Emerald Lakes Board of Directors Open Meeting, March 26, 2022
By Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 9:37 AM. Six board members were present. Steve Kavanagh was absent due to illness. General Manager Darryl Gamble and Assistant General Manager Nicole Clemens were also present. After the pledge of allegiance, Buz Whelan, President started his message addressing Short Term Rental (STR) information on the unofficial FaceBook page. He said that there have been court decisions that state that homeowners have the right to do what they want with their properties. He stated that the Board is aware of the latest issues at neighboring HOAs as well as the ordinance that the Tobyhanna Township is considering. Although we cannot ban STRs there are actions that the Board has taken to protect the quality of life in the community. The fines are more robust and enforcement is being ramped up. The major complaint in our community is noise that goes into the night. When complaints come in security will be sent to let them know they have to tone down the noise. If they have to go out for a second time, a $250 summons will be issued. If they are called again a second summons will be issued for $500. If this property receives a third summons, it will be for $1,000 and will continue at that rate for any other summons that is issued. If the fines are not paid, the property will be considered not in good standing and all amenity use will be suspended.
Chris Claude interjected stating that discussions need to happen regarding possibly taking away use of amenities for repeat offenders. In addition, noise monitors will be required on these properties that notify the owner that the STR is too loud. Claude also stated that STR owners have to supply a contact # that is available 24 hours a day.
Whelan continued his message stating that these regulations apply to everyone whether they are full time residents, weekenders or STRs. Whelan said that most of the STR owners are not problems. They are reasonable and good people but there is a small percentage where there are issues. It only takes a few bad landlords to challenge the quality of life. In addition, it is the intent of the Association to hire more public safety personnel. Whelan mentioned the extension of Pine Tree Beach which is a new project that will start in the spring.
Whelan continued to state that the Board was looking to pass a preliminary budget and make it available to the membership for review and comment over the next 30 days. The final budget will be voted on by the Board at the next open meeting scheduled for April 30th. Our fiscal year begins on May 1st.
Finally Whelan stated that the Community Center (CC) is looking good and that we are down to our last inspection. We are close to officially opening the CC where the Bar and Grill will be functional. Events such as trivia night, bingo, karaoke night and special events will start to be scheduled. He hopes everyone will come out for a meal at the center and drinks at the bar.
Dave Borsos gave the Treasurer’s report. He stated that he has two items to discuss. The first item is that there is no bad news. The second item is that we are in good shape financially and are under budget in most areas.
Borsos stated that currently $2.3M is in income totals year to date (YTD) while $1.7M are in expenses. Some highlights at the end of February are:
- Dues income is at $1.2M YTD
- Chief Enforcement Officer (CEO) income is $163K YTD and $73K over budget
- Access card income is at $53K YTD and $25K over budget,
- Rental income YTD is $500K
- Expenses are $1.7M YTD. They include administrative payroll, general and professional services, public safety payroll, CC and Recreation, Insurance and Utilities.
- Cash assets are $896K
- Reserves are $564K
A motion was made by Bill Baehr to accept the Treasurer’s report. It was seconded by Bob Leon and passed unanimously.
Under Old Business:
- Ice fishing rules and regulation were developed by Vice President Chris Claude and Eric Bergstrom of the fishing club. These regulations will be added to our Rules and Regulation document. For the first year ice fishing will be limited to Deer Lake and may eventually have Lower Deer Lake added. Ice fishing will be allowed Monday through Sunday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. There will be a catch and release of all species of fish. Only artificial bait will be allowed. The Association will not be supplying rest room facilities and no one is allowed to relieve themselves publically. Only one rod, with one tip up will be allowed. All fishermen must carry a valid fishing license and Emerald Lake permit if over the age of 16. No shack structures will be allowed; however, wind breaks will be allowed and must be removed by 4:00 PM. Chris Claude made the motion to accept the ice fishing rules. It was seconded by Bob Leon. It passed with a four to one vote. Dave Borsos voted against this item.
- Currently the Association has a watercraft and can go out to check on the fishermen and women. Members from the fishing club will be deputized and allowed to give summons out for any violations of the rules. Anyone without proper ID will be asked to leave the lake and anyone refusing will be reported to the police for trespassing.
- Other items to be added to Rules and Regulations under the public nuisance rule are fines ranging from $250 for first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third or any subsequent violations. Under Catch and Release provision, all species of fish will be added. A new fine of $50 will be added for anyone on a boat without a life vest. Children 12 and under must wear vests. Anyone older must either wear or have a life vest available on the vessel. A motion was made by Bob Leon to accept the changes to the Rules and Regulations document. It was seconded by Bill Baehr. It passed unanimously.
- The Board believes they have a sound preliminary budget. A motion was made by Bob Leon to approve the preliminary budget. It was seconded by Bill Baehr. It passed unanimously. The budget will now be available to the membership for review and comment.
Under New Business
- Two Spring Projects were discussed. The first item is the Pine Beach expansion. The beach is being expanded to the area in front of the volleyball area. Since this is not in the alcove and water flows freely in that area, hopefully there will be fewer beach closures due to bacteria in the water. The second project is the boat/kayak rental at Pine Tree Beach. Plans are still under development. There will be a small station at the bridge where IDs will be checked on the weekends before anyone can enter the beach area. Kayaks and paddle boats will be stored on the current beach where boats can be launched easily. Boats will be chained to racks, however, that might change to an enclosed structure. Life vests and paddles/oars will be secured in an enclosed structure. Anyone renting a water vessel will be required to wear life vests. Pricing on the rentals is currently being discussed. Rentals will be available to all homeowners and rentals in good standing.
Chris Claude spoke on behalf of the Real Estate Committee. This committee had a virtual workshop for landlords. The requirements for the landlords were discussed as well as the rules and regulations being distributed.
Kathy Whelan spoke on behalf of Finance and Planning. At a special meeting on March 4th the committee reviewed the budget and made minor adjustments. All members agreed that the budget was a sound document before it was submitted to the Board for their review. A second meeting was held on March 25th to discuss the final budget after the Board review and the February financials. Highlights were discussions on the rental income, CEO fine collections, credit card fees which will be reinstated effective May 1st and collection fees. The next scheduled meeting will be held on Friday, April 22nd, however, that may change to Saturday, April 23rd.
Bob Leon stated that there are 7 homes for sale in Emerald Lakes. They are:
- $299K listed for 2 days
- $270K listed for 8 days *
- $395 listed for 11 days (Foreclosure)
- $225K listed for 15 days
- $260K listed for 18 days *
- $450K listed for 33 days
- $499K listed for 52 days *
Homes ranged from $299K to $499K. A repeat listing is a property that has been taken off the market and put back on and identified with an *. No lake front homes are available.
Dave Borsos stated that real estate pricing has gone up.
Bill Baehr said that he bought his home here 4 years ago and the value of his home has gone up by 35%. He was away for a while so it was his first time seeing the renovations at the CC. He said he was thunderstruck by the improvements. He realized there were delays due to Covid, material shortages and permits but the place is gorgeous and the wait was worth it.
Randy Kopp of Huckleberry stated that he has been here for 2 and ½ years. He wanted to know that since Pine Tree Lake has been closed during the summer what type of impact more activity will have. Will there be a negative impact. Gamble and Clemens stated that they hope that this issue resolves by moving the swimming beach over where the water flows stronger. Clemens stated that last year, preliminary testing at Pine Tree showed where the water was coming in. He also stated that septic systems should be required to be pumped out every so often. Claude stated that he bought this up a while back. He feels that all septic systems should be inspected every 3 years. The board will have further discussions on the septic pump issue.
Kathy Whelan asked members of the fishing club if that by having catch and release of all species, how will it affect the bass in the lake. Will all baby bass born be vulnerable to other fish in the lake? Eric Bergstrom stated that a fishing survey is completed at various times that identify what species and size of fish are in the lake. When stocking is done, a determination of what and what size will be added to the lake.
A gentleman in the audience asked if the Board addressed roads. He was told that the entire stock of cold patch from Lowes was purchased and is currently being used on the worst areas in the development. The plant that we order cold patch from opens on April 15th. At that time, maintenance can be more aggressive on addressing the pot holes.
Five (5) new members were welcomed to the Community.
A motion was made by Chris Claude to adjourn. It was seconded by Dave Borsos. Meeting adjourned at 11:10 AM.
Reporters Note: I write these reports based on notes taken during the meeting. I get no special consideration or cooperation from the board. I try my best to report accurately, but occasionally mistakes will be made. I invite correction and have no desire to intentionally mischaracterize any comments or actions.
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