Forest Lake Homeowners Association Florence, SC

Forest Lake - Creation Facts

Forest Lake

CREATION AND DEVELOPMENT FACTS

The original property now generally referred to as “Forest Lake” consisted of various plots of land between Cashua Drive and Alligator Road. It is bounded by Twin Church Road at the west end and what is now known as Mallard Pointe at the east end. Included within are two areas that were known as “MIDDLE SWAMP BANCH” and “PIKE BRANCH”. See County Tax Maps 075, 076 and 101, also the original land survey by Ervin Engineering dated July 8, 1958. Neither of these were considered “navigable streams” at the time and were later so declared by experts. See decision of the Attorney General dated August 24, 1981 (WL 167930 SCAG)

The original property owners were: Edward L. Young, James N. Young, J.B. Wiggins, C.M. Parrott, J. Foster Jeffords, Robert McKay, Dolores McKay Framer, Robert Hepburn, Clement Hepburn, Sarah H. Mitchell, Mamie H. Smoot, Louise Ward (Gassaway & Guilford heirs), Mildred J. Bateman and William C. Bateman. All wives later transferred their Dower rights.

A development company was created on June 4, 1959 named “FOREST LAKE OF FLORENCE, INC.” with J. Foster Jeffords, President and Edward L. Young, Secretary. (SC Charter No. 32747 - defunct March 6, 1985) Agreement was made with numerous land owners to allow their property to be flooded. The owners on the East side of Knollwood Road did not want to be part of the development of the lake and did not become part of the new development company.

A Dam was constructed in 1960 (?) at the East end of property owned by Tony Hall and the Ratliff family. See County Tax Map 101, Parcels 20 and 22 and also Map 101-5. Tony Hall’s property is now known as Mallard Pointe and the land owned by the Ratliff family (Map 101, Parcel 9) was recently sold to Mr. Phillip Lowe of Forest Lake. The dam sits on their property. Agreement for access to the dam by the Forest Lake Home-owner association was later obtained

LAKE CREATION

The property that was flooded by the dam was originally known as “Middle Swamp” and subsequently became known as “Forest Lake”. The name was selected by Mr. Edward Young. It was to be developed as a subdivision. It’s development would only cover the land areas West of Highway 103. The area east of the highway would be developed separately. Those owners only wanted a lake and did not concede to any covenants by Forest Lake of Florence, Inc.

Two (2) lakes were actually created by the dam. The area covered by water is approximately 220 acres overall --160 west and 60 east. . The lakes are separated by a county road (Knollwood Road) and a bridge built by the Highway Department. The road (Knollwood) became part of Florence County and is maintained by the County. In 2002 the causeway between the two lakes was named after a Forest Lake co-founder, Mr. J. Foster Jeffords, deceased in 2004. The Middle Swamp stream disappeared –becoming part of the lake.

Each side developed their land separate and apart from each other. The east side eventually became “Waterford on Forest Lake” and “Mallard Pointe” and recently “Forest Lake Shores”. The area West of Highway 103 stayed with the name “Forest Lake” proper and later added “Forest Lake Pointe”. Each is a separate subdivision and pays taxes independent of the other.

LAND DEVELOPMENT

Prior to the formation of the lake all property owners West of Highway 103 (Knollwood) conveyed their property into a development corporation, Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. Ed Young and Foster Jeffords began dividing it into lots. Property owners East of Highway 103 did nothing for the time being –they simply acquiesced to the flooding of their lands. They retained ownership and did not deed any property to Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. In the 1980’s they formed a development company, Waterford on Forest Lake, Inc. and began development under the subdivision name “Waterford at Forest Lake”. The lakebed appears on Tax Map 101, Parcel 20. Taxes on the lakebed are paid by Craig D. Stewart, Folline Guilford, et al. –descendants of the original owners (Ward and Gassaway families). Thirteen (13) lots are lakefront property. See Tax Map 101.

Numerous lots West of Highway 103 ( Knollwood ) were deeded by the original owners to Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. for future development. See document titled “Deed and Agreement” executed November 10, 1964 and recorded in Deed Book A19 Pages 387 and 388 dated March 24, 1965. Streets were created around the lake and named Lakeshore Drive and Forest Lake Drive Each street is comprised of approximately 85 lots i.e., about 170 total on the lake itself. The first house was built by Foster Jeffords for his personal use. It is located at 3350 Forest Lake Drive. Various easements were also created for signage and for boat access to the lake. See comments under “Boat Ramps, Easements and Rights of Way” below.

Groups of lots were sold by the original landholders some of which became separate communities. All landowners agreed to cooperate in the development of their properties by adhering to the original covenants and restrictions. Forest Lake South was created by Ed Young in the 1970’s by the sale of approximately 100 lots. See Tax Map 101-3. Also, Forest Lake West was created in 1988 by the sale of 25 lots, most of which were owned by the Hepburn family. None are on the lake. It was developed by Michael Brandeis and access to the lake was allowed by the addition of a boat ramp on Lakeshore Drive. See Tax Map101-4. Both Forest Lake South and West later developed their own covenants and restrictions.

The land area adjacent to the dam on the North side was developed by Tony Hall and William Atkinson d.b.a. Bath Partners in 1991. The development became known as “Mallard Pointe”. Six (6) lots abut the lake. See Maps 101-5, 101-11 and 101-12.

Separate covenants and restrictions were adopted.

The West end of Forest Lake was, and is still being developed by William Bateman and family. It has been named “Forest Lake Pointe”. See Tax Maps 76-07, 76-08, 76-11 and 76-12. Separate covenants and restrictions apply.

The last remaining shore area (owned by the Ratliff family) is east of Highway 103 (Knollwood) and across from the Waterford community (see Tax Map 101, Parcel 9). It was purchased in January 2003 by a Forest Lake resident, Mr. Phillip Lowe. The land was cleared and canals dug to increase waterfront lots. Sixty-two homes are planned.

The community is known as “Forest Lake Shores”. Separate covenants and restrictions apply and a separate homeowner association is planned. Forest Lake Homeowners Association of Florence maintains an easement through the property for access to the Dam (for which it is responsible).

RESTRICTIONS ADOPTED

The original development corporation, Forest Lake of Florence, Inc., enacted various restrictions governing the development of their property (West of Highway 103) both for the lakebed and the property surrounding the lake .. See document titled “Agreement and Restrictive Covenants Relating to Forest Lake Subdivision” dated March 27, 1964 recorded in Deed Book A-19 Page 389 on March 24, 1965. Their property is defined as all areas West of Highway 103. The restrictions do not apply to areas East of Highway 103 (now known as “Waterford”).

The restrictions run for a period of twenty-five (25) years, i.e., until 1989 and automatically renew for twenty (20) years (expiring in 2009). Changes can only be made by “a majority of the then owners”.

A modification of the Restrictions (covenants) was made on December 31, 1964 concerning minimum frontage and square feet requirements for various lots adjacent to the lake that could not meet the new Restrictions due to irregular shoreline conditions. See document titled, “Agreement Modifying Restrictive Covenants Relating to Forest Lake Subdivision” dated December, 1966 and recorded in Deed Book A44 Page 124. The lots in this agreement were identified as follows:

  1. Edward L. Young
    Ervin Engineering - July 15, 1964
  2. J. Foster Jeffords
    Ervin Engineering - February 23, 1966
  3. Jesse B. Wiggins
    Ervin Engineering - March 15, 1966
  4. C.C. Hepburn
    Ervin Engineering - April 26, 1966
  5. C.M. Parrott
    Ervin Engineering - June 17, 1966

These lots are shown in the County Tax Map No. 101.

All property within 1000 feet of the lake are included in the original covenants and any property beyond that up to Cashua Drive and Alligator Road must also follow the restrictions. An easement is reserved over the rear five (5) feet of all lots for utility installation and maintenance.

Separate restrictions were adopted by various other owners of land surrounding Forest Lake when they developed their property, e.g., Forest Lake Pointe and Mallard Pointe. Nothing less restrictive was to be adopted. One of these owners is Edward L. Young who developed much of his land under the name “Forest Lake South”. A portion of his land was developed under the original Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. restrictions (the portion along Lakeshore Drive ). Further back from the lake however, the Forest Lake South community was developed in separate “phases” each having it’s own covenants and restrictions.

Forest Lake West was also developed privately (by Michael Brandeis) and follows restrictions that have been modified from the original Forest Lake ones .. Several other property owners have adopted restrictions of their own, e.g., Dr. Bill Pollin on Lakeshore Drive . An example of some of the differences is that Dr. Pollin allows 3 car garages whereas Forest Lake restrictions allow only a 2 car garage. Note: A collection of all surrounding community covenants and restrictions should be reviewed for compliance with Forest Lake covenants and restrictions, i.e., to be sure no conflicts or contradictions exist.

LAKE PRIVACY

The Forest Lake covenants and restriction restrict access to the lake West of Highway 103 to members of the Forest Lake Homeowners’ Association and their guests. This is also covered in another founding document, the “Grant of Authority” from the owners to the homeowner association. Property owners East of Highway 103 ( Waterford ) are not bound by these restrictions. However, they have chosen to abide by most terms of the FLHA restrictions over the years. The association (FLHA) issues yearly boat stickers indicating membership and legal use of the lake. Outsiders are warned by signs that the lake is private and permits are needed.

For a period of time, these property owners (Ratliff’s) began selling tickets to the general public to fish on their side (East) of the lake. This implied that the lake was open to the general public and much trespassing began (on both sides). In 1982 a trespasser was taken to Court and the private status of Forest Lake upheld.

The privacy ruling was also upheld by the Office of the Attorney General by opinion dated August 24, 1981. Cite as 1981 WL 157930 (S.C.A.G.) in which it was stated that the owner of the lakebed “has exclusive right to use and control that part of the lake which lies above his land”. The association could only control access to that portion of the lake in which it owns the bed. Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. paid property taxes on the lakebed (West of Highway 103) for many years and now the association does as the new owner. The lakebed on the other side, i.e., East of Highway 103 is not owned or controlled in any way by the Forest Lake Homeowners Association. However, residents now honor the lake as private and abide by most FLHA restrictions. In 1992, after much arguing, the Ratliff’s agreed to no longer provide a public landing on their side of the lake (East). This was in exchange for FLHA members agreeing not to fish within 100 feet of his property.

The other side of the lake –the East side ( Cashua Drive side) was owned by three or four individuals and was developed separately. It became a community known as “Waterford at Forest Lake”. It was developed by______________? Membership in the Forest Lake Homeowner’s Association has been allowed for those wishing to use the lake and pay yearly dues. They do not maintain an association of their own.

An invitation was also made in 1992 to Mallard Pointe residents to join the Forest Lake Homeowner’s Association. Six or seven lots there actually touch the lake.

BOAT RAMPS

(Access to the lake)

A. West Side of Lake

When owners of the lakefront property began dividing their lots for sale, various areas were excluded and designated as “boat ramps” to allow access to the lake for members of the homeowner’s association. Two common areas exist on Lakeshore Drive and one on Forest Lake Drive . Several privately owned areas of access exist also. The common areas (maintained by the association) are (1) the north corner of Lakeshore Drive and Knollwood Road, (2) A strip of land identified as Lot 166 on Lakeshore Drive (Map 101) between Evelyn Mills and Larry Matthews, (owned by the Hepburn family) and,

(3) a strip of land on Forest Lake Drive identified as Lot 40 (Map 101) between the Coxe resident and Mady residence. This one is owned by the Jeffords family and has been designated for permanent use as a boat ramp for association members.

Private areas (lots) exist on both Lakeshore Drive and Forest Lake Drive that are used as boat ramps by their owners. One is on Lakeshore Drive (facing McLaurin Drive between lots 93 and 96) and is owned by the Parrott family. Another is on Forest Lake Drive (next to the Vesco residence, lots 80 and 81)) and is jointly owned by three of four individuals nearby. The association has no responsibility for either of these.

B. East Side of Lake

Another boat ramp is in the Waterford community (between lots 267 and 121) and is owned by ___________? It is not currently maintained by the association. The association did agree to pay for a concrete ramp sometime in the 1990’s.

C. Forest Lake Pointe

Access for Forest Lake Pointe residents is provided through an easement by the developer Billy Bateman. It is located on Osprey Drive between the Smith and Andreson residences (lots___ and ___).

Responsibility for the common boat ramps was later given to the homeowners association for care and maintenance. Taxes are paid by the Homeowners’ Association for the ramp at the corner of Knollwood Road and Lakeshore Drive and taxes on the other two are paid by the private owners.

Concrete ramps were provided by the association at four locations. Fencing, gates and signage has been provided at the three common area ramps. Security locks are maintained at each of these sites and keys are issued to FLHA members for a $10 refundable deposit.

Yearly boat stickers are issued by the Association for dues paying members and signs are maintained warning that the ramps are private.

Several other vacant lots exist around the lake that can provide access to the lake. No boat ramps exist there however. One is next to the Blohm residence at 3322 Forest Lake Drive , Lots 62 and 81 owned by Kathleen Baskin.

SANCTUARY STATUS

Due to trespassing by outsiders and concerns over privacy, various homeowners got together and tried to have the lake declared a sanctuary. This effort was headed by Ms. Verdie Jeffords, wife of the lake’s co-founder J. Foster Jeffords. The group asked their State Representative, Mr. D. Malloy McEachin to introduce a bill which might accomplish this. The S C Attorney General also was asked to render a formal opinion concerning the privacy status of Forest Lake .

Once the privacy status was established it paved the way for sanctuary status. On March 7, 1980 the area known as Forest Lake was officially declared a sanctuary by the Attorney General. See Act No. 328 of the SC Statutes at Large. This was amended later by Act No. 561 in 1988. It declares that wildlife be protected and firearms not be used on the land or waters of Forest Lake .

Forest Lake Homeowners Association works closely with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to monitor the sanctuary status. Signs are posted giving the telephone number of DNR to call if violators are found. Two persons in the community have been appointed Wildlife Deputies to assist the DNR. Namely, Mr. James Revell and Mr. William Pearson. Fishing licenses are required by anyone using the lake (members included). Violators can be fined by DNR.

EASEMENTS AND RIGHTS-OF-WAY

An easement is reserved by Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. over the rear five (5) feet of every lot West of Highway 103 ( Knollwood ) for utility installation and maintenance. See original “Agreement and Restrictive Covenants” from 1964.

An agreement was made with Florence County Memorial Gardens, Inc. on December 31, 1964 for a right-of-way for a road through their property. See document titled “Agreement” dated December 31, 1964 recorded in Deed Book A-19 Page 388 on March 24, 1965. The road was never built and the contract became null and void. Note that paragraph 6 of this document grants an easement and right to back the waters formed by Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. over its property “up to and including the high water mark, as shown on the Forest Lake plat made by Ervin Engineering Company, such right or easement to continue for so long as the said Forest Lake exists and is maintained as a lake.”

Paragraph 7 of this document further states that “any and all certain restrictions, covenants and agreements among certain landowners and Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. which have been made or maybe caused to be made have no effect or control over the lands owned by (us)” Note: the cemetery property abuts the land surrounding the lake. It does not actually touch the lake.

A major Dam break occurred in August 1991. In the course of litigation concerning construction and repairs made to the dam, it was determined by the Association that regular and permanent access to the dam (on the Ratliff and Hall property) was needed.

An agreement was made with the Ratliff family in 1992 giving the Association a right-of-way over their property to provide for access to the Dam (which the Association is responsible for maintaining). A “limited easement” is provided. The agreement is titled “Memorandum of Agreement” and was executed May 5, 1992 and recorded in the County records July 13, 1992 in Deed Book 366, Page 185. It is now in force with the new owner, Phillip Lowe, developer of Forest Lake Shores .

No agreement exists with Mr. Tony Hall, owner of the other half of the land the dam sits on. He has however, provided a strip of land 10 feet wide to provide access to the lake.

for Mallard Pointe residents. See Tax Map 101-5. Access to the dam by vehicle from his land is not practical. In 1992 Mr. Hall offered to give the land that the dam sits on to the Forest Lake Homeowners Association. It was never acted on and he continues to pay the taxes.

Easements are maintained for signage at various entries to the lake. Specifically at the corners of Lakeshore Drive and Forest Lake Drive and Knollwood Road . One is recorded with the Deed of property owner Glenda Rawls (Tax Map 101-3, Lot 118) and the other with the Deed of property owner Rick Saunders on Forest Lake Drive (Tax Map 101, Lot 120).

Additional signage is located at the entries to Forest Lake South. One is at Knollwood Drive and Julia Drive and the other is at Alligator Road and Lunn Drive . Both areas contain 20 foot “buffer” zones allowing the signage. A sign exists at the entry to the Waterford community; however, it is not clear if an easement for it exists. It is maintained by the residents of Waterford .

An easement is maintained by Mr. William Bateman (developer of Forest Lake Pointe) providing access to the lake for Forest Lake Pointe residents. See Maps 76-12 and 76-11.

Areas are marked “Drainage Easement”. He also maintains an easement for signage at the entry to Forest Lake Pointe off West Palmetto Street .

HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION

In approximately 1981, Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. turned over management and supervision of the lake to a homeowner’s association. Authority was formally given to this association by a “grant of authority” (see below). The association was named FOREST LAKE HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION. Some of the original members were several of the property owners e.g., Ed Young and J. Foster Jeffords, co-founders. Other homeowners on the new Board were Melvin Burns and Lavern Blohm . Both reside on Forest Lake Drive.

The lake was successfully maintained by the homeowner’s association under its grant of authority from 1964 until approximately 1985. In 1983 the association incorporated under the name Forest Lake Homeowners Association of Florence, Inc. It seemingly became the legal owner of the property sometime in 1985 when the original development organization, Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. decided to step out of the picture and turn management over to the homeowner association. The development entity then went into “forfeiture” per the Department of Revenue. See letter to Mr. Edward Young dated November 15, 2002 by Frank M. McIntyre. A verbal response was made by Mr. Young stating that Forest Lake of Florence Inc. had long ago “washed it’s hands of responsibility” and turned everything over to the Association.

No document transferring ownership from Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. to the Association was ever prepared. Under the direction of Mr. Frank McIntyre, a resident and FLHA Board member, and a local attorney Mr. D. Malloy McEachin , a proper deed was prepared in 2003 finally transferring the lakebed to the Association. It is a new Deed done “after-the-fact” and was recorded January 19, 2004 at Book A813, Pages 903 & 904. Mr. Edward Young and Mr. J. Foster Jeffords both signed the document as officers of the defunct Forest Lake of Florence, Inc The homeowner’s association became the official legal owner by this document.

The homeowner’s association was incorporated May 6, 1983 under the name Forest Lake Homeowners Association of Florence . See Certificate of Incorporation filed with Secretary of State under “Eleemosynary File No. 18,308” (Same as a Charter No.?) This corporation is in “good standing” as of November 2002 per the Secretary of State.

Various new communities were invited to join the Association over the years. Specifically, Forest Lake South in 1979 and reaffirmed in 1998 due to expansion of that community beyond 1,000 feet from the lake. Mallard Pointe residents were invited to join in 1992 and Forest Lake Pointe residents were invited as part of the development of that community by the Bateman’s. Forest Lake Shores (Phillip Lowe) has elected to make FLHA membership mandatory.

The current Forest Lake Homeowners Association consists of 9 regular member and one alternate. Terms of office are for three years. Board meetings are held monthly and a formal annual meeting is held in January of each year. Various standing committees are maintained for management purposes.

GRANT OF AUTHORITY

Management and supervision responsibility for the lake was made by the original owner/ developers Forest Lake of Florence, Inc. to the Homeowners Association by a document titled “Grant of Authority” dated October__, 1981. It provides for the private recreational use of the lake by members of the Association. It states,

Forest Lake of Florence, Inc, wishes to grant management and supervision responsibilities for use of the lake waters to the Forest Lake Homeowners Association…. to preserve, protect and maintain the lake, dams, structures, access to, use of, and management and supervision of the lake water known as Forest Lake.

4. The Forest Lake Homeowners Association shall be responsible in association with the property owners generally, to appropriately maintain and protect the cleanly appearance of the said portion of the lake and shoreline.

5. ….for recreation, fishing, boating, and the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the lake.

The grant was to continue “indefinitely” so long as the homeowner association acted

appropriately , i.e., did it’s job. The Grant of Authority probably became moot in 1985 when the original owners stepped out of the picture, turning everything over to the Association. Once the lakebed was officially transferred to the association in 2003, this document has little meaning. It is helpful in determining the scope of responsibility of the association. See additional comments under “Homeowner’s Association”.

CONSTITUTION

A constitution was adopted in October, 1981 (verify date). It clearly gives the home-

owner’s association responsibility for land use and development beyond just “the

waters of the lake” It states, among other things, that the association should “seek to improve and protect the area from objectionable developments within and adjacent to the neighborhood”. The effect of this over the years has been to cause the association to act as an zoning board –taking it into areas not contemplated in it’s formation. The constitution does however help define it’s jurisdictional area –1,000 feet around the lake.

The constitution is based on a grant of authority from the original owners (Forest Lake of Florence, Inc.) and as such, can no longer stand on it’s own . If the Homeowner’s Association is in fact, the owner, then a new constitution should be drafted.

BY-LAWS

The Homeowner Association Bylaws were written in October, 1981 (verify). The original document essentially covers only administrative matters, e.g., membership, dues, elections, officers, committees, etc. They do not define the basic scope of responsibility of the association, as most by-laws do.

Most of the management and responsibility guidelines for Forest Lake have been included in the Association’s “Grant of Authority” and the original “Agreement and Restrictive Covenants”. Like the Constitution, the By-laws do not reflect the “owner “point of view and should be redrafted.

Most of the above documents are outdated. Life in 1964 was very different than it is now and 40 years of experience have shown the need for change. It will take a substantial effort on the part of the association.

Epilogue…..

FROM “OVERSEER” TO OWNER

A NEW FOCUS

The natural process of evolution has caused many changes to the original concept of a beautiful lake in Florence County . Different demographics have caused many differing points of view of what a lakefront community should be. Should it be a “fisherman’s paradise” or just a pretty place? How involved should the homeowner association get?

Protecting our interest in the Dam is of paramount importance. The dam is what has created “ Forest Lake ”. Yet, it sits in an area where we have no jurisdiction. This simply does not make good sense. With part of the land that it sits on recently sold, we need to be sure our agreement (for access) with the owner is still valid, and, ask why we don’t have a similar agreement with Tony Hall? ( owner of the other part of the land the dam sits on).

From a legal point of view, most of the original Forest Lake documents are now outdated. They do not speak from the (new) owner’s point of view. We are no longer just an “overseer” – we are the true owner.

Forty years of history have evolved and we are still fighting some of the same problems from twenty years ago. Maybe there are lessons to be learned from the many professionally managed associations cropping up. Perhaps our volunteer management techniques have seen their limit.

I have accepted a new position with the association called “Forest Lake Historian” to help preserve our history and to help keep us moving in the right direction.

Let’s keep moving forward!

Prepared by
Frank M. McIntyre,
Board Member, Historian,
Forest Lake Homeowner’s Association of Florence
Oct. 2003, revised, Dec. 2004, July, 2005.