Westchase Residents See Red Over Letter


Article Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune

Published October 29, 2005

WESTCHASE - For the first time since moving into her home seven years ago, Janette Brennaman is taking notice of the flag on her mailbox.

That's because her red mailbox flag puts Brennaman -- and more than half the residents in some Westchase neighborhoods -- in violation of community rules.

Or maybe not.

The confusion surrounds a letter Westchase property manager Nicole Michael sent to residents earlier this week stating that all mailbox flags must be gold or black, the official colors of Westchase.

The color of a resident's flag is determined by the neighborhood, Michael said. Black flags are for residents in West Park Village, Harbor Links/Estates and The Greens, and gold flags are for residents in all other communities.

Red flags are not permitted.

New property manager Nicole Michael has put the word out that all flags on mailboxes must be either black or gold, the official colors of Westchase. Red flags must be taken down to avoid a fine.

Michael's letter told residents they have until the end of the year to comply. The rule affects a significant portion of Westchase residents, including 41 of 61 residents in Stamford and 37 of 47 residents in Sturbridge.

The letter, which Michael said was sent to several hundred residents, caused an uproar, with residents signing petitions and showing up to voice their anger at Thursday's community association meeting.

"We're alienating a lot of residents," Keswick Forest resident Billy Kimberlin said.

On Wednesday, Michael said the letters were sent because community rules state that all mailbox flags must be either gold or black. She backed down from that position Thursday night, saying that although the documents require each neighborhood to have the same color flags, the exact color is not specified. However, because the community rules are being rewritten, the gold and black standards for the flags could be added.

That ambiguity has hundreds of residents with violation letters in hand confused about what to do next.

Michael suggested residents wait to change their mailbox flags until the community rules are rewritten.

Some residents want to state their case before the rules are changed.

On Thursday morning, Bill Dennis started a petition in his Chelmsford neighborhood, where he said 90 of the 100 houses have red mailbox flags. The petition states that Chelmsford residents want to make red their official flag color. The 10 residents with gold flags can keep them, but have to switch to red when their flags need to be replaced.

Dennis collected signatures from 35 households in one day.

All the confusion has Brennaman wondering why Michael is focusing her attention on the issue in the first place.

"I think she should have better things to do," Brennaman said.