The advertisement below shows what was happening for Valentine’s Day, 35 years ago in Bent Tree. That was the last Valentine’s Day that Bent Tree Country Club was still running the amenities. Tensions between the Bent Tree Property Owners Association, Bent Tree Corporation, and Bent Tree Country Club were coming to a boil at about this time in Bent Tree’s history, but that wasn’t enough to put a stop to a Sweetheart Valentine Dance.
A couple of days ago, the torrential rains in Bent Tree had people talking about Mother Nature. Yesterday, the topic turned to human nature. Evidently, one person decided to try to drive through the blocked off/washed out section of Tamarack Drive near the beach. They didn’t make it to the other side…the asphalt caved in under the weight of their car. Another person decided to try to go around the blocked off/washed out/caved-in section by driving across the creek. They didn’t make it to the other side, either (see photo below). I don’t think anyone was hurt (except maybe a couple of bruised egos). They were lucky. The appearance of the car in the photo below has been altered to protect the embarrassed.
“By carefully following the color and design guide, the Bent Tree logo slowly took shape. Every inch of the wire was covered with approximately 1800 green, 1500 white, 1800 brown, and 600 beige crepe squares – lots of glue and wire.” - November 1984
I’m out of town right now, but friends have sent me some impressive pictures of the rain’s aftermath. Stay safe, stay off the roads, and definitely heed the advice to not drive through any standing water. Some of the pictures I received brought back memories of the flood(s) during the summer of 2013; hopefully, things don’t get that bad. Click here for a link to a post from that time period.
I’ve posted the following before on this website, but it’s one of my favorite excerpts from any General Manager’s report. It was written in 2005, by the second GM ever hired by BTCI. He had only been on the job for a short time and wrote a bullet list of “what I have learned since being at Bent Tree.” It speaks volumes…
- There sure are a lot of kids around during Youth Week.
- It rains a lot in Georgia in July.
- It is not wise to stand on the dam watching fireworks in a lightening storm with an umbrella in your hand.
- There are a lot of hard-working, gracious volunteers living at Bent Tree.
- Bent Tree has several dedicated employees that are willing to go the extra mile.
- Water runs downhill.
58 Tamarack Drive hit the market last week with an asking price of $299,900. The updated home sits alongside the #1 fairway of the Bent Tree golf course. Click here to link to the listing information. Click the listing photo below to link to a virtual tour.
The same gentleman that posted the questions and statements that I’ve mentioned over the last couple of days, posted this yesterday:
“Rumor has it that once upon a time, Assoc. Fees were based on the value of one’s home! Why was that changed? Of course we can see who benefited the most. No ulterior motives??”
That rumor is false.
Bent Tree’s assessments were never based on the value of one’s home. However, in the past, assessments were based on the number of lots that someone combined. For example, if someone had a cabin that fit just fine on a single lot, but the owner wanted privacy…the owner could buy the three unimproved lots that surrounded their existing lot/home and combine them into one big lot. That would keep anyone from ever building a house near the cabin, and the homeowner’s private mountain oasis would remain intact. Over the years, various formulas were used to calculate assessments on combined lots. Before the 2015 CC&R change (that went into effect in 2016), the most recent formula used to determine the assessments for a home on a four lot combination is shown below.
During the 2015 CC&R amendment vote, the assessment change was approved by the required super-majority of votes cast by lot owners. So, beginning in 2016, all improved lots pay the same assessment, regardless of the number of lots combined. Some homeowners’ assessments, as specified in the CC&Rs, increased under the new model, and some homeowners’ assessments decreased under the new model. Whether or not I voted in favor of the new model is immaterial…it was approved by the required votes.
By the way, in the scenario about the cabin on the private wooded four lot combination, the property owner saw his assessments decrease by $287 from 2015 to 2016. He was one who benefited. Of course, it’s possible he didn’t vote for the new model…but, he definitely had a significant decrease in his own assessments…
Based on other comments the gentleman has posted on social media, I get the distinct impression he dislikes Bent Tree golfers (and the golf course), but I’d like to extend an invitation to him anyway. The course is unbelievably beautiful in the spring and I would like to invite him to join me for a round of golf on a nice spring afternoon. I’ll even pay his cart fee. If he doesn’t feel like playing, he could just ride along and I’ll show him some of the prettiest scenery in Bent Tree. We might even see one of the white squirrels on the course (that always makes my day).
Back to the question mentioned in Monday’s post… “Why then does a $900,000.00 home in Bent Tree pay the same amount in Assoc. Fees as a $100,000. home?? Can anyone explain that one?”
The short answer would be “because our CC&Rs say so.” Every lot owned by a property owner in Bent Tree is subject to the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions as filed and recorded in the Pickens County Records. The most recent amendments, which included a change to the assessment structure, were filed on October 14, 2015.
The more complete and long answer would begin by tracing the evolution of the assessments back to the roots of Bent Tree. That actually ties in nicely with the corporate history posts I’ve been doing over the last month (and will finish one of these days). The developer of Bent Tree chose to create some 3475 (that number is according to records of The Liberty Corporation) single family dwelling sites in the resort community. The lot sizes averaged around 1/2 acre each, with some a bit larger. The property owner of each lot was subject to assessments as set forth in the original CC&Rs and had the “automatic privilege to designate one Family Unit to use and enjoy the Common Properties” (subject to suspension for delinquent payment or for infractions of the Declarant’s published rules and regulations). In 1972, the annual assessment for each lot was $15. The base amount of the annual assessment in 1973 was $100, with subsequent years’ assessments to be increased by the Atlanta Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
The original CC&Rs also set forth that property owners could build single family homes on their lots, subject to the document’s Architectural, Maintenance, and Use Restrictions. The document did not mention anything about a home’s value. I would venture to say that the developer most likely never considered that it would be a good business plan to market lots that would have assessments tied to the values of the homes built there. Every lot owner owned their piece of the pie, every lot owner paid the same assessment, and every lot owner was afforded the same rights and privileges. Since I’ve started down the assessment tangent, I might as well continue it tomorrow. It has some interesting turns and twists along the way.
The homeowner who posed the question featured in yesterday’s post also posted the following statements:
- “You know the $900k & up homeowners are dictating policy. It is NOT about the average homeowners here!”
- “We only 2/3rds [sic] of ‘Members,’ far different from Property Owners, to vote in a change. Lake Tamarack homeowners beware! Am sure we would see some big changes if the expensive homes took more of a financial hit!”
Those statements raised questions that are, in my opinion, more important than answering the original question. So, today’s post is going to focus on that, and I’m putting off answering the original question one more day. Here are my questions:
- Where are the $900,000 homes in Bent Tree? The community is a nice mix of homes, but I doubt there are very many (if any) valued at $900,000 or more. I do know that if I won the lottery (assuming I ever played the lottery), there is only one home in Bent Tree for which I would pay $900,000 or more. Even that home is not valued anywhere near that amount.
- Who are these homeowners of “$900k & up” homes that are dictating policy? It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to establish policy. The current members of the board own homes of varying values, but none of them come anywhere close to having a valuation of $900,000. I’d be surprised if any previous board members owned homes having a valuation of $900,000 or more. And, in the spirit of disclosure, my own home is not worth anything remotely close to $900,000. I have good friends in Bent Tree that live in homes of all sizes, ages, values, and in varied sections of the community. The notion of some sort of class warfare in Bent Tree never entered my mind before.
- Who has been buying or building these $900,000 homes in Bent Tree? If my quick sales search on qPublic is accurate, only six homes in Bent Tree have sold for over $500,000 in the last dozen years. Only one of those was over $600,000. To my knowledge, none of the homes that have been built in recent years are valued anywhere near $900,000.
- What change does the poster hope to accomplish with 2/3rds of the “Members”? A change in the assessment structure would require a CC&R amendment. Amendments to the CC&Rs require two-thirds of the votes cast by “Lot owners” (they don’t have to be BTCI “Members”). One other big requirement is that all amendments must also have the approval of “the Declarant”. In other words, you would also have to have a resolution passed by a majority of the Board of Directors to amend the CC&Rs. Maybe I misinterpreted the change the poster was hoping for…