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WCA Board Votes to Support TBX; Hears Request to End Facility Age Use Requirements

Parking issues in West Park Village (WPV) and possible age discrimination at the neighborhood pools were brought before the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors at their May meeting.

A West Park Village resident told the board that cars parked next to Maloney’s Pub, in a section that was marked as a tow away zone, and along both sides of Bradwell Place made driving difficult in his neighborhood. WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga told the resident that the parking around Maloney’s was under the jurisdiction of the businesses and property manager for that area but that the resident could call the county sheriff’s office if he saw cars parked in illegal spaces. Arrillaga added that West Park Village was one neighborhood in Westchase where street parking was allowed and therefore it was legal for cars to park on both sides of the street.

WCA Vice President Brian Ross, who is also a resident of West Park Village, said that he had talked to the county before about the difficulties presented when cars were parked on both sides of the street and was told that the county viewed it as a way to slow traffic down.

Bridges resident Kristen DeAngelo, a mother of three, asked the board to remove the age restrictions at the WCA facilities and allow parents to decide when their child is mature enough to go to the facilities unsupervised. “I would very much like for my two older children to be able to ride their bikes to our neighborhood facilities and be able to socialize and have fun with their friends. The current age restriction denies them access without being accompanied by a responsible adult,” she said.

DeAngelo added, “There was some confusion initially when I asked about the age. The pool rules state they must be 15, but one lifeguard thought it was 16 to get a hand scan. When I called the WCA office and spoke to Debbie [Sainz, the WCA manager], she told me the required age to play tennis was also 15, however the rules posted on the website say they must be 12.”

DeAngelo told the board that the federal government had already set guidelines. “Courts have found that the only way an HOA may avoid liability for rules that discriminate against children is to show two things: (1) that the pool rule is rooted in a ‘compelling business necessity’ and (2) that the rule constitutes ‘the least restrictive means’ to achieve the desired effect.”

Arrillaga told her he had sent her request to the association’s attorney, who would review the information and make a recommendation. He said that it should be on the agenda at the June 9 board meeting.

Arrillaga reported that the chair of the Covenants Committee, Bill Flood, was resigning. Arrillaga told the board that Flood had served as chair for 15 years. All voted in favor of his motion to recognize Flood at the next WCA meeting. Arrillaga also said they needed a volunteer to serve on the committee.

WOW Board President Jon Stein and WOW Business Manager Tracy Urso presented the possibility of expanding WOW’s distribution to neighborhoods surrounding Westchase. Stein said that many advertisers had asked Urso if WOW would expand to other areas and that it was something WOW Publisher Chris Barrett and she had been suggesting to the WOW Board for several years. Stein said that while the board had not thought it was time to expand in the past, they now thought the time was right because there was money set aside for expansion and Urso and Barrett had a solid business plan. He said there would be no difference in WOW to the residents of Westchase but that neighboring communities would get information tailored for them.

WCA Director Joe Odda asked if this would put an extraordinary amount of work on the key WOW people. Urso told him it would not put too much work on anyone. Ross said he had complete confidence that this would be successful but wondered how it reconciled with the WOW mission. Stein said WOW’s mission was to serve the Westchase community and that would not change. “The board will keep an eagle eye on the publication. We have no intention of allowing the quality to diminish.”

Stein told that board that WOW had donated about $1 million over the past 15 years to charities and several board members wondered if and how the expansion would affect that. Both Stein and Urso assured them that the Westchase scholarship program would not change as one of the requirements of earning the scholarship it to be a resident of Westchase. Stein also pointed out that WOW had always given to charities outside of Westchase like the YMCA, area schools, and food banks.

Arrillaga said he was very proud of WOW and felt like it was part of Westchase. He said that he always checks WOW to see who the advertisers are and that he supports those businesses first. He encouraged other residents to do the same. “It is the advertisers who allow the WOW to give scholarships.”

Odda, who also serves as Government Affairs Committee Chair, reported that Arrillaga, WCA Director Ruben Collazo and he had meet with key members from the Community Development District (CDD), county elected officials and county staff to discuss the possibility of exploring an interlocal agreement with Hillsborough County to accelerate repaving of roads in Westchase. He said the county was preparing a term sheet with further details about the potential project.

Odda told the board that voting members had voted unanimously to support West Park Village resident and Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Ray Chiaramonte’s request to support the Tampa Bay Express project (which would build express toll lanes on I-275, I-4 and Veterans Expressway). Odda said that the tax money for the project was from the state and if Tampa did not use it, it would go to Orlando or another city in Florida. All board members voted in favor of Arrillaga’s motion to support the project.

All voted in favor to reappoint Dan Haigy, JoAnn Gratt, and Forrest Baumhover to the Modifications Committee.

Directors voted 5-1 with Collazo casting the dissenting vote to reserve the tennis courts from 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays each week for a group of seniors, unless there was a conflicting tournament or prior commitment. Collazo said he thought it was setting a bad precedent and asked what would happen if other groups called also asking for specific times to be set aside.

Directors voted unanimously to table a Vineyards resident’s fine until July to give her time to discuss her modifications request for a new paint color with the Vineyards board and then correct any outstanding violation. The board also decided to give a Harbor Links resident another month to replace dead plants in his flower beds.

All directors voted in favor of Ross’ motion to suspend fines for 19 homes where the owners had corrected their violations, and impose the maximum fine and suspend facility use for eight homes where violations had not been corrected. All also voted in favor of his motion to suspend the fine for one home but reinstate the fine and suspend facility use if the violation is not corrected by May 31.

Directors also all voted in favor of suspending 90 percent of the fine for three homeowners where the violation had been corrected but the association had accrued legal and administrative costs.

Violations included not having the correct number of trees, unauthorized fencing, discolored sidewalks, driveways, and houses, dead palm trees and sod, and mailboxes in need of repairs. 

In other business, Ross made reference to a Dec. 10 WCA Board meeting exchange that Westchase Voting Members have discussed at recent meetings. Ross said to his fellow WCA Directors, “Through comments made at our December board meeting and by text days earlier, I raised important issues regarding the WCA’s payment approval process. Since then, our association’s legal counsel and auditor/accountant have affirmed the underlying wisdom or accuracy of my comments. I thank the board and particularly our board president for insuring the recommendations of those two professionals were implemented. It is important that we, as a board and an association, not only aspire to high standards, but also be willing to battle through adversity to attain those high standards.”

Ross went on to tell the board that he had also become more informed of some personnel issues and he requested that the board have an executive session to discuss those issues. (Closed executive sessions are permitted under Florida law for HOAs to discuss personnel issues or matters related to pending or actual litigation.) All board members agreed that the meeting was necessary.

Director Brittany Riefler was absent from the meeting.

The next board meeting is scheduled for June 9, at 7 p.m. at the WCA offices at 10049 Parley Dr.

By Marcy Sanford

Posted 13 May 2016

Note: This article was clarified on May 17. The description of the meeting between WCA Board members and the CDD was corrected to make clear the WCA Board members and CDD met with county leaders to discuss the interlocal agreement. A description of the term sheet was also changed in order to avoid giving an incorrect impression that the term sheet would spell out every aspect of a potential interlocal agreement; the term sheet is expected to propose a financial structure that can be used as the basis for an interlocal agreement.

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