The times they are a-changing for the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA], as a growing number of younger families moving in to the community push up against rules developed when the community was marketed primarily to retirees.
That friction was in evidence during the Association's Open Meeting on Wednesday, April 30, when a number of young parents came to speak up against a rule that prohibits basketball goals at the end of driveways or on Association common areas at the end of streets.
One parent said a formal complaint was made against her when she forgot to roll back her son's goal in the evening after work.
“I live at the end of a quiet street with little traffic," she said. "The goal is structurally sound, weighted, and is on rollers. During the day, I would roll it out for my son to play. One night in December, I forgot to roll it back in when I got home from work, and it was reported by a neighbor.”
One resident said she was sent a certified letter citing the rules violation. Due to her work schedule, it was several weeks before she could make it to the post office. By that time, she had accrued daily fines, which she is in the process of appealing.
Another family was also reported for having a basketball goal.
“I am probably the one who got this whole thing started," the father said. "A neighbor called security when my kids and I were playing basketball at the end of our driveway."
The resident was told by SLLA management that he must move the goal five feet from the edge of the payment. He said he then received another letter saying the goal must be thirty feet from the easement.
“I ended up moving it in the side yard," he said, adding that the Association basketball courts are too far from his home for his children to walk by themselves. "Especially when they can go right outside and play where we can watch them. This is a young community. I think the ordinance should be readdressed and made more family-friendly."
In all, four different parents said their children are not old enough to go unattended to use the basketball courts at Northside Park. One mother said her son and his friend were bullied by teenagers at the park.
A "recreation community"
According to the parents who attended the meeting, they, not the Association, maintain the Association's easements along streets and cul-de-sacs. The upkeep is done by residents, including mowing, replenishing pine straw, and picking up debris, they said.
“We live on a quiet street with little traffic," one parent said. "The area has never been mowed. It has no grass. I pick up sticks and replenish the pine straw."
We are a recreation community," she added. We should encourage our children to exercise and be out in the fresh air.”
Other families agreed.
Show Up and Be Heard
Though an unusual amount of input from residents opened Bob Racine's first Open Meeting as the new SLLA President, Racine welcomed the feedback.
“I am happy to see you come tonight," Racine said. It is good to have reinforcement coming from concerned residents. "We are a changing demographic community. What you are saying does not fall on deaf ears, and we will be addressing this at the work session."
"However, anything dealing specifically with the appeal, cannot be discussed during the meeting tonight,” he added.
Racine noted that the SLLA Board had for the last three years strived for transparency and would continue to do so. He apologized for the lengthy discussion but felt it was important to hear everybody.
“If you have an issue, we want you to come here and give us your input," Racine said. "We can only govern by your input. You are entitled to speak at any time and are welcome to join in the discussion. It is your association.”
Steve Ritter’s Retirement Cut Short
The sudden resignation of Director Bob Darr just after the March annual meeting left the board with an open seat. Two people stepped forward to be considered for the position. Racine announced that former SLLA President Steve Ritter had been selected by the board to serve out the final year of Darr's term.