mom and three eagles marcia captain

Do not disturb! That’s the message for anyone even thinking about going onto Eagle Island in the middle of Lake Petit. The island—home to two eagles and three eaglets—is emphatically off limits to people and pets.  “We don’t want to disturb the eaglets,” General Manager Jill Philmon told those attending the April 11 POA meeting. If you see anyone on Eagle Island, contact the marina or public safety immediately. Photo by Marcia Captan, who takes her photos from a kayak in Lake Petit.

Survey results, plant list, new rules covered by POA

By Barbara Schneider This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

POA Board Vice President Dudley DeVore announced the property owner amenity survey conducted by Chambers (consulting group) is now available to be reviewed online at the Thursday, April 11 POA working session.

“Chambers is not dictating to the board,” said DeVore. “They are just one component” of the information to be considered, he added as he turned the discussion over to POA Director Grant Grimes.

This survey summary and the full report focused on property owners’ “wants” via amenity focus groups and a property owner survey with 1900 responses, said Grimes. “That’s about a 40 percent participation rate—and generally 30 percent is considered very accurate.”

The POA board’s Long-Range Planning Committee and Finance Committee will put a plan together and make recommendations, said Grimes. Then, in May, the board will host a gathering to present recommendations for all aspects and upgrades—similar to the gathering for the 2016 land purchase—to property owners.

The POA sent out a blast Friday, April 12 including the four and one-half page survey summary and a link to the 194-page report for property owner review.

“This is a summary of what property owners were asking for, not Chambers; it’s not what Chambers said it is recommending,” added POA Director Jim Farinholt.

It’s important to remember “anything above $1million needs property owner approval,” added DeVore.

Plant list update

It was an intense meeting on Monday, DeVore said, referring to the April 8 community meeting—with more than100 attendees—to discuss POA recommendations and revisions regarding the proposed new plant list.

Any plant now in the ground is grandfathered in, said General Manager Jill Philmon. Hemlocks have been added back to the list but property owners have to notify landscaping so these plants can be checked and treated for disease (especially woolly adelgids) before they are planted. “If you have a hemlock that hasn’t been treated, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,” said Philmon.

Residents who aren’t sure if their hemlocks have been treated can look for a red dot on the base of the hemlock’s trunk on the side facing away from the street, Brownell told the audience.

The POA made concessions for any camelias, rhododendrons, azaleas, and viburnum. A new plant list and Q&A was released Friday, April 12 and a review of the plant list is on the agenda for the POA’s regular voting session on Thursday, April 18.

Cynthia Hendry thanked Philmon for going over the plant list again and said she appreciates the latest revision. She asked for clarification to confirm whether or not property owners can plant what they want in private areas of their own property.

Operations update

Based on feedback, the board reevaluated the Swim Club’s summer food service and decided to allow outside food but not alcoholic beverages and to provide bar service at the Swim Club, Philmon reported.

The rule change reflected in A.18 Rules of Conduct in the Amenities, 2. Rules, 21 now reads: “Alcoholic beverages are not permitted to be brought into the aquatic area of the Swim Club. Outside food is permitted to be brought in to the Swim Club amenity but not allowed on the beach.”

The part about not allowing food on the beach was a Georgia Department of Natural Resources recommendation, said Director of Operations Jason Brownell, referring to an incident with a bear going after food at the Swim Club Beach in 2018.

Rule 2, 22 states: “Outside food and beverages are allowed in the Wildcat Recreation area.

The transition to the POA’s new website went really smoothly, said Philmon. The firehouse emergency operations center (EOC) is complete and “we are ready in case of emergency.”

With three eaglets and two eagles now living on the island in Lake Petit, she reminded the audience that no one is allowed on Eagle Island. “If you see someone, call the marina or public safety. We don’t want to disturb the eaglets.”

In a comment from the audience, Bob Littell asked the board to make sure both the online and print versions of the community directory include a warning not to use residents’ contact information for mailings to property owners.

Billy Smith, a property owner with rental property, had questions for the board about the recently approved annual $250 fee rule (A. 14 Rules for Use of Family Dwelling Unit by Tenants, 3. Regulations, 3.1 a. “The owner shall complete an annual Lease Registration Form and pay a processing fee of $250 prior to executing and residential lease ….”

“There are a lot of . . . people in my circles that rent property [concerned] with this $250 change. We’re concerned at a $25 to $250 raise, it used to be one-time and now it’s annual.”

He added that there are no hotels in Big Canoe and rental properties bring in visitors who spend money in the amenities.

“How did you arrive at $250? What’s the basis? Aren’t there benefits to bringing guests to the restaurants and golfers to Big Canoe?” asked Wayne Niederjohn.

Philmon explained that a team from Leadership Big Canoe brought the issue to the board’s attention in a presentation based on the team’s research and recommended a fee to offset some costs.

Question about reserves

In response to a question about liabilities, specifically related to the dam and spillway, DeVore responded, “We have $2.7 million in restricted reserves.” Director of Operations Jason Brownell added “The state has said requirements for the spillway will be changed but we do not have those changes yet.”

Farinholt added, “We know that eventually [something] will have to be done with the dam. We would have to pay the reserves back in three years.”

UIG update

Ron Medders, Utilities Inc. of Georgia operation director at its Big Canoe facility, presented his report. “We are now catching up on paving areas where fixing leaks necessitated road repairs.

Leakage water loss is now approximately 62-64 percent, he said. “We have identified about 45 percent more loss as UIG has tried to maintain tanks at higher levels. We have sealed up countless leaks and also increased pressure. Casey and his group go out daily looking for leaks. We hope to be under 50 percent water loss by year end.”

It appears UIG’s measure of water loss is more accurate that the Big Canoe Utility Company, according to Medders.

“Water loss in the Pickens County and Blue Ridge area systems is about 40-43 percent,” he said. “In mountainous areas it’s a more constant battle than in flatter areas.”

Overall UIG’s spending on repairs/improvements is right on budget, he said. Medders is encouraging all Big Canoe property owners to sign up for the UIG’s My Utility application. “So far, 500 have signed up,” he said.

The POA Board’s Voting session will begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 in the Clubhouse at Lake Sconti.

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