Motion might have been prompted by family housing four Bayside College students.
Mill Creek homeowners narrowly turned down strengthening its governing documents as they pertain to "single family occupancy" in a passionate meeting on Thursday night at the Oasis Church in Lakewood Ranch.
The Mill Creek VII Association held the special meeting so that residents could vote upon proposed amendments to the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Easements and Restrictions of Mill Creek Phase VII. The motion was voted down 72-69.
On July 27, the Mill Creek VII HOA board of directors sent a notice to homeowners urging them to vote "yes" on amending the documents to "protect property values." The notice said the board of directors "has a fiduciary duty on behalf of property owners to enforce this occupancy limitation."
Those who voted "no" were in agreement the action was prompted because homeowners Terry and Heather Mitchell have been housing four Bayside College students.
"Obviously, something sparked this," said Mill Creek's Dayne Maasdorp. "What is that?
"I do believe it is the Mitchells. They are great people, doing something for a cause. Mill Creek is a great place that runs smoothly. It's a real nice neighborhood."
In a letter to homeowners, the Mitchells explained they couldn't have their own children so they wanted to form a non-traditional family. The letter said all four students are provided for in the same manner as the Mitchells would have provided for their own children."
In response to the Mitchells' letter, the board sent another letter to homeowners saying it wanted to strengthen the language in its documents so it wouldn't be legally challenged when trying to prevent single family homes from turning into boarding houses, fraternity houses or motels.
The letter also said the board was not trying to "kick out any member of the community."
Mills Creek homeowner Pat Danahy was one of almost 50 percent of the voters who chose "yes."
"We're afraid of what's going to happen (in Mill Creek)," she said. "My concern is that anybody can open a dormitory type building in our development."
Although the Mitchells aren't sure whether the HOA will pursue action against them even though Thursday's vote failed, they were happy so many people in the community came to support them.
"It's wonderful to have community support," Heather Mitchell said. "It brings tears to my eyes."