FIREWORKS – Are you THAT neighbor? (Editorial)

Dancing with sparklers

Fireworks are an inherent part of American celebrations, especially here in South Carolina. It’s not just during Independence Day celebrations either. Birthdays, Weddings, heck… long weekends are all good reasons to head to any of the numerous fireworks shops to load up on small explosive devices.

Not everyone loves fireworks, but most people understand they are allowed by law and here to stay. While tensions may soar a tad during the more active times, like July 1st through 10th, we all know the nightly explosions will pass and things will return to normal soon enough.

Burns are common. Keep an eye on children

Still, it can’t hurt to remind everyone in Almond Glen that everyone appreciates it when their neighbors¬†think and act responsibly when planning fireworks displays. I get calls, texts and emails every year from neighbors who want to know the laws and what, if anything, the HOA can do to stop some of the less courteous neighbors. I remind people fireworks are legal in South Carolina and advise them to seek more information from our local law enforcement officers if they feel things are going too far. The HOA doesn’t have any specific rules banning fireworks, but we do ask you keep your property looking nice and the common areas (or parking lots) looking good too. Some of the complaints we received this year were in reference to homeowners taking their displays to the townhome parking lots where paper and other liter from fireworks covered cars, patios and rooftops.

A nearby neighborhood had to clean this mess up

If you put on a show for friends and family, try to keep the liter contained and your neighbors in mind. Many people have pets that don’t enjoy the festivities like we do. Not everyone gets the weekends off from work or is looking forward to a vacation this week. Think about others as the night wears on. The old joke, “It’s not a party until the cops come” isn’t something we should be striving for. If you do make a mess, please clean it up so others don’t have to.

Nobody is saying you can’t have fireworks or shouldn’t have a good time. Living here in Almond Glen since 2010 I can tell you this is a hot-button topic. I would just ask that you take time to think of others before planning “a glorious threehour finale” that goes until 1am in the parking lot of someone else home.

Happy Independence Day everyone.

EDITORIAL – Why all the controversy?

From a young age we are taught to stay away from controversy. We are advised to not start it, not participate in it, not encourage it.

As we get older we all learn how much a part of day to day life controversy really is. In fact, we learn how important controversy can be to keeping our society moving along.

I’m as guilty as anyone else of becoming frustrated when I see some of the members of our community making blind accusations against the board members and the decisions they have made. My frustration is focused not on the disagreements with policies and spending, but the lack of effort put into verifying opinions before spreading them.

A good example is someone who makes a statement like, “Our dues are too high. My last HOA had twice as many amenities and we paid $100 less per year”. ¬†The author of the statement is insinuating knowledge of how dues are planned and spent, adding experience as confirmation of expertise, and making a passive aggressive statement that the people planning the dues are in someway overcharging or wasting money. I get this statement posed directly to me sometimes, which gives me a chance to educate the author on our budget, talk about how costs divided by membership numbers effect dues, discuss the unique attributes of our neighborhood (such as townhomes), etc. I may not change someone’s opinion, but I appreciate the interest and opportunity to debate facts over emotions. Other times these statements are made in living rooms and on back porches where board members or members who have taken the time to learn about the budget can’t answer questions.

Controversy is not bad. It’s as American as you can get and a core part of the HOA system. Prolonged and public disagreements over issues that will affect a majority of our community being settled by a minority of the membership will cause controversy. I personally support it, desire it, and appreciate it. I also take it with a grain of salt when someone makes broad sweeping statements without facts to support those statements. When someone tells me, “Many people tell me they want a roller coaster by the pool”, I ask questions like; how many is “many people”, does the membership know the associated costs, has anyone looked into where to buy a roller coaster? If someone comes to me and says, “I think we should spend more money on pool furniture” I point out the existence of a pool committee and recommend they get involved in the pool budget. If they can’t dedicate the time I note the desire for more pool furniture and bring it up to the board when planning the budget.

Controversy is good but I am disheartened when neighbors talk about moving away because the vibe in the neighborhood is beyond positive debate and closer to a personal vandetta.

Just my opinion

Rob Smith