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.
April President's Letter
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
New Year's President's Letter
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.
Holiday President's Letter
Without doubt, the 2020 Holiday Season will be like no other as we enter what we hope is the last “couple of innings” of restrictions due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, we have had to reschedule many VI events until it is safe to meet again in person, but we will have some festive neighborhood activities throughout the holiday season.
We held our First Annual VI Holiday Food Drive this past weekend. Recognizing that people want to connect and give back to their community during these difficult times, Becky Morrison, Colleen Pelton, Virginia Brenman and Julie Scanlon organized this very successful event. Thanks to the incredible generosity of our community we collected almost 2,500 pounds of food filling two pick-up trucks!!! The items were donated to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Food Pantry and, as you would expect, were much appreciated. Thank you to all who supported this worthwhile event and special thanks to Santa Claus who made a cameo appearance. A big thank you to Paul Pelton and Steve Cropper who transported the big haul!
Two more holiday events are planned over the next couple of weeks:
We expect to be able to resume our favorite neighborhood events like the golf outing, fishing tournament and Oktoberfest in 2021. Please email email@example.com if you’re interested in volunteering for any of these events or have other ideas for bringing the VI community together. There is so much we can do to improve life in VI but we need your help.
Just a couple of final points:
Thanks to all those volunteers whose efforts are critical to making VI the special place to live that it is, we could not do it without you!!!
Have a great Holiday season, stay safe and hope to see you out and about in VI.
2020 Resident Survey Results
A summary of the responses to the 2020 VI Resident Survey has been posted at http://www.ourvi.org/2020-resident-survey.html . Again, my thanks to the 208 people who filled out the survey. Your input was extremely valuable and will be used by the VIHA Board to make decisions for 2021 and beyond.
The primary concerns noted by survey respondents were:
The VIHA Board will continue to assess the responses and has reached out to the residents who requested follow up. We will find a way to allow for a broader discussion on the survey results once we can meet in a safe manner.
Several thefts from docks have been reported recently. This is a good reminder not to leave valuables out, raise your lifts and never leave keys in your boat or jet ski.
Finally, I would like to say THANK YOU to VI Resident Jerry White, owner of Electric Connection, who fixed the lighting on the royal palms at the Overlook entrance saving us the expense of hiring an electrician. If you have expertise in a particular area and would like to volunteer your services for the benefit of VI – we would certainly appreciate it!!!!
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and we hope to see you at a VIHA meeting soon.
VIHA Board President
Tropical Storm Eta
On November 11, Tropical Storm Eta hit Venetian Isles harder than anyone thought it would. I’ve lived in VI since 1993 and this was the worst storm I can remember since the mid-1990’s, Regardless of the number of years you have lived in VI, the message is to take these storms seriously because you never know when they will make a last minute change and have a substantial impact on VI. Be prepared and don’t leave anything to chance.
If you were looking in the bay or the canals after Eta, you could see that there was significant damage to many of the docks in our community but, luckily, there did not appear to be any seawall failures. As you inspect your docks, remember to check the condition of the pilings that provide the support. Better to inspect/repair them now then have your dock completely destroyed in the next storm. Remember, if you are going to replace your dock, for any reason, please submit the plans to the Architectural Review Committee for approval. The approval process and checklist of required documentation are outlined at http://www.ourvi.org/architectural-review.html
I appreciate the efforts of the 208 VI residents who took the time to complete the 2020 Resident Survey. Your input and insights will be very valuable in guiding the VIHA Board in our priorities for 2021. The survey results will be summarized and reviewed with the community once we can meet again in a safe manner.
Finally, VI continues to maintain our status as a highly sought after neighborhood because of our location and the efforts of our volunteers. I’d like to recognize Lisa Schwartz, Steve Cropper and Mark Brenman who on the Saturday morning following Eta took it upon themselves to remove a substantial amount of storm debris (see photo below) from Grand Canal, Overlook and Mermaid Point. I'd also like to thank Bill Greenfield for coordinating the placement of flags throughout VI in honor of Veterans Day.
Without volunteers like these four, and many others, VI would not be the quality neighborhood that it is. Please consider volunteering for a committee or consider serving on the VIHA Board. Nominations for the 2021 Board are open until November 30, 2020. Nomination forms can be found at http://www.ourvi.org/board-members.html. If you'd like to volunteer, please contact the appropriate Committee Chair. Their names and contact information are listed a http://www.ourvi.org/viha-committees.html.
I hope everyone in the community had a fun, yet safe, Halloween. There seemed to be plenty of “treat” activity, particularly on Hawaii and Carolina Avenues, but we saw no real evidence of “tricks!!!”
The next holiday is Veterans Day on November 11. The Northeast Exchange Club has donated US flags that will be placed on Grand Canal and Overlook Drive to commemorate the efforts of our Veterans and the losses endured by their families. Our thanks to Bill Greenfield, VI resident and Northeast Exchange Club member, for coordinating this tribute to our Veterans. The flags will be placed on November 8 and VI residents are welcome to take a flag starting on November 12.
Thanks to everyone who has already responded to the 2020 Resident Survey. If you have not done so yet please fill out the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NRJRYTK no later than Sunday, November 8. It should take less than 10 minutes of your time and your input will be extremely valuable to the VIHA Board as we consider changes in practices and adopt a budget for 2021.
I hope that we will be able to hold our Annual Meeting in January in a safe environment and be able to complete the election of Board members, review the results of the survey and present the 2021 budget. For anyone interested in joining the Board, Nomination Forms are due November 30 and can be found at http://www.ourvi.org/board-members.html
Have a great month of November and Happy Thanksgiving!!!