Summary: January 28, 2011 Board Meeting

1.  New Fort Sumter House Web Site.

At the 2010 Annual Meeting, several homeowners requested that we have a web site to post Board meeting summaries, rules and regulations, examples of lease agreements, and other information relevant to the Fort Sumter House Condominium Association. A new web site is now available for Association members to view meeting summaries. The web site is a blog and allows you to post response comments to the documents posted there. Please note that this web site is “work in progress” and we welcome your suggestions on how to improve and add to it. To view the web site in your browser, please go to:

FORTSUMTERHOUSE.ORG.

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

2.  Rental of Parking Spaces.

To implement rental of the FSH parking spaces in either Murray or South Battery parking lots requires that we investigate liability with our insurance company – this could result in an increase in premiums. In addition, we would need to check with Zoning for any compliance issues, and also obtain a business license, and then pay taxes on any income from the rentals. The Board has received comments from owners – both positive and negative. The concerns are: how do we manage and control the use of these rented spaces, can renters let other cars use the spaces, does this set a precedent? Although we believe $200 is a reasonable monthly rental amount to charge for a parking space, the Board questions whether it is worth the effort. We all believe that no parking spaces should be rented in the Murray Blvd. parking lot. However, we would like to consider renting spaces in the South Battery parking lot. We decided to table this issue until we can do a cost analysis and get more feedback from owners. If you have an opinion about this, please respond on the blog or write/email the Board with your feedback.

3.  Implementation of Transfer Fee (Master Deed #18 and #19).

Sections 18 and 19 in the Master Deed provide for a transfer fee for the original FSH Development Company with all funds to be distributed to the Association and Regular Management Agent. The Board again reviewed these sections and voted unanimously to re-implement this provision. We believe that past Boards inadvertently failed to continue implementation of this provision and that they should have done so. By implementing this provision, there will be no need to attempt passage of a transfer fee amendment to the Master Deed at the next annual meeting. Therefore, as of JANUARY 2011, the following provision in Sections 18 and 19 of the Master Deed will be in effect for any apartment sold henceforth:

AT OR BEFORE THE TIME TITLE IS CONVEYED TO A CO-OWNER, EACH CO-OWNER SHALL CONTRIBUTE TO THE WORKING CAPITAL RESERVE (RESERVE ACCOUNT)… THE SUM OF TWICE THE MONTHLY ASSESSMENT (REGIME FEE) ATTRIBUTABLE TO HIS APARTMENT.

If you have any comments, please respond on the blog or write/email the Board with your feedback.

4.  Excessive Water Bills.

Joe Yetsko discovered that the HVAC cooling towers had a significant leak caused by a faulty shut-off valve. Cullum has fixed this problem. In addition, a toilet in one of the apartments has a leak and will be repaired shortly. Joe has also asked a pool company to check the pool for possible leaks. We hope the repairs to the HVAC cooling towers and the toilet will reduce the water bill. The Board asks that all owners check the toilet(s) in their apartment to make sure there are no leaks. We will continue to monitor the water bill, and if they are still high, we may have to check all of the toilets in the building.

5.  Conservation Easement for Water Lot.

The Board agrees to table this investigation. No further action for the time being.

6.  Front Door Entry Key System.

Dialing #6 on the phone no longer works to open the King Street door for guests and deliveries. It does work on the Murray Blvd. door. The estimate to fix only the King Street entry device is $2,700. We agreed to proceed with this fix asap. In addition to getting estimates to repair the front door entry device, Joe is also investigating a new key entry system, either magnetic strip card, clicker, or fob. Each of these solutions presents certain problems. We need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each system and take the environment (salt water, humidity, etc.) into account. We will discuss this further in a future meeting.

7.  SCG&E Upgrade – Power Outage to be Scheduled.

Sometime in mid to late February, SCE&G expects to do an upgrade to the 2 transformers located on the FSH loading dock. The work will take about 2 weeks and SCE&G will need to shut down all power to FSH for 6 hours, possibly on 2 separate days. Specifically, SCE&G will need to dig up the pavement in the loading dock area to confirm that the conduit works properly under the South Battery parking lot. This improvement will replace the 2 transformers on the loading dock with one transformer and replace the 2 meters with one meter. There is no change to the apartment meters and the way they are read. We will give ample notification to owners and residents in the building that indicates “Power Outage Warning” along with the exact date(s) of the outage. We have the option to add an electric box to the transformer that has switching gear for a generator (in cases of emergency). Joe is getting an estimate for this work. As soon as we know the date for the power outage(s), we will notify FSH owners and residents.

8.  Amendment to Master Deed – Usage of Commercial Space on 1st Floor.

The Board has agreed to solicit feedback from owners before we attempt to get 2/3rds majority vote to pass an amendment limiting the usage of commercial space on the 1st floor. Details of the proposed amendment are below.

The existing language in Section 6. NUISANCE of Exhibit G of the Master Deed (specific to all apartments on the 1st floor) follows:

6. NUISANCE: No noxious or offensive activity shall be carried on in any Apartment or in the common elements, nor shall anything be done therein, either willfully or negligently, which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance to the other owners or occupants of Apartments, whether commercial or residential.

The proposed amendment is to ADD the following paragraph to the end of Section 6. NUISANCE:

The ability to use a unit for commercial purposes shall be limited to those which encourage only low amounts of foot traffic. To allow otherwise would infringe upon the peace and quiet enjoyment of the residents of the Fort Sumter House. No unit, designated by the Master Deed of the Fort Sumter House as a “commercial unit,” shall be allowed to operate to provide bathroom facilities and/or other comforts to non-residents of the Fort Sumter House. For the purposes of this section, “comforts” shall be defined as including, but not limited to, the purchase, storage, preparation and sale of food, beverage, frozen desserts, candies or any other items for consumption, as well as souvenirs, novelties and sundries.

It is important that we hear from you! Please respond on the blog or write/email the Board, and indicate the following:

  • Do you have any edits to the text of the proposed amendment?
  • Are you in favor of soliciting a vote on this proposed change?
  • Are you in favor of changing the Master Deed to add the proposed amendment?

9.  Amendment to Master Deed – Rental of Apartments.

The Board agreed to propose an amendment to the Master Deed Paragraph #17 (i) SALE OR LEASE to clarify the minimum length of time for a rental: “Leases or subleases of Apartments for a period of less than six (6) months are prohibited.” This will assist in FSH complying with the City of Charleston Zoning Ordinance, which prohibits short-term leasing. A majority of 2/3rds of membership voting “yes” is required to pass this amendment. If you have comments on this, please write/email the Board with your feedback.

10.  Building & Grounds Committee.

The B&G has made a recommendation that the lattice work in front of the mail boxes on the first floor be replaced with solid panels where we can hang 2 pictures that were removed from the lobby during the recent redecoration. The Board has approved and asked Joe Yetsko to proceed with the changes to the back lobby.

11.  Repairs to 31 Balconies and Railings.

We are still waiting for the estimates from 3 contractors to repair the 31 balconies and the railings. Joe has contacted 3 companies and requested bids based on the initial drawings by Russell Rosen. The companies are: Tiger Construction (Rich Darnell), NBM (Tom Nelson), and Blanchard. We would like to choose one of these companies to act as general contractor to manage the job. After we get these estimates, then Joe will talk to Russell Rosen about doing the final engineering drawings (which includes getting BAR approval). If Rosen can do these drawings for under $500, then Rosen has authority to proceed. If it will be more than that, then we will discuss at the next Board meeting, where we hope to have the bid estimates from the 3 companies.

12.  Update on Roof and Solar Panels.

Dick reports that he will be meeting with Randy Bates Jr and his business partner to discuss solar panels on the roof. Joe will also attend that meeting. The goal is to cut our electric costs in half. Joe will also look into the cost of installing dehumidifiers for the 7th floor.

13.  Guidelines for Use of Terraces and Balconies.

The Board has drafted a proposal for rules and regulations for these limited common elements. After discussion, we agreed to focus on safety and maintenance rather than try to impose subjective rules for appearance. It was further agreed that we would notify those owners with terraces on the 2nd and 3rd floors that we have noticed deterioration of the terrace floor possibly due to pots without water retention containers and dead plants. The Board will ask these owners to clean their terrace area in preparation for maintenance work in the spring. If owners are unable to clean the area, the FSH will hire someone to do this work and include the cost on the owner’s next regime billing.

14.  Feedback and Contacting Board Members.

The Board welcomes your feedback. Please respond on the web site, write us, or send an email to the addresses below.

  • George Boniface (lisealice@comcast.net)
  • Dick Donohoe (donohostel@zero.net)
  • Jay Jacobs (jay708@comcast.net)
  • Beth Dixon (beth.dixon@gmail.com)
  • Joy Jarvis (jjarvis804@gmail.com)

Attendees: George Boniface, Beth Dixon, Joy Jarvis, Dick Donohoe, Jay Jacobs, Joe Yetsko

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9 Responses to Summary: January 28, 2011 Board Meeting

  1. SARAH DONNEM says:

    1] AGAINST THE NUISANCE AMENDMENT.

    2] 6 MONTHS SEEMS TOO LONG FOR THE RENTAL AMENDMENT. SOME MIGHT WANT TO RENT FOR THE SUMMER—OR SOME OTHER SPECIFIED TIME FOR SOMEONE TO WANT TO BE IN CHARLESTON. AT THIS TIME OF BEING HARD TO SELL AN APARTMENT, WE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT TOO HARD FOR OUR OWNERS TO RENT TO HELP PAY COSTS.

    3] I WAS SORRY TO SEE THE LATTICE COVERED. MIGHT HAVE BEEN NICER TO PUT THE BOARD [PLYWOOD?] ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LATTICE. THE LATTICE COULD HAVE BEEN PAINTED FIRST. THEN PICTURES PUT UP. HOPE THEY ARE WORTH THIS SOLID BOARD. PS: IT IS DARK AS YOU WALK FURTHER IN TO GET MAIL.

    4] RENTING AN EMPTY PARKING SPACE TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT DOES NOT IN MY MIND TAKE AWAY MY SPACE OR RIGHTS IN THIS BUILDING. IT IS A NICE THING TO DO FOR OUR NEIGHBORS—-AND COULD BE AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF INCOME FOR US !

  2. Joy Jarvis says:

    HI, SARAH,
    I saw where the light was out on the far end of the mail room earlier today. I noticed the switch was off so I turned it back on. Should be enough light in there now.
    I think when Joe and Lanwood finish trimming the plywood out and the B&G get some pictures up it will look a lot nicer. Joy

  3. sarah donnem says:

    Joy, Thanks for turning on the light. That was really brilliant. Why couldn’t I have thought of that????

    If we allow renting apartments, what is so different about allowing the renting of a parking space?

    I am sure the hall will “look a lot nicer” when the pictures get up. Just think it could have looked “a WHOLE lot nicer” with the lattice trim, since we had it anyway. A shame to hide it.

  4. Beth Dixon says:

    2/16/11: COMMENT FROM HELEN JACOBS
    I am learning to get the this website (you have to scroll to the second page), and I think it is just great to have it available. Thank you for all your efforts.
    Re: Transfer Fee: I noted that a vote by the regime is not necessary for implementation of this fee, and that the start date to collect this fee is January 2011.
    I am confused about the term “co-owner. Can you please define?
    Re: Maintenance of the terraces and balconies: What is expected of the owner must also be expected of the renter. Is Mr. Yetsko or regime owner responsible to convey the responsibility to maintain the balconies and terraces? Since we have so many renters I believe this is an important point.
    Re: Amendment of Master Deed concerning first floor commercial spaces.
    I am all for limiting use to non-food establishments and I think the wording is very good. Hope we can get 2/3rd vote.
    I am against renting out any parking spaces.
    I agree to a 6 months minimum to rent out an apartment.
    Thank you for your attention to the above.

    2/16/11: RESPONSE FROM BETH DIXON
    Hi Helen,
This is a learning curve for all of us! The comment boxes are at the bottom of each posting, so yes you need to scroll to the bottom to enter feedback.
    Regarding your question about co-owners and the transfer fee…. my understanding is that co-owner is the same as an owner of an FSH apartment and is thus a co-owner in the FSH Association. When a co-owner (or owner) sells his apartment, then the payment of the transfer fee, as defined in Master Deed, can be negotiated between the buyer and the seller.
    Regarding maintenance of the terraces/balconies…. Yes, renters need to comply with these guidelines. Mr. Yetsko provides renters with all the FSH rules and regulations, and I believe he will convey these guidelines along with others.
    Thanks for the feedback. –Beth

  5. Beth Dixon says:

    2/21/11: COMMENT FROM SARAH DONNEM
    Gee–the Transfer Tax has been voted DOWN, how many times??

  6. Beth Dixon says:

    Hi Sarah,
    We need to have 2/3rds of all HOs to vote ‘yes’ to pass any amendment to the Master Deed. The Transfer Tax amendment did not pass because not enough owners bothered to vote – in other words, we did not get 2/3rds of the owners to even vote on this!! Of those owners who did vote, the majority were in favor of the transfer fee. –Beth

  7. IRENE COLEY says:

    I do not agree with amending the FSH Master Deed prohibiting the lease of units for a period of less than 6 months. The Board’s suggestion we need to come into compliance with the City of Charleston zoning ordinance is incorrect. According to the City zoning office residential use/accommodation includes condo rental of 30 consecutive days or more. Commercial use is defined as unit rental less than 30 days. This same zoning regulation applies to all Luxury Condo’s in the City of Charleston, and we are already in compliance without putting more limitations or restrictions on our property. In this time of economical uncertainty, preserving our property rights is desirable and may be beneficial in the event we decide or need to lease or sell our unit. I believe the addition of another commercial unit (i.e. store) in the FSH would have more of a negative impact on our residental status and neighborhood.

    Irene

    • Beth Dixon says:

      Hi Irene,
      Thanks for your comment. I may have misspoken about “complying with the City of Charleston Zoning Ordinance.” This amendment actually has to do with complying with state and tax law. (I was told that it was related to the zoning laws, but I am not sure.) My understanding is that state and tax laws require a person to have a business license and pay state accommodation & sales taxes if they do any short term rentals. Short term rentals is defined by the state as 90 days or less. To be compliant with this law, I guess we could change the proposed amendment to say “Leases or subleases of Apartments for a period of less than 91 days are prohibited” instead of 6 months. This would be more to the point of complying with the actual law. However, a year or so ago, the Board received complaints that there were short term rentals (weekends, weekly, etc.) happening in the building, and the feedback we got from residents at the 2010 Annual meeting was that FSHA members (in attendance) did not want any short term rentals in the building. I thought the consensus was in favor of a 6 month term. I understand that you do not like the term 6 months, but would you be in favor of the proposed amendment if we changed it to “less than 91 days” instead of 6 months? That would be compliant with the law. Thanks. –Beth

      • Beth Dixon says:

        Hi Irene,
        As I indicated in an earlier email to you, I have confirmed that it is a South Carolina State Statute that governs the Accommodations Tax. You can read the statute by opening the Sales and Use Tax Seminar Manual 2005 (a .PDF file) – click this link http://www.statelibrary.sc.gov/scedocs/R332/000560.pdf, and then click on the Accommodations Tax section in the right panel. I have also posted a brochure from the South Carolina Dept. of Revenue that gives their interpretation of the State Statute governing the Accommodations Tax. The brochure states that any rental for less than 90 days time limit is subject to the Accommodations Tax. My understanding is that you would need to obtain a business license to do this kind of rental. I have posted a link to this Brochure on the Other Info tab (http://fortsumterhouse.org/?page_id=250). Please let me know if you have questions. Thanks. –Beth

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