Updated: Baywood logging decision delayed again

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

SUNNY BRAESIDE – Final approval of Baywood Golf and Country Club’s logging plans has been further delayed. Approval of THP 1-17-044HUM had been expected within 15 days of the June 29 Second Review, though that was later put off until last Friday, Aug. 4.

But when Friday rolled around, the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) posted a request from Baywood’s forester, Cameron Holmgren, requesting a further extension to Friday, Aug. 11 “to allow the Director and Staff more time to address all the THP issues.”

In any event, state approval might not be the last word on the subject. The Buttermilk Lane golf course’s neighbors, those along the log hauling route and even some Baywood members are raising ongoing objections.

Idyle Bear Lane

Residents of Idyle Bear Lane have reportedly organized to discuss whether or not to allow Baywood to use the road, located just east of the golf course, to haul out harvested logs. It’s yet not clear what, if any decisions they have made.

Update: According to a neighbor, the Idyle Bear road committee voted yes (not unanimously, but by a majority) to allow Baywood to use its road to haul timber from the back nine. "Apparently they thought there would be less environmental impact in allowing them to use an existing road versus making a new one," the neighbor said.

Other residents who border the club are worried about noise, road danger, potential tree blowdown due to increased wind exposure and other impacts on their properties.

Sunny Brae Middle School

Baywood’s forester, Cameron Holmgren estimates that over the course of the logging, about 200 log truck trips will be made up and down Buttermilk Lane, half of those with a full load of logs.

Getting Holmgren to include specific language into the THP limiting truck passage during student pickup and dropoff times at Sunny Brae Middle School (SBMS) proved arduous.

Pummeled by public comment submitted to the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), objections raised at THP reviews and fiery objections on online fora regarding safety along the narrow residential street during log hauling, Holmgren, reluctantly added language in the second draft of the THP intended to ensure the safety of students.

The THP’s second draft states, “Log trucks will not pass the school a half hour before the start of classes, and 15 minutes before and after classes end. Truck drivers are to be supplied a copy of the school schedule.”

Pressed to specify the times of school dropoff and pickup periods in the THP during the June 28 Second Review at CalFire’s Fortuna office, Holmgren complained that the school’s schedule would be constantly in flux, making it difficult to restrict truck passage in any detail.

“The hours change,” Holmgren said. “They fluctuate.”

He said he’d had difficulty establishing contact with SBMS Principal Lynda Yeoman and Arcata School District Superintendent Barbara Short in order to retrieve the school’s schedule.

Sunny Brae resident Daryl Chinn suggested that Holmgren simply do an online search for the schedule, which is published on the district’s website.

. The schedule includes daily hours, plus holidays and days with early dismissals. Chinn further noted that schoolkids are all over the roadway as they come and go from school, and not necessarily using crosswalks.  

“I’ve been in phone tag with Lynda,” Holmgren said. “I need to make sure where to get a copy of this schedule.” He said he’d called during the last two weeks of school prior to summer vacation, and “she didn’t get back to me. She gave me a phone message. I called her back, and it was two weeks before they got back to me.”

Last Thursday, Short contradicted Holmgren’s account. More than a month after the June 28 CalFire meeting, she said he hadn’t been in touch with the district before or since.

No one has ever called our office, nor that of Sunny Brae Middle School,” she said last Thursday. “We both have websites with full contact info and are also in the old fashioned phone book as well as cross-listed through Humboldt County Office of Ed.”

Short lamented the lack of communication with Baywood and Holmgren.

The ideal situation would have been for Baywood representatives to contact us and set up a meeting to review any impacts to our programs and discuss possible mitigations,” Short said.

One of the THP revisions dictated by CalFire following the Second Review meeting was, “Please include the normal school start time and end time. In addition, include a statement that the LTO [Licensed Timber Operator] shall provide log truck drivers associated with this plan a copy of the normal school start and end times.”

Forwarded a copy of the THP’s vague, two-line restriction on trucking hours, Short said it was inadequate.

“The hauling plan you specified above is not satisfactory for our district,” she said. “We have lots of traffic well outside of the half hour prior to school starting and 15 minutes before and after school ends. Many, if not most, of our students at SBMS are driven to school by parents, so there is a lot of car traffic and most of them park to wait along Buttermilk due to our very small parking lot. We also have an after school program that has different traffic times, and many kids walk.”

Concluded Short, “Disappointing that Baywood did not speak with neighbors to this project, or time their harvest for summer.”

Concerned Baywood Members

The Baywood THP’s difficulties come from within as well as outside its borders. A July 27 letter to the club’s members and leadership by member John Biteman on behalf of “Concerned Baywood Members” lists a number of problems, including conflict with the club’s own bylaws.

Biteman cites a bylaw which requires that shareholder written consent be obtained from a majority of shareholders to sell property valued at more than five percent of the club’s real estate holdings. With Baywood appraised at $4.2 million, that would mean only $210,000 in timber could be sold off without written permission.

But Biteman says that Baywood President Mike Dominick hopes to clear $600,000 from the harvest. An attorney contacted by the concerned members group offered a legal opinion that written consent from members would indeed be required.  

Dominick, who was on vacation and unavailable for comment, reportedly said consent couldn’t be obtained “due to so many shareholders no longer being members and the inability to do so even with attempts at voting by proxy.”

But on the suggestion of the group, Dominick reportedly said he would have his attorney look into revising the bylaws “to make them workable.”

Asked directly whether Baywood would follow the current bylaws, Biteman says Dominick was “evasive,” saying, “We are going to do what we have to do.”

Biteman suggests that with so much of the harvest preparations still incomplete, only limited logging be done this year. He states that the group “feels strongly that the five percent limit of net timber harvest profits in our bylaws should be adhered to as well as obtaining financial coverage for the cleanup and eventually stump removal in most areas on the golf course.”

Adds Biteman, “We shall see how this all plays out.”

The letter concludes by stating that the Baywood Board of Directors will hold a meeting of the club’s membership before proceeding with the logging. The letter appears below.

***

July 27, 2017

UPDATE ON THE BAYWOOD TIMBER HARVEST PLAN PROPOSAL

Fellow Baywood Members, Shareholders and Board of Directors

Baywood Bylaws Article II Section 2.14b require that “the Board may not sell or lease any substantial part or all of the real property assets of the corporation without the consent in writing of the majority of the shares outstanding. A substantial part of the real property assets of the corporation is any asset whose value exceeds 5 percent of the value of the total real estate holdings.”

The most recent appraisal of Baywood is $4.2 million. Mike Dominick has said publicly that Baywood hopes to clear a net profit of $600,000 from the timber harvest, so we “Concerned Baywood Members” obtained a written legal opinion from a local attorney who verified that the planned harvest net income amount would require “the consent in writing of the majority of the shares outstanding.”

Three weeks ago, the four of us on this ad hoc “Concerned Members Committee,” Mike Moore, Don Miller, Jay Hight and myself, met with President Mike Dominick, Vice President John Goff, Treasurer and Project Chairman Ron Ross and Baywood Manager Mark Hayden. In that meeting, the Baywood board members stated that they could not obtain a shareholder consent due to so many shareholders no longer being members and the inability to do so even with attempts at voting by proxy. John Goff indicated that they would proceed with the timber harvest plan, keeping the net profits under 5 percent of the value of the total real estate holdings which then would not require shareholder approval to proceed.

We suggested the need to revise the bylaws and consider getting an updated appraisal, to which Mike Dominick indicated that they had no funds to pay for those. Subsequently, Mike Dominick communicated with Mike Moore that he was having his lawyer look into what would be involved with changing the bylaws to make them workable.

This past week, the Timber Harvest Committee, appointed by President Mike Dominick, had its second and final meeting after touring the back nine in June in groups of three, each accompanied by Ron Ross, board treasurer, who Mike Dominick appointed to be the project director for the Timber Harvest Plan.

After all of this information sharing between the 12 committee members was completed, Mike Dominick chose five of the Timber Harvest Committee members to undertake the challenges and responsibility of returning to the back nine and marking the trees to be harvested.

The new committee consists of Greg Bean, our longstanding PGA professional who grew up playing Baywood, Don Miller, with many years of experience as our Green Committee chairman and a provider of many hours of his donated time and an extensive amount of financial support, Mike Moore, licensed surveyor with many years of experience in the timber industry and a provider of prior help with Baywood timber harvest work on the back nine and tree planting in many areas of both nines, Kevin Knox, our current Green Committee chairman and Baywood board member, and Geoff Duncan, a long-term Baywood member and very accomplished golfer.

Mike Moore plans to include Cameron Holmgren, our forester, and the yet-to-be-chosen logger with their group of five (as no logger contract has been signed yet, although a verbal agreement we are told by Mike Dominick was reached with Scott Wooley). We don’t know any details of Scott Wooley’s bid including details of coverage and cleanup and removal of slash.

Mike Dominick did sign a Log Purchase Agreement with Humboldt Redwood Company in Scotia in early May of this year.

The Timber Harvest Plan (THP) has not yet been approved. The right-a-ways on the logging roads adjacent to Baywood to egress the logs have not yet been secured. Redwood tree stumps, according to THP rules, are not allowed to be removed immediately, to allow for regrowth of tree stumps. Mike Moore met with Steve Morris Logging earlier this week, who has a lot of sophisticated equipment for cleanup, and Steve Morris indicated it will take a lot of specialized techniques to remove trees growing on the golf course and take at least two seasons to complete. Steve Morris is not available to help.

Mike Dominick indicated last week in our meeting when asked directly two times whether the Baywood Board of Directors will be following the current Baywood bylaws requiring them to keep their net timber harvest profits under the 5 percent limit. His answer both times was evasive. “We are going to do what we have to do.” He has not mentioned any plans to assess the value of the timber being marked on the golf course to be removed. Several people helping us with this project feel that where we are now with all of the organizational details to yet be completed and what will remain of the logging time left this summer after the details are completed, and to do things right, off the golf course timber harvesting only where there will not be as much of an issue with dealing with slash and leaving redwood stumps may be a more realistic goal this season. This would also allow the back nine of the golf course to stay open the rest of the summer, except for two to three days of timber falling close to the perimeter of the golf course.

Because there is a significant difference in gross and net income returned, depending on which type of tree is being removed, redwoods having by far the highest value, it becomes more complicated to compute the net sale or net income value which is allowed to be added on to the current $4.2 million Baywood asset value to help compute the five percent limit. A significant number of trees will likely be marked for removal that are not redwoods, including Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir to truly help with light, maintenance and quality of play issues on the golf course even though they will not generate much income.

Our Ad Hoc Concerned Members Committee feels strongly that the five percent limit of net timber harvest profits in our bylaws should be adhered to as well as obtaining financial coverage for the cleanup and eventually stump removal in most areas on the golf course. We shall see how this all plays out.

The Baywood Board of Directors have currently indicated that they are still planning to hold a membership meeting to discuss further details of the project, receive member input and answer member questions prior to proceeding with any of the timber harvest work.

Concerned Baywood Members
John Biteman in concert with Don Miller and Mike Moore







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