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VMs Discuss WCA Repaving of Westchase Roads

At the March 8 Voting Member’s meeting, Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Joe Odda provided the group with an update on efforts to get the county to repave Westchase roads.

Odda said that he had met with the Hillsborough County administration and Hillsborough Public Works to discuss alternatives to waiting years for the county to prioritize Westchase roads and fund their repaving. Odda stated that county staff suggested developing an interlocal agreement with Westchase.

An interlocal agreement is a written contract between two government agencies or offices from which both can benefit. Odda explained that the basic concept is that the targeted roads would be fixed but Westchase would be responsible for managing the work and also paying interest on all costs of the project until future taxes and fees allow the county to recover the entire principal.

Odda suggested, “Perhaps we could do this as a regular budget item without any assessments.”

Don Costello (Stockbridge) asked, “Wouldn’t you want the CDD involved?”
The Westchase Community Development District (CDD) maintains the Westchase rights of way along Countrway Boulevard and Linbaugh Avenue and oversees paving projects within the gated communities whose roads they own and maintain.

Odda responded, “We haven’t made any commitment. The suggested action is to discuss it. Dana Shores just funded their sewage construction with a very similar agreement. I will be getting samples of those agreements.”

WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga added, “It’s just a concept right now. We are just presenting it to you before it goes to the board.”

Costello replied, “It’s a bad concept. We are doing work that the county should be doing. We have no rights to the road and we could have liabilities.”

VM Ruben Collazo (The Shires) asked, “The more important question is whether it will come back to the voting members for a final vote. This is important.”

Arrillaga said it definitely would.

After much more discussion on its pros and cons, VM Russ Crooks (Bennington) said, “Let’s take a look at this. If we don’t like the deal towards the end, fine, but let’s talk about it.”

Odda encouraged VMs to attend the March 10 WCA Board meeting where it would be discussed.

Collazo closed the discussion, saying, “Joe, on behalf of the Voting Members, I want to thank you.”

Voting members applauded Odda.

As it did last month, the agenda item raising the most contention was the proposed amendment to the Stockbridge Mailbox Guideline. Many Stockbridge residents came to the meeting to voice their concerns. Jeanne Kuehner, who also spoke at the March meeting, explained that there was a vote on December 19, 2013, where the guideline change did not get approved, then another vote in December 2014, when it also did not get approved. She said they were told by their voting member that it would not come up again unless 51 percent of Stockbridge residents made a formal request to the board to change the mailbox.

Arrillaga explained that the process was not being correctly described. After 51 percent of a neighborhood votes in favor of neighborhood-specific guideline change, it then comes to the Voting Members.

Kuehner insisted, “A proxy was sent to the homeowners. If you go door to door, you don’t even know if they are in good standing with Westchase.”

VM Ed Siler (Stockbridge) explained that no one who voted was asked to change their vote after they had already voted. He also said it wasn’t a special vote. Siler stated the question about changing the mailbox guideline was just added to the Stockbridge proxy after several residents had e-mailed a request that the mailbox change be included. “The only reason anyone went to anyone’s door,” said Siler, “is because the majority of the residents were apathetic.”

Other attending residents complained that the proxy shouldn’t have been used to vote and that the people should be listened to. Arrillaga, however, said “The vote was done the right way with the Florida statutes and with the documents.”

Siler confirmed that because of renters, they did go through each vote to verify that they had counted them correctly. Despite the residents’ complaints, VMs voted unanimously to approve the Stockbridge mailbox guideline change.

VMs adjourned at 7:57 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted 16 March 2016

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