HERITAGE HARBOUR — Heritage Harbour South Community Development District officials remain committed to the idea their new district manager will have more of a presence in the community.
At their March 7 meeting, supervisors narrowed proposals from five prospective management companies to two, honing in on the only local options — Severn Trent and Rizzetta & Co.
The companies service community development districts in both Manatee and Sarasota counties.
“(I want) someone local, and the other criteria is no developer connections with whoever we hire, because I think that presents a conflict of interest,” Chairwoman Joyce Sandy said. “We don’t want even the appearance of impropriety.”
Supervisors continued their meeting to 6 p.m. March 21, at the Comfort Inn & Suites, 580 66th St. Court E., Bradenton, to hear presentations from Severn Trent and Rizzetta. They are expected to make a hiring decision at that time.
The CDD’s longtime manager, Jim Ward, resigned abruptly Feb. 7, giving the board 60 days’ notice to find a replacement.
During the March 7 meeting, supervisors decided upon 10 criteria for their new management company and manager.
The new company must have a local office, no connection with Heritage Harbour’s developer, longevity of employees, processes for communicating issues with the district and local contacts for contractors and other vendors. The company’s services also must be affordable, and the company must provide the district with a designated district manager with whom to work.
Supervisors also want the new district manager to have “excellent” communication skills, have good “chemistry” with the board and be able to visit Heritage Harbour one to two times monthly; Ward’s office is located in Fort Lauderdale, limiting his on-site availability.
Both Severn Trent and Rizzetta have the ability to establish a website for the district — something supervisors have been working toward since last year.
At the March 21 meeting, supervisors also will decide if they wish for their new management company to provide its own staff to manage the district’s stormwater systems and other day-to-day field operations work or to allow the manager to hire an independent contractor to perform those services.
Supervisors voted 3-2 March 7 to give 90 days’ notice to Morris-Riley, the firm that has been providing those asset management services to the district for more than two years.
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+ End in sight for lawsuit
Heritage Harbour South’s attorney Kenza van Assenderp advised the board against signing a settlement agreement with the Lighthouse Cove Homeowners Association and resident Joe Ramsey, in litigation involving assessments for the district’s stormwater management system.
“Mediation is still open," he said."We are very, very close. We almost had it (while meeting) today.”
The agreement Lighthouse Cove’s attorney Kevin Hennessy would have provided for: the CDD to pay $5,000 to the Lighthouse Cove for a public records claim; the production of certain records; a Lighthouse Cove board representative or designee to have a regular agenda opportunity to present to the board at CDD meetings; and the appointment of a task force of two Stoneybrook and two Lighthouse Cove residents and one independent, non-resident professional engineer to review the district’s assessment methodology and recommend changes.
• Chairwoman Joyce Sandy opened the meeting with hopes of unifying the Heritage Harbour community and fostering better relationships between the district and Heritage Harbour’s various homeowners associations.
“This is a time of transition for our board,” Sandy said in a prepared statement. “Certain changes are necessary. Change can be uncomfortable, and there may be bumps along the road as we move in a new direction, but we need to move in the direction of cooperation and unity."
• Supervisors voted to have Michelle Patterson serve as vice chairwoman.
• Supervisors deferred 3-2 a vote on an agreement with Eco Consultants for lake and wetland services for calendar year 2012.
• Supervisor Richard Lane voiced his frustration the board still was not following an agreed-upon meeting format, which still must be formally adopted by the board.
• A motion by Supervisor Lee Bettes to move meetings back to their former meeting time and location failed.
Following the vote, Stoneybrook Golf Club General Manager Chris Brandt said he was open to discussing having evening meetings at his facility.
• Supervisors agreed to discuss the tenure of longtime district attorney Kenza van Assenderp at the board’s next meeting.
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A little “Ho! Ho! Ho!” can go a long way this holiday season.