Thursday, February 22, 2018
Home and Garden

Community Living: Follow utility department's water restrictions

Follow utility's water restrictions

Q: I live in a large adult HOA community. Recently we were notified by the county utility departments that our water costs would increase if we used over the allotted amount. The letter also said that we could face civil penalties if there is a continued excess use of water. We have some residents who say that the landscape document requirements take precedent over this edict. Since our documents require certain landscape requirements, would the county restrictions override our documents?

A: I would suggest that you follow the utility department restrictions. Water restrictions have been in place for more than a decade. As for landscape, the University of Florida has been a leader in xeriscaping plans to reduce water usage. Landscapes can be designed to reduce the amount of resources needed to maintain them by selecting the proper plants and efficient irrigation systems, lawns and shrubbery to fit the appealing needs and reduce water usage and other natural essentials. With such plans you reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides as well as maintenance. Using proper native plants can help reduce or prevent wildfires and preserve wildlife.

One could say there are two disadvantages, the initial cost to install the new landscape and change of the appearance. In the long run, xeriscaping plans save money and maintenance.

Each county has an extension agent who can help, and the University of Florida website will provide much information. One section that addresses HOA restrictions is edis.ifas.ufl.edu/UW248. The state and counties are serious about water usage reductions and you need to become more serious as well. Make a few phone calls, search the Internet or check the local library and you will find plenty of information to help establish a workable plan.

Do not withhold fees over dispute

Q: The board and management are not responding to our request in a timely fashion or do not act at all. Can I withhold my fees or part of my fees until they take action? It all involves obtaining a service dog I need for my health. Since our rules say no dogs, the board is not granting authorization. Our local HUD and ADA came to our assistance. What is our next step to force the board and management to grant our request?

A: Do not withhold your fees as this is not part of the problem. If the proper documents are provided to the board requesting a service dog (companion pet), the board has no valid reason to refuse. One of the necessary documents that should be required is a letter from a doctor saying that you need a companion or service dog. The dog or pet must have certificates that indicate the dog has been trained as a service dog or companion pet. You will also need medical reports from a veterinarian certifying that the companion pet has proper shots and is in proper health to serve as a companion pet. Once an attorney advised me that an ADA claim should be acted on immediately.

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