Letters to the Editor week 2 of April 2019

Letters to the Editor were plentiful this week with several addressing comments about POA board members and senior staff. Another letter takes another look at the invasive plant list.

Scroll down to see all six letters.

Residents concerned about attacks on POA board, staff

Letter to the Editor:

I would like to honor those individuals whose names were published in one of David Hopkin’s recent postings, which he calls the Toxic Wall of Shame. They were listed by name and he says they had the audacity to criticize him and his diatribe of poisonous attacks on the character and integrity of our leadership—volunteer POA board as well as professional staff. I hope he will honor me by adding me to that list.

I am writing this first as a property owner. Nevertheless, it will be easy for Hopkins to say that my response should simply be viewed as someone properly defending his wife, Carolyn Littell. She was a POA board member during the land sale years—and last summer was asked by Mike Rhodes to take his place as the developer board representative.

From my personal standpoint, Hopkins crossed the line in his February 26 posting. In there, he named both Carolyn and me, and cleverly implied—by posing his innuendo in the form of a question—whether the purchase of our now two-year old home we built in Wildcat, was somehow aided through “commissions” received, or other financial benefits, from the 2016 land sale. That seems to be the way he words things to avoid being liable for slander.

I strongly believe that by threatening to post the names of those who criticize him, David Hopkins has just provided the ammunition and call to action for the silent majority of the Big Canoe community to speak up. There are literally hundreds of residents who have known and worked with our past and current leadership and know their dedication to serving our community.

If mistakes have been made, they need to be addressed and corrected. Nevertheless, I believe that most within our community are incensed at the way he has chosen to paint our leadership as anything other than dedicated individuals committed to maintaining the character of Big Canoe and the financial viability of our community.

As a largely volunteer community, we have many dedicated and talented property owners who have sacrificed hundreds of hours of their time to make this community what it has become. I believe the vast majority of our residents resent the way Hopkins has painted our leaders as incompetent and, in some ways, dishonest.

Any volunteer organization must depend upon advice and counsel from our professional staff as well as outside experts as we did during the negotiations of the land deal. And again, if there are areas of concern that need to be addressed, they should be done so with appropriate civility and professionalism.

David Hopkins also most likely violated what has been one of the long-understood prevented practices within Big Canoe by utilizing the community directory to do his blanket emails.

In one of his recent postings, he suggests we need a new team at Big Canoe. I think David Hopkins should organize that new team but do it outside the gates of Big Canoe.

Bob Littell

57 Red Trillium Ridge

To the Editor:

We became Big Canoe property owners two years ago after having visited for almost 30 years. We’ve been graciously welcomed and feel very fortunate to live here. Since that time I have been part of numerous committees/subcommittees as well as Leadership Big Canoe, and interact with staff, management, committee members, or members of the Board almost daily.

At no time have I thought anyone was not operating in the best interests of Big Canoe, and while I have disagreed with various decisions, I did not feel marginalized or ignored. There are reasonable ways to provide input and feedback. Why are we fouling our own nest with derogatory comments on social media? This costs us all in time and treasure.

For anyone reading this contemplating living in Big Canoe, we have an enormous number of incredibly nice residents with various interests, talents, and points of view. We looked all over the Southeast before moving and consider this place a bargain…choosing a planned, gated community comes with rights and obligations, and it is incumbent on you to understand them before making that choice. Every time I drive in those gates I’m happy to be back on campus.

For property owners not often on property, busy working, or who just want to live here peacefully, Big Canoe has many dedicated volunteers along with financial procedures and controls in place—as a former internal and external auditor I’ve personally seen how many of these function, and improvements are continually made. You won’t agree with every decision, but few things in life are irrevocable and corrections can be made.

Remember it’s a whole lot easier to complain than to govern. Please understand it is not possible for staff and volunteers to respond to every question posed individually. Sign up for all communications, don’t spread rumors based on half information, ask questions in a forum where questions and answers are available to everyone unless it is a truly private matter, and then form an educated opinion. For those interested in being actively involved in governance by serving on committees or the board, becoming a graduate of Leadership Big Canoe is a great place to start. Please become part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Amy and Bob Tropfenbaum

111 Sconti Point

Letter to Editor

I am writing to the Big Canoe community to say I knew well and worked with David Hopkins father, Sam Hopkins, when he was political editor of The Atlanta Constitution and with his grandfather, the late Leonard Cochran, a distinguished Methodist minister in the South Georgia Conference of The Methodist Church.

Sam was an honorable journalist who wrote from facts without attacking personal character as his son David has done with among others Debbie Pickett, a long time senior POA staff member who receives monthly treatments for breast cancer, silently bearing her discomfort as she fulfills her daily duties of which David has no knowledge.

I ask that David stop the yellow journalism he uses in his newsletters about Big Canoe and rise to the level of character and professionalism his late father and grandfather lived by. I believe both of those men would say to him what I am saying now: You are better than this.

Laura Link, a Big Canoe resident of 21 years

830 Petit Ridge Drive

To the Editor:

David Hopkins has been on quite a roll lately posting articles regarding problems he believes exist in Big Canoe.  While everything may not be perfect in our community, matters certainly are not as awful as he claims them to be.  And the persons he is attacking in a defaming and slanderous manner are certainly not the persons he claims them to be either. 

I know these perspectives to be the case in that I have been a Big Canoe property owner since 1994, and throughout have been a property owner interested in the affairs of our POA—both board and staff members.  In fact, it recently occurred to me that I have likely attended more POA board meetings and town halls than anyone presently involved with the community; the only likely exception being Debbie Pickett, one of the persons he has wrongfully debased in one of his latest articles.

While I was initially impressed with his document research efforts re: the 2016 Land Purchase, his credibility with me disappeared when he went into the attack mode against the board members.  Yes, it appears some mistakes were made, such as missing the Blackwell Creek parcel. This, I suspect, is because of ineffective legal counsel, of which I and many other property owners have long been concerned.  My hope is that this matter will be remedied.  Hopkins’ other claims are completely off base as I see it.

In the overview, I am at a loss as to why his focus appears to be the destruction of our beautiful community through his unending attacks on persons associated with our POA.  While no person is perfect, as we all know, none of these persons is as bad as he claims them to be.  My unqualified surmise is that he is lacking in self-confidence and self-respect; and motivated to tear down others, particularly those in positions of authority, in order to make himself appear superior.  Yes, an interesting misplaced anomaly of human nature.

Since 1994 our community has grown dramatically—back then there were 232 families on the Permanent Resident List; we are now likely tenfold that number.  There are reasons for this being the case—our community’s scenic beauty and the pleasantness of the persons who have been attracted to live here.  I know of no community that comes close to what we have in this regard.  The Big Canoe community is truly a special place.

I ask Hopkins to please do all of us a favor; turn over a new leaf.  His negativity and aloofness are completely misplaced in my opinion.


Lee Arthurs

153 Swallow Point

POA’s Response to David Hopkins

To the Editor:

 I have never known it to do any good to criticize the POA or employees in private.  They have to be called out.  A consistently irresponsible procession of POAs has transformed what is supposed to be a quiet secure private residential community into a commercialized commercial business. 

The POA has made endless poor decisions, buying land at outrageous prices, permitting the developer to introduce high density housing, giving away the water company to be run at a profit for private interests at the community’s expense, leasing the facilities to outside groups, wasting money in unnecessary projects and over-maintenance, and withholding information from the community by refusing to abide by sunshine laws applicable to local governments.

The last imposed assessment was an arbitrary action by a small handful of people who did not bother to bring it before the community.  

Paul Roberts

Lot # 1180

Invasive plant list snowballs into management vs homeowners

To the Editor:

Away from the “he said she said” for a moment on the plant list. As I try to piece together the process to date, for I have heard multiple stories, this all began when a few folks somehow got charged with the task of digging into the issues surrounding invasive plants within our community.

It now has snowballed into a battle between management and homeowners that should never have happened in the first place. For me, it feels sneaky and has the perception of a small group of folks meeting behind closed doors, making decisions in a vacuum, without our input or understanding of the drivers from the start. The product of that now is the emotional mess we find ourselves in today playing out in social media and in the Smoke Signals.

Once the dust settles—and as I suspect, the list will change without a community vote—who will be responsible for enforcement and at what expense both in dollars and hurt feelings! I know I would struggle if my neighbor has a beautiful azalea species next door and I buy the same plant at Home Depot and plant it only to have a representative from architectural control send me a note telling me to remove that plant.

In truth, what has happened so far leaves me feeling bewildered as to the process of discovery and action plan for implementation. Interestingly enough, I happen to have a copy of an early document from the architectural control committee dated October 1977. In there they state the level of input and sources they used to create said document along with a simple paragraph:

“Provides (plant list) for a wide selection of both native and introduced species and varieties. Berry and seed plants for birds and squirrels and other animals are also included.”

While the efforts of many in the past seem to have stood the test of time, I also understand change is required to manage growth. It’s how change is implemented that either creates buy-in and trust in leadership, or conversely, what we now have, feelings of confusion, deception and anger.

Lastly, in my humble opinion, I implore the POA to call a major time out. Let’s all take a breather, broaden the scope of those involved, while giving the community a chance to heal and come together to find a workable solution.

Vincent J. Giordano

688 McElroy Mountain Drive

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