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Proposed Westchase Guideline Changes Announced

The Westchase Documents Committee has released numerous proposed amendments to the Westchase Single Family Homes Residential Guidelines.

The Westchase Single Family Homes Residential Guidelines represent rules governing Westchase home exteriors and yards. If approved by Westchase Voting Members (VMs), these rule changes will have the force of deed restrictions on all Westchase homes. The rules must be publicly noticed then considered and approved by VMs at two different meetings. When approving or rejecting community-wide guideline amendments, each VM casts a single vote. To pass, a community-wide guideline amendment must receive support of a total number of VMs representing 66 percent of Westchase homes.

These amendments will be considered at the Jan. 8 and Feb. 12 VM meetings, held at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard at 7 p.m.

A more complete red-line version of the amendments, presenting the full text of each rule as it will appear in its complete section, is available by clicking here.

Summaries of the changes appear below due to space constraints.

1.4 Modification Committee Review Procedures

Two proposed changes are incorporated here. The first changes a rule allowing homeowners to bring modifications requests to Modifications Committee meetings. It newly requires modification applications to be submitted the Friday before the meeting, usually the following Tuesday. The second changes a rule that states that if the committee doesn’t respond within 45 days, the modification is approved. It would instead state that modifications that receive no response are denied.

1.3.7 Holiday Decorations

This amendment changes the start of seasonal holiday decorations (for Halloween) from Oct. 15 to Oct. 1 while keeping the Nov. 7 end date.

2.1.3 Driveways, Sidewalks and Front Walkways

This amendment adds language about side walkways for the first time, stating they must consist of drainage-permitting porous material like gravel, pebble or stepping stones and must not be more than 50% pavers. It also emphasizes that side yard improvements must be approved by Modification Committee.

2.1.5 Garage Doors

This amendment would lift the existing ban on wood doors and permit them, provided they are natural wood color. The rest of the language is maintained and deals with metal and aluminum garage doors currently in widespread use.

2.1.6 Gazebo

Gazebo rules currently state they must match a home’s color. This amendment would expand the colors, permitting the body or trim color, white, wood-stained or natural wood color.

2.1.8 Windows

This amendment addresses hurricane protection, expanding permissible approaches to include fabric screen systems but adding they must match window frames, the unit’s color or be white, adding that the grommets should be metal, plastic or rubber and match the fabric color.

2.1.9 Exterior Lighting

This amendment expands permissible styles of garage side exterior lights to traditional, contemporary, transitional, mission and rustic style lights in addition to the currently permitted coach style unless your village-specific guidelines already defines permissible lights.

2.1.10 Roof and Roof Products 

This amendment eliminates the current restriction on being able to see ridge/roof vents and attic fans from the road or a neighbor’s home as they commonly can be seen on most homes. It adds language limiting solar panels for ventilators and turbines from extending more than a foot above the roof and states its solar panel should not exceed the size of the ventilator/turbine.

2.1.11 Mechanical Equipment and Screening Structures

This amendment expands the definitions for acceptable screening (unless defined in neighborhood-specific guidelines) for mechanical devices such as irrigation units, air conditioning units, water softeners and generators to include walls painted to match the house, brick walls, vegetation at least four feet tall at installation and so maintained, approved four-foot tall fencing or a white vinyl, PVC or resin, solid panel enclosure, consistent with the color of approved neighborhood fencing or painted to match the house. It also permits lattice enclosures that do not exceed one foot in height with the full height not exceeding four feet. It also clarifies that for homes where the sidewalk and street are not on the same side of a home, screening is only required from the street.

2.1.12 Paint Color Palette Guideline – Exterior Paint

This amendment expands paint rules, allowing a home to have four colors (a minimum of two and maximum of three are currently permitted) when it has shutters if the front door and shutters use different accent colors or if the shutters are an accent color and the front door is wood stained. The definitions of body/wall are expanded to include exterior entryway ceilings and rear patio/porch ceilings and expands the definition of trim to include fascia and exterior entry doors and adds keystones to the definition of accents.

2.1.13 Material for Exterior Improvements or Maintenance

This amendment expands approved materials for all exterior home improvements or maintenance to include treated pine wood siding. It also defines acceptable materials for fascia (the exposed board on the front of a roof’s overhang) to now include spruce, pine, fir, or cedar wood, vinyl, aluminum, or PVC while acceptable materials for the soffit (the covering between the outer edges of a roof and the adjacent wall of the house) would now include vinyl, metal, or wood.

2.1.15 Patios

While keeping existing patio rules, this amendment defines for the first time where the acceptable locations for patios are, stating the rear, front and side yards. (Among other rules, patios can be constructed of concrete, natural, muted or earth-tone pavers, natural stone or tile.

2.1.16 Play Structures: Temporary, Portable and Permanent

This amendment adds tree swings to temporary infant play sets and swing sets that are permitted but which must be stored out of public view when not in use. It also changes rules for permanent play structures, newly permitting metal structures and newly allow them in side yards if the rear yard setback does not provide adequate room. It also newly requires permanent play structures to be securely anchored to the ground.

2.1.21 Trampolines

This amendment also newly permits trampolines in side yards but only if rear yard setbacks create a lack of space. It requires them to be five feet from rear and side lot lines and be screened from public view.

2.1.22 Trellis and Arbors

This amendment removes the size limitation for trellises and arbors and adds a rule that they be painted the same color as a home’s body or trim or be white, wood stained or a natural wood color.

2.1.25 Gutters and Drainage

This amendment adds that downspouts and gutters must be the color of a home’s body and permits gutter socks, downspout extenders or splash blocks on/below downspouts to divert runoff.

2.1.28 Pools and Spas

This rule adds a lengthy new description of in-ground and above-ground pools to better define the ban on above-ground structures. It clarifies materials for in-ground pools and states they can project out of grade when the yard slopes away from the home. It adds that the above-ground ban does not apply to tubs or spas and requires pool equipment be screened from view.

2.1.29 Garbage Cans

This amendment changes the permissible screening for garbage cans stored out of a garage. It carves out the ability of neighborhood to have individual guidelines while adding material and color rules for fencing and removing all-lattice screening options, replacing them with a fence topped by lattice that cannot exceed one-foot in height and four-feet total.

Section 2.1.31 Drainage Solutions between Units

This amendment adds a new section requiring yard grading that causes runoff to be directed to the front or back of a home’s yard. It permits alternate solutions for overly wet areas. It encourages neighbors to work on a mutually acceptable solution while setting requirements for submission of solutions to the Modifications Committee. It permits new solutions such as regrading, the use of gutters/external or French drains; embedded stepping stones, porous materials like gravels, pebbles or mulch, pervious walkways and defined impervious materials provided gutters are also installed. It permits the Modifications Committee to hire an engineer to review suggested plans, charging the resident for any professional fees.

2.1.32 Ramps – ADA Accessibility Compliance

This amendment permits the construction of access ramps with a physician’s affidavit testifying to medical necessity and disability. It must be unobtrusive and aesthetically blend in with homes and receive HOA preapproval.

2.2.1 Front Yard Landscape
This amendment reduces the current required plant size for front yards from three-gallon plants to one-gallon plants.

2.2.2 Corner Yard Landscape

This amendment also reduces the current required plant size for corner yards from three-gallon plants to one-gallon plants.

2.2.3 Garden Borders

This amendment adds a new rule that garden borders should not be taller than one foot and cannot be painted.

2.2.4 Irrigation

This amendment removes the current rules forbidding sprinklers from spraying on any roadway, driveway, sidewalk or adjacent property.

2.2.5 General Landscaping and Maintenance Requirements

Currently this rule reads that all perimeter side and rear lot lines shall be bordered by a three-foot wide turf strip. This amendment changes the wording to indicate that this is the preferred situation. It also changes the rule banning the use of mulched areas here to clarify that tree or shrub beds along the perimeter may be mulched.

Another change adds wording that landscape debris may be placed for curbside pick-up on the evening prior to yard waste pick up and may not exceed Hillsborough County Waste Management guidelines.

2.2.7 Landscape Materials

This amendment lifts the current restriction on the use of white rock in landscaping and adds it to permissible mulch and mulch substitutes.

2.2.8 Plant Material List and Appendix 100

This amendment adds Christmas Palms to the approved plant material list in Section 2.2.8; another amendment makes the same change to the appendix.

2.2.11 Standard Fencing

This amendment adds wording to existing fence rules stipulating that fence panels/slats should be oriented in a vertical or horizontal direction and posts should be placed on the inside of the property with fence panels on the outside. It also clarifies that fences must be tied into the home no closer to the front than ten feet unless the fence is used to screen mechanical equipment.

2.2.15 Standard Fencing Materials

This amendment clarifies fence material rules to permit additional fence styles if permitted in neighborhood specific guidelines. It also adds an option for six-inch wide fence pickets (currently the only width option is four inches.). It also newly permits ball or pyramid-top styles to aluminum fence post tops (in addition to existing flat top style) and adds language that states that aluminum fence pickets shall be flat or pointed top pickets.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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