Referendum Needed Before Indian Trail Can Help Santa Rosa

The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors is waiting for property owners in the flood-prone Santa Rosa Groves community to hold a vote on whether to become an activated ITID unit.

Santa Rosa Groves, a rural enclave west of The Acreage, had heavy flooding during recent spring rains and its roads are in need of maintenance, with a homeowners’ association that has not collected fees to service its infrastructure.

On Wednesday, Aug. 22, the board heard an update from ITID Manager Rob Robinson after district officials met in July with Santa Rosa property owners regarding potential activation.

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, Robinson, ITID Attorney Frank Palin, ITID Engineer Jay Foy and ITID President Betty Argue met with the legal team of Santa Rosa property owner Simone Riccobono to discuss the possible transfer of the Santa Rosa roads and drainage easements to ITID in the event of activation.

“On the basis of review of the documents, we determined that the Santa Rosa [HOA] may have the authority to convey the easements to ITID. However, the HOA board and the landowners will have to amend their controlling documents to authorize the conveyance,” Robinson said, explaining that the current documents require two-thirds of the lot owners to approve a transfer to a public agency, although the HOA board can change that percentage.

“The HOA’s attorney indicated that action would need to be taken to amend documents to allow a transfer of easement if 50 percent plus one of the landowners agree,” Robinson said. “The HOA would be contacting the owners by mail to determine if a majority of the owners of the 82 lots in the unit favor ITID activation.”

Robinson added that Foy had reviewed the survey and found some mistakes in the documents but kept his review to a minimum since the unit is not yet activated.

Santa Rosa Groves resident Jayne Willever thanked the board for considering activating the area to address some of the road and drainage issues that have been plaguing the community for decades.

“It sounds like there’s some additional clarification that needs to be done before we can move forward with this,” Willever said.

Palin explained that the Santa Rosa documents indicate that the HOA board has the power to transfer the easements, but they cannot transfer to a public entity unless two-thirds of the owners agree to the transfer.

“The board of directors doesn’t need the authority of the members to change the terms of the document,” he said. “Theoretically, they could reduce it to zero and just do it, but they’re not going to just do that. They’re going to change the terms to say, ‘If a majority of the landowners approve the transfer,’ then they would have the authority.”

Willever asked if there is any indication of the timing, and ITID Attorney Mary Viator said her understanding was that the HOA was moving forward as soon as possible. “They sounded very positive,” Viator said.

Argue said that the HOA had requested a letter outlining the process and the need to clarify some of the numbers.

Willever said most of the residents favor activation.

“It’s not universal. I’m not going to say 100 percent of our people are for it, but there is a lot of support for addressing our issues,” Willever said, adding that she had sent e-mails and letters to every owner, absentee and resident, of all the lots in Santa Rosa Groves, informing them of the workshop, and summarizing her take on the positive tone by residents and the board, as well as some of the positive aspects if they do decide to activate.

Willever said one owner had asked her to inquire whether there was a place to learn the details of the estimated cost of $84 per acre for administrative research.

Argue said the $84 had been based on what Unit 14 had paid for activation, and is included in the district’s budget, which is posted on its web site.

“Your situation is not the same as every other unit,” she said. “Some units are developer units like Madison Green, for example. They only pay us for drainage into the M-1 Basin.”

In other business, the board decided to assess and control the number of communications cabinets that are springing up on district rights of way or find a way of wrapping them, so they are not so unsightly.

Supervisor Carol Jacobs asked if there is something that the district can do to regulate the cabinets.

“There’s a whole slew of them,” Jacobs said. “I saw two more of them. Avocado has a whole slew of them. It looks like two of them are brand new.”

Jacobs said that one property has six or seven of the boxes. “It is so horrible,” she said.

Argue said they can’t do anything about the ones that are already permitted, but Jacobs asked if they can find a way to require wrapping them.

Supervisor Tim Sayre said he believed that the permits say they can ask that any box be removed at any time. “We have two permits on the consent agenda,” he said.

Robinson said the two permits came through before the board had directed him at a previous meeting to look for a type of wrap that would go around them.

Sayre said the district can require that the boxes be moved or wrapped.

“Once they have to move them, then we can have them wrap them, because they’re reinstalling them, and I know that every one of our permits says we can have them moved,” he said. “If we come up with a solution that they can wrap them instead of moving them, it would be a compromise for them.”

Argue said the boxes seem to be predominately on undeveloped property.

“I went by some the other day and there were six on one side of the corner and two on the other corner,” she said. “If I were that landowner, I would be furious.”

Argue asked if staff was keeping track of the boxes and if there was a map of existing boxes.

“If somebody has some ideas on how we can get a handle on it, the expense should not be on us because it was supposed to be in order to get the permit, you’re going to do this,” she said.

Supervisor Ralph Bair said he liked Sayre’s suggestion to have the companies either wrap them or move them.

“If we can do it under the existing permit, we can try it,” he said.

Argue said that would be a lot of administrative work.

“We have other things that we have asked that need to be managed administratively,” she said. “Every time we come up with these projects, it’s more administrative time, and then where is it on the priority list?”

She suggested that each supervisor take one of the five district zones and take a tally of existing boxes, and they all agreed. “We’ll bring it back for next month,” Argue said.

Robinson said he would have some suggested designs for wraps at the next meeting.