Category Archives: Fairfield Harbour

Property Owners raise $2.75 million for purchase of 385 acres, including golf courses

By Gayle Albertini

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – In late December, Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association purchased 385 acres, collectively known as the Amenities Property, for $2.75 Million from MidSouth Golf LLC – a third party owner since 2000.

The acreage consists of Birdland Marina, Shoreline Marina, Harbour Pointe Golf Course, and open space once known as Shoreline Golf Course.

In June of 2016 — after lengthy negotiations — MidSouth Golf presented its offer to sell. A community vote, required to purchase the Amenities Property, passed overwhelmingly on August 17th.

A loan for the purchase amount was a requirement but repayment could not legally come from FHPOA dues paid by its members, according to the NC state courts. Community restrictions for repayment of a loan for real property had to come from non-dues income such as proceeds from the Harbour Pointe golf course managed by Billy Casper Golf, the marinas and other POA sources.

The option to borrow money from commercial banks was pursued immediately in order to meet the end-of-year expiration of the property purchase offer. While lending institutions were being pursued, two separate groups were formed within Fairfield Harbour as another way or raising capital.

The first was Fairfield Harbour Partners (FH Partners), which offered Association members an investment alternative similar to the terms being offered by a bank. The second group, “Sponsor an Acre,” accepted contributions (or gifts) from those who wanted to help save the community’s property values by contributing toward the purchase.

In a short period of time, both of these community groups had commitments that collectively exceeded the $2.75 million requirement.

In the middle of December, the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association analyzed all loan options available and concluded that the terms of the FH Partners were more favorable. The property purchase closed before year-end, after nearly a decade of litigation with MidSouth Golf, which had cost the Property Owners Association significantly in legal expenses. The ownership of the Amenities Property will give Fairfield Harbour the ability to improve the property value for the benefit of all Association members. This purchase is expected to have a positive impact on home and lot sales.

The next step for Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association is to determine the wants of the members in order to assess and evaluate suggestions for land use. Community spaces are thought of differently than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Open space needs to be more functional and flexible to grow with the changing times.

Fairfield Harbour is a gated, residential resort and retirement community located north of the Neuse River, approximately 10 miles from New Bern at the confluence of Upper Broad Creek and Northwest Creek. For more information, visit www.FairfieldHarbourNC.com

Decline of golf in America factor in community’s decision

PAGE A-3 Golf course decline

PAGE A-3 Golfers in the U.SFAIRFIELD HARBOUR – Among the first of its kind in eastern North Carolina, this retirement community is expected to convene Wednesday night, Aug. 17, for a vote to decide if it is prudent to acquire two golf courses – one defunct and another ailing – which lie inside the geographic footprint of the sprawling residential site.

Myrtle Beach-based MidSouth Golf owns, and once operated, most of Fairfield Harbor’s ‘amenities’ – a term to describe the pools, tennis courts, common areas, golf courses, and other assorted holdings. The total encompasses some 385 acres and over a mile of bulk-headed waterfront.

As an operator, things did not go well for MidSouth Golf. In July of 2009, the company lost a lawsuit brought by the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association, with a jury awarding damages of $1.45 million.

Fast forward a bunch of years. MidSouth Golf is now in bankruptcy, and is shopping all of its big chunk in Fairfield Harbour to those same folks who sued, and won, back in 2009. The price? About $2.75 million.

In a bankruptcy hearing, Jack Shaw, one of the founders of MidSouth Golf, testified that he was putting in “about a half a million dollars” each year just to keep the Harbour Pointe golf course running.

Many in the community, especially a group known as the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Reform Team, want nothing to do with the possible deal – and they remind others of court decisions in recent years that preclude the Property Owners Association from typical financing options.

“They (the POA) can accept real property only if free of all financial encumbrances,” said one property owner, familiar with the community’s founding documents. Apparently, that would rule out the usual mortgage, deed of trust, etc.

Those in favor are not to be deterred. They point to two separate groups in Fairfield Harbour – each with fundraising efforts underway.

Skeptics fear annual dues will skyrocket. And, some believe next week’s vote is rigged. They say all 2,800 property owners should be polled – a figure that includes many who own property at Fairfield Harbour but who reside elsewhere.

Instead, only property owners who personally show up on Aug. 17 – or who tender a proxy – will determine the outcome.

Do you know this thief?

Scan-406-copy

(Click on photo to zoom in)

Thursday night, Feb. 11, about 10:30 p.m. surveillance cameras at a convenience store on Broad Creek Road, between Bridgeton and Fairfield Harbour, recorded this image of someone stealing County Compass newspapers. We believe the car is a dark-color Toyota Camry, or similar vehicle. Please call (252) 249-6035 with any information you may have. Callers need not identify themselves.

Amenity owner’s bankruptcy heats up

Once a valued amenity, the Shoreline golf course and clubhouse are now neglected due to a bankruptcy by MidSouth Golf.

Once a valued amenity, the Shoreline golf course and clubhouse are now neglected due to a bankruptcy by MidSouth Golf. (Photo Credit: Simon Lock)

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – As MidSouth Golf’s financial future now depends on a judge’s decision in Federal Bankruptcy Court, so does that of the property owners in Fairfield Harbour.

When MidSouth Golf LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December, 2013, it was yet another phase in an ongoing dispute between the company and Fairfield Harbour.

MidSouth bought the Fairfield Harbour recreational amenities, in 2000, it also bought the obligation to maintain the two golf courses, swimming pools, marinas, etc., in good condition.

In 2004, MidSouth sued the timeshare properties in Fairfield Harbour for failing to pay the same annual amenities fees as most of the community’s property owners. MidSouth demanded that the Court force the timeshares to pay both past and future fees.

This and another lawsuit filed by a group of Fairfield Harbour property owners ended in North Carolina Appeals court, where lower court decisions were upheld. MidSouth found itself at the losing end with the Court’s conclusion that nobody living in Fairfield Harbour was required to pay any amenities fees at all.

In 2008, MidSouth closed the Shoreline Golf Course, and later, the Harbour Pointe Course. These, along with the other amenities, quickly fell into serious disrepair.

The health and safety hazards caused by complete neglect led the Fairfield Harbour POA to file suit against MidSouth in 2009, which ended in an order for MidSouth to pay approximately $1.45 million. This judgment was also upheld by an appeals court.

Since that time, MidSouth reopened the Harbour Pointe course under the management of Billy Casper Golf. The company also agreed to keep the Shoreline property mowed to some degree.

In 2013, the POA hired Wilmington attorney, Gary Shipman to pressure MidSouth into paying the $1.45M judgment. Any hope of a negotiated settlement vanished with MidSouth’s bankruptcy.

MidSouth has asked the court, as part of its reorganization plan, to relieve it of all obligations to maintain its property in Fairfield Harbour. The company also wishes to be released from Exhibit E, which prohibits MidSouth from building on its property until 2023.

No doubt Fairfield Harbour property owners would not benefit from deteriorating land and buildings, not to mention the specter of unknown housing blocking their views. However, there are other implications involved in the final outcome.

Efforts by the POA BoD to purchase the amenities were abruptly halted in 2011. In a lawsuit filed by the BOD against four property owners, the final outcome was a ruling that property could not be purchased using annual assessments. However, if property was acquired free and clear, the dues paid by property owners could be used to fund maintenance.

If the MidSouth amenities were somehow acquired by the Board as unencumbered property, already spiraling dues in Fairfield Harbour would rise at an alarming rate. Many elderly property owners who bought in good faith, believing they would be able to afford to live out their days in Fairfield Harbour, would most likely find themselves out in the cold and out of their homes.

The next court date will be December 22, at 9:00 AM at the United States Bankruptcy Court in Greenville. The County Compass will cover this meeting.

Board blessed candidates win in Fairfield Harbour

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – Wednesday night, a crowded firehouse of Annual Meeting attendees found out who will fill the three open seats on the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association Board of Directors for the next three years.

Six candidates ran for the three seats: Three were heavily promoted by the current Board of Directors, while three ran on individual platforms of change and transparency.

The candidates: Ken Caviston, Dan Englehaupt, Sharon Henke, Simon Lock, Jim Scallion and Joe Schulties wooed the property owners for several weeks, but, as the community learned, the three BOD-endorsed candidates carried the day.

Henke will begin her second term. Schulties was elected after having been appointed to complete the term vacated by Wayne Smith earlier this year. Dan Englehaupt will assume the seat vacated by Paul Hill, who is rotating off the BOD, following two consecutive terms.

With Englehaupt as the only new face on the Fairfield Harbour Board of Directors, property owners are unlikely to see any significant changes in the way the community is governed.

Three open seats, six candidates, one question

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – This year, three seats on Fairfield Harbour’s seven-member Board of Directors are being hotly contested.

Sharon Henke is seeking a second term. Joe Schulties is running for the first time, having completed Wayne Smith’s term after his seat was vacated earlier this year. Ken Caviston, Dan Englehaupt, Simon Lock, and Jim Scalion are all new contenders.

Following two consecutive terms, Paul Hill is rotating off the board of directors.

For the fourth consecutive year, The County Compass has offered each candidate the opportunity to answer one question designed to assist Fairfield Harbour property owners in casting an informed vote. Below is the question, and the unedited answers of the four candidates who responded.

Question: What do you see as being the most pressing issue affecting the future of Fairfield Harbour, and, if elected, what steps would you take to address this issue?

cavistonKen Caviston: In my opinion, the most pressing issue is the dis-connect between The Board and the Association’s members. The Board’s stated emphasis on “property values” seems to ignore the fact that without people, Fairfield Harbour would be a ghost town.

I realize that, if elected, I will be one-seventh of a TEAM. My promise is that I will work hard to influence the rest of the team to begin looking beneath the surface of all issues. Maybe the complaints about cost, waste and bus stop harassment, should be investigated more deeply and not dismissed as the work of dissidents. This isn’t “micro-management.”  It is making sure you know what you are paying for. At least the residents would then realize The Board is aware of the activities of its contractor.

Every resident must be treated with respect at all times, whether or not they agree with us. We cannot grow as a community until we stop fighting over the past and begin working together for the future.

englehauptDan Englehaupt: The issue that immediately comes to mind is the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over Fairfield Harbour. That cloud is the bankruptcy filing of MidSouth Golf and the uncertain disposition of MidSouth assets, including the Shoreline Clubhouse and Golf Course, tennis courts, Birdland and Shoreline marinas, the Harbour Pointe Golf Course, and parcels of unimproved MidSouth property within Fairfield Harbour.

We have all pondered possible courses of action available to MidSouth as they seek to pay Harbour residents a court-ordered amount totaling, with accrued interest, nearly $2 million. Harbour residents will recall the award was a consequence of MidSouth collecting annual amenities fees while failing to adequately maintain amenities for the use and benefit of community residents.  I would applaud a MidSouth decision to pay in full the total amount owed our community. The windfall amount could reduce our Property Owners Association (POA) dues for years to come.  A more likely possibility is the ceding of MidSouth property to the POA in lieu of cash payment. The POA would then need to determine, in the best interests of the community, how to dispose of or adapt the deeded assets.

This brings me to the most pressing issue facing the Harbour, mistrust and discord. To overcome pending and future challenges we need to trust one another and pull together. I will work to make Fairfield Harbour one, unified community by giving each POA member a greater voice in the formulation of community policies ​and by actively seeking positive individual member input when programming future community expenditures.

lockSimon Lock: To me, the most critical issue that faces this community is who controls the money and whether it is being spent wisely. At the present time we have a significant segment of the property owners who don’t trust a Board that appears to be fixated on wasting money on unnecessary projects and promotion of the management company that has done little to benefit Fairfield Harbour.

Another example of misuse of funds is the recent foreclosure actions, likely based on legal advice, that will benefit the attorneys more than the community in the foreseeable future.

If elected to the Board, my first goal will be to bring transparency into the Board room so that anyone with an interest can learn exactly what is transpiring in real time rather than only learning, with distortions, what the Board chooses to share.

At the same time, I will be encouraging the formation of an independent finance committee, that will be charged with recommending actions to lower the cost of running the POA without reducing the upkeep and maintenance of the common elements in the community. Probably our most significant unnecessary cost is the use of a management company that is absorbing close to 3 percent or more of our dues before a single salary is paid or a single service is received. Because of the lack of transparency we, in fact, don’t know the true cost but it can only be at a price that is a detriment to the long-term financial health of our community.

scalionJim Scalion: In my opinion the most pressing issue affecting the future of Fairfield Harbour is the escalation of P.O.A. dues, fees and unnecessary expenditures.  I will strive to find ways to eliminate programs not in the best interest of all Fairfield Harbour residents.  If elected, I will request an audit of the POA finances.

A management company , a public relations firm, and an outside security firm are major expenditures and I will strive to find more cost effective ways to satisfy the community’s needs in all of those areas.  I will try to promote a more transparent and open Board of Directors that  listens to all the members of the community, not just certain committees and/or groups.  This is a community and as such, we should have everyone’s best interest at heart.

Every resident on both sides of Broad Creek Rd. should be treated with respect and fairness, with the same rules applying to all residents.  I feel that establishing an open forum (e.g. a POA BOD website) for all residents to express their concerns and/or opinions regarding major issues without fear of intimidation or censure is necessary and vital. I will strive to bring back and maintain the standard of living we have all come to expect in Fairfield Harbour, and I will work with fellow board members and all the residents to accomplish that goal.

Editor’s note:  One of the candidates, Simon Lock, is the husband of County Compass reporter, Penny Zibula. 

Parents claim Harassment at School Bus Stop

Emotions Run High When Child Safety is Involved

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By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – On Wednesday afternoon at 3:15, an unusually large crowd, consisting of five parents, two security guards, two Craven County Deputies, one State Trooper, one Channel 12 News reporter, a County Compass reporter and several onlookers,  was gathered at the school bus stop at Marina and Barkentine Drive in Fairfield Harbour.

An incident at the same location Tuesday afternoon brought a long-festering dispute between the group of parents and the Property Owners Association to a head in Community Association Institute’s Extra Large Mixed Use Community of the Year.

“The guard told us we couldn’t park here any more,” said Tom Porzio, one of the parents living in Fairfield Harbour, “and that the bus wasn’t going to stop here. I asked him to move his truck, so the kids could get off the bus, and he said ‘no’. “Then,” continued Porzio, “he and another guard stood there with their arms crossed, and the bus door opened, and the kids didn’t want to get off the bus.”

“Yesterday, my daughter was the first one off the bus,” recalled Robert Munoz, “ and she was terrified.”

In total, four security guards, including their boss, Sandy Santicrose, were present at the incident, which culminated in the later arrest of Parzio on a charge of disorderly conduct.

“There were no threats, recalled Valerie Tripp, who was present at Tuesday’s confrontation. “He just said that we weren’t going to let them bully us.”

The trouble began three years ago, when Jim and Donna Feiser, who live at Ground Zero, were having their front yard regularly vandalized by children and teens. The Feisers planted bushes to establish a clear demarcation line on their property, but these, too were vandalized.

When the couple finally erected a fence, the vandalism stopped, and the Feisers have had no trouble with children or parents since. “We play tennis, and lead a blissfully peaceful life,” said Jim Feiser, “That’s what retirement is all about?”Feiser was adamant that neither he nor his wife wanted to have any involvement whatsoever in the dispute between the parents and the POA. “That was three years ago,” he stressed. We’ve moved on.“

The situation deteriorated even further, when the POA recently erected a fence along Marina Drive by the pond that blocked the area where the parents parked to wait for the school bus. “We’re here to safely pick up our kids from the bus,” said Tripp, “and the POA is not working with us, and we are getting into situations that are not safe, because they keep pushing the parking; putting signs up; putting fences up.”

“The POA stopped the bus on the first day of school down at the fire station,” recalled Tripp. “Then they came down here and told us that we had to go down there and pick up our children, because that bus wasn’t going to come here.”

“And if we didn’t move,” added Parzio, “they were going to have us arrested.”

By the time State Trooper Jose Magana arrived, the crowd was still there, waiting for the middle school bus to arrive. He wasted no time in letting everyone know exactly the facts.  “I’m here for the kids and the school bus,” he began. “The POA can’t stop the school bus. They can’t tell you you have to pick up your kids at the fire station, if the bus stops here.  The POA has no jurisdiction on a State road, and the school bus can go where it wants to.”

The parents claim that they have no idea why the POA has taken the actions they have taken, but their efforts to sit down with the POA to try and resolve the conflict have been met with a letter stating that there was no interest.

When asked to present the POA’s side of the story, Mystre’ Van Horn, CAI’s Community Manager of the Year flatly declined to comment.

Penny Zibula can be contacted at penny@compassnews360.com

Sheriff candidates woo voters in Fairfield Harbour

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

TCC050114001FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – The four candidates for Craven County Sheriff asked for the confidence and votes of an audience of approximately 40 residents of Fairfield Harbour last week at the community’s Red Sail Park.

The forum was organized by the community’s Neighborhood Watch Program, and designed to give voters the opportunity to comparison shop. After each candidate outlined his qualifications, experience and plans, if elected, attendees then asked their questions of the candidates.

Chip Hughes and Ernest Thomas are Republicans, vying for the GOP nomination. Incumbent Jerry Monette is a Democrat, trying to fend off a challenge from fellow Democrat Eric Smith. The primary election for both parties is set for Tuesday, May 6th.

The County Compass submitted a single question to each of the candidates, and requested their answers via email. Below are Hughes’ and Monette’s responses. As of publication time, neither Smith nor Thomas have responded.

Question: Based on your experience, what do you feel is the most pressing challenge facing law enforcement in Craven County, and how do you propose to meet that challenge, if elected?

Chip Hughes: “Currently, the most pressing challenge facing not only law enforcement in Craven County but law enforcement throughout the state is the rapid increase in prescription drug abuse.

Historically the number one leading cause of accidental death in most places has been a person losing their life in an automobile accident. This is no longer the case in many places. The number one leading cause of accidental death is due to overdosing on prescription medications.

Having well-trained, dedicated resources to combat the growing abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs will be a key factor in identifying and apprehending those participating in  the illegal distribution of controlled substances, including oxycodone, oxycontin, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, and hydrocodone. Prescription drug diversion investigators will work to identify, investigate and prosecute the illegal sources of prescription pills.”

Jerry Monette: “There are many challenges facing law enforcement in Craven County. If I had to single out an issue I would tie it all back to substance addictions. Nearly all of our property crimes, robberies, and violent crimes have some connection to drug addictions. We work hard to clear the types of cases and many times the only relief is long-term incarceration for chronic offenders. We recently made a drug arrest on a narcotics trafficker. The search of his residence yielded three trailers full of stolen merchandise. Addicts have habits that can cost upwards of $ 1000.00 per day. The only way they can feed that habit is to rob or steal. The best way to meet this challenge is to make timely arrest and incarcerate the offenders. We have been able to do that and will work hard to continue doing just that. Sometimes abstinence is the best treatment for severe addicts.”

Penny Zibula can be contacted at penny@compassnews360.com

Restaurant achieves new level of Yum

The crew at Fairfield Harbour Food and Spirits, from left:  David, Roy, Tina, and Chris of display some of their all-authentic Greek specialties.  Photo credit: Simon Lock

The crew at Fairfield Harbour Food and Spirits, from left: David, Roy, Tina, and Chris of display some of their all-authentic Greek specialties.  (Photo credit: Simon Lock)

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – In August of last year, culinary standards for eastern North Carolina rose considerably with the opening of a new restaurant at Northwest Creek Marina.

Fairfield Harbour Food and Spirits is the new kid on the block. This, however, did not stop the ownership team of Roy Simmonds, Chris Manoudakis and Tina Scire from blowing away the competition at the 11th Annual Taste of Coastal Carolina in early March. Offerings included Greek specialties such as chicken souvlaki, spanakopita and chicken-orzo soup. Their efforts went over so well with attendees that Fairfield Food and Spirits took home the Golden Peppermill trophy for best overall restaurant, a blue ribbon for best new participant and a second-place award for presentation.

The arrival of Fairfield Harbour Food and spirits turned out to be a dream-come-true for the entire area surrounding the marina and for husband-and-wife, Manoudakis and Scire, along with their partner, Simmonds.

For the hungry public, this meant the promise of a moderately priced casual restaurant that offered something for everyone: A scenic view from the interior and outdoor waterfront dining; comfortable chairs and soothing blue walls; a children’s menu; and, an ample choice of comestibles from the comfort of spaghetti and meatballs to the lively Mediterranean flavors of Greek salad and gyros.

Throw in a hefty dose of prompt and friendly service, and you have a winning combination that makes this establishment a local gem, as well as a destination for those who appreciate food that is prepared and served by passionate professionals.

For the restaurant’s owners, the move from the Atlanta area to New Bern meant that this time, they were working for themselves to make a life for their families.

The talented and hard-working individuals became a team several years ago when New York Native, Simmonds opened a restaurant for an Atlanta-based Greek immigrant, who owned numerous diners along the east coast.

Simmonds had been working for his boss for 14 years, opening new restaurants. When the three crossed paths in Alabama, there was an immediate synergy. “We hit it off,” recalled Simmonds, “because we had the same work ethic.”

For his part, Manoudakis grew up in the family restaurant in Florida. “By the time I was eight, I was bussing tables,“ he recalled . “I worked after school and on weekends.”

Fast forward several years, and the trio found themselves in a position to realize a dream of owning their own restaurant. In fact, the opportunity arrived so suddenly that they had a matter of days to decide if they were going to leave everything behind in Atlanta and start a new life and eatery in the New area. “We were playing Russian, Roulette,” said Simmonds.

As if all the tempting choices on eatery’s regular menu isn’t enough to draw new diners and keep the regulars coming back, Scire has now turned her creative talents toward organizing theme nights with special menus. The monthly calendar that appears on the website and Face Book page offers a variety of interactive activities, such as country music parties, complete with barbecue and line dancing. “Tina comes up with the ideas, and I come up with the appropriate food, said Manoudakis.” In addition, live music and deck parties are regular fixtures on weekends.

When asked what the secret is to what makes this restaurant so special, Simmonds replied without hesitation, “It’s the passion behind what we do. It’s the love.” And for those who desire and appreciate these two ingredients in their dining experience, there is no doubt they’ve come to the right place.

Fairfield Harbour Food and Spirits is located almost at the end of Broad Creek Road. Turn right into Fairfield Harbour and drive one-half mile straight to the marina on Marina Drive. Call them at (252) 514-0202.

Alleged conspiracy lawsuit dismissed

By Larry Knapp, President | Board of Directors | Fairfield Harbour| Special to the County Compass

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR — The lawsuit alleging the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association, as well as specific named board members, engaged in an illegal conspiracy to purchase the amenities has been dismissed in Craven County Superior Court.

After three years and extensive written discovery and depositions, the FHPOA and the individual defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that there were no genuine issues of material fact remaining and that the Plaintiffs’ claims, including malicious prosecution, abuse of process, negligent hiring / retention / supervision, and civil conspiracy, should be dismissed.

On Feb. 14, the trial court heard the respective arguments of the FHPOA’s attorney and the Plaintiffs’ attorney. The trial court then allowed both attorneys to submit written briefs in support of their respective arguments. After reviewing and considering the briefs submitted, the trial court granted the Defendants’ Motion, which dismissed all the pending claims with prejudice, and removed the trial from the court calendar. The order was signed by Superior Court Judge John Nobles and later filed on March 14, 2014.

I realize that emotions have run high during this particular case. I also understand that some may want to publicly celebrate the decision or to belittle the lawsuit or those who brought it. However, during the entire course of this litigation the FHPOA and individual defendants have refrained from unproductive exchanges and we will continue to do so now.

We feel that vindication in this case is sufficient. We can use this opportunity to try to bring more harmony to Fairfield Harbour. I ask you to join us in our efforts. Some residents in the community may continue to disagree with the FHPOA and its board, but we hope that future disagreements can be addressed by more civil discourse and less costly litigation.