Lakefront properties can be costly liabilities for HOAs

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Examples of challenges faced by lakefront, Association-Governed communities


Members of Continental Country Club HOA, located in Flagstaff, AZ, have been fighting against nature to keep its ornamental “lake” attractive. Known by locals as Lake Elaine, the manmade body of water has been serving mainly as a storm water basin, leaking water into the porous limestone beneath its synthetic liner.

In the 1990s, a court ordered the HOA to preserve the lake’s water level to maintain its appearance. However, with each passing year, the leaky lake becomes more expensive to maintain. In addition, concerned citizens say Lake Elaine wastes precious water resources.


Troubled future for Flagstaff’s Lake Elaine
EMERY COWAN Sun Staff Reporter Jul 9, 2016

The algae-tinged waters of Lake Elaine lap against concrete outside Bob Barrie’s Continental Country Club home. The concrete at the lake’s edge is cracked in some places, revealing a torn plastic barrier and, beneath that, limestone rock.

Since it was built in the early 1970s, the lake has been defined by a nearly constant cascade of problems related to leakage. The limestone-dominated karst geology beneath the lakebed makes it highly prone to water seepage while the synthetic liner that covers the lake bottom has long exceeded its service life and is doing little good. For every four gallons of water that the Country Club pumps into the lake each day, three are lost to leakage.

Initially, the lake was used as storage for golf course irrigation water. Now, with other lakes used for storage, Elaine is strictly ornamental. But a lawsuit brought by lakeside homeowners in the 1990s resulted in a court-ordered lake level, thus preventing the club from draining it permanently unless the order is reversed.

The situation forced the club’s board of directors to decide whether to embark on costly repairs to keep the lake full or consider alternative options, like creating a smaller lake or even a series of ponds surrounded by revegetated area.

Late last month, the board voted to keep the lake full, but board members suggested that decision might not be the last word.

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Here’s another case in Mystic Point HOA in Ohio. After years of apparently inadequate maintenance resulting in a clogged sewer pipe and flooding of backyards adjacent to a lake, the HOA was forced to remove the clog and reduce lake levels. Now the lake has become an unsightly swamp, with no easy solutions for restoration.

HOA Lake nothing more than a mud pit

Residents who live near muddy lake want its water levels restored (OH)
By George W. Davis
Special to the Beacon Journal

GREEN: Homeowners who live near a private lake want the waterway to be returned to its original state. They say efforts to resolve flooding of a pond and properties off Kreighbaum Road have turned the lake into a “mud flat.”
Several residents on Tuesday night urged city council and the Mystic Pointe Homeowners Association to find a way to restore the lake, which they say has become deplorable since a drain pipe was unplugged of dirt recently causing it to lose 75 to 90 percent of its water.
Ducks and geese are gone, fish have died or are dying along with turtles at what was originally built as a fishing lake. Original plans indicate the lake was designed to hold storm water in severe conditions, with water from a wetlands pond flowing into the lake to ease flooding.
About three years ago, the pond off Kreighbaum Road began flooding the backyards of homes where water hadn’t been seen in years, according to residents along Kreighbaum Road.

After pond residents complained to the city, a pipe was found to be clogged and the HOA was advised to have the clog removed and the lake water reduced.

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Residents of Meridian Condominiums in Lakewood, Ohio, continue to battle against a long-standing problem of erosion along the shores of Lake Erie. City Council has approved a concrete revetment, despite the pleas of concerned owners for improved storm drainage. Condo owners must repay a 20-year loan for the costly project, to be assessed by the City on their property tax bills.

Lakewood City Council OKs Meridian condominium erosion plan

By Bruce Geiselman, special to
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 06, 2016 at 12:28 PM, updated July 06, 2016

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — City Council Tuesday night approved two ordinances to help Meridian condominium owners build a revetment, or shoreline protection system, to reduce erosion on their property.

Council unanimously approved a measure allowing the city to issue notes or bonds to finance the $704,000 project with condominium owners repaying the loan over 20 years through property tax assessments. The second ordinance allows the city to bid and award the project to a private contractor. The high-rise condo is at 12550 Lake Ave.

The approval came after City Council heard arguments in favor of the shoreline revetment project by representatives of the condominium association board, and arguments against the project by one of the condominium owners.

“We all want to save the cliff, but the way this is designed is not going to save the cliff,” condo owner Gabriela Kaplan told council. “It has not been designed properly.”

Kaplan, who said she represents 52 condominium owners, said a consultant she hired concluded additional drainage and monitors above the cliff were preferable to building a stone revetment at the shoreline.

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