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WCA Board Hears Costco Update; Decries WOW Coverage of Investment Properties

There was a packed audience for the February Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors’ meeting.

Residents attended not to speak during the open residents’ forum, but to hear about the proposed Costco development at the corner of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh Avenue. WCA Treasurer Joaquin Arrillaga spoke at length about the issue during the meeting. For coverage of that briefing, click here.

The meeting began with the appointment of Bridges resident Charles Stephens to the Covenants Committee through July 2014. The Covenants Committee hears appeals of fines levied against homeowners for deed restriction violations.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that preparations for this year’s summer camp had begun. She said that last year the association netted more than $11,000 profit from summer camps. Sainz also reported that 25 new residents moved to Westchase last month and that, as of the end of January, there were 711 homeowners who had not paid their yearly assessments.

WCA Directors unanimously approved Felten Professional Adjustment to evaluate the association’s insurance to ensure they have the correct amount of coverage. 

Document Review Committee Chair Dale Sells reported that the committee had focused on changes to the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs) and Bylaws and had submitted their changes to the association’s law firm, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, for review. They are currently reviewing counsel’s comments and recommendations. The committee is now in the process of compiling proposed changes to the Guidelines and plans to present CCR and Bylaws changes to the voting members at their March 11 meeting.

In 2008 the WCA instituted a self-help policy that allows the association to take measures to bring vacant houses up to code. The resolution was amended in 2009 and board members felt it was time to review and revise the policy again. The current policy allows the board to maintain lawn service and pest control for up to 10 homes once the homes have been determined to be vacant and not owned by a bank or other institution that would take care of the upkeep.

WCA President Nancy Sells asked board members to consider if there was anything that needed to be added and asked if adding power washing was something the board could do to a vacant home or if it would open the association up to greater liability. WCA Vice President Ken Blair said he did not think there was a problem with the association power washing sidewalks or driveways but they should not power wash homes or roofs as that could open the association up for liability if water got into the home.

Arrillaga asked if there were companies that could handle bringing the houses up to code and would thus incur the liability. Board Member Dyan Pithers said there were companies who did that and they might be more economical than the current process. Ultimately the board approved a motion to table any revisions until the next board meeting in order to get quotes from preservation companies who would handle the landscaping, pest control, and power washing of sidewalks and driveways.

Blair said in addition to the quotes they should get an idea of how many homes were being taken care of currently so they could have an idea of the cost. Arrillaga added to the motion that if a house needs to be taken care of in the next month, the association should have the authority to do so.

The board approved revised collection policies that should help owners understand the assessment collection process better.

They also approved new tennis court rules that will exclude the WCA tennis pros from the 15-minute no-show forfeiture of reserved courts and require Westchase tennis players to register guests in person at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center office on Countryway Boulevard.

The discussion then turned to response to e-mails World of Westchase Editor Chris Barrett had sent to the board and voting members regarding the growth of rental properties in Westchase. Pithers said she felt Barrett’s information was misleading and incorrect. She said she had pulled all the cash sales of houses in Westchase from 2013 and called the Realtors to determine who the buyers of these houses were. “Out of 66 cash sales only 18 were purchased by investors. Out of those 18, 12 were in maintenance-free subdivisions. Only six single family homes were purchased by investors so his assertion that investors are buying up houses in Westchase and not taking care of them is wrong. He is basing his information on generalities, not true real estate information.”

Arrillaga said, “It is not just renters who do not maintain their homes. There are many homeowners who are in violation of Westchase codes.”

Sells said she had issue with the innuendo that the board was not taking care of violations and said that they had recently increased the number of people patrolling neighborhoods for violation offenses from one person to two people. Sainz said because of this increase, the association had given out more violations this month, than in previous ones and that they had homeowners coming in to the office to yell at them about their violations.

Blair said the board is also exploring other avenues of holding homeowners accountable such as revising the CCRs to allow the association to place a lien against homeowners who do not keep up their homes and ignore notices and fines.

Blair went on to say that using homestead exemption as a way to determine which properties were rentals was misleading because in his neighborhood of Glencliff there are nine homestead exemptions out of 48 homes but those include five who had other family members living in the home, one snowbird, and only three individually owned and rented out. He said all homes were very well maintained.

While it does not have a sub-association, Glencliff home owners are not responsible for their lawn, landscaping and exterior painting. These items are maintained collectively by the neighborhood through additional homeowner assessments.

The board unanimously agreed that they did not believe Barrett’s article in the March issue would be an accurate reflection of Westchase. Board Member Keith Heinemann and other board members thanked Pithers for gathering her information so quickly and said she should report it at the next Westchase Voting Members meeting.

WCA Director Darrick Sams, the Government Affairs Committee Chair, was absent from the meeting.

By Marcy Sanford

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