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WCA Board Removes GAC Member

At the December meeting of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board, WCA Directors Forrest Baumhover recommended that Community Development District (CDD) Supervisor Barbara Griffith be removed from the WCA’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC).

Baumhover said that Griffith had taken some liberties with her position and had undermined a Kingsford resident’s discussion with county officials seeking solutions for safety and traffic issues at Kingsbridge Road and Montague Street during Davidsen Middle School’s dismissal. Director Rick Goldstein, the GAC chair, agreed that Griffith was not a good fit for the committee. Director Brian Ross asked if Griffith knew that her position on the committee was going to be discussed at the meeting. He said he felt there should be some preliminary discussion or notification. Goldstein said he had had discussions with Griffith and that she had said she did not care about politics but wanted to do what she thought was right.

Directors voted 4-2, with Director Joaquin Arrillaga and Board President Ruben Collazo casting the dissenting votes, to remove Griffith from the committee.

All voted in favor of Ross’ suggestion to add CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart as a consultant to the Variance Committee.

A previous WCA Board determined that the WCA keep six months of operating funds in reserve. Directors discussed moving $20,000 from pre-paid assessments to the reserve fund but decided to table the discussion until January so they could consult with the accountant. Arrillaga pointed out that the WCA’s budget is $1.5 million and gave kudos to the board and community association manager for managing the money so well.

A Woodbay resident asked the board to give her more time to fix problems with her lawn. She said her sprinkler was broken and that now there were areas of dead sod but that she had talked to someone who said he could have it looking good in 30 days. A few directors questioned if it was reasonable to expect grass to grow during the winter but Ross pointed out that the situation had been ongoing since August. All voted in favor of his motion to table the appeal for 30 days and uphold the fine if the situation is not remedied in that time.

Stockbridge residents also were at the meeting to appeal their fine for a vehicle parked on the street. They said that their daughter worked until late at night but that they usually stayed up to move cars around so that her car would not be blocking their cars in when they had to leave for work in the morning. They promised that she would not park in the street overnight again. All voted in favor of their appeal.

A Woodbay resident asked the board to refund her Variance Committee fee. She said she had installed rain chains instead of downspouts at her house and that after she received a violation, she went to the Modifications Committee, where her request was denied. She then took the issue to the Variance Committee and submitted an application along with the $150 fee. She said, however, she realized within minutes of being at the meeting that the Variance Committee was not the correct forum for her request. She has since submitted a guideline amendment for her neighborhood, which would allow rain chains. Collazo pointed out that there is a line on the Variance Committee application that says, “Click here for more information,” and asked why she did not read the information herself. She said she relied on the information given to her at the Modifications Committee. Directors voted in favor of her request 4-3 with Director Keith Heinemann, Collazo and Arrillaga casting the dissenting votes.

Directors denied a homeowner’s request to put his trashcan out early because he had to be at work during the time when it is permissible to have trashcans on the street. Goldstein suggested they talk to the man, who is a firefighter, about getting a larger trashcan so he will only need to put it out once a week. Arrillaga said that the other request to put out a trashcan early was because of a disability and therefore had to be approved but that this situation was different. Directors voted 5-2 to deny the homeowner’s request, with Director Ashley Wait and Goldstein casting the dissenting votes.

Directors discussed the vending machines at the West Park Village and Swim and Tennis Center facilities. They noted that the machines were often broken and had never been profitable. Arrillaga said the machines had been installed after a resident won a WCA contest that encouraged residents to submit suggestions for ways to make Westchase better. Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz said she had heard from someone who wanted to take over the operation of the machines and said she’d get more information for the next board meeting.

Directors have been discussing estoppel fees for several months. Over previous months they have questioned the fees Westchase’s management company, Greenacre Properties Inc. (GPI) charges to issue the certificates. Ross asked the association’s law firm, Shumaker Loop and Kendrick (SLK), for a bid for issuing the certificates. SLK said they would do them for a flat fee of $175 each. Collazo asked if the association would be in breach of contract if they went with another company. Ross said he would not suggest the association do something that would put it in breach of a contract but if it did, they could make the effective date later in the future.

Directors discussed the possibility that GPI would increase their management fees if they were not able to make money from the estoppel certificates and Goldstein said that if they did that, then perhaps it was time to get bids from other companies. Arrillaga responded that he did not think they would be able to find another company that manages as well as GPI. Baumhover said he had reservations that if there were already issues with GPI, that bringing SLK into the process could have a potentially negative outcome. Wait said she did not think that the WCA should be held in fear that GPI would not work well with others.

Directors ultimately voted 5-2, with Wait and Goldstein dissenting, in favor of authorizing the board president to approach GPI about issuing estoppel certificates for a flat fee of $150 with a 10-day turnaround time. Directors then defeated a motion, 3-4, to begin using SLK if GPI declined the offer, with Ross, Arrillaga, Heinemann and Baumhover casting the dissenting votes. A motion to begin requesting proposals from other management companies was withdrawn after several directors pointed out that the process would need to be more formally planned out.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted Jan. 10, 2018

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