Berm cleaning request backfires

By Lori Sykes - Staff Writer 
Posted June 23 2002
Article Courtesy of The Sun-Sentinel

Weston · Evenings once spent enjoying nature from her back yard are no longer the same for Margaret Adams. Now, instead of staring across the waterway at lush greenery, she has a view of a Florida Power & Light Co. substation. 

"I'm going to be 75 years old; I don't want to have to see this for the rest of my life," said Adams, who lives in the Bermuda Springs development. "I just want to see it pretty over there."

After noticing that weeds and vines were killing plants and trees on a berm across from her home, Adams decided to pass around a petition to have the buffer area cleaned up. All she wanted, she said, was to have her backyard view restored to its original grandeur when she bought her house 11 years ago. 

"A few years ago, I started noticing trees falling down, bushes rotting," she said. "All of Weston is so beautiful, I just thought it should look like everything else in the city."

Mary Macfie, president of the Bermuda Springs Maintenance Association, presented the petition to city officials at a City Commission meeting. She said commissioners then asked Arvida-JMB Partners, which has been maintaining the land, to clean up the berm. 

Arvida removed the dead foliage and planted shrubs, Macfie said. However, before the area was fully restored, Macfie received a call from Arvida officials. She said they told her that paperwork shows the development actually owns the land and Arvida is not responsible for maintaining it. 

"We feel we are being punished because homeowners on the water were complaining about how they keep up with it," Macfie said. "This community never had anything to do with the berm."

Ownership of the berm would mean the development would have to pay for landscaping, irrigation expenses and property insurance. Macfie said the 206-home community, located off Springs Boulevard, could not afford the expense. 

"We are the only community in Weston responsible for a berm on the other side of the waterway," she said. "It doesn't even attach to the community."

Arvida had taken care of the property for 10 years. The company maintains all city-owned property in non-Bonaventure sections of Weston, under a contract it has with the city. Arvida will continue to maintain those public lands until October, when the city will assume direct responsibility. 

City Commissioner Sandy Halperin checked out the berm in its present condition, and agreed with residents that it still needs significant work.

"To make it fair, precedent has been set. Arvida has been taking care of the land for all these years," he said. "All of a sudden to turn it back on the community is a shock. This could be a pretty hard financial burden."

Halperin said that, to the best of his knowledge, Bermuda Springs is the only Weston development responsible for maintaining land that faces the community. However, for the city to assume responsibility for the berm, the commission would have to vote to take over maintainance of the area.

City Manager John Flint said the community has always owned the berm, a fact that is indicated in the mapped plans for the development.

"Therefore they are ultimately responsible," he said. "We are reviewing the issue as it relates to Bermuda Springs."

Until the matter is resolved, residents of the community will be left with the nearly barren berm. 

Homeowners Tommy Davis and his wife, Maxine, said they signed the petition in hopes that the area would be restored to what it looked like when they moved in 10 years ago. Now, they said, the area looks worse then it did before.

"There was 10 years of growth," Maxine Davis said. "We expected to have back what was there when we moved in."

"I don't know why they ripped everything out and did not redo it," her husband said.