VMs Discuss Modifications and Violations

At their June 8 meeting, Westchase Voting Member (VM) meeting discussed modifications and violations after their main agenda item was postponed.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Shawn Yesner said that while the association’s attorney was to present changes to Florida laws, several had not been approved yet and so the presentation was going to be moved to July so that the VMs could receive accurate, up-to-date information.

Yesner suggested that instead VMs discuss the issue of residents who make changes without submitting a modification request or have their submittal denied but make the change anyway. “The opinion from Shumaker (Loop & Kendrick, the association’s law firm) is the modification process should not be punitive and they think the best way would be to have the INSG (Individual Neighborhood Section Guidelines) changes happen all at one time and that twice a year the VMs consider changes. But if a homeowner is not in compliance during that time between, they get fined.”

West Park Village VM Mary Griffin asked for the board’s support on Covenants Committee decisions. She said that the committee had upheld a fine that the board imposed but that she knew the homeowner was going to appeal it. “The homeowner tried to blame the violation on staff and said they didn’t do paperwork on time but Charlotte had all the paperwork. They then blamed it on the contractor and the last appeal they made was to say Realtors and neighbors think it looks really cool. I want some assurance from the board that it is not going to overturned. It has happened in the past and it makes the committee look useless.”

Covenants Committee Chair Charles Stephens agreed, “We need the board’s support.”

Yesner said he didn’t want to get into a conversation about what the board may or may not do, but that he supported the committee.

VM Deb Guerino (WPV Villas) asked if the association ever follows up on significant modifications to determine if they were done based on the committee’s approval. Harbor Links/The Estates VM Nancy Sells responded that when a modification is approved it is very clear what work has been approved. Modifications Committee Chair Dale Sells added, “We have a certain degree of faith that if we tell residents what has been approved, they will do that.”

Joaquin Arrillaga (Alternate, The Greens) pointed out that with many modifications, like a new roof, house painting or new landscaping typically take only 24–48 hours to complete, making it hard to check on and stop a project.

Bridges VM Dawn Gingrich asked if homeowners had to submit pictures of completed projects. Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz said homeowners did not have to notify the association when a project was completed. She added that the WCA receives 40 to 60 modification requests every month. “Maybe it is time to look at the rules. Styles have changed and there has been lots of turnover. Next month everyone is going to get a copy of a letter letting them know what INSGs are coming forward. The majority are from modifications that didn’t get approved.”

Gingrich asked Yesner if legal counsel had responded to her question regarding statutes of limitations on violations. Yesner said, “He will be here in July, but they don’t know if there are any when the violation has been hidden.”

Gingrich said it was her understanding that the policy was different when there had been multiple owners, but Yesner said according to counsel, it did not matter.

Addressing VM requests of the WCA board, Griffin requested that directors look into the possibility of initiating an inspection when an estoppel letter comes through so that new homeowners do not receive surprise violations.

Yesner asked if the group was comfortable meeting in person in July. Sainz suggested polling members via email before making a decision.

By Marcy Sanford

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