The Northside Pool will be open later in the evening and for an extended period this season, Community Manager Alina Cochran announced at the Wednesday, August 25 Open Meeting of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board of Directors.
Image    With school back in session, scheduled hours were adjusted and the pool is now open from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and from Noon to 8:00 pm on weekends. The pool will remain open through Sunday, September 19, in part due to the delayed opening at the beginning of the season, while legally-required grates were installed over two drains.
    The SLLA swim season will conclude with ‘A Dog Day of Summer’ on Saturday, September 25 from Noon to 5:00 pm at the Northside Pool. A new special event introduced this year by Cochran, the pool will be open for all family dogs -- dogs only, please. Owners will be responsible for picking up any doggy messes.
    In related news, Cochran reported the pool was vandalized last week with deck furniture thrown in, causing some minor physical damage. The incident was reported to the Moore County Sheriff’s Office and patrols have been stepped up in the area.
    “This is not the first time this has happened, and it costs people money,” said Director Bud Shaver. “Don’t tell me the kids don’t know who did it. Parents should be looking to their kids, because this is costing all of us!”
    During her management report, Cochran announced that, in addition to Roving Security patrols, the Association is employing an off-duty Sheriff’s officer to enforce all applicable North Carolina laws, including speeding and driving under the influence.
Seven Lakes Country Club Agreement update
    Two key documents relating to the July 2007 agreement between SLLA and the Seven Lakes Country Club, regarding future development of the old driving range, were delivered to the Club in August, announced President Randy Zielsdorf. Specifically, those documents included approved mark-ups by the Association’s attorney of covenants written by the Club and an easement that prohibits access to the property from Seven Lakes Drive. The 10’ easement maintains a consistent green space from the Southside gates to the townhouse area on Devonshire Avenue.
    “The Association and Seven Lakes Country Club are now cooperatively working with their attorneys to finalize these documents as soon as possible,” Zielsdorf read from a prepared statement.
    Responding to former SLLA Director Donna Stephan, who thanked the Board for pursuing the agreement, Zielsdorf said he hoped to have good news by the end of the month and also said he was pleased that the Club had entered negotiations to lease their Tennis Facility.
    “I hope this venture is successful, because this would be a big asset to the area and also the Club,” Zielsdorf said.


Read more: Northside Pool Season Extended

    An adult emu -- that’s right an emu, the large, flightless bird related to the ostrich -- surprised Northside residents along Timber Lane and Pine Cone Court this week, wandering through yards and gardens for more than two days.
Emu    After receiving the first reports of emu sightings on Tuesday morning, August 24, Moore County Animal Control spent three hours trying to catch the elusive bird. Responding again on Thursday afternoon, officers and neighbors scoured the area and, after a lengthy search, the bird was located. Officers engaged in a second mad dash through the heavy woods and wetlands on the far border of Seven Lakes North. After tripping on vines, the emu was eventually secure; but, unfortunately, by then heat and stress had taken their toll.
    The emu was put in a horse trailer for transportation; and officers poured water over him, improved airflow in the trailer, and even attempted CPR, but it wasn’t enough to save the bird.
    “This makes me mad and was the one thing I was afraid of when we were getting it down there running,” said Animal Control Officer Bryant Voss. “It was way too hot, way too humid, and it just stressed him more than he could handle.”
    Voss explained that he was anxious to capture the bird because of the frenzy of calls received and published accounts of the emu’s location.
    A relatively docile animal, the emu is a native of Australia and can reach six feet, six inches tall. Emus can run thirty miles an hour and their powerful legs and clawed feet can serve as a formidable defensive weapon with a close range kick. While the bird’s plumage can protect them from heat from the sun and they can pant to maintain body temperature, they do not sweat and cannot cool themselves easily.
    “My biggest concern was that it could hurt somebody if they tried to grab it. That put a lot of pressure on us,” he said. “We did everything we were supposed to do.”
    Voss said a resident of Robbins had reported the escape of an emu, and the Seven Lakes bird is likely to be the escapee, though there is no way to be certain.

    Seven Lakes West's Mail Delivery Committee is recommending that the community build a new mail house -- or two, or three -- and that the Westside Board implement a special public input process before finalizing any decision on that recommendation.
Image    Committee member -- and Westside President -- Ron Shepard previewed the recommendation during the Tuesday, August 24 Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Board Work Session.
    The Mail Delivery Committee provided cost estimates for the building of one, two, or three mail houses, but comments from Shepard and Directors John Goodman and John Hoffmann made clear that building a single mail house on somewhere on the 35-acre West Side Park tract is seen as the most economical and expeditious alternative. That option is expected to cost $365,000, and could be handled without a dues increase, Shepard said.
    Building two or three mail houses will not only cost more, Goodman noted (an estimated $430,000 for two or $591,000 for three) but would also be challenging because the Association may not yet own enough land, properly covenanted, to accommodate a second or third structure.
    The committee recommended that the Board deem the mail house question a matter of "significant interest to the membership," which would trigger a special decision-making process in the SLWLA by-laws that require the Board to formally notify the community of the matter and take public comment on it during at least two separate work sessions.


Read more: Committee Recommends Building New Westside Mail House

    The upcoming meeting of the Moore County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Seven Lakes Community Council [GSLCC] will follow an extended question and answer format, reflected in an agenda for the meeting published by the county on Monday afternoon.
Image    The face-to-face meeting between the two groups -- proposed by the Commissioners in response to the GSLCC's request for a "seat at the table" when the county meets with  municipalities -- will be held in the Great Room of the West Side Park community Center on Thursday, August 26, at 5:00 pm. The Council is comprised of the Presidents of the landowners associations in Seven Lakes and McLendon Hills, along with the President of the Seven Lakes Area Business Guild.
    Members of the Council posed questions to the county in five areas: Water Issues, Planning and Zoning Concerns, Security Concerns, Incorporation, and Bond Issue. Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] President Ron Shepard will deliver opening comments and lay out the format for the meeting, after which county staff, led by County Manager Cary McSwain, will respond to a range of questions posed by the GSLCC.
    The Council has invited landowners association and business guild directors and committee members to the meeting, but has not specifically promoted the event as a public meeting. It is definitely open to the public; it is not clear whether the public will be invited to ask questions or make comments at the end of the county presentations.
    The questions submitted by the GSLCC are a mix of big-picture questions and specific concerns.


Read more: Plenty of Questions for Upcoming County-Seven Lakes Meeting

    The engineer stood his ground. After facing an hour-long barrage of questions from Westsiders -- not all of the happy -- dam engineer Dr. Dan Marks had not budged on this recommendation: the road across Lake Auman Dam should remain forever closed to vehicular traffic in order to protect the integrity of the structure.
Image    A crowd of nearly 200 attended the presentation, which capped a day of activities involving Marks and members of the Board and the Dam Committee of the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA].
    Marks offered three reasons that he was recommending permanent closure of Longleaf drive across the dam:
    1. Conditions encountered during last summers repairs to the dam were much worse than anticipated.
    2. Even after the repairs, the dam's core will continue to deteriorate, though at a much slower rate.
    3. Impact loading caused by vehicles traveling through the emergency spillway -- a 150-foot long, 4-foot deep dip on the east side of the dam -- could hasten deterioration of the dam's core and threaten the integrity of the repairs in precisely the area where the worst core deterioration has occurred.
    "I do empathize with those of you that are inconvenienced by closing the road," Marks said. "But I can't as a professional engineer advise you to open that road, with the possibility that those three things could cause a failure."
    "I understand the inconvenience," he said. "I would probably feel the same way, because I love water. I love dams. I would love to get up every morning and and drive across that dam with its view of Lake Auman. But I also know that my big old Ford Lariat with all my stuff totals out about 5000 lbs. Why should I take the risk of ruining the best thing in my life to save five minutes?"
    The decision whether to reopen the road does not fall, ultimately, to Marks, but rather to the SLWLA Board of Directors. Director Mick Herdrich said at the meeting's conclusion that the Dam Committee would study the information provided by Marks, consider options, and make a recommendations to the Board about next steps. In the past, Herdrich has left open the possibility that the committee might recommend seeking a second opinion for another engineer.


Read more: Engineer explains the Lake Auman dam road closure

    Debbie Caulk, a Northside resident and longtime member of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] office staff, has resigned her position.
Image     “The Board was notified earlier this month that Debbie Caulk had tendered her resignation," SLLA President Randy Zielsdorf told The Times in a telephone interview. "[Community Manager] Alina [Cochran] will be addressing this issue at the Open Meeting and will make a statement.”
“While the Board regrets Debbie’s departure," he added, "we are looking forward to management’s recommendation on future staffing needs.”
    Caulk began her career with the SLLA as the front office assistant, oversaw Association finances after the departure of Vicky Strider, and was recently named Operations Assistant for Talis Management.
    “Debbie has been a loyal employee of the Association," Zielsdorf said, "and has served the community very well for many years. We wish her well.”

    Westside lots used exclusively for septic fields will not get a break on their annual dues, based on a unanimous vote of the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Board of Directors during their Tuesday, August 10 Work Session.
Image    Judy Streit, a former member of the SLWLA Board, told the Board that she and her husband Phil Streit (a former SLWLA President) had written to President Ron Shepard in January on the subject of septic lot dues. Hearing no response, they wrote again in March and had, as of August 10, had no reply -- or even acknowledgement that the letters had been received. Shepard apologized to the delay, noting that he didn't recall receiving the Streit's letter.
    Mrs. Streit's comments sparked a discussion of septic lots late in Tuesday's meeting that led to a motion by Adam Wimberly that septic lots not be treated differently than other undeveloped lots for the payment of dues. The motion won support from the full Board.
    Some owners of second lots used exclusively for septic fields have asked that the Association either reduce or waive the payment of dues on those lots, because they do not generate extra demand on or expense for infrastructure or amenities. Wimberly noted that the Association allows the combination of adjacent lots, after which the owner pays dues only on the one combined lot. Some septic lot owners have suggested their situation is similar, he said, but added that Moore County would likely not allow the combination of non-contiguous lots in order to achieve a reduction in property taxes. "They would still have to pay the taxes on the septic lot," he said.
    Wimberly said he would prefer not to allow the recombination of adjacent lots for the purpose of reducing dues, since it permanently eliminates a source of Association revenue. Director John Goodman said the community benefits from more open space when lots are combined to create larger lots.
    "But everyone else in the Association picks up the for that," Wimberly said.
    Legal Director Ed Silberhorn noted that, by allowing non-adjacent septic lots, the Association permits septic lines to be placed in its right-of-way, which involves some liability for the Association — which may not even have good information on where all those lines are placed.
    Wimberly agreed, noting that the Architectural Review Committee requires builders to submit plans for the lines that carry waste to septic lots, but does not require the submission of "as-built" plans once the work is complete.
    "We've talked about putting together a whole subcommittee on this," he said. "This is the flea on the dog's tail in terms of all the septic issues and nuances and things that go on in this community."
    Community Manager Joan Frost said she knew of at least two lots -- currently identified as developer lots -- that have five septic systems on them. "Eventually when the developer no longer has developer lots, who is going to pay the dues on those lots?"
    Calling attention to a bright spot among the septic issues, Silberhorn said the mandatory septic management program aimed at protecting water quality in Lake Auman "is a huge success." He said "people are cooperating left and right," the approved inspectors are "swamped" with work, and they report that "situation has never been better."


Read more: Westside Board: No Dues Reduction for Septic Lots

    By acclamation, members of the Foxfire Village Council added John Eltschlager to their number on Tuesday, August 10, during their regular meeting. Eltschlager will serve the remaining three-year term of office left vacant by Page Coker’s resignation.
John Eltschlager    An engineer with twenty-five years professional experience in the private and public sectors, Eltschlager is employed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Pope Air Force Base.
    Mayor George Erickson introduced and recommended Eltschlager, noting that his background will be helpful as the Stonehill Pines project moves forward over the next few years. The new councilman was tasked with overseeing Streets and Parks for the Village; Councilman Vic Koos will now handle Public Safety.
    Eltschlager and his family settled in Foxfire in 2009 but have been regular visitors to the area for nearly fifteen years. He and his wife have two teenaged children.
Wilson Property ETJ Extension
    The final hurdle to complete a voluntary annexation of the 750-acre Wilson property into the Foxfire Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction was cleared following a Public Hearing and unanimous council vote.
    Zoned agricultural-residential, the rural tract is located at the corner of NC Highway 211 and Hoffman Road. The rezoning request was initiated by the Wilsons following the voluntary annexation of the Stonehill Pines Planned Unit Development [PUD] and the involuntary annexation of Pinewild by the Village of Pinehurst. Both major developments abut the Wilson’s farm. In addition to final approval from Foxfire, the request also had unanimous support from the Moore County Planning Board and Board of Commissioners.


Read more: Eltschlager Named to Foxfire Village Council

   In response to repeated recent requests to reinstate the currently defunct Lakes & Dams Committee of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA], the Board of Directors held a lengthy and frank discussion with former committee members during a Work Session on Monday, August 9.
Image    “We know we had problems in the past [with dam maintenance neglect], but let’s not keep looking backwards and start looking forward,” urged SLLA President Randy Zielsdorf. “One of the questions emphasized when we interviewed new management last year was that we were looking for someone with strong lakes and dam experience . . . [Community Manger] Alina [Cochran] is extremely proactive, and we will move forward and get something in place that will make everyone happy.”
    Zielsdorf acknowledged the significant accomplishments of the committee during their short history of involvement, including developing a long-term dam maintenance schedule and many recommendations that improved boater and swimming safety. But he said he had dismissed the committee after learning that a former SLLA Director serving on the committee had signed off on work with a contractor.
    “One of the concerns I have is the committee has been too active. The committee overreached and was acting like an elective body. That puts us in bad situation, it puts the Association in a bad situation,” said Zielsdorf. “That individual was acting totally inappropriately, and I made the decision that Lakes & Dams needed a time out.”
    Instead of focusing on the dams, which Zielsdorf argued are in good shape now, he said his primary thrust moving forward will be addressing the road repaving project. The Reserve Study -- a long term planning and budgeting tool currently being developed -- will also provide significant information that will assist in defining and creating effective committees.
    While stopping short of reinstating the Lakes & Dams Committee, Zielsdorf did recommend taking some steps to help resolve the concerns of its former members. He asked Cochran to include more dam maintenance information on the website, including piezometer readings and other reports. And he invited three former Lakes & Dams Committee members to meet with himself, Cochran, Vice President Kent Droppers, and Treasurer Denny Galford, who will bring to that meeting a five-year history of all expenditures on the dams.
    “I want to see where the expenditures are," Zielsdorf said. "Beyond the state-mandated repairs to Echo Dam, I know there were a lot of Emergency Action Plans, but I don’t know about the others. I don’t have a warm fuzzy feeling that we spent money where we had to.”
    Northsider JoAn Moses, who has served as the primary spokesperson for the former Lakes & Dams Committee members, said that, while she’d prefer a different resolution to their request, they would accept Zielsdorf’s offer.
    “Our main concern, as a committee, is that there need to be watchdogs for all seven dams and lakes. We don’t feel that is being done or that the Board or management can fulfill that role as effectively a group of dedicated volunteers. We are asking for proactive care,” said Moses.


Read more: Board, Lakes & Dams Committee Air Differences

    Led by JoAn Moses, members of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association's [SLLA] disbanded Lakes & Dams Committee made a concerted effort during the Wednesday, July 28 Open Meeting to have the panel resurrected.
Image    Moses, speaking during the public comment segment of the meeting, recounted the history of the committee and its accomplishments. The group was founded as a ad hoc committee of concerned residents in 2006, in the wake of $250,000 in state-mandated repairs to Echo Dam. It worked with the Board and Association Engineer John Eddy to develop a six point action plan for dam maintenance.
    In 2008, Moses explained, the panel became an official committee of the Board of Directors; had a $100,000 line item for dam maintenance added to the budget; and began to work through the items in Eddy's maintenance plan. The committee rewrote the SLLA boating rules and made more than a dozen other recommendations in the areas of dam and lake maintenance, safety, and amenities, many of which were acted on by the Board.
    In 2009, the Lakes & Dams Committee was rolled into the Maintenance Committee, Moses said, and, this Spring, that committee was disbanded.
    Moses asked who was monitoring the piezometers that test water levels inside the structure of the dams and whether anyone had reviewed the 2010 state dam inspection reports.
    "With these facts before you, I strongly urge this Board to reinstate the Lakes & Dams Committee as a Standing Committee," Moses said. This committee should include the past members who have the knowledge, expertise, and interest in being watchdogs of our lakes and dams to make sure they are maintained and inspected on a regular schedule. We must take a proactive approach to our lakes and dams, not only to catch any problems before they become major but also to save in the cost of any repairs."


Read more: Residents Want Lakes & Dams Committee Reinstated

In Memory Of

  • Jane Scales Facey

     of Foxfire Village died on Tuesday, April 19 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. A private...

  • Nancy P. Neilson

    formerly of Seven Lakes, died on Monday,  April 18. Nancy and her husband, Roger, retired from...

  • John E. Letter

    95, of Seven Lakes, died Monday, March 21, at his home, surrounded by family and friends. A...

  • Marilyn Rose Kemble Bearden

     84, formerly of Seven Lakes, died on March 8 in Greenville, SC. The family will receive friends on...

  • Vonadora Baker Stackhouse

    96, died on Wednesday, March 2, her wedding anniversary, at her home in Seven Lakes West. Services were...

  • James R. Nichols

    (Jim) of Seven Lakes died at his home on Monday, February 22.  A Celebration of his life will be...

  • Timothy William Bouchelle

    49, of West End died on Friday, February 19, 2016 at his residence.  A visitation will be held from...

  • John P. Carpenter

    75, of Seven Lakes North died Saturday, February 13 at FirstHealth Hospice House in Pinehurst. A...

  • Michael Jerome Loney

    87 of Seven Lakes West died Tuesday, February 9 at First Health Moore Regional Hospital in...

  • Glenda Mae (Marks) Tucker

    64 of Seven Lakes passed on Sunday February 7 at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro.  A...

  • Dr. William Harrell Johnson

    92 years old, of Seven Lakes West, died on Tuesday, February 2, at home.  A memorial service was...