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VMs Discuss Guideline Amendments and Notification Process

Twenty-one Westchase Voting Members (VMs) attended the St. Patrick’s Day VM meeting on Tuesday, March 17, where they discussed the proper process for submitting guideline amendments for public notice in WOW.

The monthly meeting normally occurs on the second Tuesday of each month but was moved because it fell during Hillsborough County School District’s spring break.

VMs opened major action by quickly and unanimously approving proposed neighborhood-specific guideline changes for Castleford’s Storm Doors and Keswick Forest’s Mailbox Guidelines.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Joaquin Arrillaga reported that on Monday, March 16, Arrillaga, WCA Director Joe Odda, VM Eric Holt (Radcliffe) and former WCA Director Darrick Sams met with Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman. They presented her with the petition that residents signed in support of Westchase road paving. It had 927 signatures. Arrillaga said that Murman was impressed with the organization of Westchase and reported, “We should be expecting to see something happening at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”

VM Patrick O’Brien (Glenfield) asked if Westchase had ever had someone look into the environment, neighborhoods and soil within Westchase to provide people with tips, information and best practices to help them manage their grass better. He said that residents in his neighborhood get violations regarding their grass but that it can be difficult to maintain St. Augustine grass. VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) suggested that the University of Florida had an excellent Web site with great information for Florida lawn care – http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/yourfloridalawn/ It wa.s also suggested that O’Brien contact Westchase’s own master gardener, Shelly Stein, who organizes monthly presentations at the UTB Regional Library. Arrillaga said that a few people could get together to discuss ideas if that was warranted. O’Brien said he would do some research and report back to the group.

VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) brought up an issue about a proposed change to the Westchase guideline regarding external security cameras. He began, “Every time we change a guideline, it goes through a process. Personally, I love the amendment and will do all I can to make it go through but it should follow the process.”

Citing the fact that the association manager submitted wording for a proposed amendment to WOW prior to VMs’ review of its wording, Quiros stated, “The WOW should never present any changes to our documents unless they receive a copy of the minutes where it was approved by the voting members.”

The security camera guideline currently reads as follows:

2.1.26 External Security Cameras

External security cameras shall be dome or mini-bullet style and shall be attached to the main structure of the home or the soffit. They shall be an integral part of the house and not distract from its architecture or appearance. Number of cameras shall be limited to one per household door entry, including those on the lanai. Location of cameras shall be approved by the Modification Committee. In no event shall an external camera be installed, utilized, pointed, positioned or oriented in part or all at another Association Member’s doors, windows or outdoor porches, pools or decks so that the camera lens films, videos, or captures images in part or all over a maximum of six (6) foot fence on the property of either the Member using the camera or any other Member.

Quiros’ motion was to change the wording of the first sentence of the guideline to read, “External security cameras shall be dome or mini-bullet style or a comparable style that does not exceed 5 inches by 5 inches and shall be attached to the main structure of the house or the soffit.”

The intent of Quiros’ motion was to allow for enhancements and changes in external camera types. He added, “Westchase is 20 years old and we should keep an eye on new things.”

VM Holt asked, “Why wouldn’t it have gone through the normal process?”

Dale Sells, who is on the Modifications Committee, stood and addressed the group. “There were some folks on the last go around who got violations for security systems that didn’t get approved. We had three or four at the last meeting. They submitted their [modification request] but there was no way that the Mod Committee could approve it. We had to have it get to the WOW for the April 1 publication because if we didn’t get it in, we would have to wait another month. This woman’s security system was already in place. Those specific styles were out of date because there are smaller ones available. You can blame the Mod Committee. We could not approve their systems because of the language and we didn’t want to wait.”

Quiros responded, “That is precisely why I made the motion. I agree with the amendment.”

VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges), however, said, “There are other ways to handle this. The Covenants Committee probably would not fine her if there was movement in place to change the guideline. There are other ways to handle it than going around the voting members.”

Sells replied, “We had no intent to circumvent the process.”

Mary Griffin (Single Family Homes of West Park Village) added, “Normally this meeting occurs earlier in the month so we could have approved it and gotten it to the WOW prior to the deadline for appearing in April.”

Despite the conflict around the process being followed, VMs voted unanimously to approve Quiros’s guideline change.

Subsequent to the meeting, WOW notified WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga that the public notices for all three approved guidelines were submitted by the WCA management team to run for the first time in April’s WOW. Under Article XII of Westchase’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, public notice of guideline changes must appear in WOW at least six days prior to their consideration of VMs for approval. Arrillaga committed to bringing the matter before VMs again to ensure that the association observed the proper public notice requirements for changes to Westchase rules.

VMs adjourned at 7:37 p.m.

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