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WCA to Lobby for Citrus Park Drive Extension

With the Costco developer unwilling to accept long-term rules to minimize morning rush hour traffic at Linebaugh and Sheldon, WCA Directors have turned their efforts to lobbying for the Citrus Park Drive extension.

The board’s May 8 meeting also saw directors vote to charge a $250 deposit (with $150 refundable) for all pool parties.

Opening the meeting were residents of The Bridges and Woodbay, who expressed concerns to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors about a proposed revision to Article IV, Section 2 of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs). Current rules allow the association to undertake home maintenance in emergency situations after giving owners reasonable notice to address the problems. The proposed amendment would grant the association the immediate right to enter a property and resolve an emergency situation without owner notice and then lien a home should the owner decline to pay its associated maintenance costs.

The residents expressed their concern that the language of the amendment was unclear and asked the board about the definition of emergency. The residents were concerned that future WCA boards could misinterpret the amendment and abuse their power and potentially infringe upon homeowners’ rights.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Nancy Sells told the residents that the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) were the group that actually approves changes to the documents. She encouraged the residents to attend the next VM meeting to share their concerns. The final vote for the documents’ revisions is scheduled to be held at the June 10 VM meeting. Board Member Dyan Pithers echoed Sells’ suggestion that the residents attend the next VM meeting and encouraged them to become involved in the community.

Government Affairs Committee Chair Darrick Sams said that an increase in area traffic was likely to happen due to the pending sale of a vacant lot near the Ford dealership, and new apartments being built on Sheldon Road. While Sams also mentioned the reopening of the former Sweetbay on Sheldon Road as a Winn-Dixie, the public relations firm for that company subsequently confirmed it has no plans to reopen that store.

WCA Director Joaquin Arrillaga echoed Sams’ concern about traffic increases during his report on behalf of the Costco Committee. He said that the committee was unable to get Costco, the developer, and Hillsborough County officials to agree to the committee’s request that the county implement a rule forbidding Costco, or any other big box retailer replacing them, to open before 9:30 a.m. (The Costco is one of several commercial parcels proposed for the southeast corner of Linebaugh Avenue and Sheldon Road.) That rule, if adopted, would have been incorporated into the parcel’s rezoning rules, known as the P.D. He said the committee now felt its time would be better spent lobbying Hillsborough County Commissioners for the expansion of Citrus Park Drive.

When WOW followed up and inquired whether the WCA had taken any formal position on the Costco rezoning request by submitting a letter to the county (which is generally required in order to remain a party of record, which would allow the association to continue to weigh in on the development), Sells responded, “No, the board has not taken a formal position at this point in time.” She added, “A group will be meeting with each of the commissioners in the coming weeks to try to impress upon them the need for the opening hours to remain at 9:30 a.m. in the P.D. no matter what big box store sits on the property and to begin lobbying them to address the funding for the Citrus Park [Drive] extension.”

The county’s rezoning hearing will be held June 2 and a vote by Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners will be taken July 22. Residents who wish to weigh in on the project can do so by attending the June 2 hearing at 6 p.m. in the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd.; by mailing Zoning Hearing Section, PO Box 1110, Tampa, FL 33601; or by e-mailing by May 29. Residents should cite the project’s number, PD 14-0460, in all correspondence.

Arrillaga asked Sells that the committee continue to be allowed access to the WCA’s lawyer to set up meetings with county commissioners. Directors Pithers and Sams, however, were against this idea. The two felt that, as elected officials, commissioners should be available to talk to the committee and that there were likely Westchase residents who could help make those introductions. Both Arrillaga and Sells, however, pointed out that while the county commissioners who represent Westchase are always willing to talk to members of the community, the other commissioners represent other areas of Tampa and are therefore not always easily available.

Board members ultimately agreed that the Costco Committee should be expanded to include Joe Odda and Sams and that they needed to recruit other residents to join the committee. They agreed that the new committee should form a coalition with other communities that would benefit from the Citrus Park Drive extension. (According to a Hillsborough County Transportation Improvement Plan from July 2012 the Citrus Park Drive extension would extend Citrus Park Drive from Countryway Boulevard to Sheldon Road as a four-lane, divided road; while planned, the road is not currently funded.) Board members suggested that this larger group could develop a plan to lobby the county commissioners for the extension. Sells also suggested that the committee draft a template letter that residents can download and send to commissioners.

Turning to other matters, Sells said that the board needs two to three people to become members of the Modifications Committee. The committee meets every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. Interested residents can contact the WCA offices at 926-6404.

Dog Park Task Force Committee Chair Joe Odda reported that Hillborough County’s lawyer had confirmed that the Upper Tampa Bay Library owns the land on which they had proposed to build a dog park. The attorney also told Odda that legally the library cannot use any of their funds for anything that isn’t library related. The county therefore gave the committee a list of alternate locations. Odda said that the best site appears to be vacant land owned by the county at a park in the Westwood Lakes subdivision (off Nine Eagles Road). The county will poll the residents of Westwood Lakes to see how they feel about the potential dog park before plans move forward.

Swim and Tennis Committee member Mary Turnbull said that the committee has had good resident turnout and participation at their meetings. She said one concern that has come up multiple times regards a lack of communication. Turnbull stated that residents have said the association’s Web site is not up to date and that many of the programs do not have regular e-mail communications. She said that the committee was recommending that the board improve communications by using a mass e-mail-marketing tool and possibly hiring a part-time person to develop an integrated communications plan and manage communications through various channels.

All voted in favor of WCA Director Ken Blair’s motion that the Swim and Tennis Committee present a proposal to the board that includes costs to establish and maintain a cohesive communication plan over a number of years.

Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that there are still electrical issues with the palm scanners at both centers but that the company from which the association bought the scanners, Fujitsu, is paying the extra costs involved with their resolution.

The association hopes to receive a grant from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to help defray costs of building a new tennis cabana and renovating tennis courts. Sainz reported that the final step, getting an estimate from a general contractor, was complete and she was ready to send off the final application. Board members, however, took issue with the fact that there was only one estimate and asked her to acquire two more.

Sells said that employees at the swimming pools have reported issues with residents not cleaning up, inviting too many people, and not monitoring children at parties. Board members voted 6-1, with Pithers casting the dissenting vote, to approve Arrillaga’s motion to require residents to put down a $250 deposit, with $100 of the deposit being non-refundable, in order to schedule a party at the pool. Arrillaga’s motion further stated that if residents do not comply with facility rules for pool use, they will not receive the remaining $150 of their deposit and they will not be allowed to use any association facilities for 90 days. They will also be banned from making reservations at the pool deck for one year.

Under existing rules, residents interested in holding a party must fill out a party reservation form and make payment prior to the party. It cannot be done on the day of the party.

The next board meeting is scheduled for June 12 at the WCA Offices at 10049 Parley Drive.

By Marcy Sanford


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