The following was submitted by Ardys, a resident of Seven Lakes West.
I have lived in Seven Lakes West happily for 26 years and have not once had a problem with the authorities. In fact, at 81 years old, I can proudly say that I have always paid my bills and landowners fees on time. I have had my septic system inspected and pumped regularly, and I have followed the law without complaint.
This changed last month when I received a letter from the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association (SLWLA) along with a $50 fine for going 43 mph in a 35 mph zone at the intersection of Longleaf and Fogleman.
The letter included a photograph of my car passing an illegally parked car on Longleaf. (Did the owners of this car also receive a fine?) The road ahead curves sharply right. Since I saw no oncoming vehicles, I accelerated slightly to pass this car.
SLWLA’s letter stated that my failure to pay the fine could result in deactivation of my gate bar code for entry, and to contest the fine, I would have to fill out a form and submit it to the Judicial Panel to receive a hearing. I found the tone of the letter threatening and uncivil, particularly for a long-term, law-abiding resident.
Shortly thereafter, I received a second letter notifying me of a hearing set for January 24th with a warning that if I fail to win my contest, the fine will be doubled or a lien will be taken on my house.
I realize that the rules here were meant to protect citizens and preserve property values, but I feel that the SLWLA rules are failing on both counts. Perhaps a warning letter for someone going 43 mph in a 35 mph zone would be a better way to treat residents?
The SLWLA also seems to have failed to help residents uphold property values. When my husband and I retired here in 1992, we bought two lots on James Drive and a wonderfully constructed house. We paid for the paving of our stretch of road and the construction of a permitted fence, thinking we had made a good investment.
Although my husband passed away in 2001, I have remained here because I love my home and the residents of my community. However, my property values have barely moved, and I no longer like what is happening in the Seven Lakes Landowner’s offices.
Many residents here want to enjoy their sunset years without unnecessary grievances – let’s respect them.
It’s not about $50 – it’s about principles.