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VMs Discuss Proposed Rules Changes

At their Aug. 9 Voting Member (VM) meeting, VMs kicked of a months-long process that will rewrite Westchase rules for homes and yards by January.

VMs opened action by offering their final approval for the Villas of West Park Village’s exterior color palette guideline. After VMs also offered their initial approval for Glenfield’s mailbox guideline, Dale Sells, Document Review Committee chair, stepped up to review each proposed amendment to Westchase’s governing documents.

Sells said that the function of the committee was to collect ideas and develop the initial language not to filter the requests. He explained that the bulk of the requests came from the staff, the Modifications and Covenants Committees and legal counsel while a handful came from residents. Sells also detailed the timeline, which included the initial review at the meeting, a review and update from legal counsel, another month of review in September then final reviews in the meetings in October and November for the Guidelines. The Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) and Bylaws require Westchase homeowners to vote on them; those ballots will go out with the annual assessment and a final vote for those changes will occur at the VMs’ January meeting.

The review began with proposed changes to the CCRs. One proposed change was to add additional verbiage to parking rules to say that vehicles could only be parked on the street directly in front of the owner’s unit, essentially lifting the existing blanket ban of street parking outside of West Park Village and Woodbridge. VM Forrest Baumhover (Kingsford) stated his neighborhood has huge issues with Davidsen Middle School parents parking in their neighborhood at pick up time. VM Ralph Caputo (Abbotsford) suggested they add restricted times from midnight to 6 a.m. for enforcement and WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga observed that was how the rule was currently enforced. Baumhover, however, rejected the idea, saying that the Davidsen parents were picking up at 4 p.m. in Kingsford. VM Ruben Collazo (The Shires) said that previously street parking had caused issues in The Shires such as the inability to collect garbage on some streets. VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) added that during the garage sale street parking is a huge problem and she was concerned about emergency vehicles getting through. VMs ultimately voted against the proposed change, keeping the existing street parking ban in place.

VMs also quickly and unanimously voted down a resident’s suggestion that homeowners be allowed to park boats or other watercraft on driveways or in the street in front of their homes between 6 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. Monday.

Addressing rules for the leasing of units, VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) suggested a ban on rental sites like AIRbnb and Couchsurfing because she knew there were some of these currently in Westchase. WCA staff confirmed that the homeowners will receive violations for these as they are not allowed. (The documents already say that the entire dwelling must be leased.) Griffin (Single Family Homes of Westpark Village) suggested noting that short term rentals are prohibited.

The one Bylaw change garnering a great deal of discussion was the addition of a rule that a supervisor serving on the Westchase Community Development District (CDD), an entity independent of the Westchase Community Association (WCA), could not also serve on the WCA Board of Directors. The proposed change, if adopted, could have affected current WCA Director Brian Ross, who was recently reelected to the CDD without opposition and has announced his intention to run for reelection to the WCA Board in September. Sells stated, “This is not pointed at anyone in particular.”

Explaining the reasons for its adoption, Sells said, “There could be a conflict of interest between the WCA and the CDD. We have 3,500 homes and 12 director positions so one of the goals is to get more people involved instead of having one person occupy two roles.”

VM Don Costello (Stamford) immediately objected. “We are trying to penalize members of our association for doing their duty and serving on two different boards. I move that we remove this. Why do we want to penalize someone for being a good neighbor?”

Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/Estates) said, “Potentially, everybody on one board could serve on the other. There is nothing in our documents that prevents that.”

Questioning the proposed rule’s legality, Collazo, however, countered, “The Florida statues say that any member in good standing can serve on the board of directors.”

VM Rick Goldstein (Woodbridge) responded, “If somebody wants to run for a particular board, I would hate to penalize people who are volunteering if someone is willing.”

WOW Publisher Chris Barrett also spoke up, saying, “As one of the few people here who attends the CDD monthly meetings, this is a terrible idea,” he said. “It can create a host of other practical problems. There are far more incidences of us not being able to find people to fill these positions. We don’t have a problem with too many volunteers.”

Barrett added, “It’s terribly inconsistent because this body allows VMs to serve on the WCA Board [at the same time].”

Citing the three individuals who historically served on both boards concurrently, Barrett stated, “I have never seen a conflict between the CDD Board and the WCA. Three people have served on both boards and have served as an effective liaison between them.”

Costello added, “For those that worry about conflicts, you vote for the CDD Board, you vote for the WCA Board. If you don’t think someone is good enough, then don’t vote for them. But to wipe out the ability to offer their services to us in the community is wrong.”

VMs ultimately voted to strike the proposed amendment, 17 in favor of its removal and 7 opposed.

None of the proposed changes to the Guidelines created much discussion as most of the changes were minor clarifications. Prompting some discussion were proposed changes in the permissible maximum height for hedges, lowering it from eight to five feet. VM Marty Hamilton (Brentford) observed, “I have this situation in my yard. The landscaper put these hedges in specifically to grow to eight feet to meet the [current] guideline.”

When Hamilton asked if his existing eight foot hedges would have to be trimmed to meet the guideline if passed, WCA Manager Debbie Sainz stated they would.

When a final vote was taken, only one VM voted to support keeping the proposed height change while all other VMs voted to maintain the eight-foot height restriction.

VMs adjourned at 9:40 p.m.

Click here for a full review of proposed rules amendments.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted 14 August 2016

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