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Landscaping lapses put on ballot

The Avista community will vote on whether to impose fines for deed restriction violations.

By TIM GRANT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- There isn't much yard for homeowners to maintain in Avista, considering that each house is surrounded by its own 8-foot wall.

To an outside observer, the Carrollwood Village subdivision off West Village Drive looks more like a fortress, with its wrought iron gates and peep holes in every garage door.

Only a patch of landscaping exists outside the high concrete walls in front of each home, which is why residents think it's even more important that those hedges and small grassy areas be well-maintained.

"Some people are just ignoring their landscaping," said Avista resident Marilyn Bartholomew. "We don't have any say about what's inside the wall. But they don't trim their hedges or shrubs outside the wall and they let weeds take over."

Members of the community's architectural committee might soon have more power to persuade property owners to clean up their act.

The Carrollwood Village Phase II board of directors decided on Sept. 17 to put the wheels in motion to start levying fines of up to $1,000 on homeowners in Avista who violate deed restrictions.

The 115 residents soon will be mailed ballots to cast their vote on adding the amendment to their subdivision's deed restriction, said Elwin Saviet, president of the Phase II board of directors.

"Naturally, a certain amount of people won't respond and we'll have to go knock on doors (to collect ballots)," Saviet said. "It's not unusual to have to chase people down on things like this."

Saviet said with any luck, the voting should be finished around the end of November. It will take 51 percent, or 58 votes, to pass the amendment. If the measure is successful, Avista will be the first subdivision in Carrollwood Village with the power to impose fines for deed restriction violations.

The homeowner association will then have the power to place liens on properties for unpaid fines. In a worst-case scenario, the association could foreclose on a resident's home to collect money it is owed.

John Miley, an Avista resident and member of the architectural committee, said the fines would be imposed in $100 increments after the homeowner receives written warnings.

Miley said he thinks the fines are necessary. He said there are a handful of properties in the subdivision that are being rented, and the owners have ignored repeated pleas to maintain their visible landscaping.

"The fines are designed to get their attention," Miley said.

"We haven't had a whole lot of problems, but when we do have problems they linger for months. People don't expect to have derelict properties next to them when they move into a deed-restricted community."

-- Tim Grant can be reached at 269-5311 or at grant@sptimes.com.

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