Dear VI Residents:
I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season and a great New Year!!! It was nice to see all the VI traditions continued over the holidays such as festive lighting on so many homes, the golf cart parade down Grand Canal (this year there had to be 300 of them), luminaries on the seawalls and the fireworks on New Years’ Eve. We “experimented” with having the seawall luminaries on New Years’ Eve rather than on Christmas Eve based upon the positive response we had to moving them to New Year's Eve in 2020. We will sample the neighborhood to get your reaction and preferences for future years. The funds generated by the sale of the candles/bags are used to provide the “welcome gifts” to new residents of VI.
The VI Holiday Food Drive on December 12 was a great success! Thanks to the generosity of the VI community, 1,370 pounds of food were collected for the benefit of the St. Pete Free Clinic Food Pantry.
We are still planning to have an “in person” Annual Meeting on January 20, 2022, at Lutheran Church of the Cross (“LCC”); however, this will be dependent upon the status of the Omicron variant. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm with a “social time” on the outside patio and at 7:00 pm in the church sacristy for the business meeting. The primary objectives of the Annual Meeting will be: (i) the election of VIHA Officers and Board Members for 2022; (ii) review of VIHA operations; and, (iii) an update on the Deed Restriction (“DR”) revision process.
The slate of candidates for the 2022 VIHA Board are:
President: Rich Scanlon 1992 Carolina Circle
Vice President: Tom Testa 2001 Kansas
Treasurer: Mark Brenman 1930 Kansas
Secretary: Linda Testa 1997 Kansas
Board Seat (2 year): Eric Johnson 2075 Hawaii
Bill Greenfield 1924 Massachusetts
Patton Youngblood 1928 Carolina
Jan Herzik (*) 1936 Massachusetts
George Bridgmon (*) 2055 Massachusetts
Board Seat (1 year): Brian Hill (*) 1910 Kansas
(*) new Board members
In addition, the following are members of the VIHA Board whose terms expire at the end of 2022:
Charlie Baker 1972 Massachusetts
Matt McNulty 1901 Iowa
Chuck Miller 2038 Carolina
I know it is often difficult for VI residents to attend the Annual meeting so, pending the direction of the Omicron variant, the plan would be to have a series of meetings with Board members and the residents of individual streets to hear directly from, what we hope would be a greater number of residents, of the issues that are of concern that the Board should focus on in 2022. I like to call this “VIHA Board Members in the House” so look for further info. Please contact me if you would be interested in hosting a meeting for your street in your home or on your lanai.
The Deed Restriction Revision Committee has identified a number of Deed Restrictions ("DRs") to address based upon property owner input. As a reminder, to amend, add or delete any DR requires the consent of 66.67% of the property owners in VI. In January, the first “ballots” for updating the DRs will be delivered to property owners. The decision was made to present 3 DR revisions per ballot rather than including all the proposed revisions at once. The three DRs that will be included in the first ballot to be sent in January include:
Deed Restriction 03 – defines all setbacks and aligns with City Code.
Deed Restriction 13 – defines ARC approval requirements for exterior improvements
Deed Restriction 53 – fences, a new DR, defines materials and heights of fences
Note that DR 53 was previously approved but because of the “Revitalization” of the DRs that was completed in 2021 it must be balloted and approved again. The only changes to what was approved previously for DR 53 is to make the measurements clearer.
The DRs can be found on our website at: Deed Restrictions - Venetian Isles Homeowners Association (VIHA) (ourvi.org).
Thanks to the 181 property owners who have paid their 2022 VIHA dues so far. Instructions for paying your dues can be found at http://www.ourvi.org/pay-dues.html. Only 2022 VIHA members are eligible to vote in the Board elections so please pay your dues no later than January 19 and make an effort to attend the Annual Meeting on January 20 at LCC. We will confirm that the Annual Meeting will still be held on January 20 with an email blast on, or about January 18.
I hope you all have a happy and prosperous 2022.
Dear VI Residents:
I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Over the next several weeks VI will be “lit up” for the holidays culminating in the lighting of luminaries along the seawalls on December 24. The Hospitality Committee will be selling candles again this year. Your block’s candle seller will be reaching out to you shortly and details will also be available on ourvi.org. Don’t wait till the last minute to get your seawall candles as they always go fast!!! Also, the VI Holiday Food Drive has been set for December 12 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the intersection of Grand Canal and Overlook. Donations will benefit the St. Pete Free Clinic.
COVID-19 has forced us to curtail many of the usual VI activities including Oktoberfest, the New Homeowner’s Reception and our Annual and General Meetings so we are excited to kick off 2022 with an “in person” Annual Meeting on January 20, 2022, at Lutheran Church of the Cross (“LCC”). The meeting will start at 6:30 pm with a “social time” and at 7:00 pm for the business meeting. Obviously, this will be pending no further outbreaks which would cause LCC to re-impose the prior level of restrictions against allowing outside groups to use their facilities.
Topics to be discussed at the Annual Meeting include:
The Board has approved an increase in VIHA annual dues from $180 to $200 for 2022. This is necessary to offset increases in VIHA insurance, utilities and legal expenses. As a reminder, VIHA members may request a copy of the annual budget.
I want to share a feel-good story. Several weeks ago, a “solicitor” convinced an elderly VI resident to write a large check to his “cause.” The solicitor showed the check to another neighbor trying to convince him to contribute. Fortunately, he recognized the name on the check, knew the person was suffering from dementia and contacted her family. The family was able to put a stop payment order on the check. Just a great example of one neighbor looking out for another. Let’s try to exhibit more of that in VI!!!!
At recent VIHA Board meeting we discussed putting up “No Soliciting” signs at the entrances to VI. Subsequent to that Board meeting we learned from Don Herring, our Community Policing Officer, that if signs are installed and the SPPD is made aware of a solicitor then they will, depending upon available manpower, respond to the complaint. While this approach may be helpful, the most successful approach may be for a property owner to install a “No Soliciting” sign at your door to, hopefully, preclude people from knocking on your door. The best of these signs that I have seen in the neighborhood is: “No Soliciting – Unless You are Selling Girl Scout Cookies!!!”
There are a couple of other things to make you aware of:
We have been contacted by Hotwire Communications about offering a “Fiber to the home option” for bulk cable and internet. We think this service might be of great benefit to VI residents by providing better service at a lower cost. We are looking for VI residents who can lend their expertise and help us get a better understanding of what this potential option entails. Please contact me if you have experience in this area and can assist us in investigating this further.
Finally, a big “shout out” to Brooke and Craig on Carolina Ave. for continuing to organize Friday Food Truck Events. This has proven to be a great way to bring VI residents together and meet their neighbors. The December Food Truck Friday is scheduled for December 17 in front of 2020 Carolina. Details about the event can be found on ourvi.org.
I look forward to seeing you around the Isles during this holiday season.
Dear VI Residents:
As we near the end of summer and what we hope will be the return of cooler temperatures, there are several items that I want to make sure we bring to the attention of VI residents.
The situation with the damage to the lights along Overlook has been resolved. The children involved all came forward with their parents and have agreed to cover the entire cost of the repairs. The VIHA Board has decided to allocate additional funds from our budget to move the lighting fixtures so they are less intrusive, instead of just repairing them.
It has come to my attention many of our high-school aged children need “community service hours” to meet their graduation requirements. While the VIHA is not a 501(c)(3) “not for profit” (“NFP”) corporation, which is generally a requirement to earn the community service hours, we know that VI residents are involved with a wide range of charitable and community organizations that do qualify for service hours. If you are involved with a NFP and in need of volunteers, please let us know so we can communicate these community service opportunities to VI residents.
Nominations for the 2022 VIHA Board can be submitted through November 30th, 2021. The application form is available on http://www.ourvi.org/board-members . There are six seats up for election this year with a mix of one and two-year terms. We have very committed group of Board Members; however, like every organization, the VIHA can benefit from “new blood” to generate fresh ideas. Please consider bringing your talents to help keep VI a beautiful place to live and help find new ways to enhance our unique community. If you’d like to learn more about what the position entails or have any questions about the nomination process, please reach out to me or any other Board Member. The next scheduled Board meeting is October 28. If you’d like to attend to learn more of how the Board functions, please contact me for details.
Thank you to all the residents who requested one of the vertical oyster gardens offered by Tampa Bay Watch. We are sorry we were unable to give one to everyone who was interested but we are planning to partner with Tampa Bay Watch to give away more oyster gardens in the future. Please note that we have learned that they are not appropriate for docks located on open water.
We have several great community events planned over the next couple of months:
More details to follow in separate emails on each of these events.
Hope you have had a great summer and look forward to seeing you “around the Isles!!!”
Dear VI Residents:
On Friday evening, September 10, sometime between 9:30 – 10:30 pm, a group of juveniles, believed to be residents of VI, vandalized 9 of the 13 lights which are used to illuminate the Royal Palms at this entrance to our community.
Unfortunately, this group did not stop there. As they proceeded further into VI and east along Grand Canal they removed stakes from several of the Silver Buttonwood trees that had recently been installed by the Beautification Committee to replace the dead Foxtail Palms.
These incidents were reported to the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) and an investigation has been opened. Based on review of video footage provided by several VI residents, along with eyewitness accounts, the group evidently went into the backyard of a home located on the north end of Iowa Avenue when they were finished.
The actions of the juveniles were reckless and showed no respect for our community or regard for the hard work of many within VI. However, we’ve all been kids and likely have done things that were foolish or destructive at some point. Therefore, we would like to offer the people responsible for the vandalism the opportunity to come forward and make restitution for the damage incurred in addition to performing some mutually agreed upon community service within VI. If this happens, the Board will withdraw our complaint with the SPPD.
If we are unable to resolve this matter confidentially “among neighbors” by Friday, September 17th, the Board will have no choice than to let the SPPD complete their investigation. We sincerely hope that the individuals involved will take responsibility for their actions by contacting me at 727-525-0477 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you have any questions or additional information about the vandalism, please contact me.
Thanks for your attention to this matter.
Dear VI Residents:
This letter is being posted shortly after Labor Day which, if you are from “up north” like I am, you remember as the last day of summer vacation and when the temperatures begin to fall. In Venetian Isles we know it signals the last few weeks of hurricane season where the potential exists for the most extreme storms. If you are new to this community, please take the time to follow the hurricane preparedness measures that you can find on the City or County websites.
My July 30 letter to the community provided notice that the revitalization of the VIHA Declaration of Restrictive & Protective Covenants was approved by the Department of Economic Opportunity which means that the Deed Restrictions (“DR”) are back in force. Qualified Property Management and the members of the DR Committee (“DRC”) have resumed addressing DR violations. One of the more significant violations that has been noted is the number of boat trailers/recreational vehicles that have been parked on driveways or adjacent to homes. Just a reminder that:
If you have a boat trailer, or other such item, please be considerate of your neighbors and make arrangements for the storage of that item outside of Venetian Isles.
Also, if you are planning on completing any renovations to the exterior of your property, please review the Architectural Review Committee material on the website at http://www.ourvi.org/architectural-review.html which outlines the approval process including documentation requirements and timing.
Several other things to bring to your attention:
Hope you have had a great summer and look forward to seeing you “around the Isles!!!”
July 29, 2021
Dear VI Property Owners:
With much gratitude to the nearly 300 VI property owners who signed the Consent Form for the 2021 Deed Restriction Revitalization effort, as well as to the many volunteers without whom this would not have been possible, I am thrilled to announce that we were notified on July 14, 2021 that the Department of Economic Opportunity (“DEO”) completed its review of the submitted Revitalization documents and have determined “that the documents comply with the requirements of Chapter 720, Part III, Florida Statutes. Therefore, the proposed revitalization of the VIHA’s Declaration of Covenants is approved.”!!!
As a reminder NO modifications to the DRs were made as a result of the Revitalization process and the VIHA is NOT a Chapter 720 association.
The Deed Restrictions (“DRs”) were filed with Pinellas County and recorded on July 28, 2021 (the “Record Date”). Therefore, as of the Record Date the DRs are once again enforceable within Venetian Isles. That means the following:
As I have mentioned in previous President’s Letters, the DRs need to be revised which could include deletions of certain DRs, modifications to others and the creation of new DRs based upon changes in technologies, property owner preferences, etc. The more input we get on these proposed enhancements the more effective they will be. The first step will be a resident survey that will help identify and prioritize DR revisions. We will also provide an opportunity to discuss the survey results and proposed DR changes in what I imagine will be a series of Town Hall meetings. I will be communicating more information on this soon.
The Board thanks you for your support and your patience during this protracted process and I look forward to having further conversations about how we can improve life in Venetian Isles.
June 11, 2021
Dear VI Residents:
After a beautiful and mostly dry spring, the “dog days” of summer are now upon us. Please remember to stock up on critical supplies as we enter hurricane season. No one can accurately predict the number or intensity of storms that we may face this season, but we can all do our best to be fully prepared. I encourage you to sign up for emergency alerts from the City of St. Petersburg at http://www.stpete.org/news/alert_stpete.php and/or follow the City on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date on storms that affect our community.
The real estate market has been especially vibrant in VI the first 5 months of the year with a total of 20 sales recorded through the end of May with three additional transactions pending. We welcome our new neighbors to VI and we hope to schedule our New Homeowner Event in the fall as we emerge fully from the pandemic.
The VIHA Board will not be meeting in July or August given the difficulties in obtaining a quorum during the summer months; however, the DR Revitalization process that I summarized in the May President’s Letter will continue with a response from the Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity expected by mid-July. The steps that I outlined for revisions to the Deed Restrictions are also moving forward starting with a resident survey that we will target for release in early August. Please stay tuned as we will need the entire community’s participation in this process if we are to implement the changes that have been proposed by the Deed Restriction Revision Committee and property owners.
Several residents have expressed concern about barges parked in our canals obstructing docks and potentially causing harm to seawalls. While the canals are public waterways and not under the purview of the VIHA, Officer Brandon Bill of the St. Petersburg Police Marine Unit confirmed that parking barges in the canals is permitted as long as the barges are not creating a “navigational hazard.” If a barge is blocking your dock, the Police can issue a citation and ask the owner of barge to move. Officer Bill suggests that residents also call the owner of the barge directly if the barge is creating a nuisance.
Finally, it looks like Oktoberfest is “go”. Stay tuned for details.
Have a great summer and see you “around the Isles!!!”
May 12, 2021
Dear VI Residents,
Thanks to the efforts of a committed group of volunteers and nearly 300 VI property owners who signed a Consent Form, we are nearing the end of the first phase of the Deed Restriction Revitalization process. Here is what we expect will happen over the next few months:
First week of May -- all the signed Consent Forms were delivered to our attorney who will review the Consent Forms for “completeness” and prepare the Revitalization Package for submission to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (“DEO”).
Mid to late May -- the Revitalization Package will be sent to DEO for their review. The DEO must complete its review no later than 60 days after receipt, by law.
Mid to late July -- upon approval from DEO, our attorney will record the Deed Restrictions (“DRs”) that were in place prior to the Revitalization with the County.
Late July to early August -- once the DRs have been recorded they will be enforceable within VI.
Remember, none of the DRs that were in place prior to the Revitalization have been changed. However, the VIHA Board and Deed Restriction Revision Committee (“DRRC”) understand that the community expects the DRs to be “overhauled” – which includes the deletion and modification of existing DRs and the possible addition of others. This process cannot occur without YOU as we need the approval of 66.67% of all property owners subject to the DRs to make ANY changes.
The process that the VIHA Board will utilize to accomplish this DR overhaul will include:
As a result of talking and listening to residents during this Revitalization process, we have learned that the vast majority of VI residents want DRs and an even greater number want the DRs modified. The VIHA Board has heard your message and we look forward to starting the DR revision process as soon as the Revitalization is complete. I welcome your continued input and thank you for your support of the Revitalization effort.
View this email in your browser
Dear VI Residents:
As you know, we are going through a process to “revitalize” the Deed Restrictions (“DRs”) as required under Florida statutes. I would like to thank the approximately 200 homeowners who have returned their signed Consent Forms and believe, as I do, that the DRs are the foundation for making VI such an attractive and desirable community, where property values have increased faster than the market over the past year. A small, but vocal, minority is trying to convince you otherwise, even though everyone who purchased a home in VI should have been informed about the mandatory DRs prior to their closing. Before you make your decision, I want to address some of the misinformation that has been circulating:
I understand that this is a complex issue and there are plenty of discussions occurring online and “in driveways” which is to be expected. Let’s keep up the discussions but keep them factual and avoid criticizing individual perspectives.
I have included some FAQs below based upon conversations with property owners. If you have additional questions or would like to discuss this important decision further, please reach out to any member of the Organizing Committee. Thank you.
ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED REVITALIZATION PROCESS QUESTIONS
Q. Why do we need to repeat the Revitalization process when we just did it last year?
A. After the DR Revitalization was approved in March 2020, an objection was filed. Based on an eight-month review, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (“DEO”) concluded that certain documents should have been provided to property owners in 2019/2020. As a result, we must repeat the Revitalization process and have included the required documents in the information packets that were provided to property owners.
Q. What is the difference between the previous Revitalization Packet and the 2021 Packet?
A. All the documents are identical, except for the following:
Q. What does it mean if I sign and return the Consent Form?
A. Signing and returning the Consent Form means that you are in favor of keeping Venetian Isles (“VI”) a deed-restricted community and reinstating the previous DRs. If 50.1% of the property owners return signed Consent Forms, the DRs will be reinstated.
Q. I am in favor of some DRs but I do not like all of them, can we just reinstate some of them?
A. No. Per Florida statutes, the DRs must be revitalized “as is.” Once the DRs have been revitalized, we can begin the process of updating them. There are several revisions to the DRs have already been proposed and we will begin the revision process once the current DRs have been revitalized.
We invite you to join the Deed Restriction Revision Committee (“DRRC”) if you are interested in participating in this project. The Committee also welcomes your suggestions for what you would like to see added or eliminated. Once we can safely meet, the plan is to convene a “Town Hall” meeting to review the changes to the DRs as proposed and have an open discussion. Please email email@example.com to get involved with this, or any other committee.
As a reminder, the DRs can only be modified if 66.7% of VI property owners approve. Neither the DRRC nor the Board can unilaterally change any of the DRs.
Q. If the Revitalization is approved by the community, does it mean that the VIHA will become a mandatory (Section 720) association?
A. No. Membership in the VIHA will remain voluntary and payment of dues will NOT become mandatory. A transition to a mandatory association membership would require approval by 100% of property owners.
Q. I am in favor of DRs but I do not like how they are enforced, should I sign the Consent Form?
A. The Revitalization is to determine whether property owners want VI to continue to be a Deed Restricted community or whether we should let the DRs expire permanently. If you would like to see changes to how the DRs are enforced, we invite you to join the VIHA Board and/or the Deed Restriction Committee so that you can provide your input on the enforcement process.
Please note that if the Revitalization is approved, we will reengage the third-party property management company, QPM, to ensure that the DRs are enforced fairly, evenly and consistently.
Q. What happens if the DRs are not Revitalized?
A. Properties will only be subject to City Codes. As a result, there will be fewer protections against blocking water views, parking of RVs and boats/trailers, maintaining eighty-foot waterways in our canals, and keeping chicken coops, among other things that the City Codes permit.
Q. I have heard that some residents have opted out of the association and are no longer subject to the DRs. Can I opt out of the DRs?
A. No. A State ordinance allowed residents to opt out of certain homeowner associations during a one-year period which expired October 1, 2019. All properties currently in VI, whether or not property owners pay dues, will be subject to the DRs once they are revitalized. This excludes the properties on Point Overlook and three properties who provided the requisite notice to “opt out” prior to October 1, 2019.
Q. Why is the VIHA collecting 2021 Dues if the DR’s need to be Revitalized?
A. The VIHA continues to incur expenses such as utilities and is committed to maintaining and improving the entrances and bridges in VI, including landscaping, lighting and mangrove trimming. We are in the process replacing the sod by the Overlook Bridge after it was ruined by the Sugarcane Mosaic virus. In addition, we have recently put in 65 plants on the Iowa Bridge and installed flowers and lighting at the Mermaid Point entrance. We continue our communications to residents including distributing the updated Homeowner Directory to 2021 VIHA members. We are also planning to resume our community events in the fall.
Happy New Year to all in VI:
I hope that everyone was still able to safely enjoy the holidays and spend time with your close family members despite having to modify some of our traditions and plans due to the pandemic. Even the traditional lighting of the seawall luminaries on Christmas Eve was impacted this year, not by COVID but by a storm, but we were able to pivot. New Year’s Eve provided us with great weather and the opportunity to “light up” VI.
The 2021 VIHA budget was prepared in October, approved by the Board in November and dues notices were mailed to property owners in mid-December. I would like to thank the over 100 property owners who have already sent in their payment and, if you have not yet done so, we would appreciate your payment by January 15. The annual dues for 2021 increased from $150.00 to $180.00 due to the following:
Finally, you will receive information via first class mail the week of January 4 regarding the “revitalization” of the Deed Restrictions that occurred in 2019/2020 and further developments. Once this information is delivered to the property owners, we will schedule additional meetings/Zoom calls to review an additional step in the revitalization process required by the Florida Department of Environmental Opportunity.
Have a great New Year, stay safe and hope to see you out and about in VI.