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Basketball goal owner's fine on hold

Warren Kent's hiring of a lawyer gives the community association pause.

By JANE BOKUN

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000


WESTCHASE -- Warren Kent says he has brought a lawyer into his ongoing dispute with the Westchase Community Association, which has decided to reconsider its position and put Kent's fine on hold.

After months of negotiation, the Brentford resident, who refused to remove a portable basketball goal from his driveway, also refused to pay a $2,000 fine imposed by the Westchase board. At an association meeting Thursday night, he had most of the 60-member crowd's support as he explained why.

"According to the Florida Homeowners Association guidebook, the rule is invalid," Kent said. "It says you have to have board approval prior to construction of a structure on your property. This basketball goal is portable," and therefore not a structure.

He also said he was not made fully aware of the rule before purchasing his home. Kent, an engineer with a 16-year-old son who uses the hoop, said he had retained Tampa real estate lawyer Randall Reder to represent him.

At that, board members voted to take the issue under consideration and put Kent's fine on hold.

"I'm delighted," Kent said. "It's the best decision I could have hoped for."

Kent was warned to remove his portable goal in April. When he didn't answer a letter from the Westchase covenant committee, which reviews property infractions, he was fined $1,000 in June. At one point Kent agreed to take down the goal but reneged and was fined an extra $1,000. The association then instructed its attorney to seek an injunction to force Kent to remove the goal.

But for now, Kent is in the clear.

Residents remain divided.

"Being able to play basketball in their own driveways keeps the kids close to home," said Patsy Witliff, a Brentford resident.

"I'm behind him 100 percent," agreed Rob Hargen, another Brentford resident.

However, a small contingent led by Anthony Sanchez, a Brentford resident, said portable basketball hoops in driveways don't look good. In a related basketball issue, the board also is considering contacting the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and disposing of several portable basketball goals used by neighbors that have been left in public areas such as cul-de-sacs and on Westchase streets.

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