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CDD Board Names Argus to Vacancy; Addresses Noise Complaints About Movies in the Park

The first CDD meeting of the new year saw a new but familiar face added to the CDD board.

Meeting on Jan. 8, CDD supervisors interviewed two additional candidates for a vacancy created by the November resignation of Greens resident Ernie Sylvester. Interviewed by CDD supervisors were Kingsford’s Susan Edgerley and Radcliffe’s Keith Heinemann, both of whom had previously served as CDD supervisors prior to the October 2011 merger of the two Westchase boards. The two joined former CDD Supervisor Bob Argus and former Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Joe Payne as potential candidates for the position.

Following interviews, an informal ballot taken of the four sitting supervisors produced the same vote as it did in December: two supervisors indicated support for Argus, a resident of Lexington Park apartments, and two supported Payne, a resident of The Greens. Expressing concern that failing to make an appointment could result in other tie votes on the board, CDD Chair Mark Ragusa, however, shifted his support to Argus. A formal motion to appoint Argus followed, garnering unanimous support. Argus was immediately sworn into the seat, whose term runs through November 2016.

Like Heinemann and Edgerley, Argus was one of the ten existing CDD supervisors before the 2011 merger whittled that number down to five.

Subsequently, supervisors selected their officers for the year, reappointing Ragusa, a resident of Harbor Links/The Estates, as chair and Bridges resident Greg Chesney as vice chair.

The January CDD meeting began, however, with supervisors addressing noise complaints about the WCA-hosted Movies in the Park, held in Baybridge Park. Appearing before supervisors were Stamford residents Steve Forehand and Jim Allen, whose properties border the park’s west end. In recent months Forehand has e-mailed supervisors demanding the event be ended at the park and moved elsewhere as he argued the events represented a violation of Hillsborough County’s new noise ordinance. Attempting to alleviate the events’ impact, the WCA announced in December that it would hold the night events only in early and late months of the year to ensure they ended earlier (they begin at sunset). The association also had their vendor reposition speakers toward Linebaugh Avenue to lessen the volume on the residents’ properties.

Hearing in December that Forehand was still not satisfied, supervisors invited him to address them at the January meeting. Allen, Forehand’s neighbor, also appeared and addressed supervisors first. “I just kind of reached the point that my opinion is there needs to be a significant change,” Allen said. Stating that the sound from the movies shook his home’s walls and windows and rattled photographs on the walls, Allen said he could not sit peacefully in his family room during the events. “It’s totally, totally unreasonable,” he said.

Allen observed that the events appeared to violate the CDD’s own rules regarding sound amplification in the park, which is not permitted for parties that rent the pavilions there, and the park’s dawn-to-dusk operating hours. Citing the new, stricter county noise code, Allen added, “The volume of the events is against the county’s ordinance.”

Allen added that some of the events have even gone on beyond 11 p.m. “To have it at Baybridge Park, once, twice, three times a year – guys, it’s unreasonable.”

Allen concluded by inviting board members to visit his home during the next movie to judge the volume for themselves. Referring to Forehand, he stated, “We have validation from officers who have visited Steve’s house and said it’s unreasonable.”

Forehand, however, added that time issue of time was a moot point. “It doesn’t matter when you violate the law,” he stated.

The claim that the events were violating the noise ordinance, however, was challenged by Ragusa, who stated that board has been told by officials that the noise levels do not violate the county ordinance. Ragusa added that the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) had been invited out to the next Movie in the Park to determine if the events violate noise rules.

Citing the WCA’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs), Forehand stated the events also violate the Westchase deed restriction that protects homeowners’ rights to the quiet enjoyment of their properties.  While pointing out that the CDD is not governed by the WCA’s rules for residential properties, CDD Supervisor Brian Ross, a WCA director who served on that board until this past September, agreed with Forehand. Stating he believed the association was undermining and opening itself to legal challenges when it tries to enforce its noise deed restriction, Ross stated, “I feel we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.” He added, “I personally don’t feel that the HOA should be engaging in the activity.”

WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga, present to request CDD permission to hold six Movies in the Park in 2013, stated that the association had worked with the vendor to redirect the speakers. He added that the association had decided not to hold the events in the summer months to ensure they end by 9 p.m. While he stated the association would likely move at least one movie to Glencliff Park, Arrillaga added that he didn’t see how CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney’s suggestion that the events be moved to the West Park Village green on Montague Street would impact fewer residents with the noise. “The fact is this is a great activity and hundreds of Westchase residents take advantage of it,” he said.

Fords resident Susan Edgerley then suggested that to minimize its impact, two of the events should be held at Baybridge Park, two at Glencliff Park and two on the West Park Village green.

Ragusa, however, expressed doubts. “If they go over to Glencliff, we’re not going to have two residents here. We’re going to have 20.”

Her suggestion, combined with Chesney’s suggestion that CDD staff explore the installation of other electrical outlets at Baybridge Park that would allow the WCA’s vendor to point the speakers away from the Forehand and Allen homes, seemed to be an acceptable compromise for Allen, who departed the meeting early due to a family obligation.  

Chesney then attempted to offer a motion that would have granted the WCA permission to use all three places for the six events, but it failed to garner enough support. When CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler stated he preferred to wait until they had definitive data from the EPC on the noise levels, Chesney changed his motion to permit one or two movies to allow the commission to gather its data. That motion ultimately passed 3-1 with Ross opposed. The vote was taken before Argus’ appointment.

In other actions:

Supervisors unanimously approved a request from Castleford’s David Snizik that a short fence be installed along the CDD-owned bank of a pond behind his home. Snizik hopes the fence will thwart individuals using the path as a short-cut from Linebaugh Avenue into Castleford and passing through his yard. Supervisors approved the fence with the understanding Snizik would reimburse the district for its cost.

CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart stated that the contract for the paving of West Park’s alleys had been signed and work would commence prior to the February CDD meeting. The work will cost just over $128,000. West Park Village homeowners are separately assessed for alley maintenance.

CDD supervisors briefly discussed the bid documents for the conversion of the Harbor Links/The Estates’ gas street lights to LED lights and Stewart committed to distributing a new draft of the proposed contract for potential approval at the Feb CDD meeting. Once the contract is approved, the project will be put out to bid.

CDD supervisors unanimously approved a new contract granting the Westchase Soccer Association exclusive use of Glencliff Park’s soccer fields for its spring season.

Supervisors approved the erection of a banner announcing registration for WCA tennis programs once a month for three months to gauge its impact. They elected to take this short-term approach rather than approve WCA Vice President Dyan Pithers’ initial request that the banner be displayed for a week each month of 2013.

After CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler briefed board members on what he learned about the expense ($6,000 monthly) and likely lack of success the district would have trapping coyotes in the community, CDD supervisors dropped further action on the matter.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:55 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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