By Buz Whelan
With a Town Hall Meeting scheduled for 11 am, this had to be a fast meeting. It was. President Alex Leslie called the meeting to order at 9:33am and after thanking those who turned out and expressing the hope that they would stay for the Town Hall to follow, he turned the floor over to Treasurer Earl Frank. Frank reported that overall, we are under budget by approximately 10%. He stated that administration was under by $18,000, maintenance by $32,000 and the Community Center by $30,000. On the down side the bar and grill are $15,000 over budget. He further stated that the GM was taking measures to stem the bleeding in that area.
GM Allen Roth reported that Fred Spot of Fred Spot Engineering Associates, with whom Emerald Lakes has a long relationship, would be retiring soon. With that known, he said that he has sent out RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to several firms to get specifications and cost estimates for the Pine Tree Lake dam valve repair. He also reported that the paving of the compactor is largely complete but must be given time to cure. He anticipates that it will reopen fully functional on November 5th.
Under Committee Reports, it was noted that John Avrich has been elected chair of the Finance and Planning Committee, replacing David Pope who recently stepped down. Events Chairperson Stefania Johnson reported that her committee is working on a calendar of events for 2014/2015 and will be workshopping that at their next meeting, November 2nd. She also said there will be a Thanksgiving-style dinner held the Saturday prior to that holiday. Connie Simpson reported that she had been chosen as the new chair of CrimeWatch, lately referred to as the Neighborhood Watch Committee. She also passed out samples of a newly created form labeled “Eyes on Report.” These will be available at the admin bldg, and it is promised that any filled out will be acted upon. (The Emerald Lakes Free Press will shortly publish an exemplar of the form). It was also noted that Joseph Olall has been elected chairperson of the Communications Committee. There was also a note by the president that there is the possibility that one chairperson, unspecified, is not a member of the association and that a letter of inquiry has been sent.
Old Business had just one item, Clause 15 Properties. These are properties within the boundaries of Emerald Lakes, but whose owners chose not to join the association when it was formed. Board Secretary Carmen Broadnax, assisted by member Pat Galderisi, is currently researching to determine exactly how many of these properties exist, which ones they are and what their current legal status is vis a vis obligations to or privileges allowed by the association. In other words, after the elapsing of time, must they pay for such things as lake use and do they owe any monies for services from which they benefit? The association attorney is researching this.
Under New Business the board approved the aforementioned chairpersons. They also corrected a mathematical error by upping the quarterly late fees to 10% from 2.5%. This matches the 10% late fees charged in other cases. They also passed a resolution that would pass swipe fees, the amount charged by the clearing house for credit card use, to the user, ensuring that the association receives full payment on dues, fines and late fees. Transactions at the Emerald Bar & Grill will be unaffected. Under this new policy, which had been recommended by the Finance and Planning Committee some months ago, those paying dues with a credit card would find the fee added to their bill by the card company. GM Allen Roth found a clearer, Paylease, that would do the processing. Electronic checks would also be affected. Although the GM had explained this in detail at the Friday, October 18th workshop and the next day’s Finance and Planning Committee meeting, Directors Margaret Fitzgerald and June Solla abstained from the vote saying they did not have enough information. This was also true when the rest of the board passed an $11,000 change order on road repair. The change order was necessary when pavers noted severe problems with the base on a section of Clearview while preparing it for paving. The association’s Quality Control/Quality Assurance engineer validated the paver’s finding making the change order necessary as the scope of work had greatly increased. This information was made available to board directors prior to the vote, but Fitzgerald and Solla demurred nevertheless.
During the Public Comments section it was suggested that the board make the agenda of meetings available to the membership via an email blast on the day prior to the meeting. This would give members a chance to decide on attending a meeting based on an item of particular interest to them. President Alex Leslie said he thought this was a good idea and would work to effect it.
Pat Galderisi precipitated an extended conversation on criteria for voting at the annual meeting. Referring to a discussion she viewed on the Emerald Lakes in the Poconos Facebook page (unofficial), she said that posters seemed annoyed that some members with outstanding balances of less than $50 were permitted to vote. Some cited a literal interpretation of the bylaws that describe a member-in-good-standing as one who owed nothing at all to the association. Galderisi contacted several past Judges of Elections, all of whom took a slightly more liberal view. Most indicated that with small amounts, mistakes can occur and if an error is made it should be in favor of the voter. Galderisi read several responses that uniformly pointed to the importance of protecting the voting rights of those whose debts if, in fact, they existed at all, were de minimus, of little consequence. Board Secretary Carmen Broadnax, who served as Judge of Election for the last two cycles, said that was her motivation. Linda Shuey, present as an observer, volunteered that she had been initially refused a ballot based on an erroneous debt listing and thanked Ms. Broadnax for allowing her vote, to which, it turned out, she was entitled. Most of those in attendance agreed that this (allowing voting with small balances) was a legitimate case of judicial discretion.
By Buz Whelan
EMERALD LAKES, Pennsylvania (ELFP) The December 2012 monthly open meeting of the Emerald Lakes Board of Directors was one of the briefest in memory. Called to order at 9:40am and adjourned at 10:29, it was a masterpiece of efficiency and, believe this, courtesy. It was also sparsely attended, perhaps due to the looming and ongoing holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. President Al Leslie, Vice-President Millie Bishop, Treasurer Earl Frank and Directors Dan Glasgow and Margaret Fitzgerald were present along with GM Allen Roth and the recording secretary Roxanne Chumacha. Absent were Secretary Carmen Broadnax and Director Joe Miller.
President Al Leslie reported that some irregularities with the new ad hoc committees would be corrected by the January open meeting. He then turned the meeting over to Treasurer Earl Frank who reported that reserves are now at $330,000. In other significant financial news Mr. Frank said that the Emerald Bar & Grill are $4,000 over budget, with the bulk of the shortfall in the restaurant operations. While the bar was $8,000 over in revenue, the grill fell short by $12,000, thus the $4,000 combined shortfall.
Following the treasurer’s report GM Allen Roth announced that single-stream recycling has begun. This means that all recyclables, glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, newspaper and magazines/office paper are now to be deposited in any one of five bins provided. Plastic bags used to bring the recyclables to the center are to be deposited in the nearby trash cans provided for that purpose. This new system and provider are expected to cut recycling costs by a third.
There were few committee reports but one development reported was the bifurcation of the Finance and Planning Committee. The committee has been divided into a finance subcommittee and a planning subcommittee. Beginning with the November meeting the subcommittees each meet for a period and then join for a full committee wrap-up. Appeals Committee Chairperson Paul Capozzoli reported that no appeal was upheld and that one appellant had tried to use the same excuse as used for a previous citation. His appeal was denied.
Under old business it was reported that a generator to provide emergency power to the Community Center (for full operation) would cost between 35 and 40 thousand dollars. This will be further discussed. Vice-President Bishop feels strongly that this is necessary, while Director Margaret Fitzgerald expressed doubts because of the high cost. The board appears divided on the issue at this time. There was also a no-decision on the main entrance LED sign estimated at $7,100 by the GM. There was also discussion requiring the ongoing effort to acquire the property containing part of the Mountaintop Lake Dam. It is non-buildable property and the owner is currently asking $47,500, deemed excessive by the GM.
Under new business the board passed a fee structure for rental property owners to reflect increasing operating costs. The resolution:
NOW BE IT RESOLVED the Board of Directors changes the Association membership fees and member intent to rent fee to the following:
– Yearly amenities fee to $200/year
– Monthly fee for both amenities & compactor to $50 or $25.00 for amenities only or compactor only
– Daily fee of $5.00/person for amenities only and $15.00/person for 3-7days
– Member intent to rent fee of $25.00 for every rental period.
This resolution was passed unanimously.
The board also affirmed the Game Room Policy of no alcoholic beverages allowed in the Game Room. There was some discussion on whether this was consistent with the policy of alcoholic beverages being allowed in the main restaurant room and the bingo room. If the intent was of the policy was to prevent unattended drinks to be consumed by underage drinkers, it was argued, then all areas outside the bar should be treated the same. This argument was rejected by the board.
With appropriate season’s greetings the meeting was adjourned.
Last month, we reported here on the concerns of some of our residents regarding the behavior of the renters and owners at a few particular homes in our community. (Read about it here and here) These residents made their case at an open board meeting, and the board members and our GM have been investigating. The Emerald Lakes Free Press has been investigating too, and we have found, as in most situations in life, there are two sides to this story.
I spoke extensively to Cari and Eric Lovelace, the owners of one of these so-called “party houses”, and they have described their anguish and upset over this characterization of their home and of their supposed lack of concern for what goes on there and in ELA.
At the most recent board meeting, President Al Leslie reported that Read the rest of this entry
“Party House” Major Focus of Board Meeting
By Buz Whelan
Although the discussion didn’t begin until over an hour into the meeting, the grievances over a short-term rental house on West Emerald Lake produced the most passionate remarks during the October meeting. Beginning with Mark Davis’ opening statement, which was comprehensive, residents from the general area of the house spoke, one after the other, on the rental’s damaging effect on quality of life. Speaker after speaker cited littering, garbage dumping, loud parties, fireworks far into the night, and a septic system that is overtaxed and sure to fail at some point in the near future. The discussion went on for about 45 minutes and showed evidence of the strain on affected members’ nerves. Board President Al Leslie assured the distressed group that the association attorney is working to resolve the situation, but it was unclear what form that resolution would take.
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.”
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 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)
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:
Think Your Dues are High? Township Fines Could Be Even Higher
Warning! One simple action could save you from having to pay thousands of dollars in fines. Tobyhanna and Tunkhannock townships stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from Emerald Lakes’ homeowners in the weeks and even years to come.
While walking through the community this weekend, I counted more than 50 homes that either did not have their new address signs installed, or had them displayed improperly. I saw signs that were too low, some that had numbers only on one side, and some that were tucked too far into the bushes to see from the road.
Time is up! The Monroe County readdressing project is completed, and your township will be assessing fines of up to $1,000 per day for homeowners who are not in compliance. For those who don’t pay, there could be jail time of up to 30 days per violation.
This project was designed to create a “uniform system of roadway name signs for all streets or roads, both public and private…to preserve the general health, safety, and welfare of the residents” (www.tobyhannatownship.org). The new system should significantly improve the ability of emergency services to find residents in need of services.
Your new address signs must be at least 4 feet from the bottom of the numbers to the ground, and contain 4-inch white, reflective numbers placed on a green reflective background. Your post must be set so that your address is visible for at least 50 feet in each direction. All signs must be attached to a standalone pole. Do NOT attach signs to trees or utility poles. People have been cut or otherwise injured when climbing poles with signs attached to them.
We had our “deluxe” signs installed for about $125 each, but a DIY version can cost significantly less. Check out the resources document on the Emerald Lakes Residents’ Facebook page to find recommendations from association members for local people who are willing to do the work for you. If you choose to build your own, see the following links for information specific to your township:
We know that our towns are always in need of extra money. Enforcing this code is a simple way for them to raise lots of it. Putting up your street signs not only helps to keep your family safe in times of emergency, but also keeps your wallet safe from throwing extra cash to the township coffers.