They are trying to gaslight the members into agreeing to a $35 increase in their first lot only, so instead of $85 it would be $120 per year. They say this will bring in an additional $15,750 per year.
The newsletter goes on to list the projects upon which the Board would like to spend this windfall. Projects include (here I paraphrase):
- A new pavilion - $35,000
- Surveying of greenbelt properties - $20,000
- Paying a legal team to figure out how to seize more power for the Board - $15,000
- Power and surveillance cameras at the beach - $3,000
My primary reason, which I explained in the letter, is that over the years the Board has increasingly exceeded its authority which was granted to it in the Covenants and Restrictions. Although I have repeatedly given them help, ranging from research to administrative notice, they continue this overreach. When they gave formal notice in the newsletter they intend to spend Members' money to rewrite the official documents, thereby taking more power for themselves, that was the last straw for me.
Of course I only had so much space in a letter I was mailing out to over 500 property owners, so I concentrated mainly on the Board's power grab, which I view as the most important issue. The bottom line is we can't afford to give the Board more money, until we get the Board under control. As soon as we know the Board will keep within the bounds of the Covenants, and stop trying to rule over the Members on the Members' own private property, only then can we have a legitimate discussion about the need for increasing the dues.
In the meantime, I'm writing this post to discuss the other items earmarked for your money under the Board's proposed plan.
Last year I built a 12x24 pavilion in the Forest for less than $10,000. That's pretty big, but not as big as the current pavilion at Gamma Park. But if you double that, it's still only $20,000.
Although I have no direct evidence of this, I've heard plenty of rumors of the Board hiring its own cronies at inflated prices. Before we go committing to spending $35,000 on a new pavilion, I'd like to see two things:
- At least three independent bids on repairing the existing pavilion.
- At least three independent bids on building a new pavilion and disposing of the old one.
Surveying of Greenbelt Properties
Before discussing whether this is a fair expense, let's talk about why the Board wants to do this.
In the Summer 2021 Newsletter the Board published notice of a new rule they had passed, allegedly to "protect our Greenbelt":
Those of us who have been harassed over the past few years by Jerry Cornell, president of the Association and self-appointed tyrant, who runs around the Forest snooping everywhere and trying to find "violations" for which he erroneously thinks he can issue a fine, have already figured out the real motive for the survey.Rule #12
Any tree cut without written consent from the board or damage to the greenbelt will result in up to a $2000 fine per tree cut and replacement of cut trees. Destruction or damage to any greenbelt will result in up to a $2000 fine, cost to repair damages, and possible criminal charges.
After passing Rule 12, the dim bulbs on the Board figured out it would be hard to fine someone for cutting a tree, if they couldn't be sure the tree wasn't really on the property owner's lot.
Also, I know from personal experience, having flagged the back corners of a bunch of lots in the Forest, that many property owners have allowed their backyards to spill over into the greenbelts. In keeping with the Board's established track-record of cronyism, you can be sure if you are a friend of the Board (this includes inviting Jerry over for dinner) the Board will look the other way, but if you're anyone else, you'll be paying a fine and planting some trees.
As for the wisdom of spending $20,000 on a surveyor to re-monument the corners of all the parks and greenbelts, I recently wrote about how to get all the corners re-monumented for free. I think my idea ought to be considered before throwing away another twenty grand of Members' money.
Paying a Legal Team $15,000 to Steal YOUR Property Rights
I already wrote extensively about this topic in my March 7th letter, so I won't write any further about the foolishness of letting the Board use your own money against you.
Power and surveillance cameras at the beach
This may be needed expense. I'm aware that several gas cans were stolen off boats last summer, although I'm not sure cameras would have helped.
My biggest concern here is that I did NOT hear of the same thing happening at other places around the lake, which leads me to believe the culprit may have been someone inside the Forest. Why would one of our own members do such a thing?
I don't know, but I can imagine it might be that people are unhappy with the way boat spaces are handled by the Board.
The way it is currently, there are a limited number of spaces on the beach where members are allowed to park their boats. The spaces are doled out on a first-come first-serve basis, so it's a race to claim a spot. Whoever gets there first plants their flag, so to speak, and has that space guaranteed to them for the entire rest of the summer.
As you can imagine, the spots are always claimed by the same few people (cronies) who get out there earlier than anyone else. Some of those folks might only use their boat three or four times over the whole summer, but they get to hog that space so no one else can use it. In my opinion it's the least fair way I can imagine.
I think there are any number of better ways to handle it, including a solution I've already written about.
Those are my thoughts. For anyone who was considering voting yes on increasing the dues, I hope I've given you something to think about.