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WCA Board Debates Road Repaving Petition

The bulk of the Jan. 8 meeting of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors was dedicated to discussing the Government Affairs Committee’s road paving petition – and the extent of the WCA’s involvement in it.

Several voting members (VMs) attended to express their views about the petition.

Board members had previously discussed the proposed petition at length during their November meeting, when Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Joe Odda’s motion, requesting that the association to ask residents to sign a WCA petition concerning the condition of Westchase roads and then send the petition to County Commissioner Sandy Murman, failed to pass. Board members ultimately voted 5-2 in favor of Director Brian Ross’ motion that the petition language be changed so that the petition was not from the WCA but included everyone who uses and has concerns about the public roads in Westchase. Further, Ross’ motion stipulated that association resources not be used to administer the petition.

WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga said the discussion was being revisited at a VM’s request. When the VM recently requested assistance with the petition from WCA management staff, he was told that the request did not comply with the approved motion.

Radcliffe VM Eric Holt said that it was his understanding that the board was not willing to advocate for the county repaving nor formally put their stamp on the project.

However, WCA Vice President Ken Blair responded, “The board is 100 percent behind the resurfacing. We did not want the petition to be just from the WCA Board but wanted to include businesses, commuters, and residents.”

Blair added, “Part of our issue with the administration was the issue of paid staff spending their time administering the petition because we had questions about how much time they would have to spend and too many questions about how the process was going to work and be administered.”

Holt then volunteered to administer the petition but said he wanted reassurance that the board would present it to Commissioner Murman and communicate with homeowners to request their participation in the petition.

Pithers echoed Blair’s concerns that the reason they did not want association employees to administer the petition was that there were too many questions about how much time it would take and directors did not want to spend the association’s money on it. She said, “The WCA has always supported the petition. We just can’t financially support it.”

Holt responded that road repaving was a huge, community-wide issue that should be pushed by the association. He said he felt that if the WCA was behind the petition, they should be willing to administer it. He added that the WCA’s support meant nothing if they weren’t willing to supply resources. “I think a lot of people will draw the same conclusion if you say you support it but you aren’t willing to allocate any resources.”

Weighing in, Director Ross said all present wished to move forward with the petition and have the county to fix the roads in Westchase. He added, “We expanded the language of the petition presented to us to include everyone who travels the roads in Westchase because we want to expand it to include other people.”

Pithers reiterated Ross’ comments, “I think something has been lost in the semantics but there was never no support for the petition. We thought it was best for the community to include more signatures.”

Glenfield VM Patrick O’Brien said he believed it was important for the WCA Board to support the petition. He said he felt house prices were depreciating because of the condition of the roads. O’Brien suggested that the association should partner with the county and invite them to come talk.

Ross observed that County Administrator Mike Merrill had come to Westchase to talk to residents in December and only 15 people showed up.

Odda made a motion that the WCA support and sponsor the road-paving petition with the stipulations that it be undertaken by the WCA on behalf of homeowners, businesses and all who use Westchase roads; that it be administered online by Greenacre Properties (GPI) staff (the WCA management team) or a volunteer; that the petition be expedited through the use of WCA/Westchase Community resources and information outlets; and that the petition language could be modified.

Blair immediately amended Odda’s motion that administration of the petition not be the responsibility of GPI staff because they had no idea how many hours that would involve. Holt said that he estimated it would take four to six hours to set up and maybe an hour a week after that. He added, “I will put the Web site up if the association owns it and if all communications come from the association.”

Director Kathy Carlsen volunteered to help.

VM O’Brien added, “Here’s an opportunity for you (the WCA) to show the community you are for them and are doing something for them instead of just giving notices. I think this will generate goodwill.”

Ross said that he stood by his original comments and thought they might need to check with the WCA attorney to make sure they could undertake the petition as a not-for-profit organization. He added that at least three times in the past year, the board had said that GPI was not doing its job, which focuses mainly on deed restriction enforcement. He asked if anyone had even checked with GPI to see if they would allow it.

Arrillaga said he understood that association employees would simply be forwarding e-mails and sending out communication, which should not require a lot of time.

Odda amended his motion so that the administration of the petition be by a volunteer but that the association would publicize the petition and forward e-mails. Director Keith Heinemann then asked that the motion be revised to strike language widening petition participation to “others that travel and use the public roads of Westchase.”  Odda accepted his amendment.

Odda’s revised motion passed 4-3 with Carlsen, Ross and Pithers casting the dissenting votes. Pithers stated her vote was not because she doesn’t support the petition but because she thought “what happened tonight was a semantic battle that was unnecessary.” She added that the petition should have been started 60 days ago.

All voted in favor of Blair’s motion to allow the WCA president to advocate on behalf of the petition in any way, including going to county meetings.

In other actions:

All directors voted in favor of re-appointing Dale Sells to another two-year term on the Modifications Committee, which reviews requested changes to home exteriors and yards.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that the tennis courts in West Park Village were being resurfaced and should be complete by mid-January. She said they would begin work on Courts 1 and 2 at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center next. She also reported that there were 313 house closings in Westchase in 2014.

Although a few board members thought the language might be a bit too harsh and the font too big on the new program waivers developed by the association’s legal counsel, directors voted unanimously to approve them. Ross asked staff to tell directors of any resident feedback and to ensure that a responsible person be in charge of the waivers so that the correct waiver is given to participants since the waivers are program-specific.

Directors asked association staff to look into developing an online survey to send to residents to get input about Westchase programs and facilities.

Directors suspended the fines for two homeowners for unresolved deed restriction violations with the understanding that the violations not reoccur within 24 months. The Woodbay residents who came to the meeting to appeal their fine had weeded and added mulch to their flowerbeds, which they said had gotten out of hand because their landscaper quit on them unexpectedly and they traveled frequently. The homeowners assured directors that it would not get out of hand again.

The yard of a homeowner in The Vineyards was still in need of new grass but she said by phone that she did not think that she should be responsible for the condition of her grass since the Vineyards Association handled lawn care. Directors told her that, according to The Vineyards, its lawn service only mows and edges yards and residents are responsible for any bare spots in their yard. Directors agreed to suspend her violation as long as the yard was re-sodded in 14 days.

All directors voted in favor of WCA Treasurer Dyan Pithers' motion to open a Wells Fargo simple business account to be used for vending machine funds.

The WCA Board meetings are open to the public. The next one is scheduled for Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

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