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Costco Seeks WCA Blessing for Store at Westchase’s Entrance

Garbage containers, tennis programs, parking violations and the construction of a Costco at Westchase’s eastern entrance were the hot topics at the Nov. 14 Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board Meeting.

At the session directors also approved reducing the number of violation notices residents receive for deed restrictions prior to imposing fines from three to two.

Voting Member Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) began the session by telling the board that he had received complaints from residents about garbage cans that are supposed to be stored out of sight. “I know the board gave homeowners until Oct. 31 to determine how they would store the new containers, but we are now past that deadline and many homeowners are still leaving their containers in plain sight,” he stated.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz said that they have scheduled a day to drive through the neighborhoods and will give notices out about containers. Several board members mentioned that residents could order smaller garbage containers in mid-January.

Village Green resident and Swim and Tennis Center Committee member Mary Turnbull told the board that she has been a regular participant in the Westchase tennis programs and is dismayed that the adult clinic, previously held on Wednesday and Thursday nights, is now only held on Thursday. Board President Nancy Sells said, however, it was her understanding that the Wednesday class was cancelled due to lack of participation.

Turnbull, however, responded, “You can’t decide to cut a class based on one month’s enrollment. There has been a lot of turmoil in the tennis program the past few months. There are lots of people interested in the program and this change was not what we accepted and discussed when we hired the new tennis coach, Roberto Calla.”

Sells said, “This is still a transition time. It has only been six weeks. We should give Roberto another month to get things set up.”

Director Joaquin Arrillaga added, “We should keep the two classes to reduce the confusion. If you don’t have two classes listed, how can people sign up and how will you know if there is interest or not?”

Director Dyan Pithers said she was appalled and cautioned the board that if classes were cancelled and class times constantly changed, many people would go elsewhere for their lessons. Sells added that she felt the board needed to tighten up and run the program more like a business. She also said that Calla has been told that he needs to do a bigger communication push and more advertising for the program.

In perhaps the meeting’s biggest news, Director Darrick Sams, chair of the Government Affairs Committee, announced the board had been invited to hear a proposal about Costco opening on a large parcel of undeveloped land on the southeast corner of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh Avenue, directly across from Westchase’s entrance. Both Sams and Director Ken Blair said that the lawyer representing Costco was looking for the board’s approval of the project. Blair said the board would not be able to endorse anything of that magnitude until they had heard input from residents. Blair imagined the increase in traffic would be a concern.

Sams also reported that he talked to representatives from Westchase Elementary about making sure the gate on Westchase Drive is open at the correct times.

For the second time this year, residents were at the meeting to complain about other people parking on the streets of their neighborhoods and question why they were the unlucky ones to receive deed restriction violation notices and fines for doing so. 

The first, a Woodbay resident, said he was not aware that the parking restrictions were upheld because multiple cars are parked on the street in his neighborhood on a regular basis and his neighbor told him the parking restrictions were not enforced. Blair informed the resident that the covenants state there is no overnight parking except in West Park Village and Village Green. Directors ultimately unanimously passed a motion that the resident’s $1,000 fine be reduced to $175 pending no reoccurrence over the next 12 months. Director Edward Santiago was absent from the meeting.

The second appeal came via speakerphone from a Castleford resident, fined for parking a boat in front of his home, which is forbidden at all times. At their March 2013 hearing the Covenants Committee, which hears fine appeals, agreed to table the residents’ fine until March 2014 but said his fine would be reinstated if the violation occurred again over the next 12 months. According to photo evidence the boat was parked in front of the residents’ home again in September 2013. The resident said that he did sometimes park his boat in front of his house but it was only for a short period of time while he cleaned it or got it ready for a fishing trip. He added that many people in his neighborhood had parties with cars parked up and down the street, which presented a much bigger issue than his boat. The board voted 4-2 (with Pithers and Director Keith Heinemann casting the dissenting votes) to deny the resident’s appeal. Several directors felt the fact that the boat was covered with a tarp and had cinder blocks blocking the trailer suggested it was parked there for more than a short visit.

In her Community Association Manager’s Report, Sainz said the United States Tennis Association had more questions about the grant request the association has submitted to help support the new tennis facilities at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. She also said that Verizon is still working to install wireless Internet service at the center.

Sainz reported that the West Park Village pool hours have changed for the season to  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3-8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. The slide is closed for the season.

Sells told board members she went out on home inspections with an association employee to review the violation notification process. Currently homeowners receive a courtesy warning either by door-hanger (typically posted on the mailbox) or letter, then two other notices by mail and finally a fine and Covenants Committee hearing date if the violation is not corrected. Sells said that the process of putting up the door-hanger notices was very time-consuming. On the day that she went through West Park Village, they ran out of hangers and battery power (for the electronic device on which the violations are recorded) before finishing the neighborhood. The partial trip still took hours.

Sells suggested that the association do away with the door hangers, replacing them with a mailed courtesy notice. Both Sells and Blair mentioned they had received complaints from residents that there were many violations in their neighborhoods and that things seemed to be inconsistent in regards to notifications. Pithers said she felt that the association should not do away with the courtesy notice. “The job of the notices is to make the homeowners aware of the violation in hopes they will correct it.”

Arrillaga’s motion to do away with the door hangers passed 4-2 with Pithers and Heinemann opposed. Now homeowners will receive a letter notifying them of the violation then a follow-up letter. If the violation has not been corrected after the second letter, they will receive a fine.

Directors then turned to nominations for The Nathan Lafer Award, established in 2006 to honor a resident who has shown great spirit and who has helped and volunteered in the community to improve the quality of life in Westchase. Mary Griffin, Ernie Sylvester, and Patty Marchant were nominated this year by their neighbors. Board members agreed that all of the candidates were very worthy. After some discussion, Arrillaga nominated Ernie Sylvester as the recipient and the nomination passed 5-1 with Heinemann opposed.

Directors unanimously approved the appointment of Dale Sells, Mike Clayton, Keith Heinemann, Dixie Mills, and George Estock as members of the Document Review Committee.

Directors also voted unanimously to allow the board president, association manager and facilities manager to approve previously budgeted major repairs/replacements without further board approval.
Board members agreed that the association office will be closed on Dec. 27.

The next WCA Board meeting will be Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at the WCA offices on Parley Drive.

By Marcy Sanford

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