CDD Hits Cell Tower Snag; Supervisors Talk Turkey Vultures

The April 6 meeting of the Westchase CDD saw supervisors decline a developer’s request to purchase land at Westchase’s eastern entrance.

The session also saw the district attorney announce she has hit a snag with their proposed cell tower at Glencliff Park and supervisors talk turkey vultures with WCA representatives.

Opening the meeting, CDD Engineer Robert Dvorak stated he had sent bid specifications for pond bank erosion repairs to seven or eight different companies but only one, Crosscreek Environmental, bid on the work. After Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated the district previously used the company with success and Dvorak called the bid reasonable, supervisors approved the $16,575 work in two areas – one 92 feet and another 163 – along Greensprings ponds.

Dvorak stated his traffic engineer looked at the Greenpoint Drive and Edgefield Place intersection where residents expressed concern about an ignored stop sign. Dvorak stated the traffic engineer found the intersection configuration, with two of the three meeting roads having stop signs, unusual. “Their feeling is it adds a false sense of security if people aren’t obeying it,” said Dvorak. He stated the engineer recommended its removal or if the district was set on keeping the sign, originally erected at the request of homeowners, it should be made larger or be accompanied by pavement messaging.

Field Supervisor Mays stated staff had recently removed a small tree obstructing the view of the stop sign and stated residents were happy with the improvement.

Ultimately, however, Supervisor Ross cautioned about liability arising from not following the traffic engineer’s recommendations and asked the attorney to speak with Dvorak’s team to determine if they were viewed as merely helpful or necessary.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she had hit a roadblock with Hillsborough County staff in getting the proposed cell tower for Glencliff Park’s south parking lot placed on the agenda of the Board of County Commissioners for approval. She informed supervisors that it wasn’t a legal issue but the matter had been elevated to higher county administration. When she contacted the person responsible for the delay, he did not respond. McCormick ultimately suggested that CDD Chair Matt Lewis and she reach out to Westchase County Commissioner Harry Cohen to explore if he may help identifying the delay’s cause.

Referring to Glencliff residents’ request for the cell tower to enhance poor cell service, Supervisor Brian Ross observed, “My own reaction is there may be a misunderstanding in the county. This was a resident driven project.” He added, “We ought to be working together, not in conflict with each other.” Ross stated that perhaps the county could help the district by showing flexibility with setback rules that currently confine the tower to the proposed location at the end of the parking lot.

When McCormick observed that the county had been very resistant on impacting the wetland setback, Ross responded, “The county has the power to resolve that issue to some degree.”

Chesney agreed that supervisors originally wanted the tower’s location placed farther back but ran into space restrictions. He added, “Sometimes residents go to others and complain and the county officials don’t realize it’s being driven by residents.”

“We just need an answer,” concluded CDD Chair Matt Lewis.

McCormick concluded that the cell tower builder, Vertex, stated they would let her know if they had interest from cell phone companies in erecting antennae on a second proposed tower behind the library. Since Vertex has not reached out, McCormick stated she assumed there is no current interest in that tower.

Making his report, District Manager Andy Mendenhall stated that a representative of a commercial developer had contacted him to explore whether the district would be interested in selling the parcel at the southwest corner of Linebaugh and Sheldon.

When Supervisor Forrest Baumhover responded, “I’d be more interested in seeing him redevelop that Burger King,” Office Administrator Sonny Whyte stated the developer appeared interested in something bigger.

Supervisors took no action on the request.

Turning to the topic of turkey vultures, supervisors heard from Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Shawn Yesner and the chair of the WCA’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Eric Holt.

Office Administrator Whyte stated she had participated in a Zoom call with the two and Stonebridge VM Judy Olivieri and stated she had been discussing the issue with Woodbridge VM (and former GAC Chair) Rick Goldstein. She stated the problem with the growing population of turkey vultures started with West Park Village commercial dumpsters. “They seem to have been fruitful and multiplied,” she observed. “The talons are tearing homeowners’ screens and rooflines.”

Whyte added staff met with a representative of the USDA’s federal wildlife services and stated the official would send recommendations on April 9. Whyte stated that a large number of turkey vultures now populate an island in the large lake beside Sturbridge and Stonebridge. Suggested fixes for dislocating the birds, which are a protected migratory species, included the use of fireworks and hanging stuffed dead birds in the island trees and in Stonebridge and Woodbridge neighborhoods. “It could be an extensive proposal,” she said.

Holt briefly discussed the property damage and stated Goldstein informed him that a certain number of the birds could also be legally killed. He emphasized it would have to be a combined WCA-CDD effort as the WCA could also change deed restrictions to enable homeowners to install roof spikes to deter the birds. He said the April 9 report would clarify a plan.

Stating supervisors will gladly discuss the report’s recommendations at the CDD’s April 20 workshop, CDD Chair Lewis stated, “We do want to work together on this.”

Supervisor Ross agreed, “We’re all in this together and we’ll all work together.” Ross also asked for an expert to attend the session as he didn’t want the CDD’s action to create a problem for another adjacent neighborhood. He added, “I don’t want to do something that will harm our natural woodlands.”

In other actions:

CDD Engineer Dvorak circulated his completed study of CDD road repaving schedules for use in setting reserves.

CDD Attorney McCormick stated she had prepared a map of a proposed district access easement she hopes to propose to TECO to allow the community to access a landlocked parcel behind the large lake east of Westchase Elementary. She stated she hoped to propose it to TECO once the district has newly installed electrical service turned on for the parcel.

Supervisor Greg Chesney circulated a spreadsheet for future discussion aimed at correcting what he described as significant delays in addressing appropriate district contributions to CDD staff retirement funds. He stated, if fully implemented, the costs across all four employees would total about $72,000.

Supervisors adjourned at 5:24 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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