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VMs Make Changes to Proposed Westchase Rules Amendments

At their Aug. 9 meeting, Westchase Voting Members (VMs) took their first look at proposed Westchase rules changes offered by the association’s Documents Review Committee.

The rules changes affect all of Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) governing documents: the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs); the Bylaws: and the Single Family Home Guidelines. The Bylaws set rules governing how the association operates and conducts business. The CCRs and Guidelines set rules on how homeowners may use or change their homes and yards.

A number of proposed changes appear aimed at clarifying current rules' language or updating them so they do not conflict with Florida statutes governing HOAs. At the meeting, VMs also made a number of changes to the proposed rules. In order to understand the full scope of the proposed changes, residents should consult the redlined versions of the documents. (Links to them appear below.) While capturing the vast majority of important changes, the subsequent summary of rules – and VMs actions on them – is not all inclusive.

Changes to the Bylaws and CCRs require polling of homeowners; VMs subsequently cast votes of homeowners who return their polls as the polls indicate. VMs, however, are free to cast the votes of homeowners who do not respond at the VM’s discretion. Once VMs review the documents in October, polls of Bylaws and CCRs amendments will be sent to homeowners with their 2017 assessments.

Changes to the Guidelines do not require homeowner polling. VMs may approve Guidelines amendments by a supermajority vote after their consideration at two meetings that are publicly noticed. The first such noticed meeting would likely be October’s.

Please also note that these proposed changes have not yet been approved and are not yet in effect. VMs could make further changes based upon resident feedback in the next few months.

To view the redlined versions that were reviewed by VMs on Aug. 8, please click the following links (Please note that VMs changed these documents as indicated below.): Bylaws, CCRs, Guidelines.

Bylaws

Proposed Bylaws Changes Withstanding Initial VM Review

• Notification methods for special meetings would be broadened to include email.
• Rules regarding deed restriction fines would be broadened to allow additional fining for repeated rules violations.
• The Bylaws’ descriptions of the WCA’s fining process would be updated to reflect current law and WCA practice.
• The timeframe that fined homeowners may appeal fines to the board would be shortened from 30 to 10 days.
• Committee appointees would have to be association members in good standing (an existing requirement for WCA directors and VMs).

VMs’ Changes to Proposed Bylaws Changes

• VMs removed a proposed restriction that would ban any CDD supervisor from also serving on the WCA Board.
• VMs struck a proposed rule that would limit WCA Board members from holding the same board office, such as board president or treasurer, for more than two consecutive terms (without a lifetime limit).

CCRs

Proposed CCRs Changes Withstanding Initial VM Review

• Homeowners would have to submit proof of homeowners insurance (which current rules require) to the WCA upon request.
• In the event of the total loss of a home, homeowners would have to clear, level and maintain lots to standards until reconstruction.
• A new rule would also ban the storage of portable sports equipment, such as portable basketball hoops, from side yards (where it’s currently permitted).
• A rule further defines which firearms, weapons and projectile devices may not be discharged within the WCA, including bows and arrows, daggers, swords and spears.
• The storage of dumpsters on driveways for up to 14 days would be permitted.
• Solar devices, permitted by state law, would have to comply with Westchase Guidelines and receive Modifications Committee approval before installation.
• Fence rules would be expanded to include living fences (a line of bushes marking a property line).
• Rental rules would be clarified to prohibit short term rentals such as those done by Airbnb.

VMs’ Changes to Proposed CCRs Changes

• VMs removed the committee’s proposal that on-street parking restrictions be lifted outside of West Park Village (where they are currently allowed).
• VMs removed the committee’s proposal that the storage of boats and watercraft on trailers be allowed on homeowners’ driveways or in the street over the weekend.

Guidelines

Proposed Guideline Changes Withstanding Initial VM Review

• The term “Side Yard” would be defined for the first time.
• Rules prohibiting flags, yard ornaments, and porch wall art with religious orientations would be lifted.
• Small decorative garden flags no bigger than 12” x 18” would be permitted.
• Rules regarding the use of planters and potted vegetation on driveways and landscape beds would be added.
• Current rules covering portable basketball hoops would apply to all sports equipment. New rules would ban the storage of all sports equipment from side yards and forbid its use on sidewalks. (Street use is already banned.)
• Stamped concrete walkways between driveways and front porches would be permitted.
• Natural stone and cobblestone driveways (in addition to currently permitted paver and concrete drivers) would be allowed.
• Clear concrete driveway/sidewalk sealants in no-gloss, matte or satin finishes would be permitted.
• Limits on decorative garage doors would be further defined.
• Defined side and rear door design elements would be included for the first time and clarified to include hinged or sliding glass doors.
• Porch, patio ceiling lights and garage lights would have to use only clear, white or amber bulbs.
• Roof vents would have to be gray metal, black or a flat color matching roof shingles.
• The ban on power roof vents would be lifted, subject to new appearance and size rules.
• Landscaping screening would have to be initially installed as wide and tall as the object requiring screening.
• Home and pergola paint color rules would be further clarified.
• Play structures would be permitted within five feet of lot lines (the current limit is 10 feet).
• Firepit rules would be further clarified; gas firepits with defined setbacks would be allowed.
• Retaining walls would be permitted in some side yards for landscaping and erosion control.
• The rule for having two rows of plantings in landscape beds would be clarified to remove loopholes that allowed sparse landscaping.
• Required tree sizes at planting (currently it is five-inch caliper trees) would be reduced to six feet in height due to the costs of trees required by current rules.
• Front yard tree rules would be rewritten to count palm trees the same as other trees. The number of required trees in lots with large frontages (greater than 70) would be increased.
• Rules for replacing damaged plant material would be expanded to include trees and shrubs.
• Open and unplanted mulched areas would be banned.
• Curbside easement areas between the sidewalk and road could, under circumstances approved by the Modification Committee, be planted with defined ground covers other than St. Augustine sod.
• A new rule would limit the number of different styles of mulch used in a yard to two.
• Vegetable gardens would be permitted in rear or side yards (10 feet back from the front and screened from public view).
• Living fences (hedges) defining property lines would have their height limits raised from five to eight feet.
• The rule allowing one citrus fruit tree in the rear yard would be changed to permit a fruit tree other than citrus.
• A rule clarifies that trees between the street and curb are not owned by residents and may only be removed with consent of either the county or Community Development District (CDD) as appropriate.
• Placement rules for portable restrooms for homes under construction would be added.
• Minor additions and subtractions to the list of approved trees and bushes would occur.

VMs’ Changes to Proposed Bylaws Changes

• VMs rejected a rule that would reduce the current corner yard eight-foot height limit for shrubs to five feet.
• VMs rejected a rule that would have adopted a height restriction of five feet for all front yard shrubs.

VMs will take up consideration of the rules again in October, following their review and input from the WCA’s legal counsel.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted 14 August 2016

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