Category Archives: In the News
Please Report Storm Damage
Attention Home and Business Owners
It is important to report all Storm Sandy property damage to local municipalities/townships. These damage reports are needed for Monroe County to qualify for Hurrican Sandy disaster relief funding.
• Where to report – Your municipality or township building.
• How to report – Forms are Read the rest of this entry
Local Storm Damage – Pictures
The truth is, we were lucky. The power is still out for some of our neighbors, but the flooding and damage could have been a whole lot worse. The power companies can’t tell us when service will be back, but the Community Center is open for those needing a shower or something warm to drink. Mr. Z’s has limited power, but they are open. The gas station has no power to the pumps, but their quick mart is open. Still, to the person whose tree fell, or to the child whose play house was crushed, this storm was serious business. To those without power, it could be a cold miserable night.
Staying Safe Throughout the Storm
EMERGENCY INFORMATION FOR HURRICANE SANDY
The following are useful links for information and assistance during the storm.
This website has a number of free publications and information for preparing and surviving during natural disasters, including information on how to prepare an emergency kit, how to protect your home, and how to prepare food without electricity: http://www.ready.gov/
Receive alerts for Monroe county on your phone or through your email account: https://monroe.alertpa.org/index.php?CCheck=1
Violence in HOA’s
From an article in the Seattle Times:
Who would want to subject themselves to such friction by being part of a homeowners’ board? Some are genuinely drawn by the opportunity to volunteer, McKenzie said. But others relish the chance to wield influence over the neighborhood.
“Associations are seen as the bad guys,” Feingold said. “They’ve got a rap for being overreaching and overbearing. In America, we have `My home is my castle.’ You’re really challenging that proposition.”
Read the whole article here. Also, another HOA tragedy, here
We have had members threaten violence at the annual meeting, and at the monthly open meetings. Most times they are simply asked to leave and escorted out. I have often expressed my concerns over our Association not taking these things seriously enough. Let’s not wait for a tragedy here before we take action when someone threatens violence in our community.
The ELA Road Plan Explained
The following information is based on the plan in place last year. If there have been any changes since then, I do not have them.
The board agreed to a 5-year plan presented by Gil Werner and the Maintenance committee, including Bob Lauri and Joe Miller. The plan begins with dedicating $200k per year to the roads.
First, Bob Lauri, our staff, GM, and the maintenance committee surveyed the roads and assessed the damage by designating roads as primary, secondary and tertiary. Then specific pieces of each road were rated based on the extent of the damage and the need for drainage fixes. Areas slated for repair were chosen using this data which, presumably, will be updated each year as situations change.
The first priority in repairing the roads is to prevent water damage. This happens by fixing the grading along the sides of the major roads and replacing damaged drainage pipes that run underneath them. It makes little sense to repair or repave roads when there is not proper drainage. The freeze/thaw cycle on roads with poor drainage is the main cause of the “alligator cracks” that are the beginning of road deterioration. Of course, there will always be routine maintenance that must be continued along with this drainage project.
With proper drainage, and with the work guarantees that were negotiated with contractors, paving should last longer in the future, and this frees up some of the $200k for more repairs to secondary roads. As we catch up with the drainage and repaving, hopefully, this will at some point allow for paving of those unpaved roads.
However, all of this is dependent on the board continuing to fund the project, and barring any major disasters that require immediate repair. Should we be lucky enough to have another mild winter or two, the project could be accelerated, but major storms and a lot of freeze/thaw fluctuations could set it back. So, with all these variables, it is hard to say exactly how long this might take.
There is a plan, or at least there was, but plans in our community are always dependent upon the whims of the current board, so it is important to let each board know what your priorities are, and to select candidates who will continue programs that you think are important. Even if you choose not to attend meetings, you might want to put a note on your calendar, as a “back to school” item, to write a letter to the board each September, reminding them of the things you believe are important in our community.
To Rent or Not to Rent
Many of our residents are suffering from the noise and bad behavior of the tenants at a few local homes. There are parties and noise and traffic. There are septic failures that threaten our waterways. Every resident is entitled to the quiet enjoyment of his or her home, and that is not happening because of a few careless homeowners. Advertisements for these homes online suggest that they are great for “groups” and in some cases they claim to sleep up to 18 people. Reports of people standing on the docks and cursing and shouting loudly have shocked the attendees at the last board meeting. A number of residents have banded together to address the board and insist on help for these conditions, and they deserve relief immediately. No one should have to live with constant noise and discomfort. (To read their letter click here.)
At first glance, it seems that the obvious solution is to disallow rentals completely within our community. I have heard this suggestion more than once, but I believe it is too soon to take such a drastic measure that will impact the ability of all homeowners to rent their homes. Before punishing all homeowners for the actions of a few, I believe the community needs to look at the issue of enforcement.
“Party House” Causing Problems
The following email was forwarded to me today, and it illustrates a problem in our community that the board must address:
Time for an update. As you know, our letter to the Board detailed the overuse of the respective septic systems
of the three homes in question. And sure enough, the septic system at 146 Powderhorn Drive has failed.
The septic mound is not perking. The effluent is running out of the top of the mound.
Tobyhanna Township was notified either by the homeowner or the home owners septic pumping company.
The system was inspected and a plan was presented to obtain a permit from the Township to repair and expand it to maximum size permitted. The plan was approved, trees have been cut down and work is going forward.
The Township official told us that if the repair and expansion works, all well and good. He said he would periodically monitor
the system over time. He also said that if the repair and expansion partially works or fails, then he
could take certain measures including fines and require the owner to curtail the use of the system. He also noted that the area designated for expansion
is the only piece of property the owner has left for a septic mound. There are no other options for additional septic
The Township official was unaware of the number of people occupying the house as well as the number of cars and SUV’s parked on
top of the septic mound periodically. Now that he is aware of the situation, he will monitor it.
On October 22, I made a presentation to the Board of Directors at its monthly public meeting. I advised them that ten families signed
the letter but now we have fifteen families supporting this important issue. Almost every lakefront property and some lake view properties
are now involved.
The audience gasped when I described the guy yelling F… You! off the deck of 146 Powderhorn at one am for a full twenty minutes.
I noted that the rules state that a rental must be “to one family” and the Board knows this but they do not enforce it.
Our letter indicted that there was an open pit fire cauldron without a functioning fire screen on Hunter Lane along with chairs and four, six by nine foot stacked
sections of a floating dock. The rules prohibit equipment on roadways. I asked Alan Roth, the Community Manager at a Rules and Regulations
meeting to remove this equipment. He has done nothing. I noted that 1210 and 1214 Hunter Lane had fireworks reported to Public Safety. No fines were issued.
The boat launch on Hunter Lane near 1214 is being used as a bathing beach creating an annoyance for the nearby homeowners. It was further noted that the rules prohibit the use of the lake for commercial purposes. The rental homes are operating as a business. The two Hunter Lane homes charge the tenants
extra to use the rental boats.
Al Leslie, the President said that he is aware of the septic situation and the large number of people still occupying these three rental properties. He further stated that they are working with an attorney on the matter.
The next meeting of the Rules and Regulations Committee is Thursday, October 11th at ten am at the Office.
The next Board of Directors Meeting is Saturday October 27 at nine thirty at the Community Center.
It would help you and all of us if you could attend one or the other to show that we are many and serious about fixing
this awful problem.
We have several standing rules in the Rules and Regulations for ELA that are being broken by the owners of these homes, and the board and the GM need to develop a plan to enforce those rules.(see personal property on roads, public nuisance, lake beach and picnic area rules and rental rules) The fines incurred will serve as a disincentive to the owners to run this disruptive “business”, and without the financial motive, the misuse of the property should stop. Our rules are only useful if they are enforced consistently, and here is a case where they are not. This is not a case of an owner having an occasional party, it is a consistent disruption to the lives of the people living nearby.
Please consider attending the BOD meeting on October 27th, or write to the BOD at email@example.com, to express your thoughts on this issue.
- Septic tank management: A fragrant problem (draindoctor.wordpress.com)
On HOA’s and Talking to the Media
Our board has had a long-standing policy of not commenting on issues brought up in the news, on Facebook, on ELFP. With Joe Miller, John Cress, and new board member Daniel Glasgow, we are seeing a slow change in that policy. We have always believed that the board should aggressively seek to explain its position on controversial issues and explain why certain steps were taken to resolve those issues.
The following is from an article, published by Habitat Magazine, that explains the importance of communicating with the press and with its members through various forums:
Should your board talk to reporters when they call? Read the rest of this entry
HOA Horror Stories – Cautionary Examples for ELA
The decisions made by the Emerald Lakes Boards of the past and present have been the subject of many conversations on our Facebook page. The bylaws revisions were soundly defeated, there is much debate over the new fee for putting our boats into the water, and who can forget the great “cover your propane tank” rule that cost many homeowners hundreds of dollars before it was finally deemed a failure? HOA’s are notoriously difficult to manage, and are often managed by fools. This is not an Emerald Lakes’ problem, it is actually quite widespread. I found some interesting HOA horror stories to share with you all. Some are funny, some are tragic, and many remind me of things that have happened here in our community. Click on the link below and tell me if you notice the similarities too:
NPD and the HOA: A Cancer in the Body
Few personality types can be more destructive to a Home Owners’ Association than the individual suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The characteristics of the condition virtually guarantee anti-social behavior of a persistent and pervasive nature. Like a dog with a valued bone, they will pursue their goals, however unrealistic, over great periods of time, often decades. No matter how often they are defeated in the short term, they will persevere. All entreaties from the mainstream to join in cooperative behaviors will fail. And because their goals and fantasies are unrealistic, they will ever be chasing them.
The NPD sufferer is not to be confused with every seeker of attention at important meetings. Lots of folks with transient complaints or weak egos may pop up with inappropriate comments, but these can usually be treated with patience and even humor. The individual of which we write is a far different animal.
Here are the principal characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
- Love of self/great self-interest
- Preoccupation with success and power
- Attention seeking
- Boasting or bragging about one’s own achievements often
- Exaggeration of abilities and achievements
- Having unrealistic goals
- Fantasies of success beyond what is likely or possible
- Hypersensitivity to possible slights and insults from others, usually coupled with aggressive or angry responses
- Arrogant behavior
- Belief in one’s own uniqueness/entitlement to special treatment
- Difficulty in understanding another’s emotions or perspective (lack of empathy)
In addition to the characteristics listed above one might add a lack of humor, especially of the self-deprecating nature. However overblown the self-image of the NPD sufferer may seem to be it is much too fragile to tolerate even good-natured teasing if it is at his/her expense. A dour scowl is the most common expression exhibited, and what laughter there is usually is the result of schadenfreude, the joy one might experience at the misfortune or embarrassment of a perceived rival or enemy.
I would add, somewhat parenthetically, that matching 3 or 4 of these listed characteristics would be cause for suspicion. Matching 5 or more might be considered a diagnosis.
For purposes of this essay, we’ll refer to the sufferer of Narcissistic Personality Disorder as NPD and use the male pronoun for reference. And while NPD is more prevalent in males, it is not exclusive to the gender.
Recognizing the long-term behavior of the NPD:
Shortly after joining the HOA, or after a change in life status such as entering retirement, the NPD will become active in the association. He will join one or more committees and spend some time ‘learning the ropes.’ Before long, possibly less than a year, he will begin dissenting at meetings. As he becomes more and more comfortable in the dissenter role, he will become more vocal and louder. Often, after feeling he has made a particularly insightful objection, he will laugh at his own accomplishment, searching the room for approval. It is during this period that his adolescent ‘rescue fantasies’ will begin to take shape in his own mind. He will envision an association in disarray, with himself striding forward to take charge and bring order out of the chaos. The association newsletter or newspaper will trumpet his triumph. Perhaps down the line even a statue will be in order; remember, this is an adolescent fantasy, not a realistic one.
As time goes on, he will begin attracting disaffected others as a powerful magnet attracts iron filings. Those who perceive themselves to have been wronged or unfairly ignored by the association, failed candidates, and otherwise disgraced members will find in him a willing champion, and he, in them, a needed army. It’s a symbiosis made in Hell. The bonds will be powerful.
In order to create the conditions requiring his rescue, he will go on a years-long campaign against the association governors, whoever they may be. He will find himself at war with every change of leadership. He will trash, or attempt to trash, every major meeting. He will rail against any move toward progress. Since accomplishment of others is a detriment to him, he will attempt to undermine any new initiative. Proposed solutions to common association problems will always be too expensive or not comprehensive enough, and he will declare this loudly. No plans will ever be complete enough to satisfy the NPD, and his complaints of this will become a common rant. At meetings, he will be cheered on by his army of malcontents, and he will draw strength from this.
The NPD is given away by his own demands. He will never assist in improving conditions. He will accept only full power. Sharing power and credit are antithetical to his ultimate goal. Unless and until all his conditions are met, he will continue to disrupt and obstruct.
How does an HOA deal with such an individual? The first necessity is strong leadership. Attempting to placate the NPD only reinforces his negative behaviors. He must be dealt with firmly and publicly. Public humiliation is Kryptonite to the NPD. As shown in the list of characteristics, hypersensitivity to slights, such as criticism, provoke exaggerated negative responses, but to avoid criticizing him is a mistake and plays into the NPD’s hands. Bad behavior must never be tolerated, or it will be reinforced. When it occurs at important meetings, it must be rebuked, quickly and decisively. While that may not be sufficient, it is necessary. To allow meetings to be hijacked by an NPD is to become an accomplice. No chairperson or board member should ever allow that.
While there is no simple solution to the NPD, good governance is the best long-term answer. Honesty with the membership, inclusivity, above-reproach behavior by directors, and always keeping the best interests of the association at the fore make the rants of the NPD ever more pathetic to the observer. It’s well to remember that even the crying infant goes to sleep if ignored long enough.