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VMs Debate Metal Roofs and Flood Insurance

The Oct. 10 meeting of the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) saw neighborhood representatives open to discussing metal roofs but opposed to mandatory flood insurance.

At the meeting VMs also reviewed the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) rules for the Variance Committee, which handles appeals for Modification Committee rejections of homeowners’ requested changes to homes and yards.

WCA President Ruben Collazo began the meeting by pointing out that Westchase’s newest board Member, Ashley Wait-Woodcock, was in attendance.  He then offered some words and a moment of silence for Village Green VM Bobbi Pitcher, who passed away in August. 

Collazo then turned the meeting over to Hillsborough County’s John Barrios, who is the Building Official/Director of Building and Construction Services with the development services department.  Barrios introduced Patrick Murray, Director of Development Services.  Murray explained that their department is where residents go for new building, contractor licenses, plats and permits.  He said that if you need to hire a contractor, the office can provide guidance and validate if he or she is licensed.  They can also help identify needed permits.  You can also go to hillsboroughcounty.org/permit status to make sure that permit work has been marked completed.  He recommended not paying a contractor until all inspections have been done and the work is marked complete.

Barrios then explained the divisions of development services and his background.  “Hurricane Irma gave us all a good wakeup call,” he said, launching into an overview of how building codes changed after Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago.  He said that it took 10 years to learn from that event – what worked, what didn’t – and to incorporate it into the Florida Building code, whose updates became mandatory in 2002.  He said the most dangerous thing in a storm is the flying debris. “We now understand better how to resist and protect the home from penetration from flying debris,” he said, offering suggestions about how to further protect your home:

1) Larger windows and doors like sliding glass doors can cause larger issues, so consider replacing them with hurricane resistant ones.
2) Window protection includes storm-durable fabrics, aluminum and plywood.  With more competition, prices have come down. 
3) While most Westchase garage doors are reinforced for storms, consider replacing it with one that meets current codes. 
4) When replacing your roof, make sure that the roofer nails down the sheeting in compliance with current county requirements. The longer and closer spaced nails often can earn a home insurance premium deduction.  If you have hurricane clips (most Westchase homes do), nothing else is needed to secure the roof to the walls. 

Barrios also talked about metal roofs, which he said have come a long way in 15-20 years. VMs then discussed current Westchase rules regarding metal roofs.

Dale Sells (Modifications Committee Chair) said that while Key West style roofs are not allowed, stone coated metal roofs were approved in a recent revision of the documents.  These look like tile or asphalt shingles but are made from steel coated with stone chips. He stated they cost twice as much as asphalt shingles. Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that two residents had switched to the stoned coated metal roofs since they were approved.  After some discussion, the group approved a motion to set up a committee headed by Greens VM Jerry Pappa to explore other changes to the association’s metal roof rules.

VMs then quickly approved Glencliff Villas Window Guideline amendment, which lifts requirement for decorative metal grids on home windows there.

Director Brian Ross, Variance Committee chair, then requested VMs discuss two possible changes to the Variance Committee’s rules and process.  He explained that if a homeowner gets turned down by the Modifications Committee, which makes decisions solely based on the guidelines, they can appeal to the Variance Committee. Each Variance appeal costs the resident $150, which helps pay for the committee’s outside architect.  Stating VMs could make the process more resident friendly, Ross suggested that the Variance Committee, when denying variance requests, be empowered to suggest changes that would make the variance acceptable to the committee. Rather than go through the full process again, under the proposed change, the homeowner would simply have to pass through the Modifications Committee again, saving an additional $150 appeal to the Variance Committee.

Second, Ross suggested a rule change that homeowners who make changes in violation of the guidelines without first seeking Modifications Committee approval would forfeit their right to a Variance Committee appeal. He suggested this was necessary to prevent homeowners from going ahead with denied changes anyway, and then appealing to the Variance Committee and attempting to sway it by pointing out the financial hardship in undoing an expensive project. VM and committee members discussed fines and the simplicity of the process before ultimately voting to approve the two changes. The proposed rules will now go to the association’s legal counsel to clarify their language.

Closing the meeting, Collazo brought up the final agenda item. He stated that a neighbor had contacted him after seeing the devastation in Texas and the Keys, and suggested that the community would be better protected if the association required homeowners to carry flood insurance. (Currently the WCA does require homeowners to carry home insurance, which doesn’t cover flooding.) 

All of Westchase lies within hurricane storm surge evacuation areas.

Collazo stated he agreed with the request and buys flood insurance himself every year.  Collazo added he had run the suggestion by the HOA attorney, who said that it could be done if the association’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) are rewritten to specify it.  VM Rick Goldstein (Woodbridge) agreed, saying “I am in [zone] X and I get flood insurance anyway.  Floor insurance doesn’t specifically cover storm surge.”

Most VMs, however, were against adding the requirement for homes that aren’t required to carry flood insurance. Some representatives added that enforcing it could be difficult. Collazo ultimately concluded, “I’m getting the sense that this is a No.” 

VMs adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted Oct. 12, 2017

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