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CDD Board Discusses Street Lights, Cell Tower and Street Tree Plan

The Dec. 4 meeting of Westchase CDD supervisors, who discussed hiring a landscape architect to develop a consistent street tree plan, saw the new terms of two board members begin.

Sworn in before the meeting were longtime supervisor, Greg Chesney of The Bridges, reelected without opposition, and new board member Forrest Baumhover of Kingsford, also elected with no opposition, to four-year terms. Westchase Community Development District (CDD) supervisors began the meeting by electing officers. Supervisors reelected Jim Mills of Greendale as board chair and Chesney as vice chair.

Supervisors first turned to matters related to TECO street lights. TECO representatives recently approached the Westchase Community Association (WCA) and the CDD with complaints that two or three of its newly installed LED street light bulbs had been painted black by unknown residents due to their bright light entering homes. While TECO said it would not charge the community for the recent vandalism, TECO has stated it will should it will bill the community if the damage continues, with each bulb costing at least $1,000. At least one of the vandalized bulbs was in West Park Village, which, according to Supervisor Chesney, lies outside the Westchase lighting district (for which most Westchase residents are billed) and may be owned by the CDD. Unclear about ownership and responsibilities for street lights in Westchase, supervisors have asked staff to research past leasing agreements with TECO. Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated that district staff found no documentation and has asked TECO to provide the original agreements.

Citing a CDD motion passed earlier this decade exempting West Park Village residents from being assessed by the CDD for streetlights, potentially causing other areas of Westchase to pay for their neighborhood streetlights and West Park’s lights, Chesney stated that it may have been done in error and asked staff to research it and place it on January’s meeting agenda.

Supervisor Greg Chesney then updated supervisors on discussions with the district engineer regarding the potential placing of a cell tower in Glencliff Park, on land just south of its southern parking lot. Chesney stated the engineer reported that the preferred layout for the cell tower parcel would not fit in the area without impacting the parking lot. “It looks like we would lose eight parking spaces in Glencliff Park,” he said.

Discussing the matter, Supervisors Mills, Brian Ross and Matt Lewis stated they would not support any placement that would cause a loss of the spots but the board appeared open to requesting that Vertex, the company making the pitch, return with a proposal for a placement in the park without the loss of parking.  Supervisor Ross, however, stated he preferred District Manager Andy Mendenhall first research whether other districts had entered into such agreements as assurance that supervisors would not be overstepping their statutory limits. “I think that does make sense,” responded CDD Attorney Erin McCormick.

Mendenhall committed to following up on the matter.

Following up on golf course purchase discussions, Chesney stated he would be having lunch with the owner in the days following the meeting to determine whether he still had interest in selling the course to the district.

District Manager Mendenhall returned with two proposals from companies to work with the district to ensure its web site is ADA compliant. To explore if the less expensive option from ADA Compliance would work, staff committed to reviewing the company’s templates to ensure they would work with the information and customer service approach of the district’s existing web site. At Supervisor Baumhover’s request, Mendenhall also committed to coming back with bids from the companies for a thorough audit of the existing site to determine if much needed to change prior to the board choosing a vendor.

Making his report, Field Manager Doug Mays brought a Shires resident’s request that the district install a fountain in place of an existing aerator in Pond #30 off Ayreshire Drive. Mays pointed out that fountains are far more costly, along with their electricity costs, than aerators and that only about 25 homes would see it. CDD Chair Jim Mills stated the request should be postponed until budget season over the summer.

Mays also brought a complaint from a Village Green resident that the district recently planted a tree on Green Links Drive that was not a match with other existing trees on the road. The resident asked that the tree be replaced with one that matched the others. The resident also inquired whether the district had a formal tree plan guiding replacement of street trees to ensure aesthetic consistency.

Mays stated that the road had several tree species and he used the Japanese Blueberry tree, which doesn’t exist elsewhere in Village Green, to replace a different tree damaged by a recent tornado. He stated he planned, over time as the trees declined, to replace the road’s existing holly trees to Japanese blueberry trees because the hollies were no longer available due susceptibility to disease. He stated he opposed the resident’s request to replace it with a matching oak because of the trees’ impact on sidewalks. 

CDD Supervisor Chesney stated he had the same consistency issue with a palm tree staff had planted in his neighborhood, Stockbridge, to replace an oak.

While Mays and Office Manager Sonny Whyte expressed concerns about oak tree damage to sidewalks and water and sewer lines, Mays acknowledged that it happens inconsistently. Chesney countered that Hillsborough County had recently leveled and replaced raised and buckled sidewalks when resurfacing his neighborhood roads and asked that the palm be removed.

Supervisors also passed a motion asking staff to get a proposal from Landscape Architect Neale Stralow to devise a street tree plan to ensure aesthetic consistency and address safety concerns about placing the right tree in the right space. While Jim Mills suggested staff might consider removing the Japenese Blueberry from Village Green since a tree was not required by the county to be planted there, he concluded to staff, “You guys decide.”

Supervisors adjourned at 5:38 p.m.

In other actions:

Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated he had resolved a Greens resident’s concerns about the treatment of guests by the gatehouse guard – and the resident who called to complain to the guard about it – after the guests arrived at the gate intoxicated.

New Westchase Town Center Property Manager Orestes Lavassas introduced himself to supervisors and requested that staff consider landscape improvements for an area on the west side of the property along Belgrave Drive. Field Supervisor Doug Mays committed to meeting Lavassas on the property to identify district-owned and maintained parcels and discuss landscaping enhancements.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 6, 2018

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