HERITAGE HARBOUR — Decisions regarding landscaping have divided the Heritage Harbour community for the last few months. But a new agreement under review could settle the matter.
At their June 3 meeting, supervisors of the Heritage Harbour South Community Development District decided to move forward on allowing District Counsel Andy Cohen and District Manager Greg Cox to craft a landscaping agreement for the Stoneybrook Homeowners Association to review. The agreement states that the HOA will continue to maintain CDD-owned land within Heritage Harbour.
Cox hopes to have a proposal ready by July 1.
Supervisor Lee Bettes made the motion at the June meeting to let the HOA “do what it has always done.”
“This was the beginning of the most honest dialogue between supervisors in a long time,” Bettes said. “There has been an uproar about landscaping, and sometimes politicians have to listen to the people — and we did.”
For more than 10 years, mowing the grass, planting flowers and other irrigation and landscaping duties have been the responsibility of the Stoneybrook HOA.
But after a joint CDD-HOA committee met in March to discuss whether to continue working with TruScapes as the vendor for landscaping, the CDD decided to go it alone and maintain the property it owns. At that time, the CDD would have had to start maintaining its property Jan. 1.
At a May CDD meeting, Tom Bakalar, HOA president, announced the HOA would no longer tend the five medians and 10 cul-de-sacs in Stoneybrook the CDD owns effective June 1 — a six-month early separation.
But it was Bakalar who opened the June meeting with an olive branch.
He noticed supervisors were having trouble finding a maintenance person to perform basic duties, such as changing batteries in speed radar signs. He offered to assist the district in finding someone to perform those tasks — a move that pleasantly surprised Bettes.
CDD supervisors voted 3-2 to contract with the HOA for landscaping, with dissenting votes from Supervisor Joe Jaudon and Chairwoman Joyce Sandy.
Although the agreement is still in the planning stages, Bakalar agreed the HOA would continue servicing the CDD’s property until a proposal is drafted. If the HOA agrees to the terms of the agreement, such as providing regular landscaping updates to the CDD, the association will continue to maintain CDD- and HOA-owned parcels.
In Other Action
Supervisors approved the first draft of the 2014-2015 fiscal budget at their June 3 Heritage Harbour South Community Development District meeting.
The $413,000 allotted for the year reflects an almost identical budget to last year’s, with few exceptions.
Residents will see minor dollar changes in their assessments and will either pay a few dollars more or less annually, depending on the size of the lot on which they live.
The district uses a system to determine assessments based on the size of the home, in terms of square footage and family members. Heritage Harbour homeowners who live in larger homes typically generate more runoff from their property and tend to use the interstate roadways more than fewer-member households, Supervisor Lee Bettes said.
Although District Manager Greg Cox does not yet have exact figures for how much residents will pay, he and Bettes promise minimal cost differences.
At this stage of the draft process, assessment fees range from 11 cents to $28.06.
Other budget notables:
• The CDD moved to leave the $29,500 costs of landscaping and irrigation out of the budget, in hopes of an agreement with the Stoneybrook Homeowner’s Association to absorb the cost and the responsibility; it denied a budget proposal to boost District Counsel Andy Cohen and District Engineer Rick Schappacher’s salaries $5,000 each; supervisors approved a 3% increase to management company Rizzetta & Co.; supervisors removed the $10,000 allotted for an off-duty deputy to monitor speed in the community.
• The supervisors will vote to adopt a budget at their Aug. 5 meeting.
To view the budget in its current draft state, visit heritageharboursouthcdd.org.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].