HOA life | Being labeled a complainer could be something to celebrate

sjones@thesunnews.comJuly 5, 2014 

Clete Linke doesn’t mind at all that some of those in charge at Waterford Plantation label him a complainer.

“I’m a complainer when I’m not treated fairly,” he said.

A resident of the subdivision for about four years, Linke not only takes on issues for himself, but for other residents as well. His most recent concern, he said, was that a fellow homeowner wasn’t being allowed to build a porch on his house while there are many others in the development with the same porch.

But he’s taken on a variety of issues in the past, ranging from the lack of circulating fountains in some of the development’s lakes to sidewalks that aren’t built across common property, to the legal authority of some who have been in charge.

“The problem with Clete,” said Waterford builder Harry Dill, “is he got all the right answers but it wasn’t what he wanted to hear so he kept on and on and on.”

Linke and Dill, who is the current president of the S.C. Home Builders Association, have clashed on several occasions, with at times angry emails flowing back and forth.

The relationship is obviously the source of many of Linke’s complaints, and Dill admits he’s contributed to the rancor when he shouldn’t have.

“Anybody can get you angry enough that you can give a smartass answer,” Dill said.

While Press Courtney, president of Waccamaw Management, also feels that Linke looks for things to complain about, Phil Stalvey sees the situation differently.

Stalvey was the third homeowner in Waterford Plantation and has twice served as president of the homeowners association. He said community leaders have to treat everybody with respect and genuinely search for ways to resolve their issues.

“When Clete thinks something’s not right,” he said, “it never ends. He’s a determined soul no matter how much you explain.”

Despite that, Stalvey said, it would be a mistake to underestimate him or any other resident of Waterford Plantation.

“Most of these people are smart people,” he said. “You don’t live in Waterford Lakes is you’re not a smart person.”

While you have to be respectful of all residents, Stalvey said you can’t let the complainers dominate.

Linke isn’t the only resident who has clashed with Dill. Jim Rampallo is another who has had moments.

Rampallo said Dill apponted him to the modification committee, but then took him off after the two had a disagreement.

He, Linke and others at the Carolina Forest subdivision believe that Dill used his position as the development’s declarant to shape board decisions to suit him, at times overruling actions.

Dill denied that he ever took any actions to change something the board did. He said the only time he used his declarant’s authority with the association was to deny current association board president Carole vanSickler a place on the board.

Dill said other board members didn’t want her as a member and asked him to block her election.

“She tended to make passionate decisions and put some people ahead of others,” he said.

Dill found out later that he couldn’t used his declarant’s votes to overturn a board election, and withdrew his action which allowed vanSickler to take her seat.

VanSickler, who Courtney said could also be labeled a complainer, said she and Dill have had run-ins that would result in one or the other slamming down the phone. But a day or so later, she said, they’d talk again and calmly resolve the issue that had divided them.

Courtney said the difference between vanSickler and others who seem always seem to complain is that she would listen to both sides of an issue and be willing to at least compromise with those who saw things different from her.

“He a smart man,” she said of Dill.

VanSickler said board members are trying to get residents to call Waccamaw first with their complaints, concerns and questions.

Courtney said having residents who seem to be constantly complaining is not unusual and happens in all of the properties the company manages.

“People develop more passion about their homes and their immediate community than they do anything else,” he said.

And despite their differences, even Linke and Rampallo praise Dill.

“He builds a good home,” Rampallo said and Linke agreed. “He builds a good subdivision.”

Linke recently got a distinction that few other issue-raisers can claim.

He aggressively objected when a new builder that was putting up homes in Waterford’s final phase advertised that some were to be 1,300 heated square feet.

Linke pointed out that the development’s master declaration say that no home is to be fewer than 1,600 heated square feet. He continued to press his position even though others told him that the declaration says 1,600 square feet total, which means that garage space can be counted toward the total.

Wrong, Linke said, and said it enough times that the new builder changed advertising and will put up no homes with less than 1,600 heated square feet.

Dill recently gave up his position as declarant at Waterford Plantation, returning it to developer Glen Hall, who had asked Dill to take on the job in the first place.

The recession wasn’t good to Dill, or to most Horry County builders, and he needed to reduce stress in his life to get his blood pressure under control, he said.

He kept the position as head of architectural review.

When Dill made the move, he recommended to Hall that residents be allowed to fill the majority of seats on the board. Normally, a declarant will appoint the majority of an association board as long as he or she remains the developer.

As with most developments, Stalvey said it’s only a small minority of Waterford residents who are active. Ninety percent are either supportive or don’t say anything, he said.

Of those who are active, Stalvey said 5 percent are on each side.

Stalvey, who sold one house in Waterford Plantation to move into another with a swimming pool, has now moved to family land along U.S. 15. Dill, too, used to live in the development, but has moved.

Stalvey said he’s looking forward to planting fruit trees and doing other things that weren’t allowed in Waterford.

“If I have a boat, I want to be able to park it in my driveway,” Dill explained his move. “If I have a trailer, I want to be able to park it in my driveway.”

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765 or on Twitter @TSN_sjones.

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