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VMs Learn of Coming Traffic Delays at Sheldon Road Intersection

The Dec. 12 Voting Members (VMs) meeting began with Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chairman Rick Goldstein introducing county representatives.

County staff detailed the upcoming River Oaks Wastewater Diversion Project, which will impact Westchase’s eastern entrance this summer. The goal of the project is to retire two outdated wastewater treatment plants, expand the Northwest Regional Water facility and reroute sewage flow. Staff announced its new route will go up Sheldon Road through Linebaugh’s intersection, and construction of the line will impact traffic.

Goldstein asked “We already have traffic problems on Linebaugh. Now this will cause additional problems. How much longer will the Linebaugh [reclaimed water] project be?”

Project Control Manager Bill Harrington answered, “It will finish before we start this project.”

Harrington stated they were targeting a summer start and detailed the project's impact on the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection, projected to last from May through September. Several VMs complained about the issues that will arise at the very busy intersection of Linebaugh and Sheldon. While work will occur at that intersection over the five month period, Harrington stated the most disruptive time period will last 35 days when the left hand turn lane on Linebaugh Avenue will be closed for the work. To compensate, the eastbound lanes will be reconfigured to still permit left turn lanes. The current left lane for through traffic will be turned into a  left turn lane. Meanwhile the dedicated right hand turn lane will be converted into an additional through lane to compensate for the loss of the left lane. Residents will still be able to make left and right turns, although traffic may see greater disruption because the right most lane will be shared by through traffic and drivers turning right onto southbound Sheldon Road.

When VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) inquired if work could be done at night, Harrington replied “If we do it at night, the risk goes up and we don’t get more production.”
More information about the project can be found online at hcflgov.net/WWC.

Addressing power outages in western villages, Goldstein announced WCA President Ruben Collazo and he met with TECO representatives. Goldstein said that TECO explained that Hurricane Irma produced a lot of debris that knocked down power lines and they could not easily access the substation due to flooding. Goldstein reported that TECO is currently researching the outages to pinpoint their location and frequency.

VM Brian Loudermilk (Keswick Forest), whose residents are now experiencing outages, asked how many homes were impacted and how much it would cost to put his village on a different grid. Goldstein said that he is actively working with TECO on the items and that they are sending a representative to the February VM meeting.

Collazo then presented Joe Odda with the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award. Collazo noted that Odda had spearheaded the Northwest dog park project, led the street paving effort and volunteered for a number of Westchase roles, including board member, VM and GAC chair.

Touting others’ support in writing emails to support the projects, Odda accepted the award saying, “I have so many people to thank so I accept this award for them as well as myself.” He added, “My successor, Rick Goldstein, is an extraordinary leader. I also appreciate Ruben Collazo for his leadership. Thank you.”

In October Director Brian Ross, Chair of the Variance Committee, had brought up suggested changes to committee rules. During that meeting, VMs voted to ask the board and legal counsel to review the proposed changes before VMs considered them. Ross stated at least one proposed change sought to address an increasing tendency of homeowners to undertake expensive projects without association approval and then seek relief from the Variance Committee when they are found in violation. Ross explained that he had consulted with CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart, who suggested the committee needed to be consulting with an engineer or a landscape architect for some projects. He added two more homeowners were now seeking variances for non-permitted projects on the sides of homes.

Goldstein commented, “In this case, we have incurred thousands of dollars in legal fees.”

In response to the continued violations, many VMs voiced concerns about deterrents for not following the process. Other questioned why homeowners would not follow rules and regulations that they agreed to when moving into Westchase.

After much more discussion, VMs voted to approve Ross’ proposed amendment, which sought to allow the Variance Committee to suggest an acceptable alternative to disallowed projects with the consultation of a technical expert (rather than have the owner pass through the modifications process a second time). VMs, however, voted to reject the second proposed change, which would have barred the homeowner from attempting to go to the Variance Committee after they were already found in violation of community rules. VMs felt that the committee should follow the existing process.

In closing the meeting, Collazo said that there were already two volunteers for the Metal Roof Guideline Committee, but they wanted at least one more. He added there is also an opening on the Covenants Committee. Interested residents can contact the association manager at 926-6404 or manager@wcamanager.com.

VMs adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

Editor's note: The original version of this article described the impact of the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection work as lasting 30 days. County staff subsequently reached out to WOW to state this was inaccurate. The county stated that the intersection will see impacts from the construction of the sewage line from May through September. WOW regrets the error.

Posted Dec. 14, 2017; corrected Dec. 15, 2017

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