WCA Board Tackles Fine Appeals, Facility Rules Changes and Office Repairs

Westchase Community Association (WCA) President, Shawn Yesner opened the Aug. 12 WCA Board meeting by offering directors condolences to Radcliffe resident and WOW correspondent, Marcy Sanford, on the recent loss of her husband.

WCA Directors then opened the floor to an open forum for anyone who had matters to bring before the board. When no one spoke up, the floor was opened to residents who were appealing fines for unresolved violations.

Directors tabled one homeowner’s fine relating to a landscaping/sod violation to allow the homeowner time for their modification request to be approved. The homeowner noted that the sod had been delivered and photos had been submitted to the WCA office. Community Association Manager, Debbie Sainz confirmed the photos were received.

The next appeal involved a violation for a painted fence. The homeowners noted that they inherited the fence when they purchased the home in 2017. They also stressed that they had attended a board meeting a few months back after an initial violation notice to try to address the issue proactively, but were told they could only appeal after a fine had been levied. The husband added he had received an estoppel letter in 2017 when they purchased the home and then again in 2020 when they refinanced. “Now, all of a sudden this has become an issue,” he said. “My stance is, we didn’t make the change to the property, and it wasn’t a problem in 2017 and 2020.”

He also noted an issue with the regulation itself, in that homeowners are limited to fences that are natural wood or stained clear.

Director Eric Holt stated that he and a committee are currently in the midst of a regulation review that will probably be a year-long process, adding that there will be an opportunity to provide input on rules that homeowners are not happy with. As to inheriting the violation, Holt clarified that the estoppel letter only states that there are no fines in play, not that there are no violations. Sells concurred, adding, “The estoppel letter just means there are no violations on record that are still open. It doesn’t mean there is nothing on the property that is out of line.”

Regarding the previously missed violation, Sells stated, “The whole thing is geared around consistency throughout Westchase.” Motioning toward Sainz and fellow Community Association Manager, Charlotte Adams, Sells added, “These two nice ladies are responsible for monitoring 3,500 homes. That doesn’t mean every time they go out they see everything there is to see.”

Holt inquired about the homeowners’ willingness to resolve the issue, which would mean replacing the painted section of the fence, adding, ““We’re not out to make the money; we’re out to get the issue resolved.”
“I guess I’d feel pretty bad if I took it down and a year from now the rules change to allow painted fences,” the homeowner said.

Holt replied, “There’s no guarantee. In the meantime, you’re still responsible for that fine.”

The homeowners agreed to make the necessary changes to resolve the issue, adding, “More than anything, I wanted you to understand the point that I’m making.”

The board voted to table the fine for 30 days pending receipt of a modification request to replace the fence. Once the issue is resolved the board will reassess what portion of the fine will be waived.

The next appeal involved a fine for the installation of black gutters, which are against community guidelines. There was some confusion as to why the homeowner did not appear at the previous board meeting, when he would have had the opportunity to appeal. “As I explained in my email, I was out of state in June and July and was not able to attend in purpose. I asked to join by zoom or phone and was denied, so I have not had the opportunity to appeal,” the homeowner stated.

The board agreed to let him state his case. The homeowner’s primary grievance was manner with which his original Jan. 11, 2020, modification request was handled. According to the homeowner, 28 days passed between the time the request was submitted and the time it was returned. When he called to inquire on the delay, he was told they were waiting on a sketch of the downspout locations. Sainz noted that while the original modification request asked for black gutters, the downspout sketch from the contractor noted “linen” gutters. Once that sketch was received, the modifications committee returned the original request to the homeowner with “black” scratched out and replaced with “linen.” “Black would have never been approved,” Sells, who is also on the Modifications Committee, stated.

The homeowner, citing that he had already had to reschedule his work twice due to the delay in the approval of the request, went ahead with the work before receiving his approval with the noted change to linen. That was why the fine was imposed.

The homeowner also stated that after the initial violation, he had been looking into getting an INSG change made. “An INSG change should come before the action,” Holt stated. “The problem is in the fact that you did it before you got approval.”

Following a lengthy discussion, the homeowner stated he had already submitted a modification request to have the gutters repainted linen and that he would have the work completed. The board voted to rescind the original fine and table it to Sept. 9, pending completion the work to paint the black gutters linen. The amount of the fine will then be re-assessed upon completion of the work.

The board then voted to assess a 10 percent ($100) fine on the additional tabled violations.

The board also voted to approve all of the CCR covenants motions as submitted.

Next up was the discussion about finding a replacement for Ken Blair, a resident of Glencliff who also serves as the community’s Financial Manager, upon his retirement at the end of 2021.

It is a unique role in Westchase, and Blair explained that the original developer set Glencliff up to allow for additional services to be granted under Article 10 of the CCRs, with the costs being incurred by the residents. For instance, Blair noted that Glencliff hires a lawn care company to tend to everyone’s lawn on the same day. Every six years or so, they also have a company paint the exteriors of all the homes. Blair took over the role of financial manager in 2008. “We have a proposal from Greenacre to replace Ken, just for accounting,” Yesner stated.

Holt then asked if this arrangement was one that was imposed on the Glencliff residents and if anyone knew if they wanted to continue with it and if they had a preference on who would replace Blair. “The neighborhood itself is not on record as going forward with someone else or going with Greenacre – that vote has not been taken yet,” Blair said.

To Holt’s initial question as to whether the residents wanted to continue the arrangement, Yesner stated, “We have to get a majority vote of Glencliff in order for the WCA to reabsorb Glencliff.”

it was agreed that Blair would have the Glencliff Voting Member get in touch with Sainz and Yesner to initiate a conversation about Blair’s replacement.

“We’d like to do whatever Glencliff would like to do, but at some point, in the end, we’re going to have our hands tied,” Arrillaga added.

The conversation then turned to a review of the changes suggested by the facility rules committee.

Holt, who headed up the committee, opened the floor for questions about the proposed rule changes before they are submitted to legal for review.

Sells started the conversation with a question about the proposed pool slide minimum height rules being 48 inches versus 42 inches. “We went to the manufacturer’s recommendation of 48 inches,” explained Westchase Swim and Tennis Center Operations Manager Kelly Shires.

A homeowner then chimed in, “I was the one who submitted a request for 42 inches based on feedback from my neighbors. The main complaint is that our pool is not fun.” She added that 48 inches is the average height of an 8-year-old (a third grader). “By the time they are 48 inches, they aren’t interested in that slide.” She then held up photos of several slides at Adventure Island, stating that while they are much larger and more dangerous than our slide, the height requirement is 42 inches.

“I would personally never agree to go against manufacturer recommendations, because of we’d be assuming liability,” stated Arrillaga, “I’m on a committee that is recommending different changes to the association, and I agree that 48 inches is probably too high. I don’t think we can change what we have, but we might be able to change the actual slide. It is going to take some time, but that is a possibility.”

Sells then brought up the proposed change to make the tennis court cancellation policy either 24 hours or two hours. Currently, homeowners can cancel up to the minute before the reservation.

“The reason I wanted two hours and fought for the two hours, you don’t know if someone is going to be ill or not and if you are potentially losing your rights to use the court because you can’t cancel in time, that seems unreasonable,” a homeowner noted. “I thought a two-hour window seemed like a reasonable time to get the court out to someone else.”

Holt countered that two hours is not enough time. “They’re not going to wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday and see if there’s a court available.”

When asked, Shires noted that no-shows had not really been an issue. “Right now, this is not an issue,” he said. “I don’t think it is affecting anybody now, but I understand it has to be in the rules.”

“Even though I’ve been given information that this is happening, it’s not about whether it’s happening or not it’s about what’s our policy,” Holt said. “Do we want to give people the ability to have reservations available to them if people otherwise would just cancel at the last minute if they realize they won’t be penalized.”

Sells noted the new verbiage also changed the no-show penalty from three times in a year to three times in three months. The penalty is then a loss of court privileges for 30 days.

Sells motioned to approve tennis court proposal A (24-hour cancellation window) and also the 48-inch height requirement for the slide.

Director Heather Greeley-Hessefort then asked Kelly how much of issue true no shows are (not showing without cancelling). Kelly noted he is not seeing lots of empty courts at this time.

The board then voted on Sells’ motion, with Holt recusing himself. The motion was voted down 2-3.

Arrillaga then motioned to vote for just the 48-inch height for the slide. That motion passed 4-1, with Director Keith Heinemann casting the dissenting vote.

Tennis court proposal B (a two-hour cancellation window) also failed to pass the board’s vote.

Arrillaga proposed changing the verbiage to cancellation of a court by 9 p.m. on the night prior to the reservation. That proposal passed unanimously.

Recommended facility rule changes will next be passed on to legal for review.

Holt then gave a Government Affairs Committee (GAC) update, stating that there has been some progress on the cell tower project. He and several members of the CDD, along with the attorney would be meeting with county commissioners on Aug. 17 via zoom to make known their support of moving forward with the project. Yesner offered to attend. Arrillaga motioned for Yesner and Holt to speak on behalf of WCA in support of moving forward, and it passed unanimously.

Sainz then gave the manager’s report, stating that water bottle filling stations would be installed the week of Aug. 16. She then noted two instances of water intrusion at WCA office. She stated the engineer came out and noted drainage issues. He will work with the county and the CDD to look at storm drain system in Westchase and nearby ponds and pull together a report to determine how to fix the issue between the office and the adjacent swim and tennis center.

Arrillaga made a motion for Sainz and Yesner to have authorization to get quotes for necessary repairs to the office. It passed unanimously.

Sells then made a motion to officially change the name of the Nathan Lafer Good Neighbor Award to the Nathan Lafer Community Service Award to better reflect its intent. The motion passed unanimously.

Finally, Sainz received notes back from legal counsel on proposed Employee Handbook changes. Yesner made a motion to pass all but two revisions, in order to seek further clarification from counsel on those two points. That passed unanimously.

The meeting ended with Arrillaga making a plea to the board to come up with an official statement of condolence for Marcy Sanford and her daughter, Ella. Arrillaga pointed out Sanford’s service, not only to her coverage of the WCA, but also within the community. Yesner said he would draft a statement.

By Karen Ring, WOW Assistant Editor

 

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