This timeline illustrates the degradation of SLWLA governance that caused many to question the appropriateness of Board actions and decisions. The systematic erosion of adherence to the North Carolina Planned Community Act, SLWLA Covenants, By-Laws, Rules, Regulations, and Roberts Rules of Order have caused significant friction within the community. Committee decisions have been overruled, and long-standing volunteer members removed from committees for opinions in opposition to the Board. The Message Board has been silenced, members may only speak at the open forum, and the Board deliberately refuses to engage in any discussion of issues making two-way communication with the Board impossible.
The growing problems in governance became very evident concurrent with the rise of the wake boat issue in the Lake Committee. As the debate became more and more contentious in the Committee, the issues of improper adherence to governance standards alarmed many familiar with proper decision-making methods appropriate for a community Board; including the dismissal of roughly half of the existing Lake Committee, the failure of the Board to vote on a moratorium proposed by the Lake Committee, and the inappropriate creation of an ad hoc Committee.
The temporary moratorium on wake boat new registrations was never voted on based on the lack of, and call for, scientific data specific to Lake Auman. An independent academic study was proposed by North Carolina State University (NCSU) for a comprehensive evaluation on Lake Auman. The NCSU proposal garnered widespread support from the Lake Committee, Dam Committee, Lake Master Planning Ad Hoc Committee, as well as a specific endorsement from the dam Engineer. None the less, the Board failed to pass a moratorium and voted down the NCSU Study leaving the community with an unidentified problem without any solutions.
The failed vote for the study was enabled by a fraudulent election in March of 2021. The Board interfered with the election by publicly dressing down a candidate for the Board during the election and upon review, the election results were also irregular. Multiple requests for information were routinely denied and/or substantively unanswered by CAS, who then deferred all queries to the Board, which was not supposed to be involved in the election, but continued the pattern of obfuscation. As a result, a demand letter was sent from an attorney requesting and audit of the election, which the Board again refused to discuss or address. The formal filing of a complaint (lawsuit) was a last resort to obtain detailed, accurate election records that should have been readily be available to the membership. It is not surprising that Board has continued to follow a policy of delay, deception, and diversion while using the bully pulpit in an effort to publicly shame those who filed the complaint. Now there is more…
Research of voting documents revealed multiple other issues including votes cast by ineligible parties in a concerted effort to change the election results, votes cast for properties not owned by those casting ballots, votes for properties not in good standing, and numerous issues. What is clear is that there was almost no process control of the election, contrary to written policy, and no quality control of the outcome, the legal and financial consequences of such mismanagement are potentially very extensive.
This timeline is an attempt to illustrate the many events leading to the need for a return to proper community management and governance.
August 22, 2018 – Ron Shepard presents concerns about Wake Boat and other lake issues at the Lake Committee
June, 2019 – Moratorium on the registration of Wake Boats discussed by the Lake Committee (Ed Cockman)
July 11, 2019 – Formal proposal/motion of Moratorium presented to the Lake Committee and tabled for future discussion and rewording
August 25, 2019 – Board President (Ryan Fox – wake boat owner) defers another community letter of concern to the Lake Committee (now co-chaired by a Boat Dealer/wake boat owner and another wake boat owner)
October 3, 2019 – Lake Committee motion for Moratorium is approved by the Committee ( passed by vote of 8 in favor and 4 opposed)
( COMPLETE MOTION )
“Effective from board passage until July 1, 2021, no new boats designed and marketed as wake boats or surf boats shall be registered by SLW and allowed on Lake Auman. Included are any and all boats with bladders or other devices that create large wakes. No aftermarket devices that create large wakes, such as “surf tabs” and “wake shapers”, may be added to existing boats.
Wake boats and surf boats currently permitted and registered by SLW shall be grandfathered until they are sold, after which they cannot be re-registered on Lake Auman. The current wake and surf boat owners may replace their boat with a newer model.“
October 18, 2019 – Board Agenda reflects creation of a Lake-Life ad hoc Committee from the Lake Committee Report, but the Lake Committee did not vote on or propose the creation of said Ad Hoc (Board creation). Committee allegedly meets once but submits 10 recommendations to Board, rubber stamped, and dissolves Ad Hoc.
October 22, 2019 – “Petition” by Wake Boat community presented to the Board. Minutes mysteriously not available on the website for all of 2019 except on blurb on this issue for Oct 22, 2019. “Petition” verbiage did not accurately reflect that used in the moratorium; specifically, inappropriately stating that the moratorium “[banned] wake surfing, wake boats, motorboats, or any type of water sport activity currently in use of Lake Auman”
BOD failed to vote on the motion, instead acted to form an ad hoc committee.
January, 2020 – Two members of the Lake Committee submit letters discussing the proposed moratorium, the Ad Hoc Committee, wave energy and the need for data; including one long, well researched piece by Steve Short.
Summer, 2020 – Without any indication of or action by the Board in terms of soliciting a scientific study for Lake Auman, 3 engineers/scientists sent feelers out to 4 universities to gauge interest.
September 18, 2020 – Letter sent and signed, to the Board, by newly formed Lake Auman Vitality Advocates (LAVA) concerning wake, wave energy and impact on infrastructure and enjoyment. Scientific lake study is specifically requested.
September 23, 2020 – The only meeting held by the Ad Hoc Lake-Life Committee; limited discussion and no consensus on issues.
October, 2020 A full year after the moratorium was rejected, and still without any Board movement on researching the wave energy issue, NCSU settled out as the most interested in a lake study. Four scientists/engineers in the community began the task of working with NCSU on a study design. Several discussions were held about research models, questions, methods, etc.; including with other universities.
October 20, 2020 ‘Petition’ against moratorium is debunked by analysis. 197 valid property owners versus 500+, regarded as ‘data points’ by the Board. Many of those signatories were misled by verbiage presented on the petition.
November 5, 2020 – The ‘Lake Committee Massacre’: At scheduled LC meeting proposal from Don Snell was refused to be heard, immediate dismissal of 6 LC members all with significant history and experience, but contrary views to those in control of the Committee and Board: Jane Sessler, Don Snell, Bob Long Don Smith, Dick Williams, Charlie Flinchum. Board approved the move in Executive Session and also approved a new charter which LAVA, the Lake Auman Sport Club and the Sailing Club did not support and declined to participate.
November 17, 2020 – Board Member (Todd Brown) makes his own motion for moratorium and then speaks against and votes against it. 2 amendments and another related motion voted down as well.
Director Goodman states “some of our community members are working with several universities to provide us with a Proposal to specifically study Lake Auman related to lake density, environmental ecology, infrastructure and other issues, which I urge the Board and the community to support. Until it is ruled out by these surveys and studies, it is possible and therefore could be argued in litigation that wake boats may be exacerbating damage to our lake’s environmental ecology and infrastructure. So, as a prudent, proactive measure, I would argue that the Board should limit wake boat numbers and until Lake Auman-specific studies conducted by engineering and scientific professionals provide conclusions and recommendation to act upon.”
November 19, 2020 – Director Greaves ask the HOA attorney a procedural question in an effort to require a special assessment for a lake study, which would require 2/3 vote of all landowners and effectively kill any initiative.
December 15, 2020 – New Lake Committee Charter surfaces and the Volunteer Lake Patrol is taken away from the long-time operator (Lake Auman Sports Club) and placed under the control of the Lake Committee (rule making body now also owns enforcement)
January 7, 2021 – Complaint concerning Board mishandling of Ellis case (wake boater), including conflict of interest and inappropriate intervention.
January 8, 2021 – The Lake Auman Master Plan Ad Hoc Committee received a first draft of the NCSU Proposed Lake Study for review and feedback.
January 15-19, 2021 – The Board is provided feedback on the proposal, much of it adverse from the lake Committee, by Todd Brown (Director Liaison for Lake and Dam). The same feedback was not shared with the Lake Master Plan Committee by the Lake Committee Representative (Josh Davis) nor the Liaison (Todd Brown).
January 20-22, 2021 – Revised Proposal received from NCSU. Grew from 8 to 13 pages based on assimilated feedback. The Lake Master Plan Ad Hoc Committee voted 7-1 to make a motion to the Board to fund the study. Notably, the Committee was composed of 7+ PhDs, engineers, scientists and experts in their field representing all the core SLWLA Committees.
January 23, 2021 – The Committee Motion was drafted using a template supplied by Director Brown and submitted for presentation at the next Board Meeting. However, Director Brown said it did not pass muster and would not submit the motion. In addition, Director Greaves submitted feedback on the motion despite having no role on or with the Committee. The Study Proposal was never sent to the Board and the motion was not included in the January 26, 2021 meeting.
Letter of Reprimand of Board Actions issued by Community Advocate for inappropriate handling of Ellis case.
February 2, 2021 – A special meeting is held with the Lake Committee to discuss the proposal. The study architects are not invited. The NCSU principal investigators brief the study and discusses with the Lake Committee.
February 15, 2021 – An Executive Session is held by the Board. Again, the architects are not invited but interestingly the Chair and Co-Chair of the Lake Committee are present. The Board President justifies the inappropriate use of Executive Session in his report at the next Board Mtg. He also deems it an item of significant interest, which has been requested since the Moratorium was introduced, requiring two community wide meetings and effectively delaying the vote for the study until after his departure as President.
February 17, 2021 – The Dam Engineer endorses the study and writes, “In addition to more boats, residents have observed larger waves which appear to be generated by wake boats that were not in existence when the dam was originally designed and constructed. Whether these larger boat generated waves will adversely affect Lake Auman Dam over extended years of service is unknown.”
Mick Herdrich publishes a post on the message board that is critical of the Board’s inappropriate use of Executive Session and says he intends to file a formal complaint and did so. (see March 3, 2021)
February 19, 2021 – The Board sends out and E-Blast maligning Mick Herdrich for his message Board post during an election, for which Mr. Herdrich is a candidate for the Board that is publicly attacking him individually.
March 3 and 15, 2021 – Mr. Herdrich files a formal complaint pertaining to the 15 February 2021 inappropriate use of Executive Session, which is investigated and substantiated by the Community Advocate.
March 8, 2021 – First Public meeting to discuss the NCSU Proposed Lake Study
March 21, 2021 – Election Results Announced
March 22, 2021 – Election Spreadsheets Reviewed. Irregularities – 2 complete pages, 64 straight votes uniform in response – including affirmation of budget. CAS front desk (Sarah) indicates a Developer brought in a stack of votes – that may explain. Left 2 questions for Sharon Hodges pertaining to election.
March 23, 2021 – Dam Committee unanimously supports the NCSU Lake Study.
Community Advocate is dismissed by the Board after finding two complaints against the Board had merit and issuing Letters of Reprimand with recommendations for corrective measures. The dismissal is made in March and called a one-year review, though the year ended in November of 2020. He is on vacation and has not been notified of his removal by the Board, nor has it, or the two cases ever been discussed with the Community Advocate, other than during the course of his investigation. The BOD would later take retribution against the Judicial Chair for criticizing the Board for a lack of due-process.
The Community Advocate addressed the dismissal and the complete lack of due-process upon his return.
March 26, 2021 – Formal Complaint filed by Don Smith with the Community Manager concerning the Election Results and developer influence. No formal response ever received to the complaint by Mr. Smith. The Board claims an eBlast suffices, contrary to past practice or the understood complaint process.
***NOTE: According to documents provided for discovery, the Board knew, shortly after the election and based on a rough audit conducted by the Community Manager, that over 70 Developer votes were counted and would have impacted at least one seat for the election.
March 29, 2021 = Second Public meeting to discuss the NCSU Proposed Lake Study
March 30, 2021 – Inquiry sent to BOD about allowing developers to vote. Attachment is one email dialogue of several from different community members, with Pat Zlotin and/or Sharon Hodges, reflecting changing stories and a lack of process/understanding.
April 19, 2021 – Board response to Demand Letter via Mr. Later – doubting membership status of those members retaining Mr. Wicker’s services.
April 27, 2021 – NCSU Lake Study is voted down by the Board, 4-3, in what appeared to be a pre-orchestrated discussion and vote. Of the 4 NO votes, 2 were from newly elected Board members. Unbudgeted expense cited as a reason although the treasurer admitted there were funds available.
Board attorney responds to Demand Letter and denies any wrongdoing.
April 28 2021 = Terry Card removed as Chair of Judicial Panel as retribution for criticizing the Board’s lack of due-process in the dismissal of the Community Advocate. This after the Committee voted to continue Mr. Card as the Chair, per the Board President (Pat Zlotin’s) instructions. Caused resignation of long-standing Judicial Panel members.
May 12, 2021 – Pat Zlotin demands the judicial panel members make a personal appearance at the next Board meeting with their ‘unexcused’ absence construed as a resignation.
May 25, 2021 – The Judicial Panel Massacre. The BOD carried through with their “warning” to the JUDICIAL PANEL – all members summarily dismissed after yet another EXECUTIVE SESSION. The list of the new members was provided.
June 1, 2021 – Formal Filing of Legal Complaint (authored 28 May 2021). Board calls it ‘Baseless’ and says it will defend itself ‘vigorously’. Also publish the names for months of the complainants on the webpage and in Board meeting minutes.
June 8, 2021 – Jane Sessler is invited to a joint meeting of all committee chairs for Safety and Security
June 23, 2021 – At the following BOD meeting Jane Sessler is denied Chair of S&S. After a request as to why, as the Board did not communicate with Jane, Roberta Maness sent an email.
July 4, 2021 – Controversial use of undeveloped lot as an RV campsite led to extensive community outcry. BOD did nothing. Website message Board full of posts.
Mid July 2021 – Message Board is removed from website, prohibiting any communication from members to the Board and each other.
August 9, 2021 – Board files a Motion to Dismiss, again denying all accusations, but does not request a hearing.
September 7, 2021 – Discovery Documents Due – Receive a letter from the Board, no documents, objecting to everything and providing nothing.
September 17, 2021 – Attorney sends letter to Board outlining Discovery deficiencies.
October 1, 2021 – First Discovery Documents Received, many duplicates, missing essential documents (including Ballots). Election envelopes received the first week of November 2021, even though they were stapled to the ballots. Another dump of documents, many duplicated, were sent on Veteran’s Day…conveniently the day before a hearing was scheduled (12 Nov 21) to compel the Board to provide the documents that have been withheld. Board attorney did not show to the proceeding and Judge stayed the motion until 6 Dec 21. Major change in strategy for Board re” developer vs. builder claims…again without support, in letter from Board Attorney on 11 Nov 21.
November 15, 2021 – First Depositions Taken (CAS employees)
November 9 – 16, 2021 – On 11/09/21 Jane Sessler is approved (again) by Committee for co-chair, 11/16/21 and motion made to BOD. Jane Sessler is denied Chair of S&S by the BOD. Only member with history on the committee, minutes and reports responsibility. BOD created their own motion and approved Erik Stromberg for the Chair, not co-chair as the Committee had motioned.
December 1, 2021 – Two additional documents received including standard financial report (Accounts Receivable) reflecting lots not in good standing as of Mar and Apr 21.
December 6, 2021 Hearing for Motion to Compel
Prompts for lawsuit:
Dismissals of long-term experienced committee members
Failure to follow Robert’s rules and governing documents, NCPCA
Election issues and failure to respond to inquiries about legitimacy of votes
Failure to present adequate financial data
*Consistencies over entire timeline:
– lack of transparency
– inaccurate or incomplete minutes (often mischaracterizing statements)
– Board won’t share Board Meeting audio files
– Board went let anyone view camera footage of JP or Storage Yard
– wake boat growth 19 – 20 = 40%, but only 8% of registered boats
– Board won’t share 2021 boat registration data, even masked
– Board has regularly engaged in scheduled Executive Sessions to conduct normal community business
– Community Message Board regularly censored and eventually disabled as the only means of two-way communication within the community and with the Board.