Tellico Village POA opts to sell excess lots

Jeremy Styron-News-Herald

The Tellico Village Property Owners Association board on April 18 adopted a policy designed to entice potential buyers to purchase lots in the Village and get more property into assessment-paying status.

POA General Manager Winston Blazer told the board that an attempt would be made to sell lots to existing property owners who own land adjacent to inventoried lots. If that was unsuccessful, the lots would be open to other buys for $500 or more.

"We're not looking to make large gains in the initial sale, but it's to get them back into the assessment-paying rolls," Blazer said.

The POA currently has 105 lots in its inventory. More than 770 lots are in delinquency regarding monthly assessment fees, which amount to about $1,200 per year for each lot.

John Cherry, POA public relations manager, said that about 10 percent of the association's total lots are in delinquency at any given time.

"Almost all of those 700 lots aren't houses (but) empty lots; almost all of them," Cherry said. Only 27 lots have homes on them, he later said.

He said that under the new policy, lots will no longer be listed with Realtors. New property owners get a clean slate regarding past due assessment fees on property, and the recently adopted policy also comes with a provision that checks any potential malfeasance.

"So, like, if Joe Smith quits paying on a lot, gives it back to us, Joe Smith can't turn around the next week and buy that lot for $500," Cherry said. "If he wants to, we'll be glad to, but he's got to pay all those back assessments."

Since 2008, property values on empty lots in Tellico Village have been on the decline, and the economic crash played a major role, Cherry said.

"When the market turned, lot values here took a big, big hit," he said. "There's some interior lots that are not in the most desirable topography to build a house. You'd have to move some dirt to build a house. We'll sell one of those lots to you for $500 because to us, that lot's worth $1,200 a year in assessment money."

According to county records, four lots in the Village, including two in Toqua Hills, recently sold for $500 apiece.

Cherry said people snatch up lots on the cheap in the Village for various reasons, ranging from speculative ventures to just enjoying the amenities.

Cherry said one man, Lee Huffaker of Walden, bought an empty lot 25 years ago just to play golf.

"Somebody like Lee that bought their lot 25 years ago for next to nothing when they first came to the Village, think of the value that he's got out of that lot because he paid hardly anything for it," Cherry said. "Now, he could probably sell that lot. Because it's a decent lot I'm sure, he could sell that lot and make some of that money back, yet he's also enjoyed the membership over the last quarter of a century."

In other business, the board:

● Heard a report from POA golf director Jim West, who told the board that rounds were up last month for the three courses.

"March was quite a good month as expected," West said. "It was very warm, and the weather was conducive to playing a lot of golf. Also in March, though we aerated the golf courses, which is not conducive to golf, but despite that we were just under 800 rounds up over budget for the month."

He said a subcommittee recently met to solve a problem related to the nine-hole tee times that take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He said the golf courses will have specific time slots for nine-hole play during the peak hours of 8 a.m.-noon on those three days, and if a person signs up for 18 holes, the 18-hole fee must be paid.

"Every time we have a nine-hole time, during that prime time, we effectively lose half the revenue for that time, so it is a complex issue in that we've had a very large number of nine-hole players, a largely growing number of nine-hole players, but we also need to be responsible from a revenue standpoint," West said.

POA board president Bob Coates said he was pleased with the proposed solution to have designated nine-hole playing times in order to capture more revenue during peak playing hours.

"I think it's an ingenious solution to a pretty difficult problem, and I hope it works out for us," Coates said.

● Heard a report from volunteer Fred Toettcher on golf marketing. Toettcher identified four objectives in marketing the courses, including generating more outside play and increasing awareness about the Tellico golfing experience. He outlined numerous strategies for drawing more traffic to the golf courses, including marketing literature, a guest welcome package, wedding packages and a kids play free program.

● Approved the allocation of $19,614 to be used to upgrade Channel 3 equipment that has become outdated. The new web-based broadcast equipment would come from Minnesota-based Tightrope Media Systems.

"This is definitely a major project that needs to be done and certainly a huge communication tool in the Village," board member Ginny Ranck said.

Board member Clair Frazer concurred.

"I just think it is imperative  that we do this," Frazer said. "Communication is difficult enough given optimum conditions, and surely I know Channel 3 is working under tremendous stress with what they have right now, so I just support this 100 percent."