road. A flatlander, out walking who just wasn’t accustomed to our hills. No medical assistance was required.
- Vehicular access to the summit of Big Bald began Memorial Day weekend. To date the key has been signed out only 12 times. The average stay has been 2 hours. One property owner lost the privilege when he convinced a staff member that his Subaru had 4 WD capabilities. On his second attempt to sign out the key, staff asked to be shown exactly how the 4WD was activated. Property owner failed to do so. Patrol checks the lock on Big Bald Gate frequently and depending on activity checks the summit for trash or damage. To date this has resulted in the disposal of a couple plastic baggies. Patrol found that exiting property owner had not properly closed lock. He reported to DOS, concerned that someone else might have driven through gate. DOS directed him to lock the gate. If someone had entered the gate without the key we would know soon enough. Staff reminds property owners to lock the gate behind them on entering and exiting. Staff now asks them to listen for the click to insure lock is secure. As this report demonstrates the opening of Big Bald to vehicles has created minimal impact while allowing those who must visit the summit via vehicle the opportunity.
- Again, Security reminds property owners to call the gate immediately if they observe something out of the ordinary or suspicious. Don’t wait for days and discuss with neighbors before reporting.
Faliero asked if the 4-wheel drive requirement is mandated by the USFS. Gwozdo replied that it is.
Faliero said that he believed that an AWD vehicle could travel the road. Gwozdo agreed that with current road conditions an AWD could make it to the summit but that the USFS laid down the 4WD criteria in our agreement. Brown added that the USFS asked that gravel be put on the steepest section and it is larger size gravel. If you don’t have a 4WD you will spinout and cause damage to the road. With an AWD the tires must slip before the AWD is activated.
Potts commented that we see the same damage on our gravel roads from AWD and front wheel drive vehicles.
Smith reported that two complaints were received regarding the debris left after the house fire on English Ridge. Foster is preparing a letter to the property owner.
Communications & Public Relations
The activity for the C&CR Committee has been relatively light the past month.
- WLRMS Website – We will share the first draft of the new WLRMS Website with the Board the week of June 13. If/when we get Board feedback, we will need approximately 30 days to get the new site live.
- Big Bald Access Email – An email has been prepared and approved by Becky McKnight, Jason and Sandy to announce the pending re-opening of access to the top of Big Bald. This email was sent to all property owners on May 27.
- Community Survey – The C&CR Committee sent Survey #1 to all property owners WLRMS had an email for on May 28. The survey closed on June 5. A email release was sent to the Board on June 9. It is anticipated that the survey results will be distributed to all property owners who received the survey on June 10 and the survey report posted on our website on June 11. The committee anticipates Survey #2 being distributed near July 4 holiday weekend. The Committee anticipates launching additional surveys in October and February.
- Forest Service Project Communication – the C&CR Committee is still awaiting input to move forward with the development of communications to the community.
Our first survey was received enthusiastically by property owners resulting in a 55% response. While we have email addresses for approximately 62% of our property owners we continue to encourage all property owners to add their address to our list and take part.
I met with John Brackett, a property owner who offered his assistance to the Board. His financial expertise is extensive and I feel he will be an excellent addition to the Finance Committee. Therefore I nominate Mr. Brackett to the Finance Committee. Motion was seconded by Freeman and passed unanimously.
No report from the committee but we are planning to meet with the ARB and hopefully come up with something that is viable and doable.
Smith: On that I distributed to the Members a listing of 300 construction vehicles that passed thru our gate since early May.
Beneke responded that this type of documentation will prove valuable during discussion by the ARB and Road Impact Committee. Until then I don’t believe discussion by the Board is useful.
Freeman: Perhaps we can have a second “snap shot” of construction vehicles in July when there may be more activity.
Smith asked Gwozdo if her staff could collect the info. Gwozdo responded that staff began in early May has continued to keep a separate log. The committees were welcome to whatever time frame they required.
MATTERS UNDER REVIEW
- The Donation Policy
- The donation policy is ready for a vote.
- Collection Matters
- All collection cases are proceeding smoothly. I still have not heard from Larry Leake regarding the Pate litigation, but am following up. Now that I am on the mountain, I intend to schedule a deposition in the Martin collection matter.
- Violation Enforcement Matters
- No new covenant violations have been reported to me.
- Motorcycle Issue
- I have spoken with both the realtor and the prospective buyer regarding the covenant prohibiting daily use of a motorcycle within Wolf Laurel.
- Policy and Procedure Handbook
- Have begun work on this project.
Foster recommended and moved that the Lot Policy be adopted. Freeman seconded.
Smith: We have occasionally had property owners request that we take a lot back. We point out that we are not in the real estate business and the developer is gone. After much discussion the policy has been developed. When a property owner can demonstrate, at their expense, that the lot will not perk and at their expense have the lot registered as green space, so the RMS would be receiving green space then the RMS would consider accepting the lot.
This entails a fair amount of expense for the property owner but RMS does not incur any financial expense. We do not anticipate this policy will have much impact.
Smith called for a vote and the motion carried.
All insurance coverage is up to date.
Road Maintenance & Equipment
Potts commended Jason and his crew for the work they have been doing. The Committee will over the next month be formalizing the maintenance schedule and the road maintenance schedule.
Smith asked for clarification of Blue Mountain roads, Preserve Roads and those of RMS.
Brown explained that Ridgeway Rd. from the WLCC to the lower Chestnut Village Rd. was the responsibility of Blue Mountain. Ridgeway Rd from lower Chestnut Village Rd. to the Preserve Gate was owner by the Preserve. RMS is responsible for Chestnut lane from Ridgeway Rd, to Lucky Way and ½ of Lucky Way. The rest of Lucky Way was part of the Southeastern Land Trust.
The Security Committee (Sandy Gwozdo, Ken Porche, Carol Krueger, and Becky McKnight) met June 3 with Sam Stebbins and via telephone with Bob Daffer and Nick Lane for the purpose of discussing the recommended procedures for the Preserve Gate in admitting vehicles. Sandy provided for the Preserve a copy of the Recommended Procedures for the Preserve Gate in Admitting Vehicles into Wolf Laurel, which was based on the procedures that the front gate follows, and samples of the hangtags that are used at the front gate. The Preserve representatives indicated that they would follow these suggested procedures.
Since that meeting Sandy has been contacted by Bob Daffer to act as administrator at the Preserve gate. They would handle the payroll but needed staff and supervision.
Beneke asked how payment would be made.
Gwozdo replied that it would be set up the same as when Brown did work in the Preserve. An escrow account would be required. The invoice would be sent to the Preserve and RMS would require payment within 30 days.
She added that this was all preliminary. Staff had to be found as we don’t have sufficient manpower and current staff is not interested. We don’t know how long the Preserve intends to man the gate; it may be only a few months. Currently they only want to man it from 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. six days a week. We suspect it is only for their sales promotion.
Lewis Daniels asked whose employees are they.
McKnight replied that they would be employed by the Preserve and supervised by Sandy.
Gwozdo added that the only reason we are even considering the proposal is to provide better security to our Wolf Laurel property owners. I would much prefer those working at the Preserve gate be a member of the Wolf Laurel staff as it would be easier to supervise. As to improved security for Wolf Laurel, the Preserve raising the gate arm after staff departed at 5 P.M could easily negate that. We felt that the Board should be made aware of the proposal but we are in no way prepared to make a recommendation.
Tom Eller asked if RMS would be assuming additional insurance liability.
Gwozdo: Truthfully I don’t think we have investigated that issue. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
Applications continue to be light but starting to pick up.
During the last month we approved 4 tree applications and 5 minor renovations. We have one driveway under review. To date we have collected $2400. this year.
Long Range Planning
The meeting at the WLCC identified issues facing individual associations and major issues of concern. The concept of Wolf Laurel being a global community was introduced.
That’s not to mean anything to do with restructuring of the governance but that people visiting Wolf Laurel see one community. The representatives from the Preserve introduced this global idea as they wish to be part of the global Wolf Laurel and a roadway from gate to gate.
The Preserve asked the RMS to contribute to the resurfacing of Ridgeway Rd in the Preserve.
RMS declined the request. The Preserve then asked if RMS would supply the equipment and manpower to widen and ditch the road. This request was also declined and RMS suggested that they take responsibility for maintain their roads.
Ames: Once again I ask that we engage an RMS Planning Committee to identify our own housekeeping issues.
Smith asked if the committee should be made up of board members or non-board members.
Ames replied that the other committees are made up of board members and property owners not on the board and suggested the same for the Long Range Planning Committee.
Beneke: There are many untapped resources among our property owners.
Smith: Do I take that one step further and ask members of Blue Mountain. The consensus was no, only lot owners within Wolf Laurel.
Ames: I encourage RMS to have representation in any global discussion but at the same time RMS has its own resources to manage, our own planning to do, priorities to set and our own finances to control.
Potts: We have an obligation to our property owners to spend their money for what it was intended. The work of the Road Committee and a Planning Committee will be better able to project costs and scheduling.
Discussion of the sewage treatment plant was held in private session. I did receive notice that Jim Landry, who was heading up the investigation for closing the plant, resigned from the committee.
It is my understanding that letters went to the two property owners whose homes are connected to the plant and they have agreed to pay for their own septic system. It is up to us to see if the land will perk and to pay any legal fees required granting them an easement.
Smith: We will put that under Old Business, we have not actually agreed to that yet.
RMS indicated that they had no inclination to sell the wastewater treatment plant and in closed session the POA Agreed. The party interested in purchasing the plant has been notified by letter that the plant is not for sale.
Smith moved that the RMS have a perk test preformed on the hotel property. Beneke seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Dick Moeller added that he and Jason were to meet with Clifton Hamlin, as Hamlin should be able to determine if the property would perk prior to paying for the test.
Sandy reported to the Executive Committee (Larry Smith, John Beneke, and Becky McKnight) that she would like to reduce her work hours. Presently she frequently has to work overtime in order to meet her multiple responsibilities. She also wishes to focus her efforts on Security related matters and continue as Director of Security. She has proposed that she reduce her hours to an average of 25 – 30 per week. This will free up an average of 10 – 15 hours per week of her normal salary plus any overtime costs, and this will be used to pay the wages of a new part-time person, who will assume Sandy’s non-security related responsibilities. Since Sandy’s current hourly salary is higher than the hourly salary of a new, part-time person, it will actually be possible to increase staff coverage at no additional cost. Sandy and Louise have studied this matter carefully and are convinced that this is the case. Our treasurer, John Beneke, also agrees.
The Executive Committee plus Sandy and Louise interviewed Katie Mahowald Tuesday, June 14, and all think that that she would be a strong person to fill this position. (Her application and job duties were sent to the Board members via email June 14.) Approval at this month’s meeting will permit her to begin working in early July.
Therefore, the Executive Committee recommends that the Board approve the creation of the new part-time Office Assistant position to be paid for through a reallocation of existing salary funds, and that Katie Mahowald be hired for that position.
Ames moved for approval, Beneke seconded and motion passed unanimously.
The nominating committee is responsible for vetting 6 viable candidates. Keeping in mind RMS is a working Board and needs nominees willing to work with experience in construction, building and legal.
The names of the members of the Nominating Committee are: R.T. Davis, Lynn Mathews, Gene Woolf and Chairman Chuck Freeman.
Foster: Prior to the vote I feel compelled to restate my position, which I have previously communicated to the Board. While a Board member who is leaving the Board may be perfectly qualified to chair this committee I don’t think it is the best choice. I think it better if we have someone who is remaining on the Board and will be working with these folks.
Smith stated that the motion was before the Board and awaiting a second. Freeman seconded.
Ames suggested that the Board give the Committee an indication of what their criteria is for a nominee. RMS is a working Board, I find that I can easily donate 20 hours a week to the business of the Board.
Potts: John makes a good point about the willingness of a candidate to devote the time. I would also suggest that compatibility is a criteria. The Board does not need be like-minded but must be willing to listen and consider everyone’s point of view in order to accomplish anything to move this community forward. The goal must be the betterment of the community.
Johnson: Move the question
Smith: motion to approve the committee and called for a show of hands.
McKnight nominated John Beneke as Chairman. Foster seconded.
Johnson stated that the By Laws call for one present director not running for reelection.
Foster: Move the question.
Smith called for vote. Motion carried 8 to 1.
Steve McKnight: At the October meeting the time table for the commercial impact fee called starting the program in May. What happened to the time table and what are the obstructions?
Smith: We looked for other communities in North Carolina with an impact fee that had tested the fee in court. We found none, in fact we found no community with an impact fee.
There were two concerns raised by the Security Committee. 1) If a vehicle arrives at the gate and refuses to pay the fee, our staff denies access and the driver calls the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff arrives and demands the vehicle be given access. What recourse do we have? 2) There are several procedures to collect the fees but we do not want to spend more money on collection of fees then generated by the fees.
Beneke: What happened was that we were not prepared to meet the May start date. While the Covenants clearly allow for such a fee, Sharon and I continue to investigate the legal ramifications that the fees may cause. We are also looking at a way we can work with the ARB to collect and also the possibility of collecting from construction equipment going to Blue Mountain. Perhaps our mistake was in patterning our program after that of well-established communities in South Carolina that charge a fee for all commercial traffic. We are now concentrating on construction traffic. ARB guidelines must be reviewed in that many times the fees do not reflect the amount of construction traffic. For example recently a property owner received approval for a driveway project and was charged a $50.00 impact fee. Later we found his project required 15 dump trucks of fill and gravel. This is unacceptable and why our committee would like to work with the ARB.
Potts: The solution is that we charge all construction vehicles traversing our roads a fee.
Brown: 87 trucks came in for the repaving of Blue Mountain roads. Studies show that I dump truck does the same damage to the roads as 900 passenger vehicles.
Beneke: Under current agreements with Blue Mountain there is no manner in which RMS can collect a commercial vehicle fee. I believe their ARB charges a road impact fee; perhaps they would be willing to split that fee.
Daniels asked why they wouldn’t.
Beneke: Currently, I believe they may be willing, although in the past I’m sure they would not.
Potts: We make too many assumptions. I believe it should be discussed. They currently pay a small amount toward the maintenance of Wolf Laurel Rd. I believe if we explained the situation, reasonable people would understand and cooperate.
Next meeting scheduled for July 15, 2016, at 10:00 A.M.
The meeting was adjourned.