Laurel Lake Fair Share Q&A
Need information? email FairShare@LaurelLakenj.com
Your Fair Share Dollars at Work!
As part of the ongoing maintenance and upgrades of the Dams, the NJ DEP required
that all trees and woody vegetation be removed from the dams.
The LLPOA was required to
start by removing all trees from the earthen dam and fill all erosion.
That work has been done. There is still a lot of expensive work to be
done, but a great start has been made. Maintaining the dams benefits theentire community by providing recreation and swimming opportunities to
the ENTIRE community (not just members) as well as providing the ONLY
nearby accessible source of water for protecting our homes from fire.
Not to mention the beauty and increased property values that the lakes
provide. While the cost of EVERYTHING continues to rise, the LLPOA has
maintained the Fair Share at just $50 per year again for 2017.
Major Upgrade coming to Lower Dam this
Major upgrade set for Lower Dam Work will soon begin to replace the broken
low-flow gate on the lower dam, part of the state mandated updates and
maintenance projects paid for through the Fair Share Assessment. This work is
being done to meet state requirements to bring the dams up to current standards.
You may have already noticed the removal of all trees and brush from the dams--
also a safety maintenance requirement of the NJ DEP. The replacement of the low
flow lift gate will enable the water level to be controlled, aiding with the
ongoing maintenance of the dam embankments. It will also allow the lake to be
lowered in the event of an emergency.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the Laurel Lake Fair Share?
The Laurel Lake Property Owners Association needs your help. Costs to maintain the lake are rising steeply. Fair Share is a way for the entire Laurel Lake community to ensure that the beauty and the benefits of the lake are preserved.
Do I have to pay?
Yes. The Fair Share is MANDATORY for all property owners in the boundaries of the original tract of Laurel Lake.
Why am I required to pay it?
All residents of the original tract of Laurel Lake, as developed and deeded in the 1920s, have, guaranteed through their property deeds, the right to join the Laurel Lake Property Owners Association, and by such membership fully share in the enjoyment of the Lake. This right, granted through the original deeds creating the lake and the adjacent community, carries along with it the responsibility of providing for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the lake, its property and its two dams.
What gives you the right to do this?
The courts of the State of New Jersey have recognized—and upheld—the need for lake communities to help pay for the ongoing maintenance and expenses of maintaining lakes and dams throughout the state.
Insofar as the state-mandated maintenance and repair far exceeded the LLPOA’s ability to spread the expenses among its limited membership, LLPOA instituted FSA in 2007, incorporating the holding Lake Lookover Property Owners Assoc., Inc. v. Olsen, 348 N.J. Super. 53 (App. Div. 2002), wherein the court found that a lake association that did not have the benefit of mandatory membership could nevertheless assess all individual property owners in the lake community for the cost of the repair of the dam.
The monies collected have been strictly segregated and maintained in separate CD’s and interest bearing accounts and the proceeds strictly used for inspection, maintenance and upgrades to the dams. An accounting of the monies is displayed on the LLPOA website.
Court Upholds Fair SHARE
In 2008 a non-member resident of the LLPOA tract challenged the LLPOA’s authority to collect FSA in Cumberland County Small Claims Court (Coverdale v. LLPOA). Judge Farrell upheld the validity of collecting FSA finding that the intent of the original deed transferring land to the LLPOA was to convey common areas and have the LLPOA benefit its members by conveying all public works and common areas for benefit of all present and subsequent members of the original tract in the 1929 deed. Judge Farrell held that because there is a benefit to all inhabitants of the LLPOA tract, all inhabitants of the tract were required to share the burdens, including contribution to dam upkeep as owners in the tract. Judge Farrell upheld the validity of LLPOA’s collection of annual FSA for dam maintenance.
What can this money be used for?
Fair Share funds may only be used for those costs associated with the common community aspects of the lake, for example: Dam Maintenance and Inspections, Maintenance of other common areas such as beaches open to the public, Insurance and Taxes.
When did this start?
The Fair Share started in 2007.
I pay my taxes, don’t they support the lake?
No. Laurel Lake is maintained by the LLPOA—your neighbors here at the lake. We receive no tax dollars to help meet the responsibilities for maintaining the community assets.
I'm confused... Can you explain how to figure out how many shares I owe?
It is a bit complex, so we have spelled out all the possibilities here How Many Shares Do I Owe?
I have lived here for years. Why is this just coming up now?
For the past 80 plus years, the directors of the Laurel Lake Property Owners Association— a non-profit corporation guided by your neighbors here at the lake— have been able to manage the lake solely on membership dues. However, recent events with dam failures at other lakes has caused the State of New Jersey to require all dams to undergo periodic inspection and maintenance— costs that far outstrip the Association’s ability to pay. Additionally, ever escalating property taxes and insurance costs have put a further strain on the Association’s budget— which up to now has been entirely funded by membership dues.
I’m not a member of the Association. What benefit do I get?
Although Laurel Lake (as well as the upper lake, known as Beach Club Lake) are privately owned, by virtue of your deeded rights, you have the right to join at any time. This is a valuable right, whether you choose to exercise it or not. Additionally, the LLPOA has donated it's property to our fire departments for standpipes into the lake which have been used as a vital source for water that our fire companies use to protect all of our property from fire;-- LLPOA members and Non-members alike. When the dams were breached in the 1950s, area newspapers reported that many homeowners wells went dry. More pragmatically, whether you live one block or 20 blocks from the water, owning property near a lake— especially property that carries the deeded right to membership— gives all our property a premium value—which has been estimated as high as 20-30 percent by local real estate professionals. This is especially true for CURRENT PROPERTY OWNERS-- The price you paid for the property already included the fact that it was "water influenced" Take away the lake, and you lose that valuable asset--and your property value DECLINES. Look at the for sale ads: any property sold in the area always includes the lake as a reason for moving here.
What does the LLPOA do for the rest of the community?
The LLPOA maintains beaches that are open to all members of the community, whether you choose to exercise your right to Join the LLPOA or not. These beaches, accessible via an annual beach tag are open to everyone. Additionally, the LLPOA has for decades hosted holiday parties at Christmas and Halloween open to ALL children in the area.
LLPOA donates to area youth sports teams
LLPOA opens its facilities up at no charge to a wide variety of youth groups including Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and area church and civic groups.
LLPOA has donated its property to to the Fire/Rescue squads for standpipes for drawing water to fight fires and for a boat ramp to allow the squads access to the river in an emergency
Will paying this Fair Share make me a member of the Association?
No, the Fair Share is a recognition of everyone's legal right and responsibility to share in the benefits of the Lake as well as the costs. However, everyone who owns property in the original tract, created in the 1920s and upheld by the NJ Courts in 1958 and again in 1972, has the DEEDED RIGHT to join the Association. This DEEDED RIGHT granted in the master deeds when the community was created and subdivided in the 1920s, is the very basis for the Fair Share. However, we welcome you to help build up your community by joining the LLPOA
Are the dams in bad shape, are they going to fail?
No. The dams are in good shape. The state is requiring periodic inspections and maintenance, as well as some improvements to bring them up to current standards. It has been estimated that the cost to perform this work is $200,000 per dam—and the LLPOA maintains two dams bringing the total needed to $400,000.
How much is it going to cost me?
Since the expenses will be split equally among everyone who benefits from the lakes, the annual costs will be very small. The only items that can be included in the Fair Share are those expenses that impact the entire community, such as dam maintenance and repair, taxes and insurance. The goal is not to raise enough funds to pay for all the costs in one year, but to ensure that, through all of our neighbors contributing their Fair Share, the ongoing needs can be met as they arise.