By: Sharon Aron Baron
In 2010, the Woodlands Neighborhood Improvement District was established by their Homeowners Association and the Tamarac City Commission under the Safe Neighborhoods Act. The intent of the district was to provide the community with additional tools to combat decline through crime prevention and beautification.
Because there are eight separate and distinctive sections within the community of 910 homes, with two of them not even part of their HOA, and one entire area without any documents at all, establishing the WNID was the best course of action to fund improvements such as new signs, security cameras, and other items.
Due to years of the WNID not being able to fund themselves, vote in a referendum and being plagued by litigation by several residents that were against the creation of the Safe Neighborhoods, the board which was led by area homeowners were never able to get off the ground running with it. In neighboring cities like Lauderhill, NID’s were overseen by the Cities which took more of an involved approach, which led to their success. In essence, the WNID has asked that it is turned over to the City and they establish residents as an advisory board which would make the recommendations on behalf of the residents.
The City Commission will be holding a Second Reading to the ordinance for the WNID on Wednesday, January 28, to designate the City Commission as the Board of Directors and establish an Advisory Council which will provide district powers which will provide the continuation of the district subject to the approval of a referendum in codification.
I attended the workshop on Monday, January 26, 2015 and Commissioner Michelle Gomez discussed the issue of the WNID with the commission. She supports the district, however, the biggest issue right now is that only registered voters can vote on a referendum. There are many homes that owned by out-of state-owners who wouldn’t be able to vote on improvements, and therefore would be left out. She even used an example of one section in the Woodlands had up to 30 percent of its owners who lived out of state.
Gomez told the commission she wants to wait until after our current legislative session to see if this is modified to allow homeowners the right to vote on improvements. Therefore, she has asked the rest of the commission to table the ordinance until the legislative session is over, and then proceed from there.
Florida Statute § 163.511(3)(a) and (b)
(3)(a) The referendum to implement a special residential neighborhood improvement district ordinance shall be held as prescribed in this subsection.
(b) Within 45 days from the date the governing body of the municipality or county, whichever is appropriate, enacts an ordinance pursuant to subsection (1), or is presented with a petition pursuant to paragraph (2)(b), so that the boundaries of the proposed improvement district are defined, the city clerk or the supervisor of elections, whichever is appropriate, shall certify such ordinance or petition and compile a list of the names and last known addresses of the electors in the proposed special residential neighborhood improvement district from the list of registered voters of the county as of the last day of the month preceding that in which the ordinance was enacted or the petition was presented, and the same shall constitute the registration list for the purposes of the referendum required under this subsection, except as otherwise provided in this subsection.
Gomez believes since the residents of the Woodlands have waited this long, that they need to do this right and make sure that the people who own property in the Woodlands have their say in improvements.