Westchase VMs Discuss Flagpole and Flag Rules

The Jan. 14 Westchase VM meeting saw community representatives receive guidance on rules surrounding US flag displays and give initial approval to a change in Glencliff’s sod rules.

Attorney Jon Ellis, with Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick, the Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) law firm, presented Voting Members (VMs) with the firm’s recommendations on proposed guideline updates concerning flags and flag poles. The issue of whether a Westchase homeowner could install a flagpole in his or her yard came up when a Keswick Forest resident installed one and received a violation notice.

The resident challenged the notice and it came to light that Florida Statute 720-304 2A states, “Any homeowner may erect a freestanding flagpole no more than 20 feet high on any portion of the homeowner’s real property, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, if the flagpole does not obstruct sightlines at intersections and is not erected within or upon an easement. The homeowner may further display in a respectful manner from that flagpole, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, one official United States flag, not larger than 4 1/2 feet by 6 feet, and may additionally display one official flag of the State of Florida or the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag. Such additional flag must be equal in size to or smaller than the United States flag.”

Inglis recommended that VMs only allow the flags mentioned above so as to avoid any potential freedom of speech issues but many VMs thought homeowners should be allowed to fly holiday, seasonal, sports or college flags. Wycliff VM Melinda Lewis also wondered why there were three different flagpole colors allowed in the proposed guidelines. Bennington VM Russ Crooks made a motion to table the decision for further study and VMs agreed to get input from their residents to bring back to the next meeting.

VMs then heard from Hillsborough County Sherriff Deputy Matt McCutcheon, who said that 80 percent of vehicle crimes could be prevented if people locked their cars. He also cautioned residents to lock the doors to their home and to take note of serial numbers on valuables or have valuables without serial numbers engraved. He said that crime in the Westchase area was minimal but several VMs reported incidents of mail being stolen from residents’ mailboxes and asked what could be done about it. McCutcheon said that type of crime fell under the postal service’s jurisdiction and Woodbridge VM Rick Goldstein, who is also chair of the WCA’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC), said he would ask someone from the postal department to come talk to the group. When asked about ticketing illegally parked cars in West Park Village (WPV), McCutcheon reported that he had written 120 warnings the first day he visited WPV to look for illegally parked cars and that he had written 40 tickets during a recent follow up visit.

The initial vote for the Glencliff Individual Neighborhood Section Guideline (INSG) to allow homes in that neighborhood to have a mixture of Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses passed 17–5. (Guidelines that apply to less than all of Westchase, after receiving approval of at least 51 percent of their affected homeowners, must meet the approval of two-thirds of VMs who attend the meeting at which the amendment is considered. The 77.3 percent rate exceeded the required 66.6 percent rate for passage.)

Glencliff Alternate VM Bill Eddleman said that Bermuda grass from the golf course infiltrates the lawns of homes along the course and that since Glencliff has community mowing, the grass spreads to other lawns in the area. He said that Glencliff residents regularly received violation notices for having Bermuda grass in their lawns. When residents of the neighborhood were petitioned about the guideline change, 72.9 percent voted in favor, 10.4 percent voted against and 16.6 percent were ineligible to vote or did not respond. But several residents who were against the guideline told VMs that it was possible to kill off the Bermuda grass and that the homeowners who allowed the two to mix were not taking care of their lawns. One homeowner warned that if the guideline was allowed to pass, the all of Westchase would soon be affected by Bermuda grass. VMs will vote on the guideline for a second time again next month.

All voted in favor of the proposed amendment to the color palette for WCA Guideline Section 2.1.12.

By Marcy Sanford

The article above has been changed to correct the name of the attorney who briefed VMs at the meeting. WOW regrets the initial error.

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