To The Daily Sun,
A history of the Lakemont Coop:
In the Spring of 2014, a small group of residents of Briarcrest (less than 12) decided to purchase the community, as it was up for sale. With the encouragement of ROC-NH, the group was persuaded to form a coop to purchase the property. After an informal meeting it was voted to seek more information about cooperatives. Prior to any subsequent meeting, this group formed and registered the Lakemont Cooperative, thereby making any opposition mute. At no time were residents given the opportunity to vote if they wanted a coop. A straw poll was conducted by the original owners and over 95 percent voted against the coop. In essence, the coop was shoved down our throats.
At the time of the formation, we were assured nothing would change under the coop. This has not been the case. Our rents have increased more than under the original owners and we have only one full-time employee. We had four.
The cost of obtaining Briarcrest was $10 million, with $8 million financed through TD Bank at a normal rate. The smaller loan for $2 million, plus an additional $50,000 to cover some added expenses, was borrowed from ROC-NH. I do not recall any vote by the residents authorizing this loan. So, after almost three years, we still owe more than the original amount borrowed by $100,000. The interest rate for the ROC-NH loan is 7 percent.
The 2015 annual meeting was a textbook case of abuse of position. The moderator, with the backing of the board of directors, threatened anyone who expressed a critical opinion — or not one endorsed the board — with removal from the meeting. This was done under the guise of stopping "personal attacks." This term was never defined so that anything said that the moderator disagreed with, that speaker was threatened with removal — a clear violation of everyone's right to free speech. We will see how this policy has had an impact yet today.
The 2016 annual meeting could not start on time because there was not a quorum present. After several phone calls to other residents to come to the meeting, a quorum was obtained. Later on that summer, a special meeting was planned. It was brought to the board's attention that written notice must be given to each and every member at least 10 days prior to any annual or special meeting. This was not done. The meeting was held but they did not provide any information on the topics on the agenda. It could be classified as a waste of time. When I asked why they did not follow their own rules, "lack on money" was the answer.
One thing is clear from the history of this coop — it was a bad idea. I may work some places but the dynamics here have not been conducive to success. The current fighting among factions of the residents is proof enough.
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