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Public Notice of Westchase-Wide Guideline Changes

In addition to offering changes to the Westchase CCRs and Bylaws, Westchase VMs are considering amendments to the Westchase’s Single Family Residential Guidelines.

If you read this article last month, the Documents Committee submitted some changes to the proposed Guidelines after the May meeting of the Westchase Voting Members. Changes of substance are indicated by italics in the summaries below. In other cases, corrections were made to misspellings; some proposed wording was also simply tweaked – such as substituting “unit” for “lot.” These changes simply maintain consistency of language with the rest of the documents. These minor edits are not noted below but would be evident in the red-lined version of the documents, available online.

The Guidelines, like the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs), are rules governing the appearance and use of homes and yards in Westchase. A guideline can either apply across Westchase or only to a specific subset of Westchase homes, like a neighborhood or style of home in West Park Village. All the amendments summarized below, if approved, would apply to all homes in the Westchase Community Association (WCA).

While amendments to the Bylaws and CCRs require polling of Westchase homeowners and require Westchase Voting Members (VMs) to cast their votes as their homeowners direct (each VM casts total votes equivalent to the number of homes s/he represents), amendments to Guidelines are not sent to homeowners for polling. Westchase VMs representing 66 percent of all Westchase homes must approve of a Guideline amendment before it is adopted. Prior to their adoption, VMs must consider the changes over two separate meetings held in different months. VMs’ initial consideration of the changes occurred on May 13 and their secondary consideration will occur June 10. Homeowners, moreover, must receive public notice (such as this article) of their consideration prior to those meetings. Homeowners who wish to weigh in on proposed guideline amendments below should therefore reach out to their VM by phone or e-mail.

For a red-lined version of the proposed amendments, please click here. A copy is also available on Simpl.y look for the link under Latest News.

Proposed Guideline Amendments

Section 1.3.6, Front Porch, Patio and Outdoor Furniture Item four of this section states that bench swings are only allowed on front patios and porches. This amendment would permit bench swings in rear yards as well.

Section 2.1.1, Awnings An amendment to the CCRs, if approved, will permit retractable, non-metal awnings in the rear of homes. This guideline amendment further spells out that retractable awnings must have frames securely attached to homes, must not extend more than 12 feet from the home when opened, must have a 10-year warranty and must be open only during daylight hours. Canopy colors must be natural, soft, muted colors or neutral shades and consist of beige, brown, taupe, tan, gray or white.  

Sections 2.1.3 and 2.1.15, Driveways, Sidewalks and Front Walkways These amendments move front walkway rules currently in 2.2.15 to Sections 2.1.3 and add color restrictions.  While sidewalks in the right of way must be concrete, this amendment stipulates that front walkways, which usually connect the home entrance to the driveway, may be concrete, pavers, natural stone or tile. The amendment stipulates the material must be muted, neutral, natural earth-tones of beige, brown, taupe, tan or gray. Homeowners must keep the walkways clean and may not paint, seal or stain them.

2.1.15, Patios This amendment adds the same color restrictions that apply to front walkways to patio floor materials. It includes a requirement that any additions must match existing materials.

Section 2.1.8, Windows This guideline begins with the sentence, “All windows must remain the size and shape as originally constructed unless a variance is obtained.” The term “variance,” however, is a defined term in the documents and refers to a decision by the Variance Committee. This amendment replaces the existing term with the word “exception.” An exception is easier to obtain than a variance. Further, this amendment expands the acceptable materials for window frames to include vinyl, which is a commonly used material in modern replacement windows. Current permitted materials are metal, composite or pest- and weather-resistant wood.

Section 2.1.18 Screen Enclosures, Patio Design and Material The Documents Committee states that changes to this section are aimed at updating screen enclosure construction materials and construction practices. The amendment removes the term “bird cages” from the guideline title, expands the permitted type of support columns to include four by four-inch columns to support insulated aluminum roofs. (Currently six by six-inch columns are the only permitted.) The most significant change this amendment makes is an addition to the type of roof structures permitted on screen enclosures. Currently, aluminum pan roofs are permitted only under limited circumstances and all screen enclosure roofs are required to be wood construction. This amendment would permit insulated aluminum roofs and permit them to be supported by all-aluminum support structures. Aluminum pan roofs would still only be allowed if a neighborhood permitted them in their neighborhood-specific guidelines.

Section 2.1.23, Outdoor Kitchens, Fireplaces, Barbeque Grills, and Fire Pits Currently the guidelines are silent on Fire Pits, which have increased in popularity. Under current WCA rules, the Modification Committee must deny any requests to install items on which the documents are silent. Thus, this amendment permits fire pits but stipulates rules regarding their location and use.

Section 2.1.24, Solar Equipment, Solar Tubes and Skylights Changes to this section entail two items. First, the current requirement to paint solar equipment the same color of the roof – described as impractical by the Documents Committee – will be lifted (if the guideline passes). Second, the amendment would permit solar tubes and skylights provided they are not visible from the street and do not extend more than 12 inches above the roof surface. Proposed language previously included a rule that the solar equipment had to be placed on the rear of a home; that location restriction has been removed.

Section 2.1.27, Walls This amendment would permit retaining walls, about which the Guidelines are currently silent, as long as they are in the rear of a home and needed for landscaping or erosion control purposes. 

Section 2.1.29, Garbage Cans and Recycling Bins This amendment represents an entirely new section of the Guidelines. Current Westchase rules require residents to store garbage cans “out of sight.” This new section stipulates how this is to be done. If garbage and recycling bins cans cannot be stored in the garage, this section would require them to be screened by stucco walls that match the home, brick walls, four-foot tall vegetation, or neighborhood appropriate fencing or lattice screening. Previously submitted language did not include the term “recycling bin” from the rule but it has been added for the sake of clarity and accuracy.

Section 2.2.7, Landscape Materials This amendment simply applies to mulch. It would expand permitted mulches to include hardwood and natural wood mulches. Those currently permitted are cypress mulch, eucalyptus mulch, pine bark mulch, river rock, lava rock or pine straw. The amendment, however, adds color stipulations. All mulch would have to be natural wood colored, brown, red or black. Previous language banned the use of black mulch but that restriction has been removed in current wording.          

Section 2.2.8, Plant Material List This amendment revises acceptable plant materials for Westchase yards with the intent of adding plants from the current Florida Friendly section. It also formats the list to make it more user-friendly. As the list is extensive, residents are encouraged to view it online.

Section 2.2.10, Tree Removal A proposed CCR amendment to Article XII, Section 16, discusses additional acceptable reasons for tree removal. Amendments to this guideline spell out rules homeowners must follow when requesting a tree removal from the Modifications Committee. Submissions must include a plat drawing, an explanation regarding the tree’s health, details for its replacement with alternate trees/landscaping and a copy of Hillsborough County’s approval for the tree’s removal.

Section 2.2.15 and Appendix A-4, Standard Fencing Materials Amendments here affect permitted materials for fences. Currently fence materials must be wood, metal or vinyl. This amendment replaces the term “metal” with “aluminum.” The amendment also changes required sizes of metal fence components to better reflect current designs.  (Fences are subject to neighborhood-specific guidelines as well, which can expand upon permitted materials.) The fence diagram in the appendix graphic will also be updated to reflect the wording of the guideline.

Section 2.3, Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guidelines Florida Friendly Landscaping is landscaping that minimizes water, pesticide and fertilizer use. Under state law, such landscaping must be permitted by homeowners associations, which are allowed to set guidelines for their implementation. This amendment updates the acceptable plant list for Florida Friendly Landscape designs and clarifies that the distinct Florida Friendly list of plants is only to be used with Florida Friendly Landscape designs. All other landscaping must be selected from the association’s other plant list.

Florida Friendly Landscaping Appendices 100-103 This remaining amendment largely corrects formatting and factual errors while deleting Loropetalum from the Unapproved Invasive Species list.

By Chris Barrett and Dale Sells


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