Road Repairs Update

Some road repairs have taken place this week. The work was performed on Chestnut Forest and Red Oak Forest Roads where there might be some short delays during the work. Road repairs were also designated for the intersection of Hickory Forest Road and Fairview Forest Drive.

Phase One of the four-year plan to resurface all of our roads was completed in the late fall. An extra layer of sealant, called fog coat was applied to ensure greater longevity of the surface. It is more waterproof, and its blacker appearance will enhance snow and ice melt in the event of such during the winter months.

Fewer and fewer contractors are willing to work on our difficult roads. Anyone interested in paving driveways may run into the same consternation. In this light, we are ever grateful for Mr. Emery’s willingness to allow his company to work in our community, which he too calls home. The master plan calls for marking the road as a measure for safety. This will most likely be taken care of in-house by volunteers.

One final road reminder: as it is stated in our regulations, no metal tracked vehicles are allowed to drive on our roads, as they tend to damage the roads.  Homeowners whose contractors create damage would be held responsible for the cost of repairs.

Board Meeting Highlights

The February FFHA Board Meeting was held on Monday, February 13th. A member of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department was in attendance to discuss future meetings for members of the community touching on scams and frauds and situational awareness. The Board tentatively decided to hold a meeting on the Friday evening before the Saturday Annual Meeting in April so property owners can attend.

The Communications Committee reported that the first blast email should go out soon and be followed by monthly blast emails thereafter. About 160 email addresses are on the blast email database with some households having two entries. There is an on-going effort to get remaining property owners on board for the blast email project which will replace the printed community newsletters.

Gary Bolick resigned from his director position on the board at the February meeting but will continue his volunteer duties as Roads Committee Chair. Gary had served as a director since 2011 after serving as Green Space Committee Chair for several years. The Board members commended Bolick for his service over the past several years serving as a director in addition to handling the duties of heading up the Roads Committee.

Stacie Litsenberger, Hickory Forest Road, has been appointed to the board vacancy and will complete the director term vacated by Bolick. Stacie is an occupational therapist doing what she loves to do — making a difference in the lives of people who need help. Before retiring from the Army in 2010 as a major, Stacie was deployed three times in combat zones. As commander of a medical detachment unit in Iraq, she made military history by being the first to use skilled therapy dogs to help troops battle stress.

Annual Meeting Date Set

The Board has announced the date for the 2017 FFHA Annual Meeting — Saturday, April 29th. The meeting will be held at the Clubhouse with the registration and buffet beginning about 11:30. Mark your calendars, save the date, and make plans to attend. “Annual Meeting 2017” has been added to the website menu list to keep property owners updated on the program for the April event.

March Board Meeting

The last Board Meeting before the Annual Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 13th, at 6 p.m. at the Clubhouse. Property owners are invited to attend these monthly business meetings of the Association.

Don Duncan

Donald Gene Duncan, a long-time resident of Charlotte and a property owner in Fairview Forest, died Sunday, February 19, 2017.

Don had a distinguished career in chemical engineering and the U.S. Navy. He served active duty primarily in the Submarine Service, then as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, taught at the University of South Carolina, and later served  in the Naval Reserve. He moved to Charlotte in 1970 to work with insurance brokers mainly serving textile corporations and ultimately became a corporate risk manager for one of the larger companies and after retirement, continued to serve as a consultant up until 2015.

Duncan was predeceased by his partner of 45 years, Clyde Green who died in February 2016. They purchased a home in Fairview Forest in 1998 and visited the mountain regularly.

He is survived by two daughters, a son and grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as a niece and nephew. A celebration of his life will be held by his family at a later date. Per his wishes, his remains will be buried at sea.

Communicating With Our Homeowners in the 21st Century

Our first blast email was sent to property owners on Wednesday, February 22nd. Be sure you are signed up to receive FFHA communications by sending your email address to FairviewForest@gmail.com.

There are still a few property owners who have not submitted their email addresses for our blast emails. This function replaces the mailed-out newsletters with an electronic version, both as a cost savings and as a method for more timely communication. We’ll be able to report on the monthly meeting and alert everyone to any issue that arises — wildfires to blizzards to updates on our road management and other matters of importance.

Email addressess will not be circulated; all email will be blind copied so addresses will remain private. Emails from FFHA will come with relevant information and be an infrequent nuisance. We encourage those who have not done so to sign up.

Discussion on Snow Removal

Why the Board did not plow after the January snowstorm?

Based on the prevailing conditions of the first snow, the Board decided not to plow after the January 7th snowstorm. Because of our tight budgets, the Board does not take spending FFHA money lightly. Considerable thought goes into all expenditures, and this snow event was no different. The Board has to make decisions that are best for the entire community, not only for residents who live here year round, but for all property owners, even those that do not live here, and for those that don’t even have a house on their property. It was not very many years ago that plowing after any snow event would not have even been considered.

There is a Winter Roads Plan Regulation regarding plowing, with specific guidelines. It says that there must be 6 inches of snow measured in several areas. The most important measurement is at the bottom of the “S-curve” near Poplar Forest Road. As FFHA president Rob Greene explained, “When I measured the snow after the storm on Saturday morning at Poplar Forest Road there were 5 inches on the road surface and 6 inches in the grass. Based on this measurement alone we did not meet the regulation threshold to plow. At that moment the temperature was 19 degrees and dropping. The road surface was wet (which is why there was less snow on the road than in the grass) under the insulated layer of the snow. The road surface all over the Mountain was warm and still melting snow. Had we plowed at that moment we would have turned the entire neighborhood into a situation where no one would have been able to drive on any road. Due to the cold nature of the storm, the traction available on the road surface was still navigable with all wheel drive vehicles, without the need for cables or chains. Two roads plowed by volunteers instantly froze, and in my opinion, were less navigable than those that were not plowed.”

Cost of Snow Plowing

Plowing the mountain costs $3,500 per event. Plowing does damage to the road surfaces due to the equipment required. Rob further explained, “The only plow that works effectively on our steep roads is a three-way dozer blade mounted to a rubber tracked skid steer. This blade is very heavy and it doesn’t take much to dig up our newly coated road surface. Then there is the damage done to the shoulders. All this damage has to be fixed in the spring and it costs real money and time. A truck mounted with a conventional plow blade cannot do the job.  We have tried. If you put chains on the tires of a big truck and try to plow, then even more damage will be done to our road by the spinning action of heavy truck tires on thin road surfaces. The average thickness of the road surface on the side roads is less than one inch thick and it doesn’t take much to dig it up. Yearly assessments affect everyone. One of the best things about living here is the fact that our assessments are so low. Plowing every time it snows without considering all the data would greatly increase these rates. I have heard from many more people than not who want the assessment to remain as low as possible. They want us to continue to work on our roads and other infrastructure projects as we have been doing over the last decade.”

Preparing for Mountain Living

Part of what makes living in Fairview Forest desirable is the rugged feel of our mountain. With this comes some personal responsibility. If you want to live in the woods, then we all need to be prepared for mountain living. In a snow event it is advantageous to have an appropriate vehicle — 4-wheel or all-wheel drive — and know how to use it. It is a good idea to have tire chains or cables if your vehicle is not equipped with four-wheel drive. Next, you can move your vehicle in advance of a snowstorm to a safe location (clubhouse parking lot, or where side roads meet the main road) that will allow you to walk to it to go to work, catch a flight, or just go to town. If you have to abandon your car in the snow, make your best effort not to block the roads. This is not Florida flatlands; nor is it a low-elevation environment.

We live on a mountain with nearly 2,000 vertical feet of elevation change in Fairview Forest. As for emergency services, the fire department was dispatched during this first snow and safely got the job done they needed to do. Rob was present at the bottom of the mountain with the fire chief, whose truck was equipped with a plow if it was needed to get the people out. Fortunately the snow had lots of traction, and they drove up and down without having to use the plow.

Striving to Make the Best Decisions

In closing, we have a regulation; Rob spearheaded the Board, carefully considered all of the facts, evaluated the situation, and made a decision in line with the regulation. We stand by it, and would make the same decision again in the same situation. We try to make the best decisions for the neighborhood as a whole, not just for any one group. Fortunately, there were no incidents during this storm. Fairview Forest remained safe, and when it snows again, the Board will evaluate the new conditions and make the decision in the best interest of all.

On the Mountain, Life Goes On

The sprawling topography and woodlands of Fairview Forest inspires exceptional privacy. Admittedly, it’s hard to have a back-porch conversation across an expansive stand of deciduous giants, even after the leaves fall. Mostly it is just a wave between passing cars, or a smile and a hello along Arrowhead Trail. Living in Fairview Forest allows us a respite from conditions that plague so many people in the day-to-day confrontational reality, conditions many of us escaped when we moved here. To say that our nation is currently struggling with a great divide is a statement of fact and should not be construed as a political position held by this Board. But in the context of our times the Board is apolitical, and chooses to act in ways that benefit everyone. This is how we prevail as a community, like-minded in many ways, individual by nature, yet bound and determined to protect the sanctuary that is Fairview Forest. The Board relies on the good will and volunteer spirit of our members to make this happen. We are all grateful for the opportunity to be here. Thank you for remaining together as a community!

Litigation Against FFHA

It’s been nine months since a group of homeowners who short-term rent their properties filed a lawsuit against the FFHA. While the case pushes through the legal process, it has yet to be resolved or even brought to court, so there is nothing new to report at this time. Once the case is resolved we will inform everyone of the outcome.

FFHA Accounting Method Explained

Some in our community have inquired about how the Board manages the Association’s finances. At each monthly board meeting our treasurer provides an update of the association’s financial health, a statement prepared by our association’s CPA. It is simple straightforward math. Since we are a non-profit, accounting has nothing to do with generating income and everything to do with expenditures. Aside for some petty cash derived from the use of the clubhouse, the budget is constructed based on the collection of the annual property assessments. This is a finite amount of money, and each year a budget is based on one firm number. Fully 70% of the money is spent on road maintenance and associated landscaping costs, the one expenditure that benefits everyone in the most important way. The balance of the budget covers the lesser considerations of our association. Historically, the Board has managed to constrain spending and thereby keep assessments on the low end compared to private communities elsewhere in the county.

The fiscal year for Fairview Forest Homeowner’s Association runs from June 1st through May 31st of the following year. It is the obligation of each property owner to pay an annual assessment so the common areas of the Association can be maintained. The bill for assessments goes out in early May. To date only two property owners have not paid their assessments. Association By-Laws empower the Board to charge late fees and monthly interest on unpaid assessments.  Historically, the Board has levied these charges.