BY MAGGIE BEAMGUARD
Many changes and emerging needs of the Seven Lakes communities have prompted the re-formation of the Greater Seven Lakes Council.
First established around 2009, the council’s purpose, according to its bylaws was “to identify common concerns treating matters not wholly contained within the geographical boundaries of the individual Landowners’ and Property Owners’ Associations and the Seven Lakes Business District,” and “to represent the entire Greater Seven Lakes Community before county and other decision making entities.”
The council includes representatives from the Seven Lakes Landowners’ Association, the West Side Landowners’ Association, the McClendon Hills Property Owners’ Association and the Seven Lakes Business Guild. The newly reorganized council has also amended the bylaws to include the Moore County District 2 Commissioner, who is currently board chairman Nick Picerno.
The president of each member association serves as a council director and each community board also appoints an “alternate” director.
According to Heather Guild, SLLA president and president of the council, the original council appears to have ceased functioning on a regular basis sometime in 2013 and closed an account at First Bank on Dec. 1, 2015.
Guild says leaders of the three community homeowners association were prompted to resurrect the defunct council when questions about incorporation of Seven Lakes emerged last summer.
“Our residents had strong opinions one way or the other, and so we started talking about how we were managing this,” she said. “The more we can come together and tackle common challenges, common interests, I think that would serve all our residents very well.”
Guild wants to be clear about what the Greater Seven Lakes Council is not.
“This is not a secret, clandestine group that is looking to incorporate. That is not on our list of priorities. We are trying to deal with the immediate challenges before us.”
The first meeting was in January 2023 with Guild representing the SLLA, Josh Davis representing the SLWLA as the then-president and Maggie Boor representing McClendon Hills as the then-president. Representing the Business Guild is Edward Hill.
The group voted to add the county commissioner representing the district as a voting member of the council.
“We felt that having that person be a part of the council would give us a better chance at having that link with Carthage,” said Guild. Nick Picerno currently holds that position.
“Given all that’s been going on with 211 and with freight terminals and all the rest, it has been very helpful to have him be a part of the council because we can easily go directly to him.”
Picerno views the Greater Seven Lakes Council as a constructive partner in his work as commissioner.
“It’s really a good two-way street. The benefit going out is I live out here, so I sort of know what’s going on in the big three communities,” Picerno said. Knowing what neighbors are doing is of interest when communities deal with the same sorts of infrastructure issues.
“And then the other way, going back to the commissioner side, is that this area is probably the third or fourth largest municipality in the county if it was incorporated,” said Picerno. “So for me to know what they are thinking, I can help take that information back and use it as part of the overall county strategies as we are moving forward. Especially with the land use plan and the UDO (Unified Development Ordinance) I think it’s very important to get the input. It helps us commissioners.”
Since the initial meeting, the leadership of McClendon Hills and Seven Lakes West has changed. Guild said new SLW President Jack Roberts and new McClendon Hills President Rheo Brouillard have expressed a desire to continue their communities’ involvement.
Boor will serve as McClendon’s Alternate. Conrad Meyer is the SLLA alternate, and Gayle Mace is the Business Guild alternate. According to Guild, an alternate for SLW has not yet been named.
The fledgling group is still identifying its key issues where the priorities of the three communities and the business district converge.
Guild says there have been good discussions about what each community is dealing with and opportunities to learn from each other. “McClendon Hills has been more directly impacted now by things that haven’t yet affected us,” she said.
“They were the first ones to deal with the burn piles. They were the first ones to deal with the erosion from all of that clearing. So we’ve been learning from their experience and then trying to prepare ourselves. And we’re trying to help lift up each other’s communities even if we don’t share each other’s primary concerns.”
Hill, representing the Seven Lakes Business Guild, acknowledges the parties on the council may have different priorities for their own entities, but believes the sharing of information and concerns among the groups is beneficial.
“It’s good to have the leaders of those communities get together and just talk about how we can help each other.”
The council has identified three priorities to monitor: the upcoming widening of N.C. 211 and its impacts; county hearings over the possibility of a freight terminal renewing operations in West End; and the Moore County Land Use Plan and Unified Development Ordinance.
“We want to make sure we are aware of amendments that may affect us, like reclassification of current zoning or changes to permitting requirements,” said Guild.
In addition to those priorities, the council is a forum to explore potential cross-community projects. One way the communities and business guild could leverage influence is to potentially negotiate with contractors to complete large projects such as road repairs.
“It’s hard to get contractors to come in when you don’t have a million dollar project, but maybe there’s some effect to having us bid out together for critical mass and potentially get some cost savings,” said Guild.
“The road is our big situation,” said Hill. “I’m excited because we’ve talked about paving projects and when McClendon Hills or the Northside or Westside is doing a paving project, we could possibly talk to them about somehow going in together to get a cheaper rate.” Hill said they are also looking into ways to get some additional tax dollars for some projects without incorporating.
“We’ve got so many things happening around the community with 211 and zoning changes and potential petitions for freight terminals,” said Guild. “There’s quite a lot going on that we could come together on and possibly speak with one voice, you know, instead of having all the little babies in the nest chirping we could come together with one one loud voice.”
Contact Maggie Beamguard at firstname.lastname@example.org.