Welcome to Pine Mountain Estates News Update. Here you will be able to get the latest information if you’re not on Facebook and don’t want to wait until the quarterly newsletter. Happy Reading!
A Letter from Pine Mountain POA President – Edie Stitt:
Dear Pine Mountain Members, October 2020
I hope this letter finds you healthy and well.
Pine Mountain’s Board recently voted to transfer the accounting responsibilities to Henderson Properties, Inc of Charlotte NC, effective Nov 1. The accounting responsibilities will include banking, invoicing, collections, bill-paying, reporting, and tax-prep, among other items involved with financial services. Sometime before December’s billing cycle, you should receive more information concerning invoicing and payment from Henderson. Thanks for your patience in this process.
Pine Mountain applied for the renewal of its wastewater treatment plant discharge permit this year. The state had a time period for public comments after the permit information was posted in the newspaper. Some of the neighbors on Wards Gap Road, outside of the Pine Mountain community placed signs in their yards communicating falsehoods to passers-by and also contacted the state. While the state employees tried to explain the science of what goes on with this type of treatment plant to the neighbors, they still insist we are dumping “raw sewage” into the Jacob’s Fork River. Because we exist in an “outstanding watershed,” Pine Mountain’s effluent is held to very high standards. We have had some violations this last year, which resulted in penalties. There are problems we, with the state, and Envirolink (the current operator,) are trying to identify and remedy to prevent violations.
North Carolina is issuing a conditional treatment permit to Pine Mountain. It will require Pine Mountain to develop a plan for compliance, the testing will double and also occur in the river, and there will be more reporting to the state for evaluation and processes. The state inspector was confident that Pine Mountain would achieve what needs to be done, because we are already performing some of the tasks called out in creating a plan. Unfortunately, once again- everything is about the money. Envirolink raised their prices 5% in September. The Board has been seeking alternatives and is hopeful that we can escape the strangulation.
The Board is made up of Members who pay timely. It’s not as if we enjoyed raising assessments on ourselves much less anyone else. The past expected the future to pay for it and the future is here. There is much to maintain. The equipment has not been well-cared for and is old. It’s hard to hire employees when they can’t be supplied with working machinery for the job. Repairs, renovations, and reorganizing has been going on in everything Pine Mountain does as fast as the money permits us to go.
Thanks for your patience,
Edie Stitt -President, Pine Mountain POA, Inc.
Pine Mountain’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (Posted August 21, 2020)
In an effort to stay informed of our current situation on the Pine Mountain Wastewater Treatment Plant, the following letter was received from our Board President, Edie Stitt:
We’ve had two inspections in the last month by Linda Wiggs. She has been Pine Mountain’s inspector for many years.
The next inspection will be with a camera to locate leaks in the lines. (We know there are leaks, we don’t know where.)
From these inspection results- we need to net the duckweed out of the pond, bag it, and remove it from the property. It will grow back, so it’s as much fun as the beavers (of which we might have one or two again.)
No evidence of “raw sewage” is coming from the pond effluent. The violations and fines PM received don’t indicate raw sewage, either. They indicate problems that need resolved. …Too much ‘clean water’ inundating the system creating problems.
The Board approved the installation of an influent meter on the treatment plant. The current meter is not accurate and thus not approved by the state.
I sent the product information to the state to ensure it meets the mandate. This is about $5500.
Linda (and other state employees) are frustrated with the situation of complaints drawn from an ignorant population. With hundreds of package plants across the state, they don’t want to see Pine Mountain become the precedent in how the public comment process goes down.
The state players have asked for more information/evidence from the two people downstream who have signed the petition. From what I understand, nothing in the category of ‘evidence’ had been provided. The conversations between state employees and the complainers concerning how these systems work are also fruitless.
Linda related to us that she doesn’t want to see a public hearing as a result of the public comment period, but she is not a decision maker in the process. She said public hearings are also unproductive, especially when people are rooted into beliefs of their own design and have other motives at work.
There are significant odds that the 2 complainers’ problems are self-generated. Just because septic systems aren’t reported like PM’s Treatment Plant doesn’t mean they don’t put out a more significant amount of pollution.
The public comment period has ended. That the signs remain are a likely testament to ulterior motives than actual ‘save the river’ commentary.
Linda related that she has suggested the state set a compliance schedule for PM, (which allows us time to get the ducks in a row,) pause the permit until at which time compliance is achieved, and then release it.
I’m thinking about contacting the state legislature in a mass distribution of email to let them know how flawed this public/comment/hearing process is.
Pine Mountain sits in what is called an “Outstanding Water Shed.” Unless laws and regulations change, there will never be another sewer plant permit granted within the watershed. Linda Wiggs said that it should be the beacon for any future development, because our permit which currently allows for 20,000 gallons a day can be expanded to 64,000+ gallons a day. We could provide for ‘real’ lodging, restaurants, and some light commercial development- and/or get more townhouse clusters to add to the sustainability of the whole.
Whatever- she said- “You don’t want to lose it.”
Bob Bennink is trying to get the public staff to allow us to turn off people for non-payment. He said that whether we are a public utility or private; we’d have that right anyway. …and those commercial facilities should want us to stay private, because once we go public- they will be forced to pay, not just the expenses into the system, but a profit on top. They will pay more. But they aren’t paying and that’s what is hurting us …just like everyone who is not paying. That’s the base of all the problems.
We’re working on that, too.
Pine Mountain’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (Posted July 20, 2020)
In the past couple of months, news spread within the local area that Pine Mountain is up for renewal of its Wastewater Treatment Plant. For some reason, this has set off a series of complaints, signs being posted around Pine Mountain and a wide variety of other actions/comments from community neighbors.
Edie Stitt, President of the Pine Mountain Board of Directors sent out the following letter to the permitter:
Dear Mr. Bennett,
I am the President of Pine Mountain Property Owners Association, Inc.
The public comment period for the permit renewal of Pine Mountain’s Wastewater Treatment Plant has been stressful for my community, culminating in libelous signs filled with falsehoods posted throughout the greater community, threats, and nails dropped at our front entrance.
1.) Pine Mountain is not pumping raw sewage into any waterway. Posting pictures on change.org with iron bacteria claiming it’s sewage does not make it sewage. Ear infections and swimmer’s itch have nothing to do with Pine Mountain’s effluent. False information has done nothing but stir up hate, frenzy, and has misled the public. Social media has eliminated the facts, in favor of lies.
2.) We have sought help from the state and our operators with the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) problems and received NO EFFECTIVE solutions. Meanwhile, we have complied or are in the process of complying with all requests/demands – even knowing the outcome will not change. Meters and weed-eating will not change the results, in other words.
We have taken great care to do what was advised as fast as we are physically and financially able to do it.
-No inspection report from the state has ever found its way to my desk.
3.) Last August-September the commercial facilities within Pine Mountain’s border, (which have not been fully operational since 1998,) opened and hosted hundreds of people in a one-hundred room hotel and a separate restaurant. This was when many problems began, of late. In addition, while these facilities are being invoiced, they are not paying Pine Mountain’s POA for their capacity- as charged. They invite RVs and Campers to dump their wastes into our sewer system.
4.) Environlink- our operator- had N.C. Rural water help with a smoke test to find potential leaks in the system. None were found. Envirolink has been trying to arrange for another smoke test in the commercial facility area to determine whether or not they are dumping stormwater into the WWTP.
5.) “Slick Rock” at Jacob’s Fork River on Ward’s Gap Road is an attractive nuisance not far from the WWTP. There are dirty diapers always left on site in the river, people wash their cars and trucks in that river, and leave trash. The Catawba River Keepers are never onsite cleaning it up. Residents of Pine Mountain do.
6.) There are three structures/homes/businesses leeching their sewage directly into White Oak Creek on Wards Gap Rd near Pine Mountain’s entrance. We have no authority to change this condition, yet it could directly affect the water quality – before it reaches Pine Mountain’s effluent, just a short distance away.
7.) The ‘neighbors’ stirring up the hate and public disgust- have removed acres of a riparian barrier to Jacob’s Fork River, farm up to its banks, and have a road that runs through it—- ALL of which directly affect water quality.
8.) Pine Mountain’s Board of Directors has been committed and ACTIVELY seeking a resolution to our problems. The vicious aggressive and egregious attacks against our community have been underserved. When trying to engage the agitators into a productive conversation, they refuse, delete our factual representation on social media, and escalate the ugliness.
Municipalities dump sewage into the rivers during rain events, Duke dirties rivers with coal ash run-off, the vindictive combative neighbors’ filth the river of their own accord; all the meanwhile the state hammers punitively at this small community-owned system. No help.
Pine Mountain POA has paid $4200/month to a private operator over the last year for the operations and testing of the system; we have made thousands of dollars in repairs and maintenance; and yet we are still having difficulties. This is an expense to be shared among the users and the largest entity is not paying. This subsidy is harming the affordability of living at Pine Mountain- where the WWTP has 35 customers.
In light of the situations that confront us; the neighbors that don’t know what they are talking about, the lack of problem resolutions from the state of NC and our operator; and the punitive strangling from the state, The Board of Directors -all volunteers- have concluded that the property owners association should not be in the sewage business.
Pine Mountain Property Owners Association, Inc.
Pine Mountain Video – “Why we Love Living Here!”
In this video, several of our residents have provided pictures of ‘Why they Love Pine Mountain” and these are presented to you for your enjoyment.
If you become interested in purchasing a vacant lot from the Pine Mountain POA, Inc. – please contact our Real Estate Committee by email:
2019-2020 Board of Directors
A big congratulations goes out to our new appointed Board of Directors:
- President: Edie Stitt
- Vice President: Gary Cooke
- Treasurer: John Horton
- Secretary: Valerie Kratzer
- Hal Abernathy
- David Turner
- Kevin Womack
We wish them all the best in the coming year!!!
2018-2019 Board and POA Accomplishments
As we end the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year, it’s always good to look back at all the accomplishments the Board, the POA and all our Wonderful Volunteers have accomplished. These items could not have come this far if it wasn’t for you. See Accomplishments.
Property Management – Approved by the BoD
On 28 Feb 2019, in a working board meeting, the Board of Directors approved hiring a property management company called Cedar Management Group. For the next few months, expect a major transition. See Property Management for details. (Article updated April 15, 2019)
Selling Pine Mountain’s Water System
Due to a course of events that occurred around 2015 – Pine Mountain POA, Inc. was placed into a position to become either a Public Utility or sell the water/wastewater system to another source. To read the details of this up and coming vote, please read Sale of Pine Mountain Water. (Article updated April 15, 2019)
2019 Expectations & Results
Each year – the new board should create a list of goals and expectation they set out to meet for the new fiscal year. This article provides you with where we stand as of February 2019 facing a new election and voting process. See 2019 Expectations.
Pine Mountain and South Mountains State Park intertwine with trails, rivers, trees, great views and more. If you’re one to walk, bike or hike nature trails – Pine Mountain and South Mountains State Park are the remnants of the much larger Appalachian Mountains, separated by the Catawba River valley. The range covers approximately 100,000 acres in four North Carolina counties. To get a glimpse of the trails available within South Mountains State Park, click Trails. To acquire what’s happening within South Mountains State Park, visit their Facebook page for details.
Having Problems Signing-In on Protected Pages?
While there’s a lot of general information available about Pine Mountain, there’s a small amount of information that really isn’t interesting for anyone other than a Pine Mountain Member. Those pages are “protected” with a password. If you’re a Pine Mountain Member/Property Owner – and you do not have the password, please contact the POA Office during normal business hours.
Members Only Page
Members Only are just that. Pine Mountain Member’s Information page contains membership information not available to the public. Info such as Telephone Directory, Listing of Contractors, Monthly Meeting Minutes, Monthly Financial Reports and governing documents. What’s coming is meeting recordings… so stay tuned. 😉
The Firewise Community Program is designed to educate and give guidance to wooded residential areas to prevent loss of homes and property to wildfires. Each home in Pine Mountain is expected to complete a Firewise Home Assessment for the purpose of reducing the probability of a wildfire loss. For details, see Firewise.
Pine Mountain Disaster Planning
When facing an emergency or disaster that may put your home/property in danger, the last thing you need to do is panic about what to do. Please visit Pine Mountain Disaster Planning for facts, action plans, safety kits, emergency systems, etc. Stay informed, Be Safe!
Pine Mountain Information Disbursement:
Pine Mountain has been growing leaps and bounds with disbursing information to its members. To ensure you are receiving information properly, the following sites have been set up for your convenience:
- Pine Mountain’s Official website: PineMountainNC.com is open to the public for all general information about Pine Mountain and its Golf Course.
- Pine Mountain’s Facebook Group: Pine Mountain Estates, NC is where neighbors can openly communicate with their neighbors on animal sightings, social gatherings, announcements, various issues of concern, etc.
- Pine Mountain’s News website: PineMountainNews.com is where detailed information about what’s happening within the community that every member needs to know.
Open communication and current news are vital to any community. If you have news that needs to be announced, please do not hesitate to contact Wanda Merical at WMerical@msn.com.