Voting Members Debate Community Service Award and INSG Amendments

WCA President Shawn Yesner began the July VM meeting, which took place via Zoom, with the Nathan Lafer Community Service Award, saying that the board has been debating whether the award has run its course. They received only two nominations this year; one a previous recipient and the other a good neighbor who didn’t necessarily meet the requirements. He requested the VMs’ input.

Joaquin Arrillaga, VM for the Greens, said he was in favor of keeping the award but didn’t think it needed to be awarded every year. Glencliff VM Terry Boyd agreed.

“I lived next door to Susan and Nathan. They were good friends of mine,” said Woodbridge VM Rick Goldstein. “It would be a shame to no longer have the award available. He did an awful lot of good in the community.”

Yesner said he liked the idea of reserving the award for when it’s deserved, rather than forcing it annually.

“There are a lot of people that are on this call that are worthy of getting this award. Their names just don’t come up. It may require that it become incumbent upon the VMs to choose among your colleagues,” said WCA Board Member Eric Holt. “The other option is to be more consistent, and we name the activity room or something after Nathan Lafer and it exists in perpetuity to memorialize him.”

Yesner said he was grateful for the VMs’ input, and that the board would try to reach a conclusion at their meeting later in the week.

Yesner said the majority of the Individual Neighborhood Section Guidelines (INSGs) were written in 1998, and an amendment passed in 1999 left some ambiguity regarding which fences were allowed on properties backing up to ponds in certain neighborhoods.

Yesner explained that a Bridges resident had submitted a request to the Modifications Committee to install a fence similar to those of his neighbors and it was denied, due in part to the ambiguity of the amendment, and he was looking for resolution.

The MOD Committee mistakenly approved the neighbors’ fences, said Yesner. Sells emphasized the fact that the board cannot make or change the rules, but simply enforces them. He proposed adding language to the amendment to clarify the ambiguity.

Castleford VM Mary Banks asked how many homes were erroneously approved. The resident replied that eight homes back onto the same pond, and three have metal fences like the one he requested. Stockbridge VM Ed Siler said he’s not opposed to changing the wording because the fences that are permitted by the current INSGs look silly and literally split the backyards in half.

“We need to follow the proper procedure to amend the INSGs. We can’t just go as VMs and do what we want,” said Jeff Clemente, VM for the WPV Townhomes. “We have to get the residents to chime in and vote on what they want to do. We’re set up to give them a voice. I am totally against bypassing the protocol.”

Clemente went on to remind the VMs that the county owns the land immediately surrounding the pond, meaning residents’ property lines don’t go all the way to the edge of the water. He said he was concerned that rushing to amend INSGs or existing amendments could be stepping on legalities.

Brentford VM Michiel Oostenbrink said that although he saw Sells‘ point, he agreed with Clemente’s concerns about getting residents’ input and following the protocol. He said he doesn’t think that the INSGs should supersede the master guidelines.

Yesner said that he wanted to take a straw poll and asked the VMs if they would be in favor of changing the language in the amendment to the governing documents. Fifteen VMs voted yes, and nine voted no. Yesner said he would take the results back to the other board members at the upcoming July meeting.

“We’re not going to approve or deny a fence for anyone,” clarified Yesner. “We’re going to figure out a process that allows us to move forward.”

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