8th Annual Mayor’s Tournament benefits Jasper Youth Sports Association

July 23, 2017 - looking back on Hole 9 of the Bent Tree Golf Course

July 23, 2017 – looking back on Hole 9 of the Bent Tree Golf Course

The Bent Tree Golf Club will be bustling today for a good cause. 124 golfers (31 four person teams) played in last year’s tournament.  Click here to link to the 2016 tournament photos from Know Pickens.

mayor tournament 2017

2014-SU-CV-326

I’m going to postpone the rest of the Sallie Doss history info because of an article that appears in today’s Pickens Progress. According to the article (“Briefly employed airport manager terminated over conflict of interest” by Angela Reinhardt), Bent Tree’s former general manager believes that a pending lawsuit between BTCI and Pickens County was the reason for his termination after a brief stint as co-manager of the Pickens County Airport.

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I’ve been following the lawsuit since it was filed, just out of curiosity.  I haven’t posted about it in the past, because this really is one for the lawyers and the judge. The facts are there, the legal system just has to sort them out. But, now that it’s mentioned on the front page of the Progress, I might as well touch on it. The timing is interesting because it looked like the case was finally going to go before a judge yesterday, but it was continued (postponed) at the last minute. Note – Judge Bishop from Gwinnett County was the presiding judge yesterday in the Pickens County Superior Court, so the case would not have been heard by one of the Appalachian Circuit judges.

Anyone can go to the courthouse and look up the filed documents associated with the case, so I’ll just throw out a few points:

  • In 1997, BTCI and The City of Jasper-Pickens County Land Bank Authority entered into an agreement whereby Bent Tree lots acquired by Pickens County at public auctions (if there was no superior bid by another bidder) would be conveyed from Pickens County to the Land Bank Authority. Then, the Land Bank-Authority would convey the Bent Tree lots to BTCI (Land Bank Authority being the “seller” and BTCI being the “purchaser”).
    • BTCI would pay the Land Bank a purchase price for each lot equal to $15 per lot multiplied by the number of years taxes were owed, up to seven years.
    • BTCI agreed to dedicate all such lots to the green belt acreage of BTCI and include them on the annual real property tax return beginning with the year acquired.
    • If BTCI removed any such lot from the green belt (i.e. sold to a third party), Purchaser then had to pay the total sum of past delinquent taxes that were still on the books for that piece of property.
    • Either party could terminate this Agreement with 30 days notice.
  • In 2005, BTCI and The City of Jasper-Pickens County Land Bank Authority entered into an updated agreement with the same basic terms, along with some tweaks. For example, both an auto-renew clause and an immediate termination clause were added, with certain stipulations.
  • Somewhere along the line, Pickens County and the Land Bank Authority stopped conveying the lots back to BTCI.
  • In November 2013, BTCI’s lawyer sent a certified letter to the Pickens County Attorney demanding either payment to BTCI of $104,009.84 for unpaid assessments, or conveyance of the lots to BTCI.
  • Needless to say, since there is now an active lawsuit, Pickens County did not pay or convey.
  • There are 135 lots involved. Eighty-six are held by the Land Bank Authority and 49 are held by Pickens County.
  • The total dollar amount, including assessments and interest, was quite substantial by the end of 2015. You can see the figure for yourself by going to the courthouse and reading the documents.
  • Among other things, the defendants are claiming sovereign immunity from any obligation to pay assessments on the lots. The defendants also say the Agreement was null and void long ago because there is no evidence that BTCI ever paid money for lots in the past (the $15 per lot * number of years owed, up to seven years).
  • The Land Bank Authority formally gave 30 days notice of termination of the Agreement on August 15, 2015.

Lake & Wildlife Meeting Tomorrow Morning (9:30 at Club Tamarack)

The scheduled guest speakers are Doug Byrd (BTCI’s General Manager) and Steve Smith (BTCI’s Public Safety Director). The meeting is open to all Bent Tree property owners. Update – The speakers were Doug Byrd and Steve Atkins (BTCI’s Fire Chief).

 

 

 

It just doesn’t add up.

The General Manager explains his rationale behind the new annual $136 “water system compliance fee” in the November GM Report.  According to the GM, the Bent Tree water plant needs upgrades estimated at $500,000 over the next ten years to continue providing drinking water, as well as a new filter (estimated cost of $400,000 to $500,000 over a five year period) to expand capacity for additional growth and provide backup when a filter is taken off line for repairs. At the October budget meeting, he said these were state mandated items that must be done.

  • There is no state mandate
  • Every year there are things that must be repaired or updated. Routine maintenance is an operating expense.
  • For major upgrades, government mandates, or expansions (such as a third filter if/when needed) there is an established reserve fund (the Capital Improvement Reserve Fund begun 25 years ago “…to be used specifically for improved or expanding the water system within Bent Tree.”). BTCI just increased (for improved lots) the assessment for this reserve with the last CC&R vote.
  • If there is a Bent Tree building boom (try saying that five times fast without messing up) in the next few years, there is another fee under the CC&Rs that would be paid by the owner of each new house constructed, raising funds for any needed expansion. It is the “right-to-access fee”. Monies from this fee are put into the Capital Improvement Reserve Fund which, as already stated, is the fund “…to be used specifically for improved or expanding the water system within Bent Tree.”
    • “…The right-to-access fee shall be in addition to any actual costs incurred by Declarant in connecting the lot to Bent Tree water system. The right-to-access fee may be increased by the Declarant subject to the same limitations imposed on General Assessments in Article IV, Section 2 (b) of this Declaration. The right-to-access fee shall be placed in the Capital Improvement Reserve Fund referred to in Article IV, Section 2 (c).

Why the sudden need for the new “water system compliance fee”?
Something just doesn’t add up…

Not Necessarily

Click here for a related previous post from last week. The second sentence of the November GM Report states “The majority of residents voted to increase our assessments for improved lots and reduce our assessments for unimproved lots.”

That statement is not necessarily true. A more accurate statement might be “The majority of property owners who actually voted, were in favor of the CC&R amendment regarding the restructuring of assessments.

There were 625 votes cast in favor of the amendment. The General Manager used the word residents. Since the returned ballots were not tallied by whether they were from improved or unimproved property owners, there is no way (at this time) to know how the majority of residents voted. Someone could probably go through the returned ballots and figure out the breakdown; it would just take some time. It could be that the unimproved lot owners pushed the amendment through. Each and every unimproved lot owner will save at least $110 in assessments next year. If they own a combined lot, the savings will be much greater. For example, an unimproved three-lot combination will save $720 in assessments next year.

Also, the “voted to increase our assessments for improved lots” wording is not accurate. As previously noted, some improved properties will enjoy decreased assessments.

 

 

Beaver Trap

Speaking of beavers…

Earlier this year, a beaver trap was set along the edge of Lake Tamarack. The first picture below shows a beaver lodge along the water’s edge. There are some sticks sticking straight up out of the water (see second photo below for closeup). These sticks are part of the trap setup. “It is unlawful to trap any wildlife upon the lands or in the waters of any other person except with written consent of the owner, which must be on the person setting or using the traps. Traps must be tended at least once each 24-hour period. Traps and snares must be labeled with the owner’s name or owner’s permanent trapper’s identification number provided by the department. Foot-hold traps for beavers must be smooth or rubber jaw steel. Body gripping traps in excess of 9½ inches square must be used in water or within 10 feet of water. Snares must be used in water or on land within 10 feet of water.” – GA DNR Trapping Regulations

February 14, 2015 - Beaver trap and beaver lodge along the shore of Lake Tamarack

February 14, 2015 – Beaver trap and beaver lodge along the shore of Lake Tamarack

February 14, 2015 - closeup of sticks used with the trap

February 14, 2015 – closeup of sticks used with the trap

Beaver Moon

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Last week’s full moon put on a bright show in Bent Tree. The photo below was taken on Wednesday, and the photo above was taken on Thanksgiving. The November full moon is known as the “Beaver Moon”. According to Native American lore, this is the time of year to set beaver traps to ensure a good supply of warm furs for the winter, before the swamps freeze over, and while the beavers are actively preparing for winter.

November 25, 2015 - Full "Beaver Moon" over Bent Tree (click photo for larger image)

November 25, 2015 – Full “Beaver Moon” over Bent Tree (click photo for larger image)

“…privately nestled in the woods with sought after level driveway”

Click here to link to the listing information for 46 Lynx Court in Bent Tree. The asking price is $325,000. The 3 bedroom, 3 bath home has a professionally installed theater room and a game room that easily fits both a pool table and a ping-pong table.

46 Lynx Court in Bent Tree

46 Lynx Court in Bent Tree